A ‘Squirrel Slam’ Lures Hunters and Protesters to Western New York

BROCKPORT, N.Y. — They crouched and hid, using the gray, rainy skies and fallow fields as camouflage. They scurried across well-traveled roads, up barren trees and perhaps even toward the border with Canada. They used their wits, their two extra legs and — yes — their bushy tails to fend off their pursuers.

And yet, it was not the squirrels but the hunters who triumphed here on Saturday during the annual Squirrel Slam, a decade-old fund-raising event that has drawn the ire of animal lovers and environmentalists.

The slam and its former host and beneficiary — a volunteer fire department in the nearby town of Holley in western New York — are the subject of a lawsuit filed in state court by Lauren Sheive, a squirrel aficionado who claims there has not been a proper review of its environmental effect.

In particular, Ms. Sheive and her lawyers allege that the slam — which is held on the last Saturday of February during squirrel-hunting season — is particularly damaging to the arboreal rodents because the key to winning the one-day contest is to bag the heaviest squirrels; that is, those that might be pregnant.

“Since it is baby time, the moms will be fatter and larger,” according to an affidavit submitted by Ms. Sheive, who lives in Williamson, N.Y., east of Rochester. “So if, as could happen, there is an overkilling of females who are potentially leaving young to die in their nests, what does that do to the balance of nature?”

Photo

Dennis Bauer recorded the weight of squirrels at the hunt on Saturday. Mr. Bauer has helped organize the event for the last 11 years. CreditMike Bradley for The New York Times

State environmental officials dispute that assertion, saying the hunt falls outside of the period in which squirrels breed and care for their young. Supporters of the slam have long been bewildered by the accusation that they are somehow upsetting the area’s ecology, saying the event is merely a fun way to raise money and promote community bonding.

“Everyone thinks I’m sending 300 people into the woods and slaughtering all the squirrels,” said Dennis Bauer, a hunter who helps organize the event, noting that the slam is not localized, but countywide. If it were harming squirrels, he said, “I wouldn’t do it.”

The dispute also touches on age-old friction between rural and urban mores, with some here grumbling that the conflict was being stoked by downstaters who would not know a Remington from a Rembrandt.

“I think it’s the coolest — Americana in action,” said Jeff Allen, a former logger in Alaska and a local resident who was up early to check out the slam. “And I think this is just a great little thing for upstate New York.”

At the same time, the hunt has also tapped into a broader push by national animal rights groups to stop hunting contests, including those that target animals such as coyotes, pigeons and prairie dogs.

In Albany, state lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban any contest where the goal “is to take the greatest number of wildlife,” though the winners of the squirrel slam receive a small cash prize based on weight, not the number of animals killed. (Slam hunters are limited to five squirrels; the state limit for most species is six a day.)

Still, the New York State director of the Humane Society of the United States, Brian Shapiro, has expressed concern that the slam could cause “the wider community to believe that wildlife is unimportant and killing for a monetary prize is meritorious.”

When the lawsuit was filed in 2015, it was initially dismissed. Then in December, Ms. Sheive won on appeal, and the case was sent back to Orleans County Supreme Court for further review. Arguments there are due on Monday.

One of the slam’s principal opponents has been Richard Brummel, a Long Island resident and grass-roots environmental advocate who has waged a dogged campaign against the event in recent years, citing the State Environmental Quality Review Act to challenge the hunt. He said that his love of squirrels was born from a suburban upbringing and that the animals were “agile,” “industrious” and “very acrobatic.”

“And they are actually somewhat approachable,” he said.

Squirrels are plentiful in New York, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which categorizes three types of squirrels — gray, fox and black — as having “abundant population” and allows them to be hunted in most parts of the state from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28.

Some squirrels, however, are considered nuisances and thus are hunted by humans year round. And many of the squirrels in this neck of the woods fall into that enemy-of-the-people category, said Amethyst McCracken, an avowed pet lover who works at an animal-care office in Holley.

“We have squirrels here the size of cats,” said Ms. McCracken, a licensed veterinary technician. “They do damage. They cause accidents. They chew through power cords, go through drains.”

Photo

Amy Prate of Hilton, N.Y., left, and Brian Sams of Palmyra, N.Y., took a selfie at the hunt in Brockport, N.Y., on Saturday. CreditMike Bradley for The New York Times

Like others here, Ms. McCracken said part of the slam’s problem might be branding. “When you hear ‘slam,’ you think about someone taking it and slamming them on the ground,” she said. But whatever the hunt is called, its organizers insist that the animals did not go to waste. Their tails are used to make fishing lures, while much of their meat — a flavor that has been compared to rabbit or, yes, chicken — finds its way into squirrel stew and other foods.

Joey Inthavong, an immigrant from Thailand who lives in Rochester, collects hundreds of squirrels from the slam every year. He insisted the quality of the local squirrels was excellent.

“They live outside, eat apples, like deer, eat good food,” Mr. Inthavong said. “Not like in the city — they eat garbage.”

Regardless of the looming legal action, the slam proceeded on Saturday, though without the Holley Fire Department after previous protests. Kevin Dann, the fire chief, said his company was “100 percent uninvolved.”

“People in New York City don’t like that we hunt up here,” he said.

Instead, the event was transferred to an Elks Lodge in Brockport, a college town on the Erie Canal, about 20 miles west of Rochester. Most of the participants were experienced hunters — rifles and high-powered pellet guns being the weapons of choice — and had war stories about their nimble prey.

Photo

Brett Jacobson of Greece, N.Y., participated in the squirrel hunt. “They’re like little ninjas,” he said.CreditMike Bradley for The New York Times

“They’re like little ninjas,” said Brett Jacobson, an avid hunter from Greece, N.Y. He noted that squirrels often scare off deer during that hunting season. “They’re obnoxious,” he said.

All told, New York has more than 500,000 licensed hunters — including 30,000 squirrel hunters. The participants in Saturday’s slam worked in a range of professions, including public-school teachers, salesmen and small-business people. Many chatted amiably in the hall of the Elks Lodge, drinking draft beer and buying raffle tickets.

Mr. Bauer, the hunter who helps organize the event, is a mechanic. He says the event draws all kinds of people — “fathers and daughters, 60-year-old brothers, husbands and wives.” And sure enough, a steady stream of hunters arrived in the late afternoon, bearing boxes and plastic bags full of squirrels.

The squirrels were handed off to a team of women called “squirrel girls,” who weighed them on digital scales as Mr. Bauer recorded weights. The winning team — teenagers from Kendall, N.Y. — brought in the heaviest individual squirrel (nearly two pounds), and five squirrels that weighed more than seven pounds total.

Mr. Bauer said it had been a tough day to hunt, driving rain and wind, but a good day for the slam: All of the money raised — from $10 tickets, raffles and the like — would go to the local Elks, who said they would use it for causes like helping veterans and fighting cerebral palsy.

Many of the hunters said they understood that squirrel hunts may not be for everyone, particularly those in cities, where the animals are more likely to be in a park than your barn.

“It’s a country thing,” said Rich Ezell, 62, who hunted with his son-in-law, adding that the event was for a good cause. “I wouldn’t shoot them just to shoot them.”

Got Almond Milk? Dairy Farms Protest Milk Label on Nondairy Drinks

If milk comes from a plant, can you still call it milk?

Not according to the dairy industry. Facing growing competition from dairy alternatives like almond, soy and coconut milk, the nation’s dairy farmers are fighting back, with an assist from Congress. Their goal: to stop companies from calling their plant-based products yogurt, milk or cheese. Dairy farmers say the practice misleads consumers into thinking that nondairy milk is nutritionally similar to cow’s milk.

A bipartisan group of 32 members of Congress is asking the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on companies that call plant-based beverages “milk.” They say F.D.A. regulations define milk as a “lacteal secretion” obtained by milking “one or more healthy cows.” Proposed legislation from Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, and Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, a state known for its cheese, suggests a slightly broader definition. Their bill would require the F.D.A. to target milk, yogurt and cheese products that do not contain milk from “hooved mammals.”

“The bottom line for us is that milk is defined by the F.D.A., and we’re saying to the F.D.A.: Enforce your definition,” Mr. Welch said.

But critics say consumers know exactly what they are buying when they choose almond or soy milk instead of dairy milk. “There’s no cow on any of these containers of almond milk or soy milk,” said Michele Simon, executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, a trade group representing 70 companies. “No one is trying to fool consumers. All they’re trying to do is create a better alternative for people who are looking for that option.”

And what about other nondairy products with dairy names? Will milk of magnesia, cocoa butter, cream of wheat and peanut butter have to change their names as well?

In recent years, dairy milk alternatives made from almonds, soy, cashews and coconuts have exploded in popularity. Many people consider them more nutritious than cow’s milk. Some people buy them because they have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. Others choose them for environmental reasons or because they want a vegan diet. And some just like the taste.

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Miyoko Schinner, chief executive and founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen makes nut-based cheeses and butters in Fairfax, Calif. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Cow’s milk was once one of America’s most iconic beverages. But Americans are drinking less of it. Americans drink 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970, according to the Department of Agriculture. Dairy milk sales tumbled to $12 billion last year, down 20 percent from $15 billion in 2011. Part of the reason is that people switched to other beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, bottled water and soy and almond milk. Mintel, a market research firm, found that negative health perceptions were driving the decline in sales of cow’s milk.

Plant-based milks, with brand names like Almond Breeze and Silk, are sold in the dairy aisle and still represent a fraction of the beverage market, but they are growing in popularity. According to Nielsen, sales of plant-based milks have surged to $1.4 billion from $900 million in 2012.

Much of the growth in plant-based milk has come from the rising popularity of almond milk. Last year, Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee chain, announced that it would begin offering almond milk to lighten its espresso drinks, to meet customer demand. The chain said it was one of the most-requested customer suggestions of all time.

Experts say sales of almond milk are surging for a number of reasons. The dairy industry has come under fire over concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of livestock, which contributes to air and water pollution. Almond production has an environmental impact as well: Most of the world’s almonds come from drought-stricken California, where farmers have been accused of diverting dwindling groundwater reserves to their almond orchards, and producing just 16 almonds requires an estimated 15.3 gallons of water. But ultimately the environmental impact of producing cow’s milk in areas where almonds are grown would be far worse, said David Zetland, an assistant professor of economics at Leiden University College in the Netherlands and the author of “Living With Water Scarcity.”

Many consumers also consider almond milk a healthier alternative to cow’s milk. The dairy industry says that’s not true. They point out that milk has nine essential nutrients that are necessary for good health, like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and potassium. The industry has also created ads claiming that milk has up to eight times as much protein as almond milk and fewer ingredients and additives. Some brands of soy and almond milk do contain large amounts of added sugar. But they also come in unsweetened varieties with zero sugar, and some are fortified with calcium, B12 and other nutrients.

There is also debate over the nutritional merits of cow’s milk. In 2013, for example, two of the country’s top nutrition experts, Walter Willett and David Ludwig, both at Harvard, published an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics arguing that healthy adults who get plenty of vegetables, nuts and protein in their diets may not get any extra benefit from cow’s milk. They also raised concerns about exposure to hormones in milk and high levels of added sugar in the chocolate milk served in many schools.

As the dairy industry continues to press its case, producers of nondairy milks are fighting back. The Plant Based Foods Association sent letters to the F.D.A. stating that plant-based milks were properly labeled with their “common or usual” names. A petition from the Good Food Institute opposing the dairy labeling legislation has garnered more than 41,000 signatures.

Photo

Janet Clark, with a calf at her family’s dairy farm, Vision Aire Farms in Wisconsin, was one of the farmers who asked Senator Tammy Baldwin to restrict the use of the word milk outside the dairy industry.CreditBen Brewer for The New York Times

“Don’t they have better things to do than to care about what a product is called?” asked Miyoko Schinner, the chief executive of Miyoko’s Kitchen, which sells popular nut-based cheeses and butters at almost 2,000 stores nationwide. “The only reason they would care is because they’re protecting their special interests.”

Marsha Cohen, an expert on food and drug law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, said that the dairy industry faces an uphill battle. She said the government’s definitions for milk and other foods — known as “standards of identity” — are intended primarily to protect consumers from financial harm, such as being duped into buying cheap or imitation foods masquerading as more expensive ones. She noted that the F.D.A. recently allowed the company Hampton Creek to call its vegan mayonnaise substitute “Just Mayo,” even though the F.D.A.’s legal definition of mayonnaise states that the condiment must contain eggs.

The debate over what can and can’t be called milk already has played out in courts, with judges so far siding with the plant-based milk industry. In 2013, Judge Samuel Conti of Federal District Court in San Francisco, dismissed a proposed class-action lawsuit that claimed that almond, coconut and soy milk were mislabeled because they do not come from cows. Judge Conti said the claim “stretches the bounds of credulity,” and that it was “simply implausible that a reasonable consumer would mistake a product like soy milk or almond milk with dairy milk from a cow.” He said the lawsuit was reminiscent of an earlier case in which a woman claimed she was misled by Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries cereal because she thought it contained real fruit (that case was thrown out).

More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/well/eat/got-almond-milk-dairy-farms-protest-milk-label-on-nondairy-drinks.html?_r=0

Could Going Vegan Save Millions Of Lives? Who would have thought?

Bipedal Bear’s Apparent Death Motivates Bear Hunt Opponents in New Jersey

 

New Jersey’s long-debated black bear hunts have stoked strong passions, blasted by animal rights activists as inhumane and supported by hunters and wildlife officials who say they help control the population and minimize run-ins with humans.

But the death of a bear presumed to be one that walked on two feet and became a social media darling has become a rallying cry for hunt opponents as they prepare to stage protests during the second segment of this year’s hunt, which starts Monday. It’s scheduled to run through Saturday, but officials said it could end early depending on how many bears are culled.

Pedals the bear first surfaced about two years ago in Jefferson Township. The bear walked with an unusual gait on his hind legs and was spotted ambling around neighborhoods. It also was caught on videos that were posted online and shown on national television.

Wildlife officials believe Pedals was killed during the expanded bear hunt staged in October. The Department of Environmental Protection released pictures showing the lifeless body of a black bear with injured paws, just like the ones Pedals had, but couldn’t confirm the identity because Pedals was never tagged.

Animal rights activists say the belief that Pedals is dead has motivated them and others to work even harder to end the hunt. Pedals was last seen on video in June.

“Our numbers have always been high, but the killing of Pedals has caused our support to increase,” said Janine Motta, programs director for the Bear Education And Resource program. The group has staged protests during previous hunts in New Jersey and plans similar events during the upcoming hunt.

“Here was one particular bear that people may have known, seen or just followed on Facebook. They felt a connection with Pedals,” Motta said. “When he was killed, it became personal for those who loved him, and that translated into a greater awareness of the hunt in general and the realization that all bears who are killed are important.”

New Jersey resumed state-regulated bear hunting in 2003 after a ban that lasted more than 30 years. Another hunt was held in 2005, and in 2010 the state instituted an annual hunt.

The expanded six-day hunting season took effect this year. Hunters were allowed to use only bows and arrows to during the first three days, and muzzle-loading guns were added during the second half.

This coming week’s hunt is for firearms only and runs concurrently with the six-day firearm season for deer. But wildlife officials anticipate the bear hunt will end early due to the harvest limit set in the state’s bear management policy.

Hunters harvested 562 bears during the expanded hunt, and 23.4 percent were previously tagged bears. This week’s hunt will be suspended once the cumulative harvest rate of tagged bears reaches 30 percent, officials said.

State wildlife officials have touted the annual hunt as an important part of controlling the bear population and minimizing run-ins with humans, particularly in the northern part of New Jersey known as bear country. They have estimated that 3,500 bears live in New Jersey north of Interstate 80, roughly the upper one-eighth of the state.

Critics have called the hunt brutal, cruel and ineffective. But James Doherty, a Toms River resident who has taken part in previous hunts, believes the critics are so focused on their cause that they don’t see why it’s needed.

“The stereotype of hunters is that we’re all gun nuts who like to kill things for the fun of it, but that’s not the case,” Doherty said. “Listen to the biologists, the experts- the hunt helps keep the bear population in control, and that’s very important. If the population gets too high, there’s not enough food for all of them, and it can lead to more bear-human interactions.”

Read more: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Bipedal-Bears-Apparent-Death-Motivated-Bear-Hunt-Opponents-in-New-Jersey-404604286.html#ixzz4Rzv3aTQ6
Follow us: @nbcphiladelphia on Twitter | NBCPhiladelphia on Facebook

Showing Mercy to Suffering Animals Is Not ‘Criminal Mischief’

Anita Krajnc gives water to pigs in Toronto on their way to slaughter.
13509120_1489667357723390_1046634769482457799_n
by Matthew Scully November 7, 2016, Issue
A Canadian woman finds herself in court for giving water to thirsty pigs bound for a slaughterhouse. Depressed about large and momentous events beyond our control, perhaps we had best think of humbler matters in which, at least, the decisions are ours alone to make. If that’s your state of mind in the fall of 2016, I’ve got just the news story for you. A morality tale out of Ontario, Canada, it’s known locally as the “thirsty pigs” case and presents choices that are, in their way, momentous enough. In a court of justice, a 49-year-old woman named Anita Krajnc stands accused of criminal mischief. Her offense, as alleged by complainants and provincial authorities, was to give water to pigs bound for a nearby abattoir. It was a hot day in June of last year. A trailer hauling 180 or so of the animals had stopped at an intersection. Seeing the pigs looking out through the vents, panting and foaming at the mouth, the defendant let them lap water from a plastic bottle, provoking this videotaped confrontation related by the Washington Post: At that moment, the truck driver emerged in protest. “Don’t give them anything!” he shouted, his own camera phone in hand. “Do not put anything in there!” “Jesus said, ‘If they are thirsty, give them water,’” she yelled back. “No, you know what?” he shouted. “These are not humans, you dumb frickin’ broad! Hello!” The driver, Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, called police and eventually continued on with his doomed cargo down Harvester Road to the suitably named Fearmans slaughterhouse (what pig shouldn’t fear man’s slaughterhouse?). The next day Eric Van Boekel, owner of Van Boekel Hog Farms, pressed charges for what he regards as an interference with his livelihood and property: a case of tampering with the food supply and nothing more. Anita Krajnc, moreover, didn’t just happen to be at that intersection. She leads a group called Toronto Pig Save. Part of its mission is to offer water to pigs and other farm animals in their final moments. In the way of mass-confinement farming these days, that ride to Fearmans affords their very first glimpse of the world and their very last. Often these journeys are hundreds of miles, the pigs crowded into trucks for as long as 36 hours with no food, water, or rest. Krajnc is there to “bear witness,” that they might go to their deaths having encountered at least one human face that wasn’t glaring indifferently at them, felt one touch of human kindness. Viewing the woman as incorrigible, Van Boeckel decided this was his chance to put an end to it. Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, representing hog farmers, informs members that “our coordinated action plan has been established” in case the controversy gets out of hand. “Developments in the case and associated actions by interested parties are being monitored very closely,” and “we sincerely hope the court continues to focus on the specific issue at hand.” They are understandably wary of any inquiry extending beyond the property-interference question, wishing to steer as far clear as possible of a public moral debate, to say nothing of a religious debate, about the mistreatment of farm animals in general and about Krajnc’s last-hour benefactions in particular. Allow the spirit of the Comforter and Good Shepherd at the end of the creatures’ lives, and attentive men and women will start to wonder where it was all along. Not good for business when people get too unearthly about these things. Save your prayers for grace over the meal. For her part, the dumb frickin’ broad with the water says that she was “just following the Golden Rule,” understood as applying wherever human empathy can reach. She explained in court that she prefers the word “intervening” to “interfering,” since whatever the law says about Van Boekel’s property, she was simply living out her Christian obligation of compassion for animals, thereby serving the public good. It was an act of mercy, and in what kind of enterprise is it forbidden to be merciful? I was thirsty and you gave me drink. Nothing in the ring of those words to encourage help for an afflicted fellow creature? Do humans alone know thirst? The reputations of revered saints instruct us in gentleness toward animals, along with firm admonitions in Scripture and felony-level penalties recognizing, toward some creatures, anyway, an obligation of justice. So to Krajnc’s supporters it seems unfair that she should be the one compelled to explain herself, facing imprisonment for being merciful, while Van Boekel, who shows nothing of that quality, steps into court like some aggrieved pillar of the community. Change.org, petitioning for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attention to the case before a verdict comes next month, frames the matter this way: “What is wrong with our legal system, when attempting to alleviate the suffering of another being is seen as criminal, and those who are inflicting the pain and cruelty are left unchallenged?” A satisfactory answer from the prime minister would top his viral-video performance back in April, when he explained quantum computing to a dazzled audience of reporters and academics. Merely addressing the problem of factory farming at all would show a truly searching mind at work. How often do liberals who lay blame for the world’s ills on the greed of other people, or conservatives on the weak will of other people, ever question their own habits and appetites, or consider how a change in these might help to avoid vast animal suffering? In neither case do we see the moral idealism of serious people at their best, and liberals in particular receive far more credit than is merited for thinking and caring about animal causes. So it would be nice if Canada’s progressive prime minister set a helpful example. Should he answer the question put to him by Change.org, it is a challenge of mental prowess less theoretical than quantum theory, and the test of truth is consistency. For instance, it was pointed out in Krajnc’s trial that if the court had the same basic set of facts, replacing only the word “pig” with “dog,” the weight of law would shift instantly in favor of the defendant, even though dogs also fall rather uneasily into the category of legal property. A conscientious person, seeing a trapped, desperate, overheated dog, would be expected to offer relief, and in some places, parts of Canada included, the law encourages exactly that. What would we do? And why should we care in the least what the owner thinks, when the creature is clearly suffering from deliberate or reckless neglect? Social norms basically say that dogs are awesome and pigs are worthless. Provably, however, pigs are every bit the equals of dogs in their intelligence, emotional depth, and capacities for suffering and happiness alike. Though badly maligned, pigs are really quite impressive and endearing when they are not being tortured, terrified, scalded alive (as often happens), and dismembered amid the bedlam of places like Van Boekel’s factory farm and Fearmans’s abattoir. In countries where dogs are mostly appreciated, admired, and loved, while unseen pigs are killed by the hundreds of thousands every day, people need to pretend there’s some subtle yet all-important moral difference between abusing one and abusing the other, or eating one and eating the other. And it falls to guileless souls like Anita Krajnc to remind them it’s all just made up. Charge her with a lack of sophistication, being too naïve to play along with convenient cultural distinctions that have no basis in reality. Indeed, we can easily imagine a Chinese or Korean version of the story, a “thirsty dogs case” in which some Golden Rule do-gooder dares to offer a merciful bit of water to one of the millions of dogs ensnared in the canine meat trade — complete with a driver shouting “These are not humans! Hello!” and a seller insisting that she take her damn hands off his food animals. Dogs in China, South Korea, and elsewhere are subjected to devilish torments; as with our farm animals, thirst is the least of their miseries. Call up a few pictures on the Internet if you can bear reminding of how utterly depraved some people are toward animals. And then try explaining why that meat trade is needless, selfish, and hard-hearted but ours is not. If anything, the dog butchers and their customers may be credited with greater consistency, being unselective in their inhumanity toward animals. Wait on the day when all such scenes are in our past, finally left behind in what Wayne Pacelle calls the “humane economy” (in a powerful book by that name). For every product of human cruelty, human creativity will offer something better, as it does already with an abundance of far healthier substitutes for meat. We will need no witnesses like Anita Krajnc to gentler, saner ways, because the slaughterhouses will be gone. The little acts of mercy will lead to great ones; the ruthless instead of the kindly will be counted disturbers of the peace. You can take that on the authority, as well, of Charles Krauthammer, a man educated in Canada, who observed recently on Fox News that “in a hundred years people are going to judge us as a civilization that killed wantonly and ate animals. There’s going to be a time when we’re not going to need to do that. And they’re going to end up judging their ancestors, meaning us, harshly for having been that wanton and that cruel.” Or, you can take it from Anita, this gracious person whose real offense is to see what we are not supposed to notice, and to say what the world both dismisses as foolish and knows to be true. “When someone is suffering,” she told the Post, “it’s actually wrong to look away. We all have a duty to be present and try to help. In the history of the world, that’s how social movements progress.” – Mr. Scully, a former literary editor of National Review and senior speechwriter to President George W. Bush, is the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. Read more at: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-11-07-0000/

Read more at: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-11-07-0000/

Big Food Strikes Back

from DawnWatch: This Sunday, October 9, the Magazine section of the New York Times is dubbed “The Food Issue.” It includes some terrific articles, including a piece by Michael Pollan, and a haunting photo-essay on big ag. Best of all it includes a piece, by Ted Genoways, on the undercover work of a
“Compassion Over Killing” investigator.

The article on the COK investigator, titled, “Close to the Bone,” and titled online “The Fight Over Transparency in the Meat Industry,” first tells us how little consumers know about the meat they eat. We read that the Department of Agriculture no longer oversees and verifies claims such as
“grass-fed” or “naturally raised,” and that even when the department certifies labels they are questionable, with no standard definition for “humanely raised,” and no site visits to confirm enforcement for those approved to use the label.

Genoways writes:
“Amid such dwindling transparency and oversight, animal rights activists, once regarded as the radical fringe, have taken on a somewhat unlikely role as consumer watchdogs.” He follows an investigator named Jay who get a job at a pig slaughterhouse near Austin. We read:

“He filmed a hog being hit in the face with plastic rattle paddles and electrically prodded on the head. He filmed another hog being repeatedly beaten then rolled and pushed by its hindquarters. He filmed hogs having their throats slit while still alive and — in one particularly harrowing sequence — appeared to capture a hog struggling to right itself in its shackle as it is carried toward processing. A spokesman for Q.P.P. said all the hogs ‘had been properly rendered insensible,’ but the video itself seems to contradict that claim. At one point, a worker shouts over the din of machinery and squealing pigs: ‘Too many sensibles. If U.S.D.A. is around, they could shut us down.'”

The article explains that because of a new kind of self-regulation, known as HIMP, the USDA was unlikely to be around.”

You’ll find the full piece on line at http://tinyurl.com/hansj7j

Michael Pollan’s article is titled, “Big Food Strikes Back.” The subheading is, “When Barack Obama took office activists hoped his administration would fight for stronger regulation of corporate agriculture. Eight years later they are still waiting.”

Pollan shares part of an early interview given by President Obama to Joel Klein of Time Magazine:

“I was just reading an article in The New York Times by Michael Pollan about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the meantime, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs because they’re contributing to Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity.”

He reminds us that on the campaign trail Obama vowed “to bring CAFOs under the authority of the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and Superfund program ‘just as any other polluter.’”

What follows is a fascinating study on the power of Big Ag. You’ll find it on line at http://tinyurl.com/hz3mr5v

Featured Image -- 12776

World Animal Day 2016

image
World Animal Day is the international day of action for animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on October 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

We need to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.

Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals.

Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.

Feel free to join these great animal welfare groups on Linkedin !

Animal Welfare Europe
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2859887

Animal Activists International
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8140144

DOG International
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4402412

CAT International
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8107761

Petitions & Causes Animal Welfare
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8302325

Animal Rights World Wide
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1064337

Say NO to animal cruelty !
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8362833

World Animal Protection ( vh WSPA )
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2879905

Sea Shepherd International
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/787867

AMCF Animal Medical Care Foundation
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/732977

Jane Goodall Instituut Nederland
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2879885

AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1780893

SAFP Stray Animal Foundation Platform
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3654178

ISAT International Stray Animal Team
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3148494

HAA Helping Abused Animals
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1087837

CAS International – against bullfighting
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1896004

Vrienden van de Olifant – Elephants
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4392497

SPOTS protection big cats ( lion, tiger, cheetah, leopard )
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4506499