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NEWS OF THE WEEK: Vegans to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, High Suicide Rates Among Farmers & More, Dec. 2 - Dec. 11, 2017

NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Vegans to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, High Suicide Rates Among Farmers & More, Dec. 2 - Dec. 11, 2017

By Leslie Goldberg

VEGAN FAMILY ROCKS!

Three generations of an all-vegan family are going to put themselves to the test – climbing one of the world’s toughest peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro, in March 2018. The parents, Sharon and Christopher Warner, will be joined by their parents and their kids on the first all-vegan trek up the mountain. The trip will be led by 21 year-vegan Mike Weinberg of Ultimate Kilimanjaro. This new project, dubbed Vegan Kilimanjaro, is “to prove the heights of achievement possible on a plant-based diet,” he said. So far, 16 people have signed up. You have to be “very fit.” (Plant Based News)

New book coming from HSUS’s Paul Shapiro

New book coming from HSUS’s Paul Shapiro

GETTING CLEAN

Congratulations to HSUS VP Paul Shapiro. He is out with a new book, “Clean Meat – How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner.”  In an interview with Modern Farmer magazine, the author, who hasn’t eaten meat for 20 years, said he would have no problem trying the alternative meat. “I don’t have an aversion to animal products because of their molecular structure, I have an aversion because of the way in which they’re produced.” (Modern Farmer)  

THE HIGHEST SUICIDE RATE? FARMERS

Last year, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey found that folks working in agriculture, including farmers, laborers, ranchers and fishers, had the highest rate of suicide of any profession. The suicide rate for farmers is more than double the rate for veterans, Newsweek reported. A farmer/psychologist speculated in an article published in the Des Moines Register that the reason farmers experienced higher than average rates of stress is that they contend with more economic uncertainty and social isolation in their industry. However, he implied that exposure to animal cruelty inherent to the business might also be a factor.  (Des Moines Register)

SIA DOESN’T SEE A PROBLEM

Animal rights advocate and singer Sia will now be representing MAC cosmetics, a company which sells beauty products to China. Because Chinese law demands that such products be tested on animals before they may be sold in that country, the cosmetics will, in fact, be tested on animals even though MAC isn’t doing the actual testing. In defense, MAC says it doesn’t support animal testing and is trying to get China to change its policy. Many AR groups including PETA aren’t impressed. (Teen Vogue)

INSTAGRAM STEPS UP TO FIGHT WILDLIFE ABUSE

If things weren’t bad enough for wildlife, they are now being victimized by selfie-crazed tourists who want to get a picture of themselves snuggling a wild animal. Snatching animals from the wild and housing them in cages has become a business. But Instagram is trying to prevent it by notifying anyone who clicks on a hashtag such as #slothselfie what it’s really like for these innocent creatures. Viewers will get a message reading, in part: “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.” (National Geographic)

NOBODY LIKES TROPHY HUNTING

A recent survey shows the vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum don’t like trophy hunting. The poll was taken just two weeks after Donald Trump said he would continue the Obama-era ban on shipping animal body parts – trophy hunting booty from Africa to the United States. Some 78 percent of those interviewed said they didn’t like the imports versus only 15 percent saying they approved. (Humane Society)

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3 Ways You Can Help Us Save Tuesday's Siblings From Slaughter

3 Ways You Can Help Us Save Tuesday's Siblings From Slaughter

By Zoe Rosenberg

Tuesday was rescued from a slaughterhouse on November 28th following a mass sit-in the month before where activists inspired the owner to have a conversation with them. Tuesday was sitting in a cage awaiting her death, but we were able to negotiate her release. Unfortunately, we had to leave her brothers and sisters behind. Keep reading to learn how you can help us save them all.

Tuesday after her rescue, living the life she deserves.

Tuesday after her rescue, living the life she deserves.

1. Stop Eating Animals

Meat is the dead body of someone who wanted to live. Every time you sit down to eat, you can choose to take a life, or spare a life. Leave milk, eggs, and flesh off of your plate, and encourage others to do the same.

Stop eating animals sign

2. Take Action & Speak Up

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Each and every one of us has a moral responsibility to take to the streets and fight for animal rights. If we all join together and speak out against injustice, we can save more animals like Tuesday. Join us at our next slaughterhouse rescue, or sign up to take action in a city near you.

Join the animal rights movement

3. Sign This Petition

We have a dream of creating the first vegan city by 2025. Through our step-by-step plan, we we will eventually ban meat consumption worldwide. Please SIGN HERE to ask the United Nations to include compassion for animals in its upcoming Universal Periodic Review.

animal liberation now calf rescue

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When I Was Arrested for an Animal Rights Protest

When I Was Arrested for an animal rights protest

By Leslie Goldberg

Chickens crowded in a cage at an Oakland slaughterhouse. Photo by Michael Goldberg

Chickens crowded in a cage at an Oakland slaughterhouse. Photo by Michael Goldberg

To get arrested or not to get arrested, that was the question. Before we did the sit-in at the Oakland slaughterhouse in late October, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) activists were asked by DxE organizers if we were willing to: 1) get arrested and get bailed out right away; or 2) get arrested and spend the night in jail; or 3) get arrested and spend three nights in jail; or 4) face felony prosecution and possibly go to prison under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA.)

Obviously folks who get arrested don’t usually get their choices laid out like that, but we planned to commit civil disobedience, meaning we were willing to protest in a way that might land us in jail. We understood that certain actions were likely to provoke certain reactions. If, say, we had decided to free 2,000 minks trapped on a fur farm, the possibility of ending up in a maximum security prison with a felony conviction under the AETA would be very real. However, a sit-in at a small Bay Area slaughterhouse would likely result in a fine or community service with little chance of significant of jail time.

But what if we did more than a sit-in? What if we removed (rescued?) a small number of sick and dying animals and took them to the vet? What might the consequences be for that? Would an officer or a court decide we were stealing? Or would we be able to make the case that removing an animal from a cruel situation is a perfectly reasonable and responsible thing to do, or even the only moral thing to do?

California passed a law recently giving citizens the green light to smash car windows to free a suffering and endangered animal from a hot car. What is the difference between a hot car and a filthy cage, crowded with not only other sick animals but dead animals and that afforded no water or food? So far, no court has decided.

Activist lawyer Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project has been fighting for more than 20 years for some species of animals to be granted legal personhood. Currently, under the law, animals are still considered things or property. But they are also not considered just property, as some animals receive some legal protections against certain kinds of harm. More and more people are sitting in prison today for cruelty to animals and yet people are also sitting in prison for trying to prevent animal cruelty. Society and, by extension, the courts have not resolved the apparent contradiction.

When I was a newspaper reporter, I happened to be sitting in San Francisco Municipal Court, for a story. I watched many cases go before the judge. Shoplifting, prostitution, possession of marijuana – those cases were being dismissed right and left. But drunk driving? It was a different story. Those charged with DUI, unlike the others, all had attorneys. And those convicted of drunk driving, which was everybody who came before the judge that day, were getting hefty fines and ending up with as much as 1-year county jail sentences.

The point is, to a large extent, the courts follow public opinion. Drunk driving didn’t used to be a big deal. Cops often just drove drunks home (especially if they were white!) That was before Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) galvanized public outrage. Under that public pressure, law enforcement and the courts started to change. Courts and cops got tougher (even on white people.)

Throughout the United States and also the world, communities are now demanding tougher anti-cruelty laws and tougher enforcement, particularly with regards to dogs and cats. The public is also becoming more concerned about endangered wildlife and more concerned about how animals raised for food are treated.

While we activists were cited (given tickets) for misdemeanor trespassing for our sit-in at the slaughterhouse, no charges were actually filed. Those activists who removed the quail, the lamb and bunny weren’t even cited. In the progressive Bay Area, there is little appetite for jailing animal-loving, non-violent protesters. Still, the slaughter of animals for food is legal in the Bay Area and most of the public doesn’t yet take seriously the harm caused by the exploitation of animals for profit.

Our movement is about getting folks to take this issue seriously. Our mass arrest of 23 activists did what it was supposed to do – garnered huge public attention. Both television and print covered us. Online, thousands and thousands saw for themselves the grim conditions inside a small, “family-owned” and “local” slaughterhouse.

Viewers also saw activists deliberately putting themselves at personal risk for their belief that this senseless killing of animals is absolutely wrong and must be stopped. Public demonstrations, disruptions and arrests are a way for the public to begin to understand that allowing the exploitation of animals ends up torturing and killing sentient beings who wanted to live, who deserved to live. The current dire situation for animals is urgent and serious. What we animal rights activists are doing is urgent and serious. As the band the Talking Heads once sang, “This ain’t no foolin’ around.”

 

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 
  2. Join a local DxE community --or start your own!
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in creataing a true social justice movement for animals.

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NEWS OF THE WEEK: Animal Rights Film For Kids, Illinois Pushes To Get Tougher On Animal Abusers & More, Nov. 20 – Dec. 1, 2017

NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Animal Rights Film For Kids, Illinois Pushes To Get Tougher On Animal Abusers & More, Nov. 20 – Dec. 1, 2017

By Leslie Goldberg

"Ferdinand," an animated animal rights film for kids about a gentle bull, will be in theaters Dec. 15.

"Ferdinand," an animated animal rights film for kids about a gentle bull, will be in theaters Dec. 15.

GETTING TOUGHER ON ANIMAL ABUSERS

Anything that limits gun ownership is fine with me. Currently, under federal law, individuals convicted of domestic violence lose their right to buy a gun. Now the Illinois State Crime Commission is pushing to extend that law to include people who are convicted of animal abuse. They point to studies indicating that violence against animals is a precursor to violence against people. (NPR Illinois)

 TIGER SHOT IN PARIS

A one and a half year-old tiger named Mevy was shot and killed after she escaped from a circus cage in Paris.  The “owner” of the tiger said that her cage had been cut open in a “malicious act.” The incident renewed calls by animal rights activists to ban the use of live animals in circuses. According to an article in rfi, the use of live animals in circuses has been banned in 29 countries and 63 French towns and cities. (rfi)

PRO-ANIMAL RIGHTS KIDS’ MOVIE COMING SOON

A California farm sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, has teamed up with 20th Century Fox and the plant-based beverage company Zevia to produce “Ferdinand,” an animated flick about a gentle bull torn from his home to be exploited by Spain’s bullfighting industry. Ferdinand’s cohorts, some goats, bunnies and hedgehogs, help him to return home. Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks said her sanctuary is a “place of healing” and one “where children learn that even though we might look different on the outside, we’re all the same on the inside.

“My hope is that ‘Ferdinand’ will not only raise awareness but will bring about great change in the way people think.” ‘Ferdinand’ debuts in theaters nationwide on Dec. 15. You can visit the real Ferdinand at The Gentle Barn located 40 miles north of Los Angeles. (VegNews)

GREYHOUND RACING BAN PASSES FIRST HURDLE

Greyhound racing, a cruel sport that brutalizes dogs, may soon come to an end in Florida. A proposed constitutional amendment unanimously cleared its first committee in the state’s legislature. While plenty of dog lovers attended the committee hearing in support of the amendment, industry advocates were conspicuously absent. One of the commissioners noted:  “They’re not here because they know they could not win today. But they are not gone. They operate in the shadows." (News-Press)

EVEN CONVENIENCE STORES ARE STARTING TO GO VEGAN

While junk food has traditionally included animal “products,” you may start to see some changes at the neighborhood 7-11 and at gas station “grocery” stores. Market researchers are noting that more and more consumers want their candy 1) organic; 2) vegan; and 3) high in protein. And stop calling them “candy bars.” They are “nutrition bars.” (Convenience Store News)

SPEAKING OF JUNK FOOD

Pizza Hut is now offering vegan pizza in the U.K. Forbes magazine says: “This decision by Pizza Hut is huge because it will not only give vegans another option when craving something savory, but will also be celebrated by those who are lactose intolerant. It’s also great news for health-conscious consumers who are concerned about the link between dairy and heart disease.” Tell it Forbes! (Forbes)

 

 

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Disrupting Social Norms: An anecdote from a lonely vegan teacher

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Disrupting Social Norms: An anecdote from a lonely vegan teacher

Disrupting Social Norms:

An anecdote from a lonely vegan teacher

By Corey John

Doing what you believe to be right can be hard. It can be stressful and at times very isolating. The past two days have reminded me why we must do it.

I am a high school art teacher and I am currently battling (yes, battling) through my second year of teaching. I have quickly learned it is a profession that is just as much challenging as it is rewarding. I just returned from my first two-day retreat with the cohort of about 50 sophomores I currently teach. This annual retreat organized by my co-teachers is designed to temporarily free students and teachers from the physical confines of a school building as well as the pedagogical confines of the regular K-12 classroom hustle. The goal is also to help these students, many of whom have been impacted by serious traumas (racism, homophobia, sexual abuse, etc.) build strong relationships with each other and with us teachers. Throughout the 30+ hours together we did various community-building activities that enabled us to open up about our struggles in a safe environment and enter our “challenge zones”. We also went on nighttime beach hikes, played basketball, did sunrise yoga, and even explored spooky WWII-era bunkers.

Prior to this trip, my students have been aware that I am vegan, and this has resulted in some great conversations about animal rights and speciesism. Speciesism is defined as “a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one's own species and against those of members of other species” (Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 1975). Although many students knew I was opposed to all forms of animal abuse, they were not aware, however, that I have taken the Liberation Pledge, which is comprised of 3 simple parts: 1) Refuse to eat animal-based products (be vegan), 2) Refuse to sit with anyone consuming these products, and 3) Encourage others to do the same. Leading up to this retreat, I let all my students know that I have taken this pledge and expressed that it is something that would prevent me from eating at the same table as them if they were consuming animals or their secretions. I wanted them to know ahead of time so they would not be confused and think I am being antisocial or that I am upset with them.

Witnessing the horrific slaughter of animals firsthand provides the sobering and uncomfortable reminder that meat is actually the body part of an individual who fought for their life. This is a photo I took at a slaughterhouse in Stockton, CA.

Witnessing the horrific slaughter of animals firsthand provides the sobering and uncomfortable reminder that meat is actually the body part of an individual who fought for their life. This is a photo I took at a slaughterhouse in Stockton, CA.

I essentially explained that animals are my friends and when I see someone eating chicken flesh or cow flesh, I feel the same way they would feel if someone were eating dog or cat flesh. I explained I do not feel comfortable sitting next to these products of violence and remaining silent. I was unable to do this once I bore witness to animal suffering at slaughterhouses and helped care for rescued farm animals in my own home and at sanctuaries. Finally, I (admittedly, with little confidence or enthusiasm) said any of them would be welcome to join me at my table if they happened to eat vegan during the retreat.

Spending time with animals on sanctuaries helps us see them as individuals who have specific physical, social, and emotional needs just like humans do. It also helps us more easily imagine a world in which humans and non-humans coexist peacefully. Photo of Don and I at Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA. by Rein Hold

Spending time with animals on sanctuaries helps us see them as individuals who have specific physical, social, and emotional needs just like humans do. It also helps us more easily imagine a world in which humans and non-humans coexist peacefully. Photo of Don and I at Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA. by Rein Hold

My students being the talkative, curious bunch they are, had a lot of questions. They included the array of typical vegan questions or comments I’ve encountered in my years of outreach experience, such as “But plants feel pain,” and “So how do you get protein?” I recognized that these questions came from a place of genuine curiosity and not from a place of sarcasm or persecution like they often do. I patiently answered a few questions on the spot but knew I would have the opportunity to communicate my reasoning for the pledge in the near future.

All of the meals during the retreat took place in a buffet-style dining hall, and each meal had pretty standard dishes available: Chicken sandwiches with fries, pasta with meat sauce, eggs and sausage for breakfast, and finally pizza for lunch today. There was also a small salad bar and even two soups that happened to be vegan and available for some meals. I was surprised and appreciative to find out the chef could also easily prepare a vegan version of each main dish upon request, so I made it a point to order them. I ordered a plant-based patty instead of the chicken, vegan sauce over the meat sauce, a veggie-tofu scramble over eggs, and cheese-less pizza. I knew many of my students’ perceptions of veganism were limited or inaccurate so I wanted to show that I could have a “normal” meal without exploiting animals. For each meal, I got my food and sat at my own table right by the salad bar, which was in its own room separate from the main dining area. It was also conveniently (and awkwardly) positioned so every student and teacher had to walk past me to sit down in their omnivorous eating areas.

To my discomfort and disappointment, I ate the first two meals alone and seemingly unacknowledged for the most part. Some students would walk past me with their flesh-laden plates and give me a gentle smile or even a “Hey” or “What’s up," but no one seemed to be willing to leave animals off their plates for a meal. I was trying my hardest not to let it show, but I of course was feeling pretty defeated. I have been committed to my pledge for about a year and a half now and I have had many trying experiences. This had come to be my most challenging, I think because I was so plainly by myself and I felt like I was sacrificing the opportunity to bond with my students. I never doubted what I was doing was right, but I questioned whether it was effective or worthwhile.

However, toward the end of breakfast this morning, one of my students — we’ll call him Mark — sat down with me to have a bowl of oatmeal. We discussed different topics and were able to enjoy each other’s company very briefly before we all left the dining hall. It was such a short moment, but it meant the world to me.

We then did a group activity to close the retreat in which all 50+ of us sat in a big circle. We went around one person at a time and shared one positive memory from the past day and a half and one hope we had for the future. When it came time for me to speak, I felt this small wave of emotion rise up inside and I shared how much I was impacted by Mark eating with me during breakfast. As my voice and heartbeat wavered I told everyone that adhering to the pledge is constantly putting me in my challenge zone. I said that my hope for each of them is that no matter where they go in life, they are able to do what they feel is right and authentic to themselves, even if they are the only one. Many students snapped in acknowledgement of my comments, and I could tell some were very impacted by what I shared.

It then came time for the last group meal of the retreat, right before we boarded the bus to drive back to reality in Berkeley. Pizza was the main menu item this time, both plain cheese and with animal flesh toppings. The chef had already prepared one very simple cheese-less pizza with a few veggies haphazardly thrown on. There was also a big pot of vegan lentil soup at the salad bar. I got in line with my students, quietly hoping what I shared in our circle would bring about some change. I got my food and turned around to see that two students were already sitting at my table with plates of vegan pizza and salad. I then overheard a student behind me enthusiastically say, “I’ll have the vegan pizza!” and he then walked on over to my table to sit down. Five students (one of whom I know has hunted animals) and one of my co-teachers ended up eating a vegan lunch with me. I was so thrilled to have the chance to experience the unique bonding brought by a shared meal. Although none of my students look particularly thrilled in the photo below, our conversations were really enjoyable and I couldn’t help but smile the entire time. Before boarding the bus I received several appreciation notes from students, almost all of them expressing great admiration of my love of animals and my commitment to my pledge. One student wrote,

“I have a lot of respect for how you stand up for animal rights. It’s super hard to talk about things we really care about to big groups of people, and I admire you for doing that. I think what you’ve shared has made a lot of us, myself included, question our non-veganism.”

This has instantly become my favorite experience of my short two-year teaching career. It has reminded me how much of an advantage young people have over adults in that they are less conditioned to the norms and ideologies imposed upon them by society and therefore are often open to new information. The genuine inquisitiveness of adolescents is one of the many joys of being an educator.

This experience has reinvigorated my drive to speak out against injustice and to do what is right over what is easy. It has deepened my belief in the disruption of the status quo as a tool for catalyzing social change. It is hard to stand up (or in this case, sit down) by yourself, but we must remember that us humans, like our non-human friends, are social beings and we are heavily influenced by those around us. We can let this truth create imaginary obstacles or we can use it to construct a path toward lasting positive change. We must remember that truth and justice always prevail.

 

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 
  2. Join a local DxE community --or start your own!
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in creating a true social justice movement for animals.

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The Con

THE CON

By Leslie Goldberg

DxE’s Matt Johnson disrupts a Norbest turkey pardoning ceremony in Utah. He holds a photo of a nearly dead turkey found at a Norbest farm in 2017.

DxE’s Matt Johnson disrupts a Norbest turkey pardoning ceremony in Utah. He holds a photo of a nearly dead turkey found at a Norbest farm in 2017.

It’s a game played over and over again in the animal agriculture industry. It goes like this: First an undercover video of animal cruelty surfaces, often on social media; Second, if it’s individual workers abusing animals, they are fired and/or charged with animal abuse; Third, if it’s the whole farm with sickeningly abusive conditions, the parent corporation feigns horror and stops procuring animals from that particular “rogue farm.”

Animal agriculture washes its hands of the industry-wide travesty and points to “a few bad apples.”

Norbest Turkey, one of the country’s largest producers of turkey, was the subject of a nine-month Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) investigation this year. The parent corporation which is based in Utah, contracts with smaller farmers also in Utah to raise their birds. As is typical in industrial farming, the corporation provides the babies, the food, the specifications for the housing, (all for a price) and at the end of the growing season, picks up the ready-for-slaughter animals and pays the producer. The company boasts on its website, “Our production practices are humane, with the health and comfort of the birds of paramount importance.”

There was nothing healthy or comfortable at the Norbest farm investigated by DxE in Moroni, Utah. Investigators found thousands and thousands of turkeys packed shoulder to shoulder in filthy sheds with air so thick with particulate matter composed of feathers and dried feces, breathing was nearly impossible.

Video footage revealed starving turkeys cannibalizing their sick and injured compatriots; birds literally rotting to death; birds trapped in piles of feces; and birds with tumors and infections. DxE also found a document at the farm indicating that the turkeys had been dosed with penicillin to treat Perihepatitis, despite Norbest’s claims that they never use antibiotics critical for human health. Another document found at the farm indicated that 15% of the birds in one shed had died in a single week.

Following the media coverage of the investigation, which included the video footage and still photographs of the horrific conditions, Norbest issued a statement right on cue: “Our policy states, ‘Animal abuse in any farm will not be tolerated by Norbest Farms. Failure to abide by the Norbest Farms Animal Welfare policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including employment or contract termination and where appropriate, prosecution under applicable laws.’”

The corporation further stated, “We provide training and support to the farmers who join the Norbest family because topnotch animal care is important to us. That is why we regularly inspect every farm.”

The company claimed that the farm in question had already been cited for “violations” of Norbest’s standards and had been told to make corrections.”

DxE has documented conditions on dozens of farms raising different species of animals raised for food. The conditions are always the same, even when the farm in question claims to be “humane,” “sustainable” or “family-run.”  The investigators find filth, extreme over-crowding, sick and injured animals, dying animals. It appears that whenever humans are trying to make money off the backs of animals, the animals suffer. The profit motive trumps animal care every time and the excuses of these companies have become completely predictable. The story is starting to wear thin.  

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NEWS OF THE WEEK: Elephant Ban Remains, Activists Lose Appeal & More, Nov. 7 – 20, 2017

NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Elephant Ban Remains, Activists Lose Appeal & More, Nov. 7 – 20, 2017

By Leslie Goldberg

elephant.jpg

THE BEST NEWS

Trump rescinded an Obama ban on importing trophy hunter spoils on Thursday, November 16, presumably because his sons are enthusiastic safari hunters. That meant that American hunters in Africa could ship back home the bodies of elephants they murdered. Since the public outcry was so fierce against this green light to hunting a beloved yet endangered species, a day later, on Friday, November 17, Trump had to back down and NOT rescind the rule. (New York Times)

THE WORST NEWS

Two animal rights activists, both from California, charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act  (AETA) for releasing 2,000 minks and spray painting  “Liberation is Love” on a barn, lost their appeal this week before the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyers for Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang challenged the constitutionality of the AETA, arguing that the 2006 law violates First Amendment free speech rights. Circuit Judge Anne Claire Williams disagreed, writing: “Congress was concerned about actions by extremists such as arson and bombings. Both of those crimes involve destruction of property and are extremely violent. The word ‘terrorism’ certainly bears a rational relationship to many of the acts covered by the AETA.”  Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison and Lang will spend six months in home confinement. (US News & World Report)

PERSONHOOD FOR ELEPHANTS

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), has just filed a lawsuit in Connecticut on the behalf of three elephants. It is the first time in the world that a lawsuit has demanded that the court recognize elephants are not things and have a right not be to be imprisoned. The three animals in question are housed in a Connecticut zoo, where the NhRP has charged that they receive inadequate veterinary care and their cages are cruelly substandard. The elephants are also forced to participate in a traveling circus. (NBC News)

PRESIDENT DINES ON SHARK FIN SOUP ON ASIA TRIP

President Donald Trump, apparently unconcerned about or possibly clueless to the plight of sharks, which are endangered and at risk of extinction, had a bowl of shark fin soup while visiting Viet Nam on his recent Asia trip. Animal rights and conservation groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare were quick to condemn the act: “We are dismayed at the news that President Trump was served and ate shark fin soup...actions like this undermine global conservation efforts and signal to world leaders that US is abandoning its leadership role.” “Shark finning,” the practice of catching a shark, sawing off its fin and dumping it back into the water to die, is illegal under US federal law. (E&E News)

ENGLAND’S PLAN FOR CCTV IN SLAUGHTERHOUSES

On the footsteps of several undercover investigations of extreme animal cruelty in slaughterhouses, the UK’s environmental secretary, Michael Gove, has unveiled a plan for the government to film in slaughterhouses and make the footage available to veterinarians and other officials. A recent article in The Guardian says this is “part of a series of measures to bolster welfare standards and enforce laws against animal cruelty.

“The government will also raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernizing statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat.” (The Guardian)

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NEWS OF THE WEEK: Pussy Riot Digs DxE, Mary’s Chickens Expands & More, Oct. 31 - Nov. 8, 2017

NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Pussy Riot Digs DxE, Mary’s Chickens Expands & More, Oct. 31 - Nov. 8, 2017

By Leslie Goldberg

PUSSY RIOT DIGS DXE

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (left) and Maria Alyokhina, of Pussy Riot.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (left) and Maria Alyokhina, of Pussy Riot.

On Twitter, the infamous Russian punk/art/protest band Pussy Riot gave DxE a shout-out for our recent daylight open rescue and sit-in at Saba Live Poultry in Oakland, CA, writing: “these incredible animal liberation actions!” (Facebook) ("Police State" Music Video)

MARY’S CHICKENS EXPANDS

Pittman Family Farms, the company that produces Mary’s Chickens, is expanding – like a cancer. The poultry company that sells “humanely raised” Mary’s Chickens has applied to Kings County in California for conditional- use permits for 70 new barns at four existing county ranches - increasing the production of its “meat chickens” overall by four-fold. One of those ranches, will go from raising 120,000 birds at one time to raising over a million birds, the Hanford Sentinel reports. DxE’s recent investigation into Mary’s Chickens found thousands of sick and dying birds crammed into filthy, foul-smelling sheds with no access to the outside, despite the company’s claims of “humanely raised” chickens happily roaming under the sun. (Hanford Sentinel)

VIOLENCE 101

Colorado State University is planning to build a “meat-processing plant” on its campus. Animal rights activists are opposing this $20 million JBS Global Food Innovation Center to house the school’s “meat science” program as well as a slaughterhouse. JBS, a huge corporation which kills chickens and cows, is donating $7.5 million toward construction and $5 million toward educational programs at the “center.” The school is countering the characterization of a slaughterhouse on campus. “This is not a production facility,” said Ajay Menon, dean of the school’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “No one walking or working near the center will be able to see, hear or smell anything coming from inside the processing area.” She noted that “only” five to eight cows would be killed there a month. The center has been designed by Temple Grandin, who also teaches there. (Denver Post)

PROPOSITION 2.0

Humane Society of the United States, in an effort to “update” farmed animal welfare standards, is pushing to get a proposition on the 2018 California state ballot which will ban the sales of eggs from hens in cages. This proposition follows HSUS’s previous Proposition 2, passed in 2008, which aimed to give chickens more space (in cages), but failed to include any means to enforce the measure. After Prop 2 passed, most California chicken farmers continued to stuff chickens into file drawer-sized battery cages. This new proposition aims to ban cages completely and require that chickens be raised “cage-free” and mandates that the birds get at least 12 inches by 12 inches of space. HSUS is calling their campaign Cruelty Free California. It is also supported by Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing and the Humane League. (HSUS)

A WORD FOR SPARROWS!

 A PETA activist disrupted a Yale University president’s speech in Seattle, demanding that he end experiments on sparrows conducted by researcher Christine Lattin, a postdoctoral associate at the school. PETA says the researcher has killed hundreds of birds in cruel and scientifically unnecessary, useless experiments. The group said she has fed the birds oil, cut their legs and imprisoned them in cloth bags. According to Speaking of Research,  an advocacy group for animal experimentation, “The birds were only fed small amounts of oil in their food.” The group also told the Yale student newspaper that the sparrows were “subjected to a brief period of restraint in a breathable cloth bag” and “the birds were given anesthesia...when their legs were wounded.” (Yale Daily News)    

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NEWS OF THE WEEK: Call For Meat Ban in Sri Lanka, Berkeley Bans Fish Prizes & More, October 24 – 31, 2017

NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Call For Meat Ban in Sri Lanka, Berkeley Bans Fish Prizes & More, October 24 – 31, 2017

 By Leslie Goldberg

Ad rejected by public bus system.

Ad rejected by public bus system.

ANTI ANIMAL TESTING ADS BANNED IN VIRGINIA

The White Coat Waste Project, a cost-cutting and animal rights group fighting against using animals in research, is suing a public bus system in Virginia for refusing to display advertisements against animal testing. A photo in the proposed ad shows dogs looking out from behind bars and demands that the “McGuire VA Medical Center: Stop Taxpayer-Funded Dog Experiments.” The medical center has conducted research into cardiac health in humans. Some of the tests are considered extremely painful to the dogs. The transit company says they don’t allow political ads on buses. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

BAN MEAT IN SRI LANKA!

The heads of four Buddhist and animal rights groups in Sri Lanka are taking the first step towards converting Sri Lanka into a non-meat-eating society. They are asking for all people of Sri Lanka to refrain from eating meat on Mondays and all Buddhists to become vegetarian for the month of May. (Daily Mirror)

PROTECTING THE SMALLEST

The Berkeley City Council banned giving live fish as prizes at festivals, etc. this month.  Four other states have similar bans on fish. California already bans giving away rabbits and birds as prizes. An intern, Simone Stevens, who works for Councilman Kriss Worthington inspired the ban because she told the Daily Cal, “inexperienced vendors keep the fish in extremely unhealthy conditions.” (Daily Californian)

PROFESSIONAL DOGSLEDDING LOSING POPULARITY

The governing body of the Iditarod, the most famous dogsledding competition in the world, announced that four huskies had tested positive for a banned opioid painkiller. Since they were unable to determine who specifically dosed the dogs, the owner was not fined and he was allowed to keep his second place prize money of $59,000. According to the AP, dogsledding is losing popularity due to numerous dog deaths and pressure from animal rights groups. (ABC News)

PUSHING FOR LESS PROTECTION FOR ANIMALS USED IN LABS

The Association of American Medical Colleges and allied groups are pushing to “streamline” animal research. They issued a report this month which calls for “moving all oversight to a single, unnamed agency, conducting less frequent lab inspections and giving researchers greater say in creating new rules.”  Speaking out against such a move, HSUS spokesperson Kathleen Conlee said, “It’s clear this would negatively impact animal welfare.” (Science)

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NEWS OF THE WEEK: DxE Rescues Lamb, Quail & Bunny, Hiker Saves Rooster & More, October 17- 24, 2017

NEWS OF THE WEEK:

DxE Rescues Lamb, Quail & Bunny, Hiker Saves Rooster & More, October 17- 24, 2017

By Leslie Goldberg

DxE activist Priya Sawhney rescuing the quail who is now named Mercy. Photo by Michael Goldberg

DxE activist Priya Sawhney rescuing the quail who is now named Mercy. Photo by Michael Goldberg

Direct Action Everywhere’s biggest news this week is a local CBS story of our open rescue from Saba Live Poultry, an Oakland butcher/slaughter house, where activists removed three animals on Sunday, October 22: a lamb, a quail and a bunny. Twenty-three activists were arrested on trespassing charges. They were given citations and immediately released. Some 200 people from all over the country participated in the action. The CBS segment was pretty good except it included false information saying that DxE had “broken into” and “stormed” this establishment which sells chickens, quail, goats, lambs, rabbits and, apparently, veal. The rescued lamb has now been named Edward, the quail is Mercy and the bunny is Jonah. (CBS, SF Bay Area, 10/23/2017)

CASSIE ROCKS IT

DxE activist Cassandra King disrupted a football game between UC-Berkeley and Washington State on October 13, running on to the field holding a stuffed toy pig. She was dragged off the field by police. She later wrote a wonderful essay which was published in Berkeleyside explaining why she did what she did, citing the rampant exploitation of animals raised for food and the absurd FBI search for two piglets rescued by DxE from a Smithfield farm. She called for Berkeley to become the “animal rights capital of the nation.”  (Seattle Times, 10/14/2017, Berkeleyside, 10/20/2017)

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN HAS TO REVEAL DOCUMENTS ON ITS PRIMATE EXPERIMENTS.

An appeals courts struck down an earlier decision regarding the revelation of notes about the University of Wisconsin’s primate research. The court decided the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) had the right to see documents related to UW’s proposed experiments on maternal deprivation and social isolation in newborn macaques. The ALDF argued that the research amounted to “psychological torture.” The UW had actually already cancelled the experiments by the time of the appeals court verdict. They insisted that the animal rights group had “nothing to do with” their decision. Oh really?! (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/19/2017)

YELLVILLE’S BRUTALLY CLUELESS “TURKEY TROT” UNDER INVESTIGATION

For 50 stupid years, airplane pilots have been dropping live turkeys from the sky in October at an annuual festival held in Yellville, Arkansas. They call it “The Turkey Trot.” Now the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) says they are going to investigate to see if this vile practice is in “compliance” with regulations. (Associated Press, 10/16/2017)

APPALACHIAN TRAIL RESCUE

This time the one in need of a rescue wasn’t a human hiker, it was a chicken hiker. Heather Bollnt, who had recently quit her job with The Humane League to complete a life-long dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail, came across an apparently abandoned “fancy rooster.” After doing a bit of a search for his “owner,” she scooped him up and managed to carry him 42 miles to safety. Having already hiked over 1,000 miles, Bollnt still has another 1,000 miles. “I always seem to end up rescuing animals,” she said. At first she named her hiking partner, Eddie, but later changed his name to Mason, since he was found about a half mile from the Mason-Dixon Line. (The Dodo, 10/13/2017, Today, 10/17/2017)

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