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7 Ways You Can Help Hurricane Irma Victims

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Want to assist Hurricane Irma victims? Instead of raiding your closets and pantries for clothing, food, and blankets, the Center for International Disaster Information recommends donating cash, rather than material goods, to carefully vetted relief organizations. Or, consider donating your time by either opening your home to evacuees or helping to rebuild ravaged towns and cities. Here are just a few ways you can lend a hand.

1. HELP PUERTO RICO REBUILD HOMES.

Hundreds of Puerto Rico residents lost their homes in the storm, and many have been stranded without power. Local nonprofit ConPRmetidos is raising money to rebuild houses and provide on-the-ground relief and aid to hurricane victims.

2. SUPPORT RELIEF EFFORTS IN BOTH THE CARIBBEAN AND THE U.S.

Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization based in Springfield, Missouri, is sending food, water, and emergency supplies to Hurricane Irma survivors in both the U.S. and the Caribbean, and continues to support Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Donate $10 to their #HurricaneIrma response by texting "IRMA" to 50555.

3. LIST YOUR HOME ON AIRBNB.

Homeowners in the Florida Panhandle, northern Georgia, and northwest and southeast South Carolina can open their doors to Irma evacuees and relief workers for free by marking them available on Airbnb's Irma page until September 28, 2017.

4. VOLUNTEER WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY.

Good with a hammer, and want to help out for the long haul? Sign up on Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Registry, or donate to help rebuild homes destroyed by Irma.

5. DONATE TO THE FLORIDA DISASTER FUND.

Irma weakened into a tropical storm as it tore through Florida, but cities are still flooded, and millions are now without power. The Florida Disaster Fund, which is the State of Florida’s official private disaster recovery fund, accepts donations for response and recovery efforts, and also has a list of resources (including open shelters) available online. 

6. HELP ANIMALS BY DONATING TO THE SOUTH FLORIDA WILDLIFE CENTER.

Support injured or orphaned animals by donating to the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, which is billed as the nation’s highest-volume wildlife hospital, trauma center, and rehabilitation facility.

7. GIVE TO THE UNITED WAY.

The United Way of Miami-Dade is requesting donations on behalf of the support organization's locations in all hurricane-ravaged areas. Relief funds can be directed to either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey.

JUST REMEMBER...

Donations often pour in right in the aftermath of a natural disaster, but charities are still going to need your long-term financial support as afflicted communities continue to recover from Irma. Consider giving money over the course of a few weeks or months, instead of just a one-time payment.

And before donating, vet the credentials of nonprofits on websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar (although they may not list smaller, community-based organizations). In this case, the Federal Trade Commission has a list of tips for giving. They include never sending cash or wiring money, doing some background research on the organization, and even calling them if necessary.

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This Just In
Want to Become a Billionaire? Study Engineering
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If you want to get rich—really, really rich—chances are, you should get yourself an engineering degree. As The Telegraph reports, a new analysis from the UK firm Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment finds that more of the top 100 richest people in the world (according to Forbes) studied engineering than any other major.

The survey found that 75 of the 100 richest people in the world got some kind of four-year degree (though others, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, attended a university but dropped out before graduation). Out of those who graduated, 22 of those billionaires received engineering degrees, 16 received business degrees, and 11 received finance degrees.

However, the survey doesn't seem to distinguish between the wide range of studies that fall under the "engineering" umbrella. Building a bridge, after all, is a little different than electrical engineering or computing. Four of those 100 individuals studied computer science, but the company behind the survey cites Amazon's Jeff Bezos (who got a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton) and Google's Larry Page (who studied computer engineering at the University of Michigan and computer science at Stanford) as engineers, not computer scientists, so the list might be a little misleading on that front. (And we're pretty sure Bezos wouldn't be quite so rich if he had stuck just to electrical engineering.)

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment is, obviously, a sales-focused company, so there's a sales-related angle to the survey. It found that for people who started out working at an organization they didn't found (as opposed to immediately starting their own company, a la Zuckerberg with Facebook), the most common first job was as a salesperson, followed by a stock trader. Investor George Soros was a traveling salesman for a toy and gift company, and Michael Dell sold newspaper subscriptions in high school before going on to found Dell. (Dell also worked as a maitre d’ in a Chinese restaurant.)

All these findings come with some caveats, naturally, so don't go out and change your major—or head back to college—just yet. Right now, Silicon Valley has created a high demand for engineers, and many of the world's richest people, including Bezos and Page, earned their money through the tech boom. It's plausible that in the future, a different kind of boom will make a different kind of background just as lucrative. 

But maybe don't hold your breath waiting for the kind of industry boom that makes creative writing the most valuable major of them all. You can be fairly certain that becoming an engineer will be lucrative for a while.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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This Just In
Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
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Valuable jewelry isn't always made from precious metals or gems. Wildlife smugglers in Africa are increasingly evading the law by disguising illegally harvested rhinoceros horns as wearable baubles and trinkets, according to a new study conducted by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

As BBC News reports, TRAFFIC analyzed 456 wildlife seizure records—recorded between 2010 and June 2017—to trace illegal rhino horn trade routes and identify smuggling methods. In a report, the organization noted that criminals have disguised rhino horns in the past using all kinds of creative methods, including covering the parts with aluminum foil, coating them in wax, or smearing them with toothpaste or shampoo to mask the scent of decay. But as recent seizures in South Africa suggest, Chinese trafficking networks within the nation are now concealing the coveted product by shaping horns into beads, disks, bangles, necklaces, and other objects, like bowls and cups. The protrusions are also ground into powder and stored in bags along with horn bits and shavings.

"It's very worrying," Julian Rademeyer, a project leader with TRAFFIC, told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them? Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

Rhino horn is a hot commodity in Asia. The keratin parts have traditionally been ground up and used to make medicines for illnesses like rheumatism or cancer, although there's no scientific evidence that these treatments work. And in recent years, horn objects have become status symbols among wealthy men in countries like Vietnam.

"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it for lucky charms,” Melville Saayman, a professor at South Africa's North-West University who studies the rhino horn trade, told ABC News. “So they would like a piece of the horn."

According to TRAFFIC, at least 1249 rhino horns—together weighing more than five tons—were seized globally between 2010 and June 2017. The majority of these rhino horn shipments originated in southern Africa, with the greatest demand coming from Vietnam and China. The product is mostly smuggled by air, but routes change and shift depending on border controls and law enforcement resources.

Conservationists warn that this booming illegal trade has led to a precipitous decline in Africa's rhinoceros population: At least 7100 of the nation's rhinos have been killed over the past decade, according to one estimate, and only around 25,000 remain today. Meanwhile, Save the Rhino International, a UK-based conservation charity, told BBC News that if current poaching trends continue, rhinos could go extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

[h/t BBC News]

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