You know those things that are so horrendous you just know THIS TIME, absolutely EVERYONE must be against them? Except invariably someone comes along with a nasty comment that shows there actually isn’t anything bad enough for EVERYONE to condemn it? I am talking about things like chopping up dolphins and slaughtering dogs slowly for tender meat, and poaching elephants for ivory trinkets.
So the day before yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the first state ivory (and rhino horn) ban. That is pretty great. It is even greater that the Obama administration has proposed a federal ivory ban. It winded me for a second or two to find that there are NRA-backed, Republican-introduced bills in both the House and the Senate to kill it. These bills would also block states from passing their own bans (which would effectively repeal parts of the recent New Jersey law). And the NRA is vociferous about supporting them.
We need to mobilize and make sure our lawmakers know an overwhelming number of AMERICANS SUPPORT BANNING IVORY.
And we need to do it quickly. As you know, nasty pieces of legislation can be tacked on to larger bills and rushed through at any moment. So PLEASE, call NOW. Don’t put it off until later. Not only is a call quickest, it carries the most weight. Calling is EASY and NO-stress; there is no conversation: you give your name and say you want your lawmakers “to oppose any and all pieces of legislation that kill the federal ban and block state ivory bans.” That’s it.
It’s a good idea to know your legislators’ contact info, but if you don’t, look it up quickly and easily: http://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup
How much worse does it have to get for EVERYONE to condemn it?
aaaaaand now I have you here reading stuff, with your pen or your phone or at least your keyboard at the ready, I have another request:
In the meantime you will have heard that Proposition 1 passed in Seattle, certainly because most people didn’t realise what the hell they were voting for. “Parks? Great! Yes on that!” But now Woodland Park Prison Zoo stands to receive $2 million additional dollars each year — up to $34 million — and maybe even more than that. WPPZ has two lobbyists. Professional shouters and money-obtainers. We are not professional shouters and money-obtainers, but we do CARE. Please write to the Mayor and City Council. We were told they count the number of emails they receive for each issue. If you only write one line, it still COUNTS. You can send the same one line to everyone, but see those talking points below? (helpfully provided by Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants) They are so good there’s no way you can choose just one line. Go ahead, indulge: write about them all.
The public appears to have entered an era of indifference to the plight of Canada geese trying to coexist with humans. The major newspapers and news stations are utterly uninterested in running any geese stories. Not “newsworthy enough”. This kind of don’t-give-a-shit atmosphere is EXACTLY what communities and law enforcement and the USDA like best of all: prime goose-slaughter conditions.
The lone standouts: City Living Seattle will be running an article by Christie Lagally, it looks as if the Woodinville Weekly will do one, and you may also see letters to the editor by Diane Weinstein. Please, when you do, comment and write your own letters; let editors know this is a subject that still matters a LOT to a LOT of noisy, articulate, persistent people. Allowing, by our apathy, the slaughter of Canada geese for reasons of selfishness and convenience is dangerous, not least because it allows an abusive mindset to grow. We do not need even ONE new USDA killer to be offered a job, one that will then need to be justified by more goose killing.
The petition for the geese on Change.org, asking Puget Sound area officials to stop killing geese has 1,300 signatures and is growing very slowly. 1,300 people against gassing geese families?? Even Ms. Glass-All-Empty here knows THAT isn’t true. Have you signed? Have your friends? Have your family members? You know how the whole situation would change if half a million names were on that petition?! Please, share the link as widely as possible.
Seventh Generation: the people you could trust to make absolutely ethical (if expensive) toilet tissue, paper towels, and all manner of cleaning products. Products you could feel good buying and using because you were supporting a company that never harms animals. Right?
NO. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Seventh Generation has been promoting legislation that will result in the “painful poisoning deaths of tens of millions of animals”. It has been an advocate of various campaigns promoting animal testing, and is now refusing to support reforms to the Toxic Substances Reform Act — reforms that would reduce the number of animals poisoned and killed, and mandate that animals only be used at all after all other methods of obtaining information on toxic chemicals have been exhausted.
Seventh Generation’s comment? Reducing animal testing isn’t “compatible” with its position on protecting the environment by using safer chemicals. (Can they seriously still believe that animal testing confers any kind of safety at all?)
For a company that always portrays itself as cruelty-free and ethical to actively promote policies that will lead to the torture and death of millions of animals is a BETRAYAL of all the customers who have bought its products in the mistaken belief that no animals would ever be harmed. It’s also makes the company a LIAR of gargantuan proportions.
Please, contact Seventh Generation and give them an earful. And remember — no one cares about your OPINION, unless it is backed up by your MONEY, so don ‘t forget to say how done you are with Seventh Generation products unless they reverse course.
Saint Patrick’s parish in Hortonville, Wisconsin, plans to hold an event this Saturday, August 9th, in which pigs are punched in the face, kicked, jumped on, body-slammed, yelled at, and thrown in a bucket by up to 6 people at a time. Not surprisingly, the pigs often sustain injuries. It is being called “pig wrestling”, although as far as I know none of those things are actually condoned in real wrestling, which takes place between two evenly matched volunteers.
The event organizers do admit that “there is an inherent risk of injury when choosing to participate.” Most unjustly, it is the creature NOT choosing to participate who risks the most injury. The HUMANS who choose to do this deserve whatever they get. And more.
Wisconsin laws specifically prohibit fighting between animals and humans, as well as being a spectator at such a fight (Chapter 951, “Crimes Against Animals”).
Action is URGENT on this one, as we only have one more day. Please call:
With little fanfare, a notice appeared on the Indian Directorate of Foreign Trade’s website on July 3rd, simply stating that the import of foie gras, the “fatty liver” of geese, is now prohibited. Produced mainly in France, in recent years it had found a place in high-end Indian restaurants. AND…contrary to so much legislation here in the US that only takes effect in 300 years, this takes effect IMMEDIATELY.
It follows a campaign launched by the activist group Animal Equality, that together with PETA India, also managed to have the extremely cruel bullock cart races and all bull events banned throughout India in May of this year.
Their report to the Indian government included an investigation of a Spanish farm that was supplying liver to Indian restaurants. The Spanish investigation was one of seven shocking foie gras investigations carried out by the group in 2012-2013 in France and Spain.
While countries such as Israel, Germany and England have banned the production of foie gras, and the U.S. state of California banned its production and consumption in 2012, India is the only country to ban imports.
In 2013 India also banned shows involving any cetaceans throughout the country.
In June, Wildlife Services released a 655-page report in which it acknowledged killing over four million animals last year. This total includes over 75,000 coyotes, 420 black bears, 3,700 foxes, 12,200 prairie dogs, as well as beavers, wolves, mountain lions, otters, , ferrets, birds, and other animals. It’s a secretive, wasteful, ineffective and cruel war on wildlife. One they need to not only continue but grow. One that, fyi, you are largely financing.
Bear in mind that these four million animals are not only shot (and we know how often that is NOT a quick death) from land and from the air, but also trapped, burned and poisoned — methods that cause hours/days of agony before death , and the deaths of countless other non-target (and non-reported) animals. In addition, I think we have probably all seen appalling news stories and videos about Wildlife Services employees routinely practising extreme cruelty, leaving animals to die in traps from exposure or starvation, attacking trapped coyotes for fun, and even brutalizing domestic dogs.
It is also good to remember that while all of these animals were killed because they were somehow inconveniencing humans, a large number died specifically because they were inconveniencing humans producing meat – so many that Wildlife Services has been termed a subsidy for the livestock industry.
Wildlife Services operates with little public oversight and few rules requiring that it use the best available science, non-lethal methods, or techniques to reduce the deaths of nontarget animals — or even the suffering of target animals. There is a growing outcry from the public, scientists, non-governmental organizations and members of Congress, to change this. Let’s add to it.
Tom Vilsack Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
phone (202) 720-3631
fax (202) 720-2166
It seems that the entire world should now be aware of the carnage of dolphins in a bay filled with their own blood in Taiji, Japan. It is less widely known that the Danish Faroe Islands — just 200 miles from Scotland — host their own annual cetacean slaughter.
Much like in Taiji, the hunt starts when fishing boats sight a pod of whales or dolphins, and drive them into a bay. However, in the Faroe Islands, 23 different bays are used, not just one (which makes sabotaging or even just recording the hunts much more difficult). Every member in the pod is driven or pulled onto the beach with ropes and using a blunt hook in their blowhole. Then they are hacked to death. Faroese citizens take part and rush into the water to join in the slaughter, sparing no one, not mothers, babies, or pregnant females.
In allowing this to continue, Denmark is in violation of three conventions it has signed vowing to do everything in its capacity to protect pilot whales — the Bern Convention, Bonn Convention and ASCOBANS. Pilot whales are classified as “strictly protected” under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Even harassing whales and dolphins is a crime in Europe.
The Faroe Islanders have one of the highest standards of living in the world, so the slaughter of entire pods of small cetaceans is not to provide jobs for ‘starving subsistence fishermen’, nor to satisfy the unconscionable demand for performers at marine parks, nor even to feed hungry mouths. Faroese health officials have condemned pilot whale meat as unsafe for human consumption (due to mercury, PCBs, dioxins and DDT derivatives); especially as Faroese children already show higher levels of poisonous mercury than anyone else in the world. The annual Faroese ‘hunt’ — called the Grindadrap or Grind — still takes place because it is apparently considered ‘traditional fun’.
Unborn Pilot whale calves are cut out of their mothers’ murdered bodies (Undercover images credit: Peter Hammarstedt, Sea Shepherd – 2010)
Sea Shepherd has been disrupting the Grind since 1983, in spite of considerable violence against them. Video footage they obtained has provided the basis for several documentaries. Sea Shepherd’s Operation Grindstop this year will include calling the Danish government to task for providing EU subsidies and loans to the Faroe Islands which openly flaunt European laws protecting cetaceans, and working to gain direct support from members of the European Parliament. Sea Shepherd is also researching the possibility of creating a defensive wall of sound outside the Grind coves to deter migrating cetaceans. Efforts are being made to identify the Faroese fishing vessels used in Grind hunts, as well as their owners, for the purposes of naming and shaming them as well as having them blacklisted as EU fish suppliers. Sea Shepherd also intends to further publicize the fact that the Faroe Islanders kill hundreds of dolphins as well as pilot whales. For this reason the logo for Operation Grindstop 2014 features both a pilot whale and a dolphin (see below). It is to be hoped that all this will have a detrimental effect on the Faroese tourist industry.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen if one Faroe Islander stood alone on the beach of a Grind cove and held out his arms and shouted, “NO MORE!”
Some of you have probably already heard of Tony. He is a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has spent the last 13 years in a crappy chainlink cage at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Take just a moment to think of what you have done in the last 13 years. Take another to think of what tigers would normally do in 13 years. He hasn’t done anything.
Incredibly, the Louisiana Senate Bill 250 presently pending was specifically designed to allow Michael Sandlin, owner of the truck stop, to continue his miserable exhibition of Tony — this despite the fact that Tony’s captivity was declared illegal by a state court of appeal, AND despite the fact that Sandlin has repeatedly violated federal law by failing to provide adequate veterinary care and safe and sanitary housing and by handling that causes undue stress/ trauma. The Louisiana legislature should be ashamed of itself — but obviously isn’t — for creating a loophole to skirt its own state’s animal-protection laws.
SO…unless Governor Bobby Jindal vetoes the bill, Tony’s fate is sealed. It is URGENT, therefore, that we all contact the governor as quickly as possible, by phone (225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121), fax (225-342-7099), by letter (P.O. Box 94004, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9004), or by email (http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor), to ask him to VETO SB 250. I have listed these in order of importance, although of course best of all is to do ALL OF THEM.
It is bad enough that Tony has had to languish in appalling conditions on reeking cement for 13 years; it would be heartbreaking to know that for lack of effort, he would never know anything else. For however much time he has left, he should know grass, water, running, climbing trees, and being able to make simple decisions about his own life. Please … do it now: ask Governor Jindal to veto SB250.
I thought about a title for this post for quite a while. I wanted something that would make you stop and decide to read more. Maybe if the title were “The Best Cheese in the World”, you would stop and look, and by the time you found out it wasn’t about cheese, you would understand why I told you it was.
If you are reading this, chances are you are vegan. You have fought your cheese battle and won, fought your cute-leather-shoe battle and made do, fought your chocolate battle and either decided you like dark chocolate because it is way healthier, or — like me — decided to just do without. Your supermarkets are smaller than other peoples': they have no meat, no fish, and no dairy aisles. Hopefully, I am about to give you one more battle to win, and am about to make your grocery store smaller still. Because palm oil isn’t vegan.
When you think of the meaning of ‘vegan’, it doesn’t ONLY mean ‘no animal ingredients'; for most of us, there is a very strong element of ‘no animal suffering‘ and that is why palm oil fails. Palm oil sneaks into almost as many things as dairy does, and causes terrible suffering as more and more forest is destroyed to make way for palm plantations. Critically endangered orangutans, whose last holdout is the Indonesian rainforest of Sumatra and Borneo, are the most visible victims. I am not including the photo that made me a believer in the split second it took to absorb the sight of a burned-but-alive orangutan, covering her face with her hands. These only-everso-slightly-different non-humans, whose name means ‘people of the forest’, are chased, shot, poisoned, burned and beaten, and their homeland destroyed and bulldozered at such a rate that according to this short slide show —
— it may be gone in ten years. Gone. Along with the orangutans, the elephants, the tigers, the rhinos — and an incredibly long list of others, because the Indonesian rainforest contains 12% of the world’s mammal species, and 17% of all known bird species. And it is estimated that more than half of Indonesia’s species have never even been recorded. At this rate they will disappear unrecorded.
A French documentarist named Patrick Rouxel made a short documentary about the palm oil/rainforest crisis, simply called “Green”. Watch it:
Not all palm oil comes from burning out orangutans and poisoning elephants in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Some of it comes from Malaysia. Some is termed “sustainable”. The Earth Balance margarine so beloved of vegans contains palm oil, and Earth Balance is proud to say 30% of it is “sustainable”. I freely admit that where animals are concerned, I tend to be a glass-bone-dry person. But if 30% is “sustainable”, what is the other 70%? And where colossal amounts of money are to be made, the word “sustainable” can become as flexible as those standing to profit from it wish. And those palm plantations in It’s-OK-Malaysia? They are being created in someone‘s ex-habitat. Maybe the someone isn’t as heartrending as an orangutan infant, as photogenic as a Sumatran tiger, or as big as an elephant, but their home is being destroyed and burned and bulldozed nevertheless.
Let me tell you why.
For crap. The popular mass movement away from trans fats caused a gap that palm oil has filled. It is mainly in processed foods, crackers, chips, cookies, boxed cereals, candy, cake, pastries, bread spreads (check your peanut butter!),and margarine. It is in about half of all boxed foods. Many of those foods got tossed out in battles you have already won. And luckily none of them are crucial to your survival.
Face it: margarine is a cultural habit. You know how many millions of people around the world would look at you blankly if you told them you only eat bread with grease wiped on it? If you don’t want to give up wiping grease on your bread, I can give you a good, easy, much-healthier margarine recipe, and you can make your own from now on. You can also skip that step and use straight coconut oil for everything you used margarine for. Unrefined for a slight coconut taste, refined for no taste at all. And you wouldn’t believe all the health benefits coconut oil is meant to have. Palm oil is also in all kinds of utterly unnecessary beauty products, toiletries, laundry and kitchen products, even ones claiming ‘bio’, ‘enviro’ or ‘green’ status. (Btw, PETA has a great list of excellent DIY, completely cruelty-free beauty and cleaning agents.) The following list of foods and other products containing palm oil comes from BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival) Australia. Many of the things listed are non-vegan and so you would not be eating them anyway, and many are specifically Australian, but the list will give you a very good idea what foods to suspect in the US, too.
So watch the movie and the slide show, and research for yourself what eating crap you shouldn’t be eating anyway is causing in places not your own back yard. And I think you will sit back with the same feeling you had when you first watched “Meet Your Meat” or whatever it was that made you change your life, and you will see why palm oil isn’t vegan. Because vegan isn’t just the letter of the law, it’s the spirit, too. And we are strong people when it comes to giving up things and not looking back. So much so, I don’t think you will mind that I just bulldozed another aisle or two of your supermarket.
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