Tag Archives: Julian Omidi

Animals Can Fly in Style, Too

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses JFK Airport’s plans for an exciting new animal facility.

If you’ve ever had to travel with animals, you probably already know it’s a hassle. However, this may soon be a thing of the past. New York’s JFK airport has announced plans to open a 178,000 square foot facility specifically designed to accommodate animals of all kinds. The rules for traveling with animals generally involve a mandatory quarantine to prevent bringing contagious diseases into the country, and the new facility will be able to shelter animals during this period—hay-lined stalls for cattle and horses, an aviary, and holding pens for smaller animals.

The $48 million facility is to be called The ARK, and will open next year. The ARK will also accommodate specifically to dog owners in collaboration with Paradise 4 Paws, and will include a luxury resort with splashing pools, dog masseuses, flat screen TVs, and “pawdicures.” Cornell University veterinarians will also run a 24-hour clinic in the facility, which caters to all animals.

ARK architect Cliff Bollman claims that their design process “is in collaboration with veterinarians and consultants to help minimize the amount of stress placed on the animal.” The facility is even helpful for owners of animals that do not need to be quarantined, which will be held safely at The Ark until their owner picks them up upon arrival.

The cleverly-named facility is projected to have the capacity to house over 70,000 animals per year. The ARK will be especially popular with owners of animals competing in shows, such as horses, as it is the first luxury animal travel facility of its kind in the world. However, it won’t be cheap: for example, some dog suites may cost their owners upwards of $100 per night.

Hopefully The ARK will open next year with success, and may even pave the way for similar, more affordable facilities in travel hubs around the world.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

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Lack of Variety in Diet: Another Cause of Obesity?

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the importance of eating a rich and varied diet.

Earlier this week, the Chicago-based Institute of Food Technologists hosted a summit called IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation. Chief scientific officer of MicroBiome Therapeutics, Mark Heiman, gave a particularly insightful speech that summarized his research regarding human diet over the latter half of this century.

Heiman claims that in both developed and undeveloped countries, a loss of “dietary diversity” has led to alarming increases in obesity rates, as well as Type II diabetes and gastrointestinal problems. For example, we’ve been consuming an inordinate amount of carbohydrates such as rice, maize, and wheat—which make up an average of 60 percent of our daily calories.

He also discourages “fad” diets in which certain nutrients are eliminated completely, limiting one’s nutritional intake. “Like any ecosystem,” Heiman said, “the one that is most diverse in species is the one that is going to be the healthiest.” Food that are high in carbs and fat are the cheapest to manufacture, and therefore cheaper for us to buy. Especially over the past 50 years, obesity rates have been rising most prevalently in countries that are consuming more junk food. But the facts cannot be ignored: human beings need variety in their diet to function more efficiently. The potential health benefits from doing so are enormous, the most obvious being greater life expectancy.

An easy-to-remember way to eat a more richly-varied diet is the more colors on your plate, the better. You don’t need to completely deprive yourself of fat and carbohydrates, but remember: all things in moderation. Avocados are a great example of foods rich in “good fat”, or unsaturated fatty acids, and their consumption can even help lower cholesterol levels.

 

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

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Sixth Mass Extinction is Here, Experts Say

Julian Omidi discusses the ‘sixth extinction’ and how the elimination of species may lead to the end of mankind as we know it.

Mankind may be approaching another extinction event. That’s at least the thoughts of Paul Ehrlich, senior fellow at Stafford Woods Institute for the Environment. What is being known as the ‘sixth extinction’ has Ehrlich and his co-authors calling for the conservation of animals and their habitats. Today, lets look at his work and the potential threat facing our ecosystem.

Recently published in Science Advances, the study shows species are entering extinction at 100 times faster than the normal rate. If continued at this rate, it could take millions of years to recover. The estimate was based on research of fossil records and other extinction counts from a variety of records. Their thoughts, their findings severally underestimate the severity of the situations.

A large contribution to this is humans impact on the environment. This includes introducing invasive species, land clearing and logging, as well as carbon emissions. It is thought the damage to ecosystems by such practices will eliminate the natural benefits for generations to come.

The authors suggest that avoiding this type of event will take rapid change. This would require adding conservation efforts to already endangered species as well as working on reducing climate change and altering their natural habitats for commercial gain.

To change this then, we must go further than protecting animals rights, but also consider the ecosystems that promote biodiversity. We must make a large scale shift of our consciousness towards how we obtain our energy, how we build housing and even how we distribute food. The study makes clear that mankind has the biggest part in the spark of the sixth extinction.

Only time will tell the impact this event could have and our ability to postpone it. It seems that any form of advancement in technology has some negative impact of the Earth’s ecosystem. If we are not careful, the next few generations of mankind may suffer our ignorance.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that advocates for the well being of animals around the world.

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Animal Tracking in the Serengeti

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses animal extinction and how we can get involved in stopping it.

Animal extinction is a global issue that doesn’t get discussed enough. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, literally dozens of species are going extinct every day—and it’s mostly our fault. Human activities over the past century have caused a shocking number of consequences for animals, the most significant being global warming and habitat loss. It’s even more important than ever to raise awareness and involvement in order to slow these alarming rates of extinction.

One group found a rather creative way to do this– through photography.

Between June 2010 and May 2013, a research team led by Alexandra Swanson set up over 200 cameras in Serengeti Park of Tanzania. Their goal was to capture the lives of endangered species that would be difficult to photograph in the presence of humans, so the cameras were mounted on trees or other still objects. They incorporated both motion and heat sensors so that when an animal was near, the camera would be triggered automatically.

As a result, more than 1.2 million sets of photos were captured during this time. The research team was obviously quite overwhelmed by the sheer volume of images they’d have to start sorting through, so they asked an online “citizen science” portal called Zooniverse to help.

Here’s how it works: anyone, even without a background in science or zoology, can log on to this website and register to help with the Snapshot Serengeti project—or a number of others, which cover nature, wildlife, climate, humanities, and even space! Zooniverse uses an algorithm to narrow down the species of the animal photographed based on a number of characteristics that the user can select.

With the help of Zooniverse and 28,000 citizen volunteers from all over the world, Swanson’s team was able to make successful identifications of 48 different species as of last week, many of which are classified as endangered. The project is still open, so I encourage you to try making some identifications of your own! It’s a fun way to make a difference and learn about rare species of animals.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and co-founder of the non-profit organization, Animal Support.

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Will Going Vegan Save the Animals?

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses National Animal Rights Day and the practicality of living vegan.

Besides signifying the last day of May and graduation season, May 30th also marked the fourth anniversary of a fairly new U.S. holiday—National Animal Rights Day(NARD), which was started by the animal rights and conservation-focused non-profit Our Planet Theirs Too.

OPTT is just one of many organizations that promote a vegan lifestyle as indispensable toward furthering their goals of living in harmony with and respecting all animals. In fact, many activists openly criticize those who do not choose to abide by this lifestyle, arguing that animal support should be all-or-nothing when it comes to diet.

However, not everyone has the means to do this. Because of income inequality in the US, those who live close to the poverty level have very few choices in terms of the quality of the food that’s available to them. A single mother who is working a minimum-wage job, for example, cannot afford to drive 20 miles to the nearest organic grocery store and buy an $11.99 jar of vegan, ethically-sourced cashew butter. A vegan, or even vegetarian, lifestyle requires at least some level of financial commitment.

So is it possible to remain actively conscious of animal welfare and still partake in meat and/or animal by-products? The answer may not be all that straightforward. But if going completely vegan would be impractical in the context of your lifestyle, there’s no need for misplaced guilt. The key is to be mindful of what you are choosing to consume, and to always ask questions—for example, do you know where your dinner came from? What about your cashmere sweater? Choose brands that are sustainable, fair-trade, and cruelty free—and this applies to clothing, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and many more types of goods you might not even think of!

For those that do choose to go completely vegan, there are so many resources out there for you to take advantage of, such as recipe/lifestyle blogs, magazines and even cooking shows. Over the past decade, an increasing number of restaurants have started to offer creative vegan options; some even have entirely vegan menus!

I encourage you to spread the word and get even more people involved in National Animal Rights Day; it’s a wonderful endeavor to spread awareness of animal welfare. And remember to live mindfully and treat all beings with respect.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and co-founder of the non-profit Animal Support.

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Gallup poll Finds Americans want more Protection for Animals

In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses a new Gallop poll that suggests Americans are increasingly favoring equal rights for animals.

Gallup recently released a poll that showed citizens in the US want more protection for animals. The company began asking a series of three statements to rate how people responded in 2003:

  • Animals deserve the same rights as people
  • Animals deserve some protection
  • Animals don’t need much protection

From 2003 to 2015, those that stated “animals don’t need much protection” remained consistent at only 3%. However, the response “animals deserve the same rights as people” has increased over the years. In 2008, those that felt animals should have equal rights as humans was at 25%. That response has increased to 32% making the national opinion a 7% increase. That means, more people believe that animals should have equal rights as humans.

The findings showed that this response crossed gender, age and political orientation. From 2008 to 2015, there was a rise in the number of men, women, democrats, republicans and ages 18 to 50+. Meaning, Americans as a whole want better rights for animals.

The poll also addressed environments where animals should have better treatment. This included amusement parks, research facilities, sporting events as well as others. A majority of the people were either somewhat concerned or very concerned about the treatment of animals in professional settings.

This shift is a small victory in the treatment of animals. It is good to see that Americans are becoming increasingly concerned with the rights of animals. The more the majority opinion can transform, the more likely animals will obtain more protection and better treatment by society as a whole.

If you are concerned about the well-being of animals, do your part. Advocate for better treatment of animals by joining groups, writing your representatives and voicing your stance online. The more we can share information and reach other people the further we can advance the wellness of animals throughout our country and the world.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support. He advocates for the fair treatment of animals around the world.

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Child Poverty in America Ranked 2nd Highest in Industrialized Nations

child poverty

 

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the current epidemic of Child Poverty in the US.

America 2nd Highest Child Poverty Rate in Industrialized World

The U.S. Census reported last month that 1 in 5 children are on food stamps. That means, a total of about 15 million U.S. children are living below the poverty level. That’s only a total of $24,000 in annual income for a family of four. This highlights the sad fact that the U.S. is ranked second for having the highest level of child poverty in the 35 industrialized nations. The question is, are we making progress?

Before the housing crash of 2007, a total of 1 in 8 children were receiving food stamps. So, it would appear we have made progress seeing how those numbers are down. However, in 2014 a total of sixteen million children received food-assistance program benefits compared to only nine millions in 2007. What is the impact of these startling statistics?

Impact of Child Poverty in the U.S.

What is so alarming about these statistics, is that the top 1% of American income earners are on track to own most of the world’s wealth by 2016. Yet, we only out rank Romania when it comes to child poverty? Let’s examine the implication of child poverty has for the future of our country.

The implications associated with child poverty cost a total of 3.8% of the GDP. That is roughly a half a trillion dollars a year. This is because of lost productivity, as well as health and crime costs.

Since 2007, the rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled! This clearly shows that the problem, if not addressed, will only substantially get worse. We must do something.

Relieving Child Poverty as a Country

We can no longer turn a blind eye to this topic. The astronomical income gap is making it too apparent that some families are disadvantaged, and their children will need help. If you look towards our capital, there are huge debates on the solution. Both sides want the solution, but are unable to work together on the solution. We must advocate for these little ones in hunger. They, after all, are our nation’s future. If we do not find a way to alleviate these statistics, more children will grow up disenfranchised. That will lead to more cost to the government in the future due to likely costs from crime and poverty relief.

If we can learn to work together, we could be on our way to healing our nation as a whole. Individually, we all can make a difference by working with various charitable organizations that help feed hungry children, whether you donate your time or volunteer. You can also get involved in the political process, by writing you representatives and asking them to take action. There is no reason that a nation as great as America should be ranked second in child poverty.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

(Julian Omidi, along with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, are philanthropists who founded various charitable organizations including No More Poverty.)

 

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Je Suis Charlie?

Omidi Family Je Suis Charlie

Julian Omidi writes about the recent shooting in Paris, France. The victims were journalists and cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In the wake of shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office, emotions are stirring in France and around the world. The shooting in Paris occurred on Wednesday. Two masked, heavily armed men entered the office during an editorial meeting and opened fire, killing two policemen and ten journalists.

The satirical magazine is notorious for offending religious communities. Muslims around the world protested several cartoon depictions of their prophet that Charlie Hebdo published. The shooting was allegedly in response to the way the magazine has portrayed Muslims. Witnesses told police one of the gunmen shouted, “We have avenged the prophet. We killed Charlie Hebdo.”

Earlier today, the two men responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shooting and another were killed after taking a hostage. They can no longer instill fear into the communities of Paris.

Words and violence

Charlie Hebdo tried hard to offend nearly any group of people. Self-described as “Journal irresponsable” (irresponsible magazine), it is an equal opportunity offender. They have taken shots at the right, the left, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and nearly any other group you can think of. They used words and symbols, which can hurt, but words never require a violent response.

The old nursery rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” comes to mind. It is used to convince taunting victims to refrain from physical retaliation. It reminds them that words do not physically harm anyone and to choose appropriate responses to provocation.

Charlie Hebdo certainly is guilty of provocation. But civilized societies have no place for this type of response to cartoons. Are the remarks and cartoons of Charlie Hebdo civil? That is certainly up for debate, but the actions of these murderers are most certainly not.

Where do we go from here?

You’ll probably see articles and comments from your friends on Facebook about this most recent tragedy and the events that inspired it. People are claiming the magazine has some responsibility in the shooting because of the nature of the views they expressed.

Should people in free societies be allowed to publicly humiliate large groups based on their beliefs? That, too is up for debate. One thing is certain: Free societies cannot let murderers dictate what can and can’t be said. The fear of violence should not determine what people can or cannot say.

How do we go on from here? Do we put an end to offensive speech? In an ideal world, maybe. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We should aim for the standard of knowing what we say could attract violence, but speaking out as though there is no threat. This is the nature of courage.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and the Omidi family, Cindy Omidi and Dr. Michael Omidi, are founders of several charities aimed at improving lives for humans and animals around the world.

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Keep Your Holidays Healthy

Julian Omidi Holiday TipsIn this entry, Julian Omidi discusses some health hazards to be mindful of during your upcoming holiday celebrations.

The holidays are a magical time with family, friends and cheer. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but ‘tis also the season to be extra mindful of your health. There are some holiday hazards that can be avoided so you and your loved ones can celebrate for years to come.

We tend to stray from our normal routines during this time of year. New cooking techniques, different foods, decorating materials and their methods can pose some risks. And that’s before the rest of the family gets there! I composed a list of some things to remember so your holiday celebration will come off without a hitch.

Holiday Food Factor

When visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head, it can be hard to think about calories. Unfortunately, the holidays are a time for chocolate, sugar, fat and salt. All of which should be used in moderation. Try to put an equal amount of healthy and sweet snacks out for your guests.

Don’t let anyone drink too much, either. Sure, alcohol is full of empty calories, but it can also lead to some awkward moments at family gatherings. If people drink, encourage them to eat some food first. Drinking on an empty stomach is asking for trouble.

You won’t avoid the extra calories that come with the season. Don’t expect to. You can help to lessen the damage by adding some exercise to your day. Take a walk with your family and enjoy each other’s company along the way. If the weather allows, play a game outside.

Other Holiday Dangers

Julian Omidi Tips for the Holidays
Eggnog and cookies are one type of danger, but there are some holiday hazards that could be much worse. Always be mindful of possible dangers to guests of all types, including children and pets.

Holiday decorations can be filled with tasty looking pieces that come off easily. Don’t let children or pets chew on things that could become lodged in their throats or are toxic. That’s right, toxic. Holly and mistletoe are poisonous, so you may not want to deck the halls with the real stuff if you’re going to have children or animals over.

Choking on food is also a possibility. Make sure to take small bites and chew slowly. Know how to perform the proper emergency techniques if someone shows signs of choking.

Use caution when decorating. It isn’t often you are running garland along your ceiling. Secure your stepstool or ladder on level ground and stay centered. Decorate with a helper if only to make sure you aren’t alone if you fall.

Of course there is the possibility of your tree catching fire. You might be thinking, “That old chestnut?” But, between the years of 2007-2011, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average 230 house fires that began that way. It is no joke. An average of 6 people a year died over that same time.

Relax. If you experience high levels of stress, let someone know. Things will never be perfect. Your guests, friends and family members know that. Enjoy the time you have with them and forget about the performance.

The holidays are a time for happiness. Use your head and make sure your house is a safe and healthy environment for everyone in it. With some forethought, your celebration will be one to remember.

Keep your sleigh bells ringing,

Julian Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, are cofounders of several charities, including No More Poverty, The Children’s Obesity Fund, and Animal Support. Their work supports the betterment of creatures large and small.

 

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Government Programs Reduce Poverty

Julian Omidi discusses government programs

Today, Julian Omidi discusses an interpretation of new data from U.S. Census data on poverty levels in the nation. It seems government safety nets are doing some good.

You often hear debate about whether certain government programs do anything worthwhile. Most of the time it is just baseless speculation.

A new study from PEW Charitable Trusts offers some real data from the U.S. Census Bureau to shed some light on the subject.

Social Security, food stamps, unemployment benefits and earned income tax credits all seem to have an effect on the poverty level. Some of the study’s findings include:

  • The official poverty rate in the U.S. was 14.5 percent (45.3 million people)
  • Without food stamps, the poverty rate would be 17.1 percent (an additional 8 million people)
  • Without Social Security, poverty rate for Americans 65 and over would be 52.67 percent instead of 14.6 percent currently
  • Without programs like earned income tax credits, poverty for children under 18 would be 22.8 percent (19.9 percent currently)

These numbers are staggering. Consider what America would look like if each of these programs were removed or cut back significantly. That is what safety nets are for. No one wants people to live in poverty, but America continues to have problems with income inequality.

The great poverty divide

In the current political debate on poverty, both sides have answers, but they seem to be coming from opposite directions. Those on the right wish to see these programs cut or changed, and those on the left wish to see them improved, for the most part.

Most Americans are somewhere in the middle. Some reform is certainly necessary, but these programs are helping people currently. How can we improve things and make sure no one slips through the net while curtailing abuses? This is one of the most difficult questions of our time.

We can certainly use some better metrics on the matter. Census information only considers income level to determine whether someone is under the poverty level. This doesn’t include things like food stamps and other programs that help people.

In 2010 our government introduced the supplemental poverty rate, which considers consumer spending on necessities like shelter, food and utilities. Someday this measure may be used as to determine assistance levels. It has the potential to reign in abusers and find those eligible people who need help.

Things keep getting better, as a whole, for all of us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continually try to improve. Look for solutions and not ammo. Our public discourse will be much better off.

Thanks for reading,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and his brother, Michael Omidi, are co-founders of No More Poverty, a charity committed to the eradication of income inequality.

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