Archive for the ‘Animal Issues’ Category

Mad about Meat

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Remember this?

Two weeks ago, when word of this investigation leaked, Central Florida school districts pulled beef from their menus. Smart move on their part.

A disturbing undercover video showing cows too sick to stand being shoved with forklifts or dragged with chains across a cement floor at a Southern California slaughterhouse has sparked the largest beef recall in the nation’s history.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered a recall of 143 million pounds of beef Sunday evening from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which is the subject of an animal-abuse investigation. The recall affects beef products dating back to Feb. 1, 2006 that came from the company. — ABC

So, did they put animals too ill to stand into the national food supply?

The USDA said it had evidence Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became nonambulatory after passing inspection, which violates health regulations.

Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher contamination risk from E. coli, mad cow disease or salmonella.

So far, no illnesses have been linked to the recalled beef and officials said they believe the majority of it already has been consumed. — ABC

I’m guessing, that’s a yes with a side of retch. To put this into some perspective, if you get 900 pounds of meat off a carcas, that’s @160,000 steers whose lives were wasted in order to shave a few bucks off the top.

I raise a small amount of livestock for personal consumption. I get that what I do on my small farm in terms of care of my animals is not what works on large scale farming, but dammit, it IS possible to raise animals for food without abuse. I have toured commercial egg facilities and while I’m sure my birds are much happier, the birds in cages are clean, fed and watered. My pig and steer are regualrly wormed and fed a wholesome diet appropriate to their species. They taste good, and are appreciated at my dinner table. My kids know where meat comes from and are involved in caring for these animals we will eventually consume.

We could learn a few things from Native Americans about how we look at the food we kill in order to survive. We are so disconnected from the circle of life we don’t see or respect it.

The Bush adminstration has routinely gutted the FDA to the point of complete inability to police our food supply. We aren’t much help when we don’t respect the animals enough to demand better.

Government “Regulators” and Big Business: Goliath and Goliath

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Sometimes it seems like government and industry are so closely intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. In one of the most blatant examples of this, some state governments have teamed up with Monsanto to PREVENT food companies from labeling their ingredients accurately.

Ben & Jerry’s has been advertising that their ice cream doesn’t contain the synthetic bovine growth hormone made by Monsanto. This hormone was approved by the FDA in the 1990s in the United States. Canada, Japan and the European Union have never approved the drug because of safety concerns.

Just when you think you’ve seen the most absurd intelligence-insulting Astroturf organization yet, the bar gets lowered even further. American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology is the “grassroots” organization that’s trying to prevent Ben & Jerry’s from even telling you that their ice cream doesn’t contain rBGH. Take a wild guess: this gang of douchebags consists mostly of (A) farmers; or (B) Monsanto lobbyists.

psssst! The answer is (B).

And just to make the whole situation even more Orwellian, a Monsanto spokesperson said “Monsanto is really an advocate in support of accurate labeling of dairy products in the dairy case.”

So now we have a popular organic ice cream company being squelched by two 800-pound gorillas (hereafter referred to as David vs. Goliath & Goliath).

Monsanto’s growth hormone (rBGH) was banned in most other countries for the effect it has on animals. It doesn’t directly affect humans. But rBGH causes increased levels of another growth hormone in cows; and that hormone is believed to cause cancer in people.

sssshhhhhh!!!! Move along! Nothing to see here!

Open Your Window. Look! There’s a World Out There!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Calling all vegetables. Stand up (slowly, so you don’t get a head rush). Now, step slowly away from your computer. Walk toward your front door, open it and keep walking. Breathe (slowly, in case your lungs aren’t used to that strange cold air).

While you’re slowly getting your sea legs, look around. Plants, birds — what the hell are those things? Back in the old days, before everyone was glued to their TVs and computers 24/7, these strange experiences were actually normal.

A study has shown that camping, hiking, fishing and visiting parks have all declined drastically. Hunting has declined more slowly than other outdoor pastimes. This report is from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors are Oliver R. W. Pergams and Patricia A. Zaradic.

The report says: “The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia has far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children. Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders and poor academic performance.”

And: “Declining nature participation has crucial implications for current conservation efforts. We think it probable than any major decline in the value placed on natural areas and experiences will greatly reduce the value people place on biodiversity conservation.”

This decline started during the 1980s and it’s been happening in the U.S. and Japan.

No wonder the environment isn’t a high priority. When we hear about forests being mowed down and species going extinct, more and more people will be thinking “so what’s your point?”

More Bush Assaults on the Environment

Friday, January 18th, 2008

George W. Bush is already known for having more contempt for the environment than any previous president. He makes Ronald Reagan look like a starry-eyed hippie gazing at a redwood forest. It’s probably redundant to even talk about his latest assaults on wildlife. It’s like saying David Duke is a racist, or Grover Norquist hates people who work for a living.

But every time you think Bush couldn’t possibly do anything else to the environment — couldn’t possibly become any more of a douchebag — he does.

Bush has singlehandedly overturned a federal court ruling. I didn’t know he was a judge. Did you? A federal court had ruled that the U.S. Navy has to follow certain precautions so that their high-power sonar equipment doesn’t damage marine life. Bush said Nuh Uh.

We’re fighting a War on Tur; we don’t have time to get all touchy-feely about whales and porpoises. An al Qaeda submarine might sneak past the U.S. Navy and stage another 9/11 attack. Uh, that word again was: 9/11.

Also, Bush’s Interior Department has abandoned efforts to save the few remaining Jaguars in southern New Mexico and Arizona. If any of these areas near the U.S.-Mexican border were designated as critical habitat for Jaguars, it might jeopardize our brand spankin’ new border fence. And we need that border fence. We’ve got hordes of dark-skinned savages pouring into our country from Mexico and you’re getting all maudlin over a few Jaguars?

We have 367 more days of this asshole stenching up the White House. (Or if you’re in the military, that’s 366 and a wakeup.) Whoever takes his place has to be an improvement.

Good Clean Fun at the Slaughterhouse

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

If you aren’t a vegetarian (I’m not either), this grossout story might change your mind. Please put away all food and beverages before reading on.

We’re going to visit Quality Pork Processors Inc. in Austin, Minnesota. They have a work area called the Head Table. This is where workers cut the pigs’ heads open (hopefully AFTER the pig has already been slaughtered). Then they shoot compressed air into the skulls to get the brain matter out.

Severed pigs’ heads are processed at the Head Table at the rate of 1,100 per hour. Workers slice off the cheek and the snout and then insert a nozzle into the skull. The compressed air causes the brain matter to come blasting out of the base of the skull.

In addition to being gross, this process is a health hazard. Eleven workers from this plant — and all of them were employed at the Head Table — have developed severe numbness and other neurological symptoms. Five of these workers have been diagnosed with a rare immune disorder — Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) — which attacks the nerves. It produces numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms and legs. And the damage is often permanent.

Two neurologists from the Mayo Clinic think these illnesses were caused by inhaling airborne brain matter.

Mmmmmm… Yummy yummmm. Big steaming plate of ham, anyone?

Ahh, Pig Brain Mist — l’essence de L’Oreal.

Quality Pork Processors Inc. supplies their products to Hormel Foods Inc.

Minnesota health officials are saying the public is not at risk. And the Titanic is unsinkable.

On a related note: California might have a 2008 ballot initiative that would ban some of the most inhumane Factory Farm practices. The organization has until this February to collect enough signatures to qualify for the November 2008 ballot. There’s nothing treehugging or touchy-feely about this initiative. Basically it would require that farm animals in cages have enough room to stand and turn around.

There’s no online petition to click on, but if you’re a California resident or would like to forward this information to anyone you know in California, here’s their website.

Meat by the Month

Friday, November 9th, 2007

As you wander the grocery aisles this holiday season, bemoaning the price of meat, think about the true cost of the Bush administration’s ease up on FDA enforcement.

For example:

January 2007
• Gold Star Sausage Co. recalls over 15,000 pounds of sausage products due to Listeria contamination.

February 2007
• Carolina Culinary Foods recalls 2.8 million pounds of chicken due to Listeria contamination.
• ConAgra Foods, Inc. recalls over 400,000 pounds of pasta and meatballs because the boxed products were under-processed, which may cause the product to spoil before the “best-by” date.

March 2007
Tyson Fresh Meats recalls almost 17,000 pounds of ground beef due to E. coli contamination.

April 2007
• Richwood Meat Company recalls over 107,000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.
• HFX, Inc. recalls almost 260,000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.

May 2007
• PM Beef Holdings recall over 117,000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.

June 2007
• United Food Group recalls 5.7 million pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.
• Tyson Fresh Meats recalls over 40,000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.

July 2007
• Castleberrys Food Company recalls over 721,000 pounds of canned meat due to the presence of Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that can cause botulism.
• Abbott’s Meat, Inc. recalls over 26,000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.

August 2007
No meat recalls

September 2007
• Stone Meats, Inc. recalls over 11,000 pounds of ground beef because the products contain pieces of metal.

October 2007
• Topps Meat Company recalls over 21 million pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.
• Cargill Meat Solutions recalls 845,000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E. coli.
• Aliki Foods, Inc. recalls over 70,000 pounds of chicken and pasta due to the presence of Listeria.
• J & B Meats Corporation recalls over 173,000 pounds of ground due to the presence of E. coli.

Apparently, what August giveth, October taketh away.

Beyond the immense consumer risk, it’s worthing noting the huge waste of animal life, the cost of production, the cost of recall, and the long term expense of ill-will earned by the companies recalling their meat. Note too, the variety of producers shipping out bad meat. This is an industry wide failure, underwritten by higher meat prices to the consumer.

It’s all part of why your price per pound is in no danger of recall.


Happiness is a Warm Gun

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

James Michener had a quote from The Drifters (1971): “If the last family of Brontosaurus was found wandering the Earth, some son of a bitch from Western Oklahoma would claim the right to shoot the male.”

And that brings us to the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. It was home to the world’s largest bison — breaking an 82-year-old record. And how do we know how large this bison was? Because some retarded redneck shot it.

The conquering hero was E.D. “Dude Where’s My Dick” Riekens, Jr. of Cheyenne, WY. He told reporters: “Uugghh! This was the best sex I’ve ever had. My gun was sooo hot! When I saw this guy, it was like I was looking at a dinosaur or a mammoth. This guy was just so different and massive and huge. There was no question about whether I would hold off. It just had to be done…I was getting closer and closer waiting for an opportunity. Finally, he gave me the perfect chance, and I didn’t hesitate for a second. He was dead before I let go of the trigger, which is a good thing.”

This particular bison had been well-known for years among the local population. They nicknamed him “Old Lonesome.” Thank God somebody finally killed him.

Going To The Dogs: Pit Bulls, Primaries, & Politics

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

I’ve previously written about our “chain letter society”…my own hypothesis that our society has become obsessed with winning, the notion of number one, and all that can be associated with the position at the front of the line…such that little else seems to matter.

The process is initiated by parents who instill such thoughts in the minds of their children and then push them to attain nothing less. In my theory, over time, the mechanisms which hold a society together are eroded to the point that singular objectives overwhelm the pursuit of collective goals…devolving into the classic scenario of dog eat dog.

As I was sitting at my computer, surfing the web and experiencing a nondescript feeling of frustration, I suddenly realized the source. I’ve been watching a number of situations unfold that have all the makings of the growing excesses one might expect from a “chain letter society”…complete with healthy portions of self-serving irrationality.

Initially, the connecting points might not be apparent, but bear with me as I attempt to weave a coherent argument. Let me begin by identifying the topics of note. The first has been the anger directed at Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick as a result of his involvement with dog fighting. The second is the endless jockeying on the part of several states to enhance their position in the presidential primaries…and the third is the effort being launched in California to divide their presidential electoral votes based upon the percentage of the popular vote each candidate receives as opposed to the existing process of awarding them all to the candidate who garners the most votes.

The Michael Vick situation provides the necessary backdrop for discussing the other two issues. In the Vick case, from the outset, there was a clear and consistent criticism of his actions and countless people came to the defense of dogs which are abused or killed in such operation. I believe that reaction is valid and reasonable by most measures of civility.

As one deciphers the outrage, the underlying basis seems to center upon the imposition of injustice and the infliction of cruelty. Further, I would contend that most individuals believe it is wrong to subject these dogs to the whims of those who own them and who presumably seek the psychic rewards that may come from having the toughest dog in the circuit. In essence, the owner is consumed with the notion of Fido being number one…such that the welfare of Fido is secondary to the needs of his master.

In pointing to the Vick situation, it provides evidence of three things. One, most people have an innate moral compass which recognizes injustice. Two, most people dislike it when others live out their insufficient egos by victimizing those they can manipulate. Thirdly, most people have the ability to recognize when others are excessive in their pursuit to be viewed as king of the hill.

Pivoting to the other two news items, we begin to see signs of a subtle, though significant, inconsistency…an inconsistency which begins to distinguish and divorce individual self-interest apart from the need for a society to monitor and exhibit self-restraint and self-discipline. Further, the fact that we are now dealing with human beings as opposed to our canine companions is undoubtedly relevant to the analysis.

I believe it is safe to conclude that the actions of a society or some identifiable segment of that society reflect the predominant beliefs of its members. Such subsets can include our child’s soccer team or, with regard to the presidential primary, it can be an individual state. In both cases, it isn’t difficult to see the emergence of self-interest and the de-emphasis of self-restraint and self-discipline. Suddenly, the empathy which elicited a measurable compassion for our four legged friends seems to evaporate when the aggrieved are fellow human beings.

In our current societal construct, we have apparently elevated the principle of being number one to a desirable trait…one to which we do not attach the same outrage which was reserved for Michael Vick’s behavior with regard to his dogs…one which doesn’t seek to penalize those parents who act similar to Michael Vick with regards to their children and the traits they endeavor to instill within them.

Specifically, ingraining the instincts of a pit bull in our children with regard to success and the achievement of number one status suddenly supersedes the attachment of any deterrents to unbridled self-interest and the pursuit of dominant status. As such, we abhor the Michael Vick’s of the world whose actions are arguably selecting for the same outcome we embrace with regards to our children’s human interactions…actions and outcomes which of course are applied to entities like soccer teams and individual states. In the end, injustice and cruelty in our human interactions is therefore ignored and outrage can rarely be found.

It now becomes easy to see how our primary system is symptomatic evidence of the ailment identified by the concept of a “chain letter society”. It is also fraught with the pitfalls of any pyramid scheme…meaning that a select few can ascend to the top and getting there must be done upon the backs of those sacrificed in the process. Logic tells us only one state can arguably be first…but when the mechanisms of self-restraint are removed, chaos is bound to ensue. The objective of electing a competent president becomes inferior to the self-interests of individuals and groupings of individuals such that the fundamental goal is now fully obstructed and virtually irrelevant.

As if that isn’t a sufficient bastardization of the intent upon which our society is predicated, the scramble for success knows no bounds and is further evidenced in the effort to alter the equation for apportioning electoral votes in California, one of the largest states…one that has the potential to alter the entire election outcome in order to assure that the highest position can be secured.

Taking it a step further, those who are pushing this change are not doing so because they believe all states should adopt the same system. They are acting to obtain an advantage and their selection of the state of California can be equated with Michael Vick’s selection of superior dogs…which of course spells irrelevance…or in the case of the dogs, death…for those who haven’t chosen to participate in the rush for dominance regardless of ethical considerations as well as the well being of the existing entity…the United States.

As with the primary dates, when the selective altering of the electoral system overshadows the objective of preserving and promoting the national interest, then the nation becomes inferior to the self-interests of individuals and groupings of individuals such that the fundamental and primary goal is now fully obstructed and virtually irrelevant.

Michael Vick’s actions were wrong and they shouldn’t be condoned. The same is true of the efforts to alter the primary system and the distribution of electoral votes. All are indications of the ailment I’ve identified as our preoccupation with the precepts of a “chain letter society”. The struggle to be number one…whether that begins at home with the instruction of our children or whether it is has become a foregone reality which has infiltrated every fiber of our political system…is nothing more than a recipe for failure.

While we seek to defend Michael Vick’s dogs from the infliction of injustice and cruelty, we simultaneously have justice locked in our lethal jaws…attempting to shake from it any semblance of our commitment to the ethical treatment of our fellow human beings. Perhaps our outrage at the savagery of dog fighting is little more than a reaction to an unwelcome glimpse of our own bloodthirsty barbarism.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Curtains To Cry Havok And Let Slip The Dogs Of War

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Today was a day of vindication for our four legged friends in the canine world. A dog killer met with justice and the President’s bulldog will no longer be in a position to administer injustice. Michael Vick will likely be headed to the big house and Alberto “Fredo” Gonzales, who has been in the dog house for months, will finally be leaving the White House…and in so doing, perhaps the disregard of civility and the calculated dismantling of civil liberties will no longer be in vogue nor will its continuance be granted a free pass.

Michael Vick will no longer be able to fight dogs and the dog fight over the manipulation and mismanagement of the Department of Justice may have finally turned an important corner with the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. The welcomed news suggests that man’s best friend may longer be a tool for twisted amusement and upstanding men may no longer be dogged because they refuse to carry the water of partisan pit bulls.

Despite the resignation of Gonzales, it is likely too early to believe that the Bush administration is about to embark on a course replete with a repertoire of new tricks. Fortunately, the President and his pack of political hacks are on a short leash with little more than fifteen months remaining on their tenure as America’s often amateurish and antagonistic army of alpha-males.

With the departure of the President’s leading lapdogs, the Fredo and Rove “Gravy Train” era of acrimony…that period of time during which they sought to turn every political office and operative into a rabidly red recruit…has finally come to an end.

Whether all of the bodies these yard dogs meticulously buried can be found is doubtful…but they will at least be prevented from any further littering of the lawn with lame excuses, lapses of memory, and long-winded legalese.

Its been a long time coming, but I suspect a large number of Americans are breathing a welcomed sigh of relief knowing “that dog won’t hunt” again…at least not in what remains of the Bush administration. In light of the news…and as with all tragedies…its nice to know that the days of rewarding these men for bad behavior has finally come to an end.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Vick’s plea agreement and terms.

Friday, August 24th, 2007

From FindLaw we get the gist of Vick’s plea bargain:

Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcon’s Quarterback, signed a guilty plea to federal dog-fighting charges.

In his Statement of Facts, Vick agreed to paying “approximately $34,000” for property located in Smithfield, Va. to train, breed, and house pit-bulls for dogfighting, and engage in dogfighting events with others.

Vick also admitted that, together with his co-defendants, he killed approximately 6-8 dogs that did not perform well. Vick admitted to killing the dogs “by various methods, including including hanging and drowning.” His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, August 27, 2007.