Friday, January 31


One indicator of the trend toward taking animals seriously (I said toward - we're nowhere near it yet) is an increase in discussion of the fact that there's a terrible, gruesome reality behind America's animal-based diet, one that most of us are too cowardly to confront. This, for example, from an AP story on possible reforms: "As millions of Americans sit down for dinner each night, no one wants to think about the waste-filled sheds, crammed cages and electric stun baths that were part of the chicken's life before it became a delicious drumstick, nugget or wing." Funny thing is, the more these get mentioned, the harder it is to dismiss them as some extreme phenomenon animal activists happen to have caught on tape. Especially when regular non-AR workers quit in disgust over the constant animal abuse they're expected to participate in. Times are a-changin' - slowly.


Hey, remember that sick joke from last year where the National Zoo refused to give the Washington Post access to records of animals' illnesses and deaths because it would violate the animals' privacy? Well, now we know what those animals were so embarrassed about: the fact that so many of them are dying at the hands of incompetent zookeepers. "The latest in a string of deaths," as the Washington Post puts it, were two red pandas, an endangered species - killed by rat poison intentionally planted in their caged area to keep those pesky critters down. What makes this sick joke even sicker is not just that people set up these massive areas that are doubtlessly a vermin's paradise, nor that their killing methods backfire so hideously and predictably - no, it's that this is in no way a unique story. Zoo animals around the world are constantly dying horrific deaths as a result of incredible mismanagement. Oh well - at least they have their privacy.

Thursday, January 30


As demand for beef continues to fall (despite the industry's incessant claims to the contrary), workers at the Greeley slaughterhouse where the feces hit the fan last summer are now suffering through "dark days," forced days off that cut their wages.
As one worker puts it, "The company says, 'Look, we don’t have the business. We’re going to have to give you a dark day.'" Oddly, this is the plant that keeps making national news for stepping up all its safety procedures and slowing down the assembly line to avoid another PR catastrophe. So if they're still producing too much supply for demand, that should tell you something. And as much as I sympathize with the quasi-laid-off workers, well, nobody's holding a gun to their head and forcing them to slit throats for a living. Take this as a sign that you're in the wrong damned line of work.
UPDATE: A British perspective on the same supply/demand quandary: Some farmers are protesting that losing livestock subsidies will "make keeping livestock uneconomic." Sez one, "We've had several years of low return in beef. If the market isn't prepared to pay a figure that will give us back costs of production, people will stop producing beef." Oh no!


I kept tellin' ya that the McDonalds "fat" lawsuit wasn't a matter of one case winning or losing. After that first one was dismissed, there was a week of crowing from short-sighted pundits who thought it was all over. But already the backlash to the backlash has set in: The head of the American Tort Reform Association is pointing out that the door is wide open for modified, improved versions of the suit; CNN's law columnist explains why suing McDonalds could be a good thing - mostly because it forces them to clean up their act - as they're doing to some extent in the UK, even embracing organic milk.

But the kicker to the "frivolous" charge is that fast food is not cigarettes - there, after all, the product was addictive as well as harmful. Well, as George W. likes to say, Guess Whut? Now scientists say fast food may be addictive and are looking into the mechanisms by which the fast-food "habit" maintains itself. Time for a new strategery!
UPDATE: A longer piece in which John Banzhaf champs at the bit to refile the suit.