Friday, May 29, 2009

China Guts Budding Civil Rights Movement, Harassing Civil Rights Lawyers

from the May 28, 2009 edition -

Authorities have effectively disbarred 20 key lawyers who defended Tibetans, Falun Gong members, and other politically sensitive clients.
By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Twenty of China's most courageous and outspoken civil rights lawyers face being disbarred next Monday, as judicial authorities reject or delay their applications to renew their professional licenses, according to three of the lawyers affected.

Forbidding them to practice after a May 31 deadline would, at a stroke, decapitate the budding "rights protection movement" that is at the heart of activists' efforts to build a civil society in China.

"If these 20 lose their licenses it would be the biggest step back in legal reform for 20 years," warns Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch based in Hong Kong. "It would be really very dramatic."

The lawyers who have reported problems having their annual licenses renewed have all represented plaintiffs or defendants in politically sensitive cases over the past year, such as members of the banned Falun Gong religious group, parents of children killed at their school desks in the Sichuan earthquake last May, and people arrested in the March 2008 crackdown in Tibet.

What they have in common, says Jiang Tianyong, who recently successfully represented a Tibetan monk charged with concealing weapons, is that "we do not take orders from the [government's] Judicial Affairs Bureau" about which cases to take.

Some, like Wei Liangyue in the northern city of Harbin, who recently served 30 days in prison in connection with the defendant, accused of belonging to Falun Gong, whom he is representing, have already been told by officials that their licences will not be renewed before the deadline.

"They are worried that I will take more Falun Gong cases," says Mr. Wei.

Others, such as Mr. Jiang, have not yet received official notification that they should send their license for renewal. "There is not much time left," he points out, fearful that he will be unable to practice law next week.

Dong Chunjiang, a senior official at the Beijing Judicial Affairs Bureau, refused to answer a reporter's questions about the delay.

Though troublesome lawyers have had problems in the past renewing their licenses, "this year it is more severe," says Patrick Poon, executive secretary of the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. "These lawyers are taking up a lot of sensitive cases ... and that has touched a nerve in the authorities," he adds.

"More and more lawyers are getting involved in these sorts of cases," says Wen Haibo, who says he fears for his license because of his work on behalf of some of the 50,000-plus children poisoned by Sanlu-brand powdered milk last fall, among other things. "Somebody believes that if this trend continues, the situation will get out of control."

The handful of civil rights lawyers have an impact far beyond their numbers. Of the 120,000 lawyers in China, hardly any take criminal cases, let alone human rights cases. Only a few score lawyers have taken it upon themselves to litigate sensitive cases.

Even if all or most of the controversial group are eventually given new licenses, warns Mr. Bequelin, the affair "will have a chilling effect on lawyers, to deter them from taking sensitive cases.

"You can have all kinds of nice laws, but if people don't dare to take cases to court it defeats the purpose of having rights," he points out. "In China lawyers are walking on thin ice, and we are hearing some cracks that are not very reassuring."

Jiang and other civil rights lawyers say that their firms have come under quiet but strong pressure from the judicial authorities to sack them, or to steer them clear of cases that the government would prefer to see swept under the carpet. Earlier this year a prominent civil rights law firm, Yitong, was closed down for six months on a technicality.

"We are seen as unstable elements in society, and the government wants to maintain superficial harmony and stability," Jiang says.

Silencing lawyers, however, does not resolve the social problems that they bring to court, such as land grabs or other illegal practices by local authorities.

The ranks of civil rights lawyers have swelled in recent years because "they are riding a tectonic shift in the citizenry's view of the law," says Bequelin. "You can shoot the messenger, but that won't change Chinese citizens putting up more of a fight to defend their rights."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Artic Wars; Canada to the World: Hands Off!

May 16, 2009

As countries scramble to grab a piece of the Arctic, Ottawa is fighting back with an aggressive PR campaign across Europe. The message is simple: This isn't an unclaimed wasteland. It's active, it's a home - and it's ours

In London, the lions of Trafalgar Square share space with the towering image of an Inuit woman and her child. In Paris, an inukshuk greets people leaving the Metro. In Oslo, Ottawa is opening an Arctic political office. And in Brussels, officials are fanning out to promote the image of a cold, northern Canada.

The Harper government has launched an aggressive campaign across Europe to brand Canada as an "Arctic power" and the owner of a third of the contested land and resources of the Far North. Ministers and ambassadors have been instructed to deliver a strong message, through every channel available: Canada owns it; hands off.

This new assertiveness has caught European and Russian officials off guard as Ottawa pushes to fend off attempts by other northern powers and the European Union to claim stakes in the Northwest Passage and the open seas of the High Arctic.

While this involves hard diplomacy, such as Canada's leading role in a move to exclude the EU from sitting on the Arctic Council, Mr. Harper's officials have also ordered embassies abroad to mobilize their cultural resources to deliver this policy message, to create a visual image of a fully Arctic Canada.

The stakes are high. Yesterday, Russia released a report arguing that Arctic resources could spark military confrontations, and Canada recently released a major atlas of the Arctic, the result of research intended to back claims of Arctic land ownership under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"Canada is an Arctic nation and an Arctic power," Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told European leaders in Tromso, Norway, at the end of April, while directing his diplomats to adopt an assertive new language around Canada's Arctic possessions. Under his instructions, the new phrase "Arctic power" has begun appearing in communiqués and speeches.

The message for Europe's leaders and citizens is simple and abrupt: The Arctic is not up for grabs. "Through our robust Arctic foreign policy," Mr. Cannon said, "we are affirming our leadership, stewardship and ownership in the region."

The word ownership is key. As Arctic jurisdictional disputes make their way through the United Nations, Ottawa wants to assert its claim to be owner of a third of Arctic land, ice and water, as well as any oil and minerals that happen to lie below.

That is by no means a settled matter. The European Parliament recently stated that it is interested in an international treaty on the Arctic, like the one that governs the Antarctic. The United States and Europe both dispute Canada's claim that the Northwest Passage is purely in Canadian territory. France now has a polar ambassador, former prime minister Michel Rocard, even though France's northernmost point is 1,500 kilometres from the Arctic Circle.

And Canadian officials believe that Europeans are hearing a far stronger message from Russia, which has aggressively industrialized and militarized the Far North and claims ownership of the North Pole, than they do from Canada.

Mr. Cannon led the fight to deflect the EU's attempt to become a "permanent observer" on the Arctic Council, which includes the eight Arctic nations: Canada, the United States, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia. While Europe's ban on Canadian seal exports was the excuse, officials said there are worries that the 27-nation EU will try to interfere with agreements among the Arctic nations.

Ottawa is also about to open a Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region in Oslo. This will be an overtly political institution, designed to counter the messages being sent by Europe and Russia. Mr. Cannon announced that the centre, which will also play a research role, will primarily serve to "promote Canadian interests" and "influence key partners" on Arctic-sovereignty issues.

Behind closed doors, Canada's relations with its Arctic neighbours are actually fairly co-operative these days, in large part because all the Arctic nations agreed last year to settle their disputes using the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. While Mr. Harper and Mr. Cannon have used Cold War-style rhetoric to publicly excoriate Russia for its expansionist ambitions, in private Canada's diplomats have begun meeting again with Russia, after a period of silence, albeit to a limited degree. And Nordic and Canadian diplomats say that the Arctic Council members agreed on most important matters last week.

That is partly because the Arctic has become a closed club, and the new threat to its integrity comes from outside.

"Europeans need to learn that the Arctic is not terra incognita, it is not like the Antarctic," said Peter Harrison, who until last year was the senior federal bureaucrat responsible for Arctic affairs, and now holds a position at Queen's University.

"Many people in Europe believe they should take a role in governing areas that are not anyone's territory. Well, the Arctic happens to be owned by the countries around it, and a third of it is in Canadian territory,"

To get that message across, Canada is devoting a sizable share of its European cultural-diplomacy resources on highly visible projects designed to persuade Europeans that Canada is, and always has been, a northern-oriented country with a human presence in the Arctic.

This is partly intended to correct the image of an open and up-for-grabs Arctic that Mr. Cannon believes is held by many European citizens and leaders. But it also helps establish a "use it or lose it" principle under international law: If sovereignty is challenged in parts of the Far North, Canada needs to show that it has had an active state and citizen presence there. By displaying images of Canadians living and working in the Arctic, Canada establishes a "boots on the ground" reality in European minds.

This is the new public face of Mr. Harper's northern strategy, a government-wide campaign to expand and defend Canada's ownership of its share of the Far North. At home, this involves setting up military bases in the Arctic, patrolling the territory with aerial, satellite and human surveillance, and expanding into the thousands the size of the Arctic Rangers, a semi-volunteer force that sends "sovereignty patrols" into the Far North. And overseas, it involves publicizing this human presence on the ice as widely and strongly as possible, making it appear to be established Canadian territory.

At a meeting in Copenhagen last year, the major Canadian embassies in Europe agreed to launch co-ordinated Arctic-oriented cultural campaigns to deliver Canada's message of assertive Arctic proprietorship. Under the rules of the Harper government, cultural programs abroad must be used to advance policy goals, and Arctic sovereignty is considered a top goal at the moment.

This has led Canada to sponsor or organize a bonanza of polar events in Europe, beginning this season. In Trafalgar Square, Canada House has been given over to a widely publicized exhibition devoted to the art, people and general Canadian-ness of Nunavut; similar exhibitions are taking place in France, Belgium, Germany and Norway.

The message isn't subtle. Visitors are told explicitly that the Inuit dancers, sculptures, photographs and tapestries are being shown to "promote Canada's Arctic foreign-policy priorities."

It also means inserting those priorities into museum exhibitions. Later this month, the London high commission is sponsoring a major exhibition at the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich devoted to exploration of the Northwest Passage. The sponsorship is meant to deliver the message that the passage is now fully Canadian territory, not international waters.

Paris is one of several cities to play host to Canadian government events commemorating the 10th anniversary of the territory of Nunavut, including art shows and numerous visits to European countries from Inuit leaders. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean has recently completed a tour of Norway, and several other Arctic programs will be under way this summer across Europe.

These projects risk clashing with Canadian tourism and investment campaigns designed to show that Canada is a modern, urban country with close ties to U.S. markets, and with arts organizations that are discovering that non-Arctic projects are not a priority in Europe at the moment.

But the policy goal is considered paramount. The Russians have taken a leading stand in claiming ownership of contested Arctic territory, with President Dmitry Medvedev telling his country's military leaders last fall that Russia's "first and fundamental task" is to "turn the Arctic into a resource base for Russia in the 21st century."

While Russia and Norway have sizable populations living in the Arctic and considerable industrial and military developments, Canada needs to make a more creative claim of its presence there, officials say.

To that end, they have borrowed a strategy from Norway, whose Arctic agenda, beginning in 2002, set out to promote the Nordic country as a predominantly Arctic place. Norway devotes considerable diplomatic energy to promoting its Arctic image, bringing foreign visitors for tours of its highly populated cities above the Arctic Circle, and building institutions to bring Arctic nations together. The reason, Norwegians say, is that there is a worry that if they don't claim the North, other nations will do it instead.

"After the end of the Cold War, the relevance of the Arctic really fell to a minimum with many administrations," said Kristine Offerdal, a fellow with the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. "That's why Norway really began pushing the Arctic agenda so much: when our allies didn't have eyes on the region, there was a fear in the Norwegian government that our country would be marginalized."

The best way to secure its ownership of its Arctic regions, Norway's government realized, was to broadcast that ownership as widely and loudly as possible. "Norway felt a need to make itself more visible in the North, and to put Norway's High North region on the map in Washington and Brussels and other major cities."

Mr. Cannon's new language is, in some ways, modelled after Norway's. On the other hand, it often takes on aggressive, threatening, even militaristic tones, such as on Thursday, when he rebuffed Russia's study about military confrontation over the Arctic by declaring on a visit to Asia that he would do anything to protect Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

But much more of his money and energy are devoted to fending off possible challengers who don't own a piece of the Arctic.

"Much to my astonishment, there are still among some European member states people who think that there's nobody who inhabits the North, so therefore I've made a point of going to any international meeting, whether it be on Antarctica, the one that we had in Washington not long ago," Mr. Cannon said on Wednesday, in an interview with the Ottawa magazine Embassy. "Everybody previously said, 'Oh yeah, that's nice, it's the North.' Well, we're out there doing something about it, and, personally, this is one of my priorities."

Because they see this international attitude as a problem, the Harper government, and all its ministers, diplomats and officials, have begun a program to send the world a message. In part it is an encouraging, positive message, designed to contrast Canada with Russia and make us sound like a credible voice on Arctic affairs. Canadian officials say they want to project an image of Canada as a responsible, more ecologically careful and aboriginally oriented steward of the Far North.

But at its core is a far more simple and relentless message: It may be empty and cold and inaccessible, but it's got a red-and-white flag on it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Protesters Picket Opras Studio after "Free Chicken Fiasco"

Even US News & World Report observed that promoting KFC whose chickens are held in "tightly-packed coops where the chickens are often unable to stand up or move," could be viewed as "hypocritical."

Outside Oprah's Harpo Studios in Chicago a day after the coupon offer, protestors held signs saying "KFC Tortures Animals" and "KFC's Secret Recipe: Animal Cruelty" showing pictures of bloody and Godforsaken chickens in a demonstration organized by Mercy For Animals.

"Birds raised and killed for KFC spend their short lives crowded by the tens of thousands in filthy, ammonia-filled sheds," say press materials. "Many of them endure crippling leg disorders and heart and lung problems induced by being genetically manipulated and dosed with massive amounts of growth-promoting antibiotics to grow to an unnatural size and at a dangerous rate."

Nor do any federal laws exist "to protect chickens from cruelty during their lives on factory farms, during transport, or at the slaughterhouse," adds Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy For Animals since chickens, turkeys, and other birds are excluded from USDA humane slaughter laws and not considered "animals." Hello?

Slaughterhouse workers confirm the cruelty.

The birds know exactly what is going on, they say, struggling when you take them out of their crates and shackle them upside down to the conveyer and struggling as the conveyer inches them toward the blade. Some birds miss the blade entirely and are boiled alive in defeathering tanks the chicken industry admits--two percent according to Gourmet magazine or180 million a year.

By Martha Rosenberg
Martha is a writer and cartoonist from the Chicago area.

Click on title above for article with videos of protest;

Thursday, May 14, 2009

War or Peace in the Middle East?

Subject: Will Obama do as he’s told?

Message from our good Friend Ricken Patel the founder of;!

Dear friends,

The Middle East is poised between war and peace as Obama prepares to meet Israel's PM Netanyahu. The only hope is for Obama to take a bold lead for peace, but Israel's foreign minister says Obama will do as he’s told. Watch and support the new TV ad calling for an Obama plan for mid-east peace:

Click here to watch;

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will face US President Obama for the first time – in a meeting that could make the difference between war and peace in the Middle East.[1]

Ordinary Israelis and Palestinians still want peace, and polls show they want Obama to lead.[2] Experts agree that only such strong leadership from Obama can forge an agreement now, but powerful extremists in the region and the US stand in his way. Israel’s far-right foreign minister is even boasting that Obama will do as he’s told.[3]

On Monday we’ll find out – Netanyahu will ask Obama to take a back seat in a new flawed process designed to fail. We urgently need to show Obama that ordinary people in the region and around the world will back him to exercise a strong and fair leadership role – click below to watch the new TV ad campaign and help saturate the US airwaves with it in the next 72 hours:;

The situation in the Middle East is dire – the King of Jordan warned yesterday that there are only two choices now – war or peace.[4] Israel’s new governing coalition has extremists in the driving seat and is seeking war with Iran and Hamas, while promoting illegal settlement (a euphemism for colonization) and de facto annexation of Palestinian land – corralling Palestinians into small pockets and subjecting them to constant harassment. Gaza remains under crippling blockade, unable even to get the materials to rebuild from the destruction of the war. Palestinians have flawed and divided leadership and are caught between the corruption of the secular Fatah leadership and extremism among the religious Hamas, and small numbers of rockets continue to be fired at Israel. Ordinary people on both sides are losing hope in a peaceful two-state solution to end the 40 year occupation and conflict.

But there is hope. New polls show clear majorities of support for Obama to lead a new peace effort, and a recent extensive consultation by the Avaaz team in the region confirmed that on all sides people want Obama to rescue the situation with a fair peace proposal and pressure on both sides to agree to it. Powerful extremists in Israel and the US are determined to block this last chance at peace. Their new strategy: avoid directly opposing Obama, but feign a new interest in peace and bog him down in endless talks that are designed to fail.

We can’t let that happen. There has never been a powerful worldwide movement for peace in Israel-Palestine that can challenge the extremists and back leaders like Obama to do the right thing. Let’s get this ad on the air, and let Obama and everyone else know that this movement is coming:;

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Raluca, Brett, Raj, Alice, Pascal, Graziela, Luis, Ben, Paula, Iain and the rest of the Avaaz team.

1. Bloomberg, “Obama to Confront Israeli Settlement Surge in Netanyahu Meeting”:;

2. Avaaz’s own polls on this are about to be released – also see e.g. Yediot Aharonot poll, May 2009:;,7340,L-3715759,00.html

Hebrew University of Jerusalem polls:;

3. Lieberman’s statement that the US will follow Israel’s lead was made to Russia’s Moskovskiy Komsomolets – see The Forward, 22 April 2009:;

4. “King Abdullah of Jordan's ultimatum: peace now or it’s war next year", The Times of London, 11 May 2009:;


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

USDA FY2010 budget would cut land stewardship work

Tue May 12, 2009 6:24pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration would cut nearly $700 million from land stewardship programs at the Agriculture Department, a small-farm and an environmental group said on Tuesday after examining budget proposals.

Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the proposals would cut "a very healthy chunk out of the $5 billion increase" provided for stewardship programs in the 2008 farm law.

The Environmental Working Group, which favors more money for stewardship, said the cuts "undermine the administration's goals of reducing global warming, cleaning up waterways and restoring balance and integrity to environmental programs."

In separate statements, the groups listed the proposed cuts as:

-- $250 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps control field and feedlot runoff.

-- lowering enrollment in the Wetlands Reserve by 138,000 acres, which should save $350 million over the life of the farm law.

-- $43 million from the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program.

-- $30 million from the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, which helps buy easements to keep land in farms.

-- $5 million from the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.

(Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by David Gregorio)

Katz on Dogs

by Jonah Goldberg

Harry Truman famously said of D.C.: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." It turns out that Truman was wrong, at least if you go by the experts.

I'm not talking about Washington, but of dogs. And I'm not referring to the First Dog, Bo, who has received a ton of attention that should have gone to a shelter dog as the president promised. No, this is about dogs as dogs.

And love.

As traditional arrangements dissolve in the heat of the present age, or perhaps just under the hot studio lights of "Oprah," we are constantly told that there are many "kinds of love." Actually, this isn't a new insight. But we can leave that -- and the debate over this observation's meaning and utility -- for another day. What rankles is not where the line is being extended but where it is being withdrawn.

Until the day before yesterday, figuratively speaking, everyone understood that among the most honorable expressions of love -- a kind of love -- is the relationship between man and dog. Canines were lovers of learning for being able to distinguish friend from foe, according to Plato. Sigmund Freud observed that "dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate."

Charles Darwin, a true secular saint of the modern age if ever there was one, loved dogs unreservedly. And, in "The Descent of Man," he marveled at the ability of dogs to love back. He noted how even "in the agony of death, a dog has been known to caress his master."

But even Darwin was a sucker, apparently. Eric Zorn, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, recently mocked a local woman, Jess Craigie, who dove into near-freezing waters to save her dog from drowning. Zorn wrote, "Note to Jess Craigie: Your dog still doesn't love you."

Zorn's source for this dog slander is Jon Katz, who despite his name has written mostly wonderful stuff about dogs. Zorn uses an unfortunate quote from Katz to peddle the fashionable notion that dogs are, in the words of science writer Stephen Budiansky and others, "social parasites." According to this theory, canines are evolutionary grifters that have fooled humans into believing they are our friends. "Dogs develop very strong, instinctive attachments to the people who feed and care for them," Katz told Zorn. "Over 15,000 years of domestication, they've learned to trick us into thinking that they love us." (In his book "Soul of a Dog," Katz is far more nuanced about the nature of canine affection, suggesting a quid pro quo of food for love. Here, Katz is out of the bag.)

Look, few would dispute that dogs are complicated creatures with internal lives that fall far short of humanlike consciousness or self-awareness. And anyone who's spent more than five minutes with dogs knows their priorities and our own differ dramatically. That's part of the magic of doggy goodness. Dogs don't care whether you're rich or famous or popular. They care about you. Or, in the case of my dog, Cosmo (a shelter dog), he cares about me and about maintaining an orderly and secure perimeter on our block, as free of mail carriers, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, cheetahs and wildebeests as possible. His biggest successes have been with the cheetahs and wildebeests -- so far.

Here's the question reductionists like Zorn don't answer: Why does canine affection have to be a trick or a con? After all, according to the very same logic, I love my wife and daughter because I have strong instinctive attachments for them grounded in my genes. But even if the genetic explanation is absolutely true, it doesn't change the fact that I love my family.

Why should it be different with dogs? It's not as if dogs have a Terminator-like computer screen inside their heads that says "run fake-love subroutine now" when their masters come home from work. Dogs don't pose in front of the mirror practicing their tail-wags like lines from a script so they can make it convincing. If it is true of any living thing, it is true of dogs: They are what they are. A happy dog can no more be faking his joy than a hungry lion could be faking his appetite.

Do we really want to live in a society in which love is a genetically mandated confidence game? Where will that argument take us?

Indeed, if embracing modernity means I have to accept such unlovely idiocy, count me out. I'll be elsewhere. If you need me, just follow the sound of the barking.

AU Fires Claim Animals Lovers & Their Animals

Funeral honours fire victims' love of animals
Geoff Strong
May 13, 2009

Horse-drawn hearses marked Sue Evans' and Robert O'Sullivan's kindness to animals. Photo: Pat Scala

There was always room for animals in the lives of Sue Evans and Robert O'Sullivan. Family friend Karen Crabtree reminisced: "They loved all species, equine, canine, reptile or human."

Yesterday, while friends of the human kind gathered to remember the couple killed in the February 7 fires, four of the equine variety delivered their remains to the tiny Church of St Margaret's in Eltham.

Ms Evans and Mr O'Sullivan were among five people who died when the Black Saturday inferno roared over a ridge and across their Strathewen property about 6pm. It also claimed the lives of Ms Evans' son Jon LeGassick and his friends Haydn McMahon and Kaya Mehmedoff.

At yesterday's funeral, to honour the couple's love of animals, their bodies were taken to and from the church in a pair of 19th century horse-drawn hearses.

The couple's own horses all perished in the fire, along with the family's dogs and chickens.

Ms Evans' brother Paul said two of the horses were found and buried by Grocon, the company that has volunteered to clear all the bushfire-destroyed properties.

The couple had bought their 16 hectares high in the Strathewen hills, near the boundary of the Kinglake National Park about four years ago. They did not just care about animals in the abstract, they nursed injured wildlife and ran a pet shop in Diamond Valley.

Through tears, Ms Evans' mother, Vicky, described her daughter as a compassionate person with a love for family, friends and animals.

Mr O'Sullivan's sister Leonie Moody described a shy young man who left his native Perth to make a home in Melbourne.

"But I find I have spent more intense time with my brother over the last three months, than during his life," she said. "The main consolation I have is that I know he would have been a happy man before his death."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

DC Cockfighting Ring a Hoax, Editors say

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
DC Cockfighting Ring a Hoax, Editors say

Mental Note to Myself: check your sources before passing info along. Live and learn.

Although "Onion" is a well-respeced newspaper, their sense of humor leaves alot to be desired. How can they get away with that?

This is not funny and I appoligize for passing around mis-information.

There are no cockfighters in Congress that we know of...

Posted by MuleKist / ErthMa at 3:22 PM

34 Congressmen Arrested In D.C. Cockfighting Crackdown
May 12, 2004 | Issue 40•19

WASHINGTON, DC—Washington police seized 22 members of the House of Representatives, 12 members of the Senate, and more than 100 fighting cocks Monday night, in the latest crackdown on blood sports at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Congressmen Don Nickles (R-OK), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dick Gephardt (D-MO), and John Lewis (D-GA) minutes before their arrest.

"At 1 o'clock this morning, uniformed officers, acting on tips from undercover operatives, staged simultaneous raids on four known beltway pits, arresting a large bipartisan coalition of legislative cockfighting enthusiasts," D.C. police chief Charles H. Ramsey told reporters Tuesday. "Of course, we were aware of the longstanding cockfighting problem, but we were shocked to catch so many highly placed lawmakers in the act of betting on, training, and selling fighting birds—or, in the case of [Rep.] Tammy Baldwin [D-WI], operating back-alley clubs."

A full report of evidence gathered in the raids will be issued later this week, but police have released certain facts, including details about a breeding network for elite fighting cocks—prized for their extreme aggressiveness and high pain threshold—run by members of the House Judiciary Committee. Undercover officers said they witnessed committee members selling birds to other congressmen for hundreds of dollars apiece.

Evidence also included photos of congressional motor-pool limousines that had been converted into "crating trucks" to transport cocks from venue to venue. Perhaps most stunning of all were the firsthand sightings of cocks, their crests and wattles surgically removed, being trained to fight with blades tied to their natural spurs in a 400-bird "hardening pen" in the basement of the Old Executive Office Building, just blocks away from the White House.

Detective William Gargano of the D.C. vice squad was present for the previous evening's raid on El Pollo Diablo, a cockfighting pit located among several blocks of abandoned warehouses in southeast D.C.

"I was there shooting undercover video when detectives and animal-control operatives, working in a combined task force, busted down all the doors to the place at once," Gargano said. "It had already been shaping up to be one hell of a night. [Sen. Dick] Lugar [R-IN] was a few hundred dollars ahead in the pit. His famous Stag Hammer just couldn't lose. Well, that didn't sit well with [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY], who accused him of giving his bird ginger and amphetamine suppositories to make it fight harder."

Continued Gargano: "Then [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein [D-CA] tried to suck her rooster's punctured lung clear so it could last a whole match, but she swallowed too much blood and puked everywhere. [Supreme Court Justice David] Souter had just broken up a fight between [Rep.] Mark Kennedy [R-MN] and [Rep. Jim] Oberstar [D-MN], after they knocked the damn carcass barrel all over the floor. When the raid happened, I was relieved. It was getting pretty dicey in there."

The raids themselves were carried out with minimal resistance. Only Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) needed to be restrained and charged with resisting arrest.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) inspects fighting birds during a cock-buying trip to Tibet.

Ramsey said that, though formal charges have yet to be filed, the congressmen taken into custody will most likely be charged with illegal gambling, animal cruelty, and collusion. Nearly all of the arrested cockfighting enthusiasts are out of jail after posting bail. However, not one of the arrested parties, even those who were not elected officials, has agreed to speak openly to reporters.

One legislator who asked not to be identified said the charges were "petty," and that the indicted members of Congress were victims of a "witch-hunt."

"Although violent, cockfighting is a traditional part of the American lawmaker's way of life," the legislator said. "It's a sport, with a code of conduct the uninitiated simply wouldn't understand. I'm sure many of the good people of Oklahoma, hypothetically speaking, would agree that there's a place for different people's tastes in this great country. As far as the cruelty charges go, that's ludicrous. I love my fighting cocks—my wife likes to say I treat my champion red-eyes better than I treat her—and I'm sure my fellow Congressmen would say much the same."

As troubling as the mere existence of a legislative cockfighting ring may be, lawmakers who were not implicated in the scandal say they are more disturbed by evidence that legislation has been derailed, altered, or passed based on successes and failures in the cockfighting pit.

"One week, the Civic Funding for Secondary Education Act is dead in the water, with no compromise on the horizon," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said. "The very next week, 12 Democrats turn over on their votes. I heard strange rumors that some hefty debt to the Senate Republicans was just erased—something involving '10-to-1 odds on a one-eyed Rhode Island Red.' It didn't make sense until this morning, when I flipped on the news and saw all these same senators getting cuffed at the rooster pit in a basement off Constitution."

"Now that I think about it, this may explain why the Chicken Feed Price Stabilization Act passed through the House so quickly last month," McCain added.

Warning: Sunspot cycle beginning to rise

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer – Sat May 9, 4:55 pm ET
WASHINGTON – When the sun sneezes it's Earth that gets sick.

It's time for the sun to move into a busier period for sunspots, and while forecasters expect a relatively mild outbreak by historical standards, one major solar storm can cause havoc with satellites and electrical systems here.

Like hurricanes, a weak cycle refers to the number of storms, but it only takes one powerful storm to create chaos, said scientist Doug Biesecker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's space weather prediction center.

A report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a storm as severe as one in 1859 occurred today, it could cause $1 trillion to $2 trillion in damage the first year and take four to 10 years to recover.

The 1859 storm shorted out telegraph wires, causing fires in North America and Europe, sent readings of Earth's magnetic field soaring, and produced northern lights so bright that people read newspapers by their light.

Today there's a lot more than telegraph lines at stake. Vulnerable electrical grids circle the globe, satellites now vital for all forms of communications can be severely disrupted along with the global positioning system. Indeed, the panel warned that a strong blast of solar wind can threaten national security, transportation, financial services and other essential functions.

The solar prediction center works closely with industry and government agencies to make sure they are prepared with changes in activity and prepared to respond when damage occurs, Biesecker said in a briefing.

While the most extreme events seem unlikely this time, there will probably be smaller scale disruptions to electrical service, airline flights, GPS signals and television, radio and cell phones.

On the plus side, the solar storms promote the colorful auroras, known as the northern and southern lights, high in the sky over polar areas.

An international panel headed by Biesecker said Friday it expects the upcoming solar cycle to be the weakest since 1928.

The prediction calls for the solar cycle to peak in May 2013 with 90 sunspots per day, averaged over a month. If the prediction proves correct it will be the weakest cycle since a peak of 78 daily sunspots in 1928.

Measurement of sunspot cycles began in the 1750s.

The panel described solar storms as eruptions of energy and matter that escape from the sun. At least some of this heads toward the Earth.

Solar cycles of more and fewer sunspots last several years and the cycle currently building up will be number 24 since counting began.

It's only the third time researchers have tried to make such a forecast. In 1989 a panel predicted Cycle 22, which peaked that year. And in 1996 scientists predicted Cycle 23.

Both earlier groups did better at predicting timing than intensity, according to Biesecker.

The last solar minimum occurred in December, the researchers said.

W. Dean Pesnell of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the forecasts are based on such indicators as the strength of the sun's magnetic field at the poles and the reaction of the Earth's magnetic field to the sun. Both are weak right now, he said, with only a few sunspots visible since 2007.

A preliminary forecast issued in 2007 was split over the outlook for the upcoming cycle, Biesecker said the researchers have now reached consensus.


On the Net:



Space Weather Center:

Related Searches:
space weather prediction center
solar storm
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From the Grist;

Three hundred million Americans head to the restroom multiple times a day. The amount of sludge produced staggers the mind—7 million dry tons per year and counting. And it’s not even just crap—it contains residues from everything else we put down the drain, from the detergent in your dishwasher to the chemicals used at the industrial plant down the street.
Can the United States continue to flush all that waste down the drain? Can Western-style sanitary practices be replicated throughout the developing world without breaking the natural water and nutrient cycles? And what if the answer is that each one of us needs to start taking more responsibility for where our crap winds up? It ain’t easy being green as it is, but even the most diehard enviros may not be ready to live under the same roof with a composting toilet.

Journalist Catherine Price, a contributing editor at Popular Science and a 2008 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Reporting, gives a crap about crap. Over the course of three days, she’ll take Grist readers on a guided tour through the bowels of sewage. So grab some extra toilet paper and get ready for some straight poop on poop.

Day 1

Sludge, farmer’s friend or toxic slime?
Regulating biosolids
Day 2

Businesses struggle to profit from sewage sludge
Day 3

For some eco-pioneers, solving the sludge problems means getting their hands dirty

Click on title above for full article;

WHO: Poor & Middle Class Hit Hardest in Pandemics

Of course, we already know that they are trying to "disappear" us!

"..For several reasons, the prevalence of chronic diseases has risen dramatically since 1968, when the last pandemic of the previous century occurred. The geographical distribution of these diseases, once considered the close companions of affluent societies, has likewise shifted dramatically. Today, WHO estimates that 85% of the burden of chronic diseases is now concentrated in low- and middle-income countries. In these countries, chronic diseases show an earlier average age of onset than seen in more affluent parts of the world..."

Full article;

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prairie Island broke nuclear safety rules twice last year, but NRC says "No Big Deal"

Prairie Island plant twice violated safety rules, NRC announces.

Star Tribune

Last update: May 11, 2009 - 7:26 PM

Operators of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant twice violated federal nuclear safety rules last fall, but the violations did not pose a safety threat to the public or plant workers. (Bloggers note: Oh yes and we believe them,....right?)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the violations Monday, saying that they had "low to moderate safety significance" and that they would trigger additional NRC inspections and meetings, as opposed to a fine.

The plant, operated by Xcel Energy in Red Wing, is one of two operated by the utility in Minnesota; the other is in Monticello.

The agency gave this account of the incident:

On Oct. 29, workers at the plant loaded radioactive equipment and tools used for refueling the plant into a container and shipped them to a Pennsylvania field office operated by Westinghouse, the reactors' manufacturer.

Although radiation levels in the package conformed to federal rules (Bloggers Note: Which levels are set rediclously low) when the shipment left the plant, when it arrived in Pennsylvania an inspector found that those levels exceeded the maximum safe level on the surface of the container. (Bloggers Note: Hummm, very interesting, dont you think?)

NRC staff members concluded that the radiation spike was caused by a failure to prepare the package for shipment and a lack of training of workers.(Bloggers Note: And that has what to do with the increased levels of radiation?) The utility temporarily suspended its radioactive shipments and improved its handling procedures to the satisfaction of NRC officials. (Bloggers Note: Ah ha. Of course. Now move along people, theres nothing more to know here,.....or is there?)


Best Friends Animal Society founder dies in crash

Ernst Paul Eckhoff co-founder Best Friends
dies in car crash.

March 26, 4:01 PM

Ernst Paul Eckhoff, one of the original founders of the world famous Best Friends Animal Society died in a car accident in Kanab, Utah. Highway Patrol officers reported that Eckhoff died at the scene on Tuesday, March 24th. He was 72 years-old.

Eckhoff will be greatly missed by the animal rescue world, but his legacy will live on and be remembered every time a visitor or volunteer passes by one of the many buildings he designed at the sanctuary.

Ernst Paul Eckhoff studied architecture in London before he and a group of animal advocates moved to the United States and began their historical creation of the Best Friends sanctuary for homeless and abused animals. Today, Best Friends is one of the largest and most respected sanctuaries in the world, housing approximately 1,700 animals.

Eckhoff used his talent for design to construct some of the famous and innovative buildings at Best Friends. He created Dogtown where homeless dogs are welcome, Wild Cat Village for feral felines and the Feathered Friends building.

In recent years, Eckhoff shared his design expertise with other animal rescue groups, offering free online question and answer seminars. Ernst Paul Eckhoff also worked extensively with abused animals at Best Friends. In the world of animal rescue when a pet dies, it is said that they go to heaven and wait at The Rainbow Bridge for their owners. I am sure there were plenty of animals waiting to greet Eckhoff on Tuesday.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Vick a PETA Spokesperson!?

Of all the low-down, schemeing, self-serving PR stunts that PETA has ever pulled,...this one takes the cake and calls for a new petition.

Click on title above to go there;

Doesnt it just figure, two infamous animal killers crawling into bed with eachother for their own mutual benefit;
Be sure to visit
to see how many animals PETA has killed and continues to kill each year; their adoption (or save) rate is about 1 in 300.

Friday, May 8, 2009

China: Factory Farming Tigers & Bears

ABC's TV show 20/20 is doing a segment on tiger farms tonight - but what they say might make you furious.

Factory farming of tigers in row after row of enclosures at the Guilin Xiongsen Bear & Tiger Farm, South West China.

ABC's TV show 20/20 will be doing a story tonight where their reporter, John Stossel, will suggest that tiger farming is a good idea.

Tiger farming is anything BUT a good idea. In fact, it's a very bad idea. IFAW exposed the criminal activities involved in tiger farming for trade and its devastating effect on wild tigers in this 2007 report: "Made in China-Farming Tigers to Extinction."

You might be asking why tigers would ever be farmed in the first place. Good question - and there's a simple answer:

Tiger farms exist to make money for wealthy businessmen who want to re-open the trade in tiger parts so that they can generate profits.

The businessmen who own tiger farms would like to fool us into thinking - as apparently they did Mr. Stossel - that tiger farming is the only way to save this doomed species.

Here's where their logic is dangerously off course:

Tiger farming actually encourages poaching. It's a simple case of economics:
Cost to farm a tiger = $4,000 to $10,000
Cost to kill a wild tiger = cost of a bullet

Which option do you think many providers of tiger products would prefer? The cheaper one, of course. So they'll hunt and kill wild tigers, and then sell the tiger parts at the same market where farmed tiger parts would be sold. Why wouldn't they? It's easy to see how tiger farming actually contributes to poaching, and could ultimately lead to the extinction of this majestic and vital species.

Tigers raised on farms never develop the skills they need to survive in the wild. How could they learn to hunt in the wild when they are hand-fed and kept in cages on a farm? Plus, tigers on farms are in-bred and "speed-bred" - tiger farmers even separate the baby tigers from their mothers early so the mothers can breed again. Again, tigers on farms are bred for profit, not conservation.

but here's where the story ultimately and dangerously misleads: the simple solution to saving wild tigers is not tiger farming - it's the strengthening and enforcement of existing laws.

Although there has been a ban in tiger trade for over a decade, it is not being enforced strongly enough. As long as these factory tiger farms are allowed to flaunt the law, wild tigers will remain perilously close to extinction.

I can't tell you how troubled I am that 20/20 would appear to side with this profits-at-all-costs approach.

Plain and simple, allowing the trade of parts from farmed tigers will generate profits for a handful of rich individuals - at the expense of wild tigers.

In the coming days I will update you on our efforts to save wild tigers, and let you know what you can do to protect this highly endangered and important species.

As always, thanks for your support,

Fred O'Regan
IFAW President

Bill would address USDA bias against black farmers

Published Tuesday, May 5, 2009 7:00 am
by Herbert L. White>

A bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate would compensate black farmers for government discrimination in lending.

Democrat Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa are co-sponsoring legislation that would pay African American farmers money owed them under Pigford v. Glickman, a lawsuit that was initially settled in 1999.

The Pigford Claims Funding Act of 2009, introduced by Grassley, would help more than 4,000 eligible black farmers in North Carolina.

“Years ago, thousands of African American farmers were found to have been unfairly discriminated against when applying for loans, credit, and other forms of financial help to ensure their farm’s success,” said Hagan. “The 2008 Farm Bill passed without adequately addressing the costs required to settle the claims in the Pigford case, and ultimately, help right the injustices these farmers faced so many years ago. This legislation seeks to correct that problem, and ensures the farmers who were discriminated against receive what is fairly due to them.”

Pigford v. Glickman, a class action lawsuit that was settled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that thousands of African American farmers were discriminated against when applying for loans, credit, and other financial help that would maintain their farms. The lawsuit was filed by Timothy Pigford of North Carolina.

“This is a huge step in the right direction for 75,000 black farmers who have been waiting patiently for justice. This bill would provide relief for those who have been hurting for decades,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association.

The Farm Bill of 2008 capped payouts for the Pigford settlement at $100 million, which would leave successful petitioners without compensation should the fund run out.

The Grassley-Hagan bill ensures that once the first $100 million runs out, eligible petitioners will be able to collect damages. The legislation also allows for legal fees to be paid from the fund in addition to anti-fraud protection regarding claims.

Opras free chicken fiasco

Lessons Learned From The Great Free-Chicken Fiasco Of 2009

Oprah's giveaway: She undoubtedly meant it as a more positive event than it has turned out to be thus far. Katy Winn/Getty Images

by Linda Holmes

Oprah Winfrey probably thought she would see nothing but an explosion of gratitude when she tried to treat the entire Internet to two pieces of KFC's new Kentucky Grilled Chicken by promoting a downloadable coupon (no longer available) that could be redeemed at "participating restaurants." Little did she realize.

It appears that nobody has learned yet that we love free stuff.

Disaster strikes, after the jump...

When you combine the enormous drawing power of Oprah, the viral capabilities of the Internet (which immediately clucked the news even to people who don't watch Oprah, in plenty of time for them to make the one-day window to download the coupon), the general allure of anything that's free, and the state of the economy, the systems supporting the download should have been set up in anticipation of substantially greater turnout for Oprah's chicken giveaway than we had in the last election.

This didn't happen, or didn't happen enough, and commenters complained of hours-long delays in downloading the coupon, if they could download it at all.

Furthermore, if anyone warned KFC locations ahead of time that this was coming, that warning apparently did not contain enough exclamation points and underlined words.

Customers have claimed that they encountered everything from flat-out refusal to honor their coupons to abrupt announcements that no more coupons would be honored for the day to refusal to honor your coupon if it was the same as someone else's (in fact, every coupon downloaded for a good part of the download period was identical).

The result? The perception of a massive customer-service failure at precisely the moment when KFC was going for good PR. Customers who did get their coupons and trudged to a Manhattan KFC reportedly staged some sort of protest when they weren't served.

You don't really want the theme of your giveaway to be "civil disobedience." Nor do you want to spend the day after what should have been your moment of triumph clarifying that "there was no riot."

(My favorite quote from the KFC spokesperson in the AP story linked above: Restaurants that are out of mashed potatoes and gravy are "substituting as best they can." I don't want to know.)

This is all not to mention, by the way, that Oprah is also a past PETA award winner, and the animal-rights folks are feeling a little burned.

Oprah giveth, and Oprah taketh away, is the thing. If you throw in with Oprah, you have to be prepared to serve America -- all of it, at the same time. Kentucky Grilled Chicken is now the James Frey of fast food: something Oprah threw her support behind, and now will wind up having to apologize for in one way or another.

Immigration Protesters Block Fed Bldg., get Arrested. Will they be charged as "terrorists?"

Click on title above to read full article

Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Parks Closed to Cavers; White-Nose Disease in Bats

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Wed 6 May 2009
Source: LA Times, The Guide [edited]

Caves closed in effort to stop spread of deadly bat fungus
Thousands of caves in national forests are being closed to visitors
in an effort to halt the spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly
fungus which is decimating bat colonies and for which there is yet no cure.

An emergency closure order was issued last week [week of 27 Apr 2009]
by the US Forest Service for caves in 20 Eastern states, reports the
Associated Press.

A 2nd order covering the Forest Service's 13-state Southern region
should be issued later this month [May 2009]. The sites will be
closed for up to a year.

Researchers are uncertain if the fungus is being spread by bats or by
cavers, so they hope the closures will give them time to determine
how it is transmitted. "We don't have the answers at this point,"
stated Dennis Krusac, US Forest Service biologist. "If we have
answers in a year or sooner, we can open them back up."

Spelunking groups are taking the news in stride. "For a period of a
year, most people can deal with that," Northeastern Cave Conservancy
board member Peter Haberland said "The recreation aspect is probably
the least of our concerns," said Peter Youngbaer, of the National
Speleological Society. "Education will be key, because many people
who explore caves do not belong to organized groups."

Distinguished by white smudges on the muzzles, ears and wings, the
fungus was discovered 2 years ago among hibernating bats in New York
caves. The condition is decimating colonies, killing more than 90
percent of some, and there is concern it will spread nationwide.

Infected bats awaken from hibernation early because they have used up
their reserves of body fat. Leaving caves in search of insects that
have not yet emerged, they die during their quest for food.

Though the fungus poses no threat to humans, the decline of bat
populations may have a detrimental effect as the mammals help control
the proliferation of mosquitoes and other insects that could transmit diseases.

[Byline: Kelly Burgess]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

Date: Wed 6 May 2009
Source:, Associated Press (AP) report [edited]

Lawmakers seek funding for bat disease research
Congressional members from 13 states are asking the Obama
administration for emergency funding to keep bats alive.

The lawmakers want to find out why a fungus has killed an estimated
half-million bats. They say white-nose syndrome has profound
implications for public health, the environment, and the economy
because bats feed on bugs that spread disease and damage crops.

There is no evidence the fungus threatens humans.

Chris Tollefson of the US Fish and Wildlife Service called white-nose
syndrome a priority for the agency, which has spent more than USD 750
000 on studies.

The states involved are Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts,
Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas,
Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

[The disappearance of the bats is alarming and we seem no closer to
having an answer as to whether the fungus is the cause or the effect
of something else killing the bats. It seems prudent to close the
caves and see if anything improves. No study testing spelunkers or
their gear seems to have been done. Though I don't place blame on the
spelunkers, perhaps this will help the bats. That seems to be the
unifying goal. - Mod.TG]

[see also:
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (09): (VA) susp. 20090427.1590
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (08): (MA) 20090414.1413
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (07) 20090320.1110
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (06): (PA) RFI 20090311.1011
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (05): (PA) 20090309.0975
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (04): (PA) 20090306.0931
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (03): (WV) susp 20090220.0711
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (02): (northeast) 20090208.0578
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA: (Northeast) 20090129.0401
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (07): (Northeast) 20081102.3448
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (06): (Northeast) 20080331.1195
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (05): (Northeast) 20080304.0898
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (04): (Northeast) 20080304.0880
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (03): 2004 Dorset bat colony gate 20080221.0709
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA (02): (Northeast) 20080220.0687
White-nose syndrome, bats - USA: (Northeast) 20080219.0675
Undiagnosed die-off, bat - USA: (NY, VT), RFI 20080131.0389]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Refuting the ASPCA & Standing Up for No-Kill


05/06/2009 12:46 PM


I have a humane society shelter in my area that wont divuldge its kill-rate.
They do not want volunteers.
Please advise.
The name of the place is Mohawk-Hudson River Humane Society in Albany Co., NY

----- Original Message -----
To: Christine
Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 3:40 PM
Subject: Mohawk Hudson River Humane Society

Dear Christine:

Thank you for contacting the ASPCA regarding the euthanasia rate at the Mohawk-Hudson River Humane Society. I don't believe there is a law requiring disclosure of this information. If you have specific concerns about the shelter, you should contact the shelter management to see if you can meet with the Executive Director or Shelter Manager to have them address your concerns.

ASPCA founder Henry Bergh and his successors won the big battle for the basic legal protection of animals, but the war continues against animal abuse, neglect, and pet overpopulation. Unfortunately, as long as there are more dogs and cats than responsible pet owners, animal shelters will need to euthanize animals. Working at an animal shelter is one of the hardest jobs imaginable. Unlike the visitor to an animal shelter, the shelter worker sees firsthand on a daily basis the grim stories that others only read about. They pick up dogs and cats who have been hit by cars. They see animals with collars embedded in the flesh of their necks because their owners did not replace the collar as the pet grew. Millions of dogs and cats are brought to shelters every year by owners who, for a variety of reasons, simply don't want their pets anymore. Animal cruelty investigators find dogs who have spent their entire lives at the end of a four-foot chain on a bare patch of earth or cement. Still, most animals who find their way to an animal shelter, whether stray or brought in by their owners, were once desired pets.

Shelters are formed out of a love for animals, literally as safe havens offering protection from harm. Unfortunately, shelters often have to euthanize even healthy, "adoptable" animals. Shelter staff euthanize because they are concerned for the quality of an animal's life. How ironic that the very people who love animals so much that they have chosen animal protection as a career end up the executioners for society's irresponsibility.

Few shelters can afford to operate without the help of dedicated volunteers who contribute time, money, and effort toward educating people, handling adoptions, walking dogs, and fundraising. Citizens concerned with the humane treatment of animals should offer whatever talents they may have to help their local shelter. Often times it is possible to improve the shelter from inside. Offer to volunteer or assist the management with policy review.

If I can provide any additional information or answer any questions please feel free to contact me. Thank you for caring.

Lanie Anton
Senior Manager Internet
Community Outreach

189 Berdan Avenue, #407
Wayne, NJ 07470

P: 973-628-9494
212-876-7700, ext. 4701
F: 973-686-0173

From: CJ

Thank you but they are unresponsive to my inquiries.
Also, I am a staunch supporter of Nathan Wineograds No-Kill Shelter Revolution and I DO believe that a no-kill nation is within our reach, if only we could get breeding under control and change the current mindset of (most) shelter workers.

In my experience, most humane socities and shelters operate more like a "public heatlh service" than an animal shelter, and are more "animal control" than "animal care" facilities. We are a nation of care-givers to quick to kill.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I do believe if the million-dollar mother orgs like Peta, USHS and yourselves and others would do more towards supporting and/or building more shelters and financing low-cost spay and nueter clinics, or work a little harder at trying to get breeding regulations passed,.....that would go a long way in helping to reduce (or eliminate) euthansia rates in shelters across the nation. I dont see where anyone can argue with that, but of course, they will.

By the way, here is a link to the site I created as a tribute to Henry Burgh, whom I think would be rolling over in his grave if he knew of all the needless animal killings going on in shelters.

Thanks for caring.