A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN

Michael Yon's photo.

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

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1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

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2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

——————-

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

—————–

———————-

5.You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

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6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

——————–

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

——————-

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

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9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

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10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

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11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

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12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

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13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

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14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

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15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

‘Pawesome’ tips to help keep pets safe on July Fourth

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Pawesome-tips-to-help-keep-pets-safe-on-July-Fourth-311584121.html

'Pawesome' tips to help keep pets safe on July Fourth»Play Video
Charlie and Waffles of Snohomish. Photo courtesy YouNews contributor Victoria S.
SEATTLE, Wash. – Fourth of July fireworks routinely make July 5th one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters across the country.

That’s why Seattle-based Pet Hub is declaring all of July “National Lost Pet Prevention Month.”

Dogs and cats frightened by fireworks often escape yards in the course of the evening. Some even manage to slip out through doors or open windows.

“Make sure your pet has an external I.D. tag,” says Pet Hub’s Lorien Clemens. “It’s the number one way lost pets get home quickly.”

Pet Hub’s mission is to help reunite lost pets with rightful owners. Pet Hub’s digital I.D. tag can store an owner’s name, address, and phone number. It can even include information on the pet’s medications and personality. The tag can be read by a smartphone, putting important information right at the finger tips of those who find a missing pet.

But even a traditional tag with a simple name and current phone number is better than nothing, Clemens says, adding that microchips are also good, as long as contact information is kept current.

Owners can also help pets adjust by planning ahead for the day. Create a safe space in your home, perhaps in an interior room or on a lower floor, that allows your pet to feel sheltered from the loud noises. For crate-trained pets, their kennel may be their safe spot. For others, it may be a closet or on the couch next to their owner.

For families planning to go out for the night, consider asking a friend or relative to pet-sit.

Exercise early in the day can also help by burning off some energy and helping your pet relax.

“Take them to the lake or the park,” Clemens says. “Throw things around. Get them exhausted and they won’t even care it’s the fourth.”

Alaska’s Seal Hunt Lasted Only a Few Days Because It’s So Hot

By Julia O’Malley

July 01, 2015

KOTZEBUE, Alaska-In this Far North village, no animal provides more protein
to fill freezers than the bearded seal. A single seal can supply hundreds of
pounds of meat, enough to feed a large, extended family for a winter.

For generations, every late June and early July, native hunters like Ross
Schaeffer and his niece Karmen Schaeffer Monigold have motored through the
broken sea ice of Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska, looking for seals
basking on frosty rafts. But this year, temperatures were close to 70
degrees, there was no ice in sight, and the seals had already migrated
north.

This seal-hunting season was the shortest in memory, lasting less than a
week, compared with the usual three weeks.

Schaeffer and Monigold did manage to get a few animals, but the conditions
were nothing like Schaeffer, 68, had seen before. By the third week in June,
when Monigold would usually be dressed for cold, she drove out to check on
her drying seal hide wearing flip-flops and shorts.

“Every year we’ve gone out, it’s getting harder and harder because the ice
is so rotten by the time it’s time to go hunting that the seals are hard to
find,” Monigold says.

Pictures of ice melting in Kotzebue, Alaska from a helicopter
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/2015/07/02/sealhunting/
02sealhunting.ngsversion.855e78e69274979c8008eed13c1e1a3d.adapt.1900.1.jpg>

The amount of ice near Kotzebue, Alaska, changed dramatically between May,
2015, (on the left) and June (on the right.) This May was the warmest on
record in Kotzebue.

Photographs by Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic

In Kotzebue, as temperatures and ice become increasingly unpredictable,
hunters worry their children and grandchildren will no longer be able to
participate in the traditional seal hunt. Kotzebue is among the largest of
roughly 40 Alaska Native communities on the coast between Bristol Bay and
Kaktovik that rely on bearded seal.

< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/rights-exempt/nat-geo-s
taff-maps/2015/07/Alaska_Kotzebue_Sound/MAP_News_KotzebueSound_Alaska.ngsver
sion.4ceafa8a7ae3c316be4efd0cb84acb55.adapt.352.1.jpg>

NG MAPS

Kotzebue’s changing seal season is part of another chapter of Alaska’s
accelerated climate change story, which is threatening the food, economics,
and culture of Native communities.

The longtime patterns of many animals are changing. For example, the timing
of caribou migration
< http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/library/pdfs/wildlife/caribou_trails
/caribou_trails_2014.pdf> has been later, which scientists say may be linked
to warmer temperatures. And in the Bering Sea, wild weather and unusual sea
ice patterns have hampered
< http://www.fws.gov/alaska/fisheries/mmm/walrus/pdf/influence_of_wind_ice_sp
ring_walrus_hunting_success_2013.pdf> walrus hunting, causing serious food
shortages in some villages.
< http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304795804579101440469640728>

An Alaska Hotspot

The winter of 2014 was the warmest ever measured
< https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/%E2%80%9Cwinter%E2%80%9
D-alaska> across Alaska, and this summer has so far followed a similar
pattern, according to the National Weather Service, with hot, dry conditions
fueling hundreds of wildfires. It was the warmest May ever recorded in
Kotzebue– 8 degrees warmer than usual.

“It started raining, and it rained every night for about four or five
nights. It rained hard. That rain is so warm it just seeps right through the
ice and the ice pops up and it’s all rotten already,” says Schaeffer, who
has been hunting for about 60 years. “It’s not like it used to be.”

Picture of Ross Schaeffer
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/2015/07/02/sealhunting/
07sealhunting.ngsversion.e15d54a4493b81342e33af8471e49ae3.adapt.676.1.jpg>

Ross Schaeffer, 68, who has been participating in subsistence hunts since he
was a child, says the ice conditions In Kotzebue Sound last month were
unlike any he has ever seen before. “It’s not like it used to be,” he says.

Photograph by Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic

Picture of children in Alaska swimming
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/2015/07/02/sealhunting/
03sealhunting.ngsversion.025dd26c5adc79d5e36f126813d1d845.adapt.1190.1.jpg>

Children swam in the sea on a warm day in June in Kotzebue, Alaska.
Temperatures hit as high as 80 degrees.

Photograph by Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic

Kotzebue in particular is a hot spot in the state. Six of the ten warmest
winters in the village on record have occurred since 2000. Climatologists
say the village is likely to have more unusual heat this summer and into the
fall.

Above-average sea surface temperatures contributed to Alaska’s abnormally
warm winter when increased southerly winds flowed over the ocean and spread
inland. Next winter could be cooler, but over the long term, experts say
that warmer and wetter weather could become more common.

“The decades-long trend seems pretty clear: less and less sea ice,” says
Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the National Weather
Service in Alaska.

Ice coverage in Kotzebue Sound has been shrinking steadily since the 1950s,
with acceleration in recent years.

Related Content

< http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/seal-hunt-dickman>

< http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/seal-hunt-dickman>

1. Watch A Seal Hunt
< http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/seal-hunt-dickman>

“There is open water in the Chukchi Sea, almost up to Barrow now, which is
remarkably early,” Thoman says.

Seals Follow the Ice

Bearded seals, called ugruk in the Inupiaq language, migrate up and down
Alaska’s northwest coast, from the Bering Sea to the Chukchi and Beaufort
seas, following the ice as it advances in winter and retreats in summer,
says Peter Boveng, polar ecosystems program leader at NOAA’s Alaska
Fisheries Science Center.

Scientists estimate there are roughly 300,000 bearded seals in the Bering
Sea breeding population and an unknown number of others that breed in the
Chukchi and Beaufort seas in Alaska, he says. As the sea ice patterns
change, there could be changes in the places where the animals spend time,
he says.

During Kotzebue’s traditional hunting season in late June, bearded seals are
hauling out on ice. They depend on the ice to give them platforms for
basking, he says, which raises their skin temperature and stimulates hair
growth to fill out their coats. That’s what complicated the hunting; seals
will only stay in the waters near Kotzebue as long as the ice conditions are
right.

Picture of a child holding a rope attached to a dead walrus in Alaska
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/2015/07/02/sealhunting/
04sealhunting.ngsversion.c8f32155e837cce302fec0ae84b1c0f4.adapt.1190.1.jpg>

Inupiat families from Barrow, Alaska, hunted for walrus instead of bearded
seal when melted sea ice ended the seal hunt abnormally early in June.
Walrus this close to town during this time of year is rare. The hunters
bring their catch to stable sea ice to butcher it and then haul it back to
town by boat.

Photograph by Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic

“If the animals are really in the peak of their molt, they will probably
want to stay with the ice. And if the ice goes out earlier in Kotzebue
Sound, Kotzebue really could see be a big decline in the number of animals
visiting that area on their way north,” Boveng says.

There is no evidence so far that the changes in the ice patterns are harming
seals. However, if they can’t find ice of the quality they need, scientists
say they might not be able to grow adequate coats, which protect their skin
from abrasions and infections, Boveng says. (Read about weird changes in
other ocean life linked to global warming.
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150411-Pacific-ocean-sea-lions-b
irds-climate-warming-drought/> )

In 2011, several species of ice-dependent Alaska seals, including bearded
seals, were part of an unusual die-off
< https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/seals/ice/diseased/> .
Animals turned up dead or sick with abnormal coats, among other symptoms, he
says. It is unclear whether there was a link between the event and climate
change, however.

There was once a time when Kotzebue relied on beluga whales for much of its
subsistence, says Alex Whiting, an environmental specialist for the Native
Village of Kotzebue. But then, in the 1980s, many belugas stopped coming
into the sound for reasons not entirely understood. Hunters are adaptable,
he says, and will find ways to get their seals, even if the animal patterns
change.

Picture of a person cutting seal meat in Alaska
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/2015/07/02/sealhunting/
05sealhunting.ngsversion.9e7034c718a90a99bb7d0f4130f5638a.adapt.1190.1.jpg>

A woman prepared bearded seal for an annual feast in Point Hope, Alaska.

Nutritious and Spiritual6-4Hansens-trophy-goat

Pound for pound, caribou is the most important wild food source in Kotzebue,
followed closely by bearded seal, a nutritious, lean protein rich in omega
3s.

“Large adult bearded seals in particular provide singular types of meat and
oil products that are not replaceable,” Whiting says. “If the window to
harvest them is missed, it will be another year before the opportunity
arises again.”

Monigold says her main concern with the changing seal season is spiritual.
Taking children in the village to hunt instills in them a sense of purpose
and connects them to culture. When they take a bearded seal, for example,
she teaches her sons to put fresh water in the mouth to release the spirit
into the ocean, a gesture meant to bring more seals back the next year.
Sharing the meat teaches them respect and gives confidence.

Picture of people walking after returning from a seal hunt in Alaska
< http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/2015/07/02/sealhunting/
06sealhunting.ngsversion.0161ee38e417d29ab4cdfe3804d10223.adapt.1190.1.jpg>

Because of melting sea ice, Inupiat men and boys from Barrow, Alaska,
returned to town after hunting bearded seal. The season was disappointing:
It ended early in June as the seals migrated north in search of ice.

Photograph by Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic

Schaeffer worries that if the warming trend continues, his grandchildren
will eventually lose the opportunity to hunt bearded seals in the sound. His
grandparents traveled by dogsled and relied entirely on food they caught and
gathered but so many of their traditions have been lost in a relatively
short time. Technology was the first agent of change; now it’s climate.

Seal is a soul food for indigenous Alaskans. When Monigold goes without it
and other native foods while traveling, she feels listless and looks forward
to a meal at home.

“As soon as I take a bite, it’s like all of a sudden I’m me again,” she
says.

This reporting was supported by a grant from the
< http://pulitzercenter.org/> Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

__________________________–

As ice melts, Polar bears could find last refuge in Canada’s High Arctic

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/polar-bears-could-find-last-refuge-in-canada-s-high-arctic-as-ice-melts-1.3136025

Canada’s High Arctic could become the last stable refuge for polar bears as climate change melts away their hunting grounds, a U.S. government report says.

Populations elsewhere — in Alaska, Russia, Norway and around Hudson Bay, northern Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador — are likely to decrease or greatly decrease by the year 2050 as global temperatures rise, the report projects.

But under a moderate scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, with enough reductions worldwide to keep the average global temperature hike to no more than two degrees, the polar bear population in northern Nunavut is most likely to remain stable and even has a decent chance of increasing, researchers say.

The 124-page research report comes from the U.S. Geological Survey, an entity of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and was published this week.

It looks at polar bear populations in four “eco regions,” including an area known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, home to perhaps 5,000 or more of the animals — about a quarter of the global total.

The archipelago has the best “potential to serve as a long-term refugium” for polar bears, the authors say.

But even then, if countries continue with “business as usual” and nothing is done to curb the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the long-term viability of polar bears would be in doubt.

Sea ice essential

Polar bear populations are thought to be sensitive to global warming mainly because the animals spend the winter and spring on sea ice hunting for fatty seals as well as mating and giving birth.

When the ice retreats in the summer, the bears are forced onto land. But land-based food can’t satisfy their dietary needs.

“The terrestrial resources are just not sufficient. It’s the difference between eating fat and eating a few berries,” said Andrew Derocher, a polar bear expert and professor at the University of Alberta, who wasn’t involved in the U.S. government report.

Polar bear with dead seal

A polar bear drags a seal along a floe in Baffin Bay, above the Arctic Circle in Canada’s North. The bears need sea ice to hunt seals, their main source of food. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

“The whole fate of polar bears depends on how fast the sea ice disappears.”

Scientists have warned for years that climate change threatens polar bear populations. The U.S. Geological Survey study compares that risk against others like oil and gas shipping through the North, pollution and hunting of the bears, which is legal in Canada, the U.S. and Greenland.

It concludes that sea ice loss is the greatest menace to their survival, by a significant margin.

And it says about a third of the world’s polar bears — those in Alaska, Russia and Norway — could be in imminent danger from greenhouse gas emissions in as soon as a decade. Those areas of the Arctic have suffered some of the most dramatic declines in sea ice.

The scientists saw no rebound in overall population numbers in the projections that stretched to the year 2100 under either of the two scenarios they looked at: one in which greenhouse gas emissions stabilized, and the other in which they continued unabated.

“Polar bears are in big trouble,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are other steps we can take to slow the decline of polar bears, but in the long run, the only way to save polar bears in the Arctic is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other marine animals at risk

Polar bears aren’t the only marine species at risk from climate change.

In separate research released this week, an international team of scientists looked at the effects on sea creatures, concluding that under the “business as usual” scenario of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, “most marine organisms evaluated will have very high risk of impacts.”

The effects will be felt “across all latitudes,” the authors write, “making this a global concern beyond the north/south divide.”

As more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, oceans will warm and become more acidic, says the study, published in the journal Science.

Fish will have to find new habitats in cooler waters. Warm-water corals and sea grasses at mid-latitudes are already being affected.

Even if the world commits and sticks to the most stringent of the proposed emissions targets, creatures like mussels, oysters, clams and scallops “will be at high risk” by the year 2100, the scientists say.

“All the species and services we get from the ocean will be impacted and everyone, including Canadians, who benefit from these goods and services are vulnerable,” said William Cheung, a co-author of the paper and an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s fisheries centre.

With files from The Associated Press

Understanding Labels & Loopholes

http://humanefacts.org/labels-loopholes/

humanely-raised-vealWhat is the difference between Certified Humane and American Humane Certified? What’s the difference between free-range and cage-free?

Unfortunately, consumers who care about animals are being misled by deceptive marketing schemes.

Producers have learned that if a label contains buzzwords such as “happy,” “free,” “humane,” or “animal welfare,” concerned customers will often buy their products (with higher prices) without actually understanding their practices.

The result is a confusing proliferation of packaging labels pertaining to farmed animal welfare. But what do these labels really mean?


To start, it’s important to know that there is no legal definition of “humane.”1

Under USDA-approved welfare labels, farms and producers decide independently what practices they will call “humane.” The USDA merely verifies that the company follows its own arbitrary standards.

Some private humane certification labels require third-party auditors to verify compliance with their standards, but even among these programs the term “humane” is not consistently defined or enforced.

Piglet restrained for scalpel castration

For example, Animal Welfare Approved does not allow debeaking, but considers castration and ear notching without pain relief “humane.”

On the other hand, American Humane Certified permits debeaking, but does not allow ear notching and requires anesthesia for castration of some animals.

Furthermore, not only do terms like “humane” and “free-range” mean different things to different producers; they also mean different things depending on the kind of animal.

For instance, while free-range beef cows must have spent some time on pasture, free-range chickens commonly spend their entire lives crammed inside windowless sheds with thousands of other birds.


Free-Range

Pigs can be confined in manure-laden barns like this one and still be sold as free-range pork. Image: freerangefraud.com

The term “free-range” is not regulated by the USDA, except for use on chickens and turkeys raised for meat (which only requires “access” to outdoors).

Its use for cows and pigs is neither regulated nor enforced.

Often, free-range labels refer to animals packed into warehouse-style sheds with no access to the outdoors.

This is far from the rolling pasture that the term “free-range” conjures in most people’s minds.

All that is required for free-range labeling of poultry is that the birds have “access” to the outdoors for an unspecified amount of time.

Thousands of birds may be confined inside a warehouse facility with a single exit the size of a cat door, and the door may be opened for a few minutes. This still qualifies as free-range.2

The layers of excrement and urine in which these birds are forced to stand, day after day, cause severe flesh and eye burns, and fill the air with so much ammonia that many birds suffer from respiratory disorders.

Conditions on many free-range operations are so bad that most birds are not even aware of outdoor access, or they are too crowded, ill, or weak to move that far.

Debeaking is standard procedure on free-range poultry farms. Free-range claims on eggs are completely unregulated.


Cage-Free

Under misleading welfare labels, confinement operations like this one sell their eggs as “cage-free.” Photo: Sally Ryan, New York Times

Cage-free labels refer to hens used for eggs and mean only that the chickens are not in cages.

Cage-free egg-laying hens are typically crowded into windowless sheds or warehouse facilities, with thousands of birds on the floor and on stacked wire platforms, with little or no access to the outdoors and no room to perform natural behaviors.

The ammonia laden air is so noxious that hens commonly suffer respiratory disorders, severe flesh and eye burns, and even blindness.

Debeaking is routine and permitted. There is no third-party auditing.

perdue-cage-free

Cage-free labels should only appear on egg packages, as egg-laying hens are the only farmed animals kept in cages. (Veal calves and breeding sows are confined in crates.)

When cage-free labels appear on chicken or turkey meats (as shown in this photo of Harvest Land chicken meat), consumers are being deliberately misled.

Even on factory farms, chickens and turkeys raised for meat are not kept in cages, but are severely confined indoors inside massive sheds.


Grass-Fed

Typical feedlot.

Cows raised for beef eat grass for at least the first six months of life, then most are shipped to crowded, barren feedlots and fattened (“finished”) on grain to reach slaughter weight more quickly.

Some producers market feedlot-finished beef as higher priced grass-fed beef even though their cows are intensively confined for the last year or more of life.

USDA certified grass-fed animals must have access to pasture from early Spring to late Fall, but may otherwise be confined to pens or sheds.

All of the standard mutilations including castration, dehorning, and branding are permitted without pain relief under generic and USDA grass-fed labels. Hormones and antibiotics are also allowed.


Humanely Raised

The term “humanely raised” is not regulated or verified, meaning animals can be raised in confinement and mutilated without painkiller.3

Unfortunately, virtually any producer can slap a “humanely raised” label on their animal product, which renders the term nearly meaningless. Even on higher welfare farms, the term is often used deceptively.

Niman Ranch is a useful example, considered by many to be a model of humane pig farming. Their website shows images of happily roaming pigs, and their pork labels read, “Humanely raised on sustainable farms.” The labels also say, “Raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens.”

That “or” is a loophole that means that Niman Ranch could get away with confining up to 100% of their pigs indoors. According to one writer, they currently confine around 75% of their pigs in warehouse-style barns with straw floors.

The welfare of pigs not given access to the outdoors is markedly lower than that of grazing pigs, yet Niman Ranch enjoys the celebrated reputation of a “pastured pork” operation.


Humane Dairy & Happy Cows

Real cheese from Happy Cows label
Happy Cow Creamery label
Laughing Cow label

Despite all the feel-good labels to the contrary, happy dairy cows are a myth. The basis of all dairy production is sexual violation and the destruction of motherhood.

These are not overstatements. It is a matter of fact that in order to produce milk, female cows must be impregnated (usually via invasive artificial insemination), carry their babies for nine months (like humans), and give birth.

Also inherent to dairy production is the separation of calves from their mothers in order for humans to take their milk.

This breaking of the mother-calf bond happens on small farms, humane label farms, and factory farms alike. According to the USDA, 97% of dairy calves are permanently removed from their mothers within just the first 12 hours of birth.4

Many humane label farms remove the calves in the first hour, claiming that the longer mother and calf are permitted to bond, the more stressful the separation.

Most calves spend their first 2 to 3 months of life in constant confinement in cramped, individual hutches, and never know the nurturing or warmth of their mother’s care.

Regardless of farm type, male calves of dairy cows are sold to be killed for veal or cheap beef.

When they are no longer optimally productive, dairy cows are slaughtered for cheap beef, usually around five years of age.

See also:

  • Learn more about “humane” dairy at our Happy Cows? page.
  • Our Practices page for detailed explanations of standard procedures.


Specific Packaging Labels



Certified Organic

USDA Organic label

For animal products, the organic label mainly distinguishes animals raised without hormones and antibiotics, which are prohibited under organic standards. Animal feed must also be organic.

Animals must have “access” to the outdoors, with cows, sheep and goats given some access to pasture, but the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined.

Organic standards do not provide protection against routine mutilations, severe confinement, rough handling, long transport, or brutal slaughter of animals. Tail-docking, dehorning, debeaking, and castration without painkiller are all permitted.


American Grass-Fed Certified

American Grassfed label

While the USDA’s grass-fed label allows for confinement of animals, American Grassfed Certification requires continuous access to pasture and a diet of 100 percent forage. Hormones and antibiotics are also prohibited.

However, routine mutilations such as castration, tail docking, branding and dehorning are all permitted without pain relief.

No standards are in place regarding the treatment of breeding animals, animals during transport, or animals at slaughter.


American Humane Certified

American Humane Certified label

One of the worst certified labels. Access to the outdoors is not required for any animals, and indoor space requirements are the lowest of all the main humane certification programs.

AHC is the only third-party audited welfare program to permit cage confinement of egg hens. The killing of male chicks, debeaking, and tail docking without pain relief are permitted.

Some standards extend to the treatment of breeding animals, animals during transport, and animals at slaughter.


Animal Welfare Approved

Animal Welfare Approved label

The Animal Welfare Approved certification is a program of the Animal Welfare Institute. They claim to have “the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfare currently in use by any United States organization.”

As proof of this claim, their website includes a useful chart comparing the various practices and provisions of each certified humane label. While there is bias in favor of AWA in the chart and guide, we include them here for reference.

The AWI boasts that the AWA is the only USDA-approved third-party certification program, but as with other humane labels, egregious cruelties are still permitted.

On the upside, animals have “access” to the outdoors and are able to engage in “some” natural behaviors. No cages or crates may be used, and growth hormones and antibiotics are prohibited. Debeaking is also not allowed.

However, the killing of male chicks born to egg-laying hens is permitted, as are other painful mutilations performed without painkiller, including ear notching and castration.

Standards include breeding, transport, and slaughter of animals.


Certified Humane

Certified Humane label

There is no requirement for outdoor access for birds used for meat, egg-laying hens, or pigs. However, minimum space allowances and indoor environmental enrichments are stipulated.

Feedlots are permitted for beef cattle. Killing of male chicks born to egg-laying hens is allowed.

Debeaking of hens and turkeys, tail docking of pigs, dehorning of goats without painkiller, and rubber ring castration without painkiller are all permitted.

Standards include the treatment of breeding animals, animals during transport, and animals at slaughter.


Global Animal Partnership

Global Animal Partnership label

GAP is a step-based rating program used by Whole Foods.

Producers receive one of six ratings, from Step 1 to Step 5+. Step 1 permits industrial style (factory farm) confinement of animals and merely prohibits crates and cages. Feedlots are allowed for beef cattle through Step 4. Debeaking and tail docking are permitted through Step 3.

Standards consider the treatment during transport, but not breeding or slaughter.


Process Verified

Process Verified label

Warning: this industry label is intentionally misleading.

The USDA currently allows producers enrolled in its Process Verified Program (PVP) to label their products “humanely raised.”

In reality, producers decide independently what practices they will call “humane,” and the USDA merely verifies that the company follows its own arbitrary standards.

Under such a scheme, industrial producers running large scale confinement operations can simply submit their current practices as “humane,” and display the “Process Verified” and “humanely raised” labels.

Read more about this marketing scheme here and here.


United Egg Producer Certified

United Egg Producers Certified label

Warning: this industry label is intentionally misleading.

UEPC permits battery cage confinement of egg-laying hens and other routine inhumane factory farm practices.

Hens in these barren cages have 67 square inches of cage space per bird (less than a sheet of paper), and cannot perform any of their natural behaviors, including perching, nesting, foraging, or even spreading their wings. Debeaking is permitted and routine.


See also:

Thank God it’s Fryday–Wish it Applied to Ted Nugent Too

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Some people are animal people and some are people people, while others claim to love everyone equally. The fact is, whether consciously or not, at some point we all have to make a choice as to where our sympathies really lie.

It seems that all but the most saintly of us has a limited quantity of compassion. If it’s too focused, a lot of individuals can get left out, but spread too thin it’s not much good to anyone.

Animal advocates are often some of the most caring people around, yet  at times itfry-ted-fry-300x203 appears as if they don’t have a whole lot of compassion for the people who abuse animals. Most animal rights supporters actually have a limited empathy allotment, so they tend to save theirs for the victims—not the perpetrators—of cruelty.

When animal rights advocates look at their own culpabilities, they take responsibility and work to change their actions. This is something you cannot expect from willful animal exploiters. Those who knowingly mistreat can’t be made to feel shame for anything; they’ve built up a wall of rationalization eight feet thick. Nothing gets in. They can’t or won’t be changed, though they may profess a profound transformation to their parole board.

Such was surely the case with Ted Bundy, before he ultimately confessed to the brutal murders of thirty young women (many of whom he decapitated and—like a typical sport hunter—kept their heads as trophies to help him relive the kills).

When the day of Ted Bundy’s execution finally came, people in Florida were weighing in on all sides of the issue. On one extreme were folks chanting and carrying signs like, “Thank God it’s FRY-day,” “Bye-Bye Bundy, and more power to you” and “Hey Ted, don’t forget to file an appeal in Hell” expressing their displeasure with the serial killer’s horrendous acts. At the other end of the spectrum was a virtual fan club of Ted Bundy devotees and groupies, one of whom had married him surreptitiously during his sentencing hearing.

Most people’s reactions were somewhere in between the two, depending on where their sympathies lie. As always, mine are with the victims.

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How Long Did They Think It Could Go On?

Jim Robertson-wolf-copyright

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always thought, how long did they think they could get away with it? I guess I’ve always had a different perspective when it comes to the whole crazy industrialized world and the consequences of living so extremely against Nature as Americans have done for around a century or so.

Whenever I heard people talk of bombing Iraq or Iran (or whoever was the perceived target of the day) “back to the Stone Age,” I’d think, throw me into the briar patch, what’s wrong with that? Living like it was the Stone Age would be the best thing for the Earth and us all.

I spent nearly half my life like it was the Stone Age and never found myself wanting for more. Not only was the cabin where I lived in the mountains of the North Cascades without power, phone or running water, I didn’t have the urge to get a generator to see what I was missing out on.

Somehow I knew a gas-powered generator banging away for hours on end would be about as unnatural as you could get; I’d rather not have any power than have power produced so noisily. Such a foul assault on Mother Nature would have consequences down the line.

Perhaps it was because I studied physical anthropology rather than sociology; spent so much time backpacking—living out of a tent in National Parks and wilderness areas; and planting trees for work rather than cutting them down. But when some old rustic wilderness cabin came available to care take, I jumped at the chance. Never mind that I had to cut firewood for heat or that it was beyond the county plowed roads—I cross country skied to get around and chopped a hole in the ice on the river to water the horses. Sure, it was hard work, but it felt right.

1173835_594069293967592_2141908188_nBut whenever I’d have to be where cars were stuck bumper to bumper on the freeway, or witness rampant development, I’d think, how long do they think this can go on before Nature extracts her revenge? How long do people think they can jet-set between their houses and condos, or have specialty products flown or shipped in to their nearest Costco or Walmart, or turn even more moose or elk habitat into golf courses or strip malls or housing developments for an ever-burgeoning human population before Nature says, “Enough!” and retaliates?

Well, considering deadly heat waves like the recent one that hit India; the record flooding in Texas; California’s ongoing mega-drought; the 300+ tundra and forest fires raging across Alaska and the acidic dead zones in the Pacific and other oceans, it looks like the party’s winding down.

As John A. Livingston put it, “Human uniqueness is even more profound than we have been taught to believe and to proclaim.” As you may have guessed (and not to further burst any bubbles), Livingston didn’t mean “unique” in a good way. He meant something more like what Gary Yourofsky says here: “Humans are the scum of the earth. Pure parasites. There is only one species on this planet that can be removed from Earth – and with that removal – EVERY living being, sentient and insentient, will benefit. The animals would thrive. The rainforest, the woods, the mountains, the trees, the plants would thrive. The air and the oceans would become clean again. The earth itself would be born again.”

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Alaska’s Current Off-the-Charts Wildfire Situation

Alaskans can take a peek out the window this week to catch a glimpse of climate change. It seems the entire state is on fire, and those fires are burning up land at a pace far beyond that of 2004, the previous record-setting year.

Here are the stats:

  • Wildfires in Alaska have burned more than 1.25 million acres so far this year. That’s an area 32 times the size of Washington, D.C.
  • 3,343 firefighters are currently working in Alaska. That’s one-third of all the wildland firefighters currently tasked in the United States.
  • 85 percent of the area burned nationwide this year by wildfire has been in Alaska.

The state of Alaska is at its highest level of alert. Its Tuesday wildfire situation report was 65 pages long. And the problem is getting worse: Wildfires now burn five times more acreage each year in our northernmost state than they did in 1943.

More: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/06/30/alaska_wildfires_climate_change_is_helping_spark_big_fires_at_a_record_pace.html

 

 

More fireworks stands close due to fire danger

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http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/2015/jul/01/more-fireworks-stands-close-due-to-fire-danger/

July 1, 2015,

WENATCHEE — More fireworks stands are closing as a result of widespread fireworks bans, tinder-dry fire conditions, and some outward community concern for fire safety.

Throngs of Independence Day revelers would normally be lining up this time of year to buy their annual dose of sparklers, rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

But tents and trailers offering fireworks for sale are either closed or shy of business this year. Those that are open have had far fewer sales than their proprietors have had harassments. The only flag waving seen, they say, is with middle fingers.

As a result, several more stands agreed to close Wednesday afternoon.

With everything going on, and in the name of fire safety, TNT is voluntarily deciding to let local organizations shut down. It’s the right thing to do,” said Greg Burger, an area manager assistant for TNT Fireworks. The company provides fireworks, often a tent and insurance to organizations and individuals who want a share of the profits, often for local fundraisers.

The change is a response to the devastating loss of homes during the Sleepy Hollow Fire, widespread firework bans and tinder dry fire conditions throughout the region.

Several fireworks stands previously decided not to open. The Church of the Nazarene, the Wenatchee Valley Appleaires and the Douglas County Republicans earlier decided not to open stands in East Wenatchee. The new TNT decision will close four stands in Wenatchee and two others in East Wenatchee.

Most of the stands that remained open were run by organizations bound by contract. Sales at the stands had been far from sparkling.

Wenatchee Eagles had one such stand near the organization’s auxiliary hall at 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. They planned to open another stand today at Coastal Farm & Home in East Wenatchee.

Eagles member Dena Saylor said the group signed a contract with TNT Fireworks last October. Saylor said the Eagles used profits from last year’s sales to pay organizational property taxes and to give to local charities. One was to help fire victims from last year’s Carlton Complex fires.

Member Christine Farley said the Wenatchee stand had only nine sales in the first two days they’ve been open.

But we’re getting harassed quite a bit. A couple of people seemed really over the edge. I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said.

Farley and Saylor said they weren’t forcing anyone to buy fireworks. They told them they can’t shoot them off in Wenatchee and most parts of Chelan County and to be cautious if they did. Burger, the TNT assistant stopped by Tuesday at the same time as a Chelan County fire marshal, and that’s when an agreement was made to shut down, Farley said.

WENATCHEE — More fireworks stands are closing as a result of widespread fireworks bans, tinder-dry fire conditions, and some outward community concern for fire safety.

Throngs of Independence Day revelers would normally be lining up this time of year to buy their annual dose of sparklers, rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

But tents and trailers offering fireworks for sale are either closed or shy of business this year. Those that are open have had far fewer sales than their proprietors have had harassments. The only flag waving seen, they say, is with middle fingers.

As a result, several more stands agreed to close Wednesday afternoon.

With everything going on, and in the name of fire safety, TNT is voluntarily deciding to let local organizations shut down. It’s the right thing to do,” said Greg Burger, an area manager assistant for TNT Fireworks. The company provides fireworks, often a tent and insurance to organizations and individuals who want a share of the profits, often for local fundraisers.

The change is a response to the devastating loss of homes during the Sleepy Hollow Fire, widespread firework bans and tinder dry fire conditions throughout the region.

Several fireworks stands previously decided not to open. The Church of the Nazarene, the Wenatchee Valley Appleaires and the Douglas County Republicans earlier decided not to open stands in East Wenatchee. The new TNT decision will close four stands in Wenatchee and two others in East Wenatchee.

Most of the stands that remained open were run by organizations bound by contract. Sales at the stands had been far from sparkling.

Wenatchee Eagles had one such stand near the organization’s auxiliary hall at 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. They planned to open another stand today at Coastal Farm & Home in East Wenatchee.

Eagles member Dena Saylor said the group signed a contract with TNT Fireworks last October. Saylor said the Eagles used profits from last year’s sales to pay organizational property taxes and to give to local charities. One was to help fire victims from last year’s Carlton Complex fires.

Member Christine Farley said the Wenatchee stand had only nine sales in the first two days they’ve been open.

But we’re getting harassed quite a bit. A couple of people seemed really over the edge. I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said.

Farley and Saylor said they weren’t forcing anyone to buy fireworks. They told them they can’t shoot them off in Wenatchee and most parts of Chelan County and to be cautious if they did. Burger, the TNT assistant stopped by Tuesday at the same time as a Chelan County fire marshal, and that’s when an agreement was made to shut down, Farley said.

We are telling them about the fireworks show at the park and set them off New Year’s Eve,” Farley said about her few customers. “But when people come in and start yelling and screaming at us, that’s not cool. It’s not like we don’t care about fire victims. We do.”

WENATCHEE — More fireworks stands are closing as a result of widespread fireworks bans, tinder-dry fire conditions, and some outward community concern for fire safety.

Throngs of Independence Day revelers would normally be lining up this time of year to buy their annual dose of sparklers, rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.

But tents and trailers offering fireworks for sale are either closed or shy of business this year. Those that are open have had far fewer sales than their proprietors have had harassments. The only flag waving seen, they say, is with middle fingers.

As a result, several more stands agreed to close Wednesday afternoon.

With everything going on, and in the name of fire safety, TNT is voluntarily deciding to let local organizations shut down. It’s the right thing to do,” said Greg Burger, an area manager assistant for TNT Fireworks. The company provides fireworks, often a tent and insurance to organizations and individuals who want a share of the profits, often for local fundraisers.

The change is a response to the devastating loss of homes during the Sleepy Hollow Fire, widespread firework bans and tinder dry fire conditions throughout the region.

Several fireworks stands previously decided not to open. The Church of the Nazarene, the Wenatchee Valley Appleaires and the Douglas County Republicans earlier decided not to open stands in East Wenatchee. The new TNT decision will close four stands in Wenatchee and two others in East Wenatchee.

Most of the stands that remained open were run by organizations bound by contract. Sales at the stands had been far from sparkling.

Wenatchee Eagles had one such stand near the organization’s auxiliary hall at 1202 N. Wenatchee Ave. They planned to open another stand today at Coastal Farm & Home in East Wenatchee.

Eagles member Dena Saylor said the group signed a contract with TNT Fireworks last October. Saylor said the Eagles used profits from last year’s sales to pay organizational property taxes and to give to local charities. One was to help fire victims from last year’s Carlton Complex fires.

Member Christine Farley said the Wenatchee stand had only nine sales in the first two days they’ve been open.

But we’re getting harassed quite a bit. A couple of people seemed really over the edge. I didn’t know what they were going to do,” she said.

Farley and Saylor said they weren’t forcing anyone to buy fireworks. They told them they can’t shoot them off in Wenatchee and most parts of Chelan County and to be cautious if they did. Burger, the TNT assistant stopped by Tuesday at the same time as a Chelan County fire marshal, and that’s when an agreement was made to shut down, Farley said.

We are telling them about the fireworks show at the park and set them off New Year’s Eve,” Farley said about her few customers. “But when people come in and start yelling and screaming at us, that’s not cool. It’s not like we don’t care about fire victims. We do.”