Friday, October 31


There's an ongoing slow-motion shift in news coverage of circus visits which is fascinating. Years ago, of course, news stories would contain nothing whatsoever about the pain and suffering the animal "acts" had to endure for this wholesome family entertainment. Then about 10 years ago, as activists made a point of protesting every visit, the headlines remained the same - "THE CIRCUS IS IN TOWN!" - but there would occasionally be one activist quote deep in the story. Lately, as the phenomenon of forcing large wild animals to do idiotic tricks has become even more evident to the mainstream, the two sides are getting represented more equally, and now we even see headlines like this one: Circus Life: Anything But Fun For Animals? - and, here's the kicker, that was the day before it emerged that Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus is facing fresh animal cruelty charges. So, how long before that question mark in the first link's headline is removed?
UPDATE 11/4: "As families mill about they see posters describing Ringling's efforts to protect endangered Asian elephants. The tagline reads: 'Endangered species? Not if we can help it.' But later, "asked why Ringling doesn't redirect its efforts from breeding elephants to habitat conservation, Pflughaupt replies: 'Habitat is another thing. We're not a conservation organization. We're a circus responsible for the care of our animals.'" So, where does that "if we can help it" come in?
UPDATE 11/5: New Zealand columnist says Time to free animals from circus - "Far from teaching children about the evolution and ecology of animals, circuses offer an anachronistic vision in which the will of animals is bent to the demands of their human owners. And all for the sole purpose of entertainment." That pretty much sums it up, all right.
UPDATE 11/6: Headline: Circus is in town, with a chip on its shoulder. Last line: [Animal-based] "Circuses are on their way out. No amount of PR is going to change that."
UPDATE 11/7: "Yay, it's the circus" angle completely gone from headline in this circus-comes-to-town-story: PETA, VAL protest circus visit. And here's the new cliche lede that seems to start every circus-in-town story now: The circus is coming to town, but not everyone is happy about it. Nope, not everyone...

Thursday, October 30


More than half of slaughterhouses have 'major' sanitary deficiencies, an internal federal report reveals, including feces on carcasses being readied for sale to consumers. Oh but wait! This is only half the slaughterhouses in Canada. Phew! And here I thought they were talking about our own spotlessly clean killing floors here in the USA! No, the USDA would never let that happen - I mean, it's not like they bend over backwards to please their meat-industry cronies, right?


Yeesh, even I think "manslaughter" may be pushing it, but ya gotta applaud the general sentiment: "A special French court has begun hearing a case against four former agriculture ministers accused of manslaughter for not banning potential "mad cow" beef before a 1996 EU-wide ban, officials said." You payin' attention, USDA?


"Eating large amounts of saturated fat or red meat may increase the risk of breast cancer," says the BBC. "Norman Boyd and colleagues at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Canada looked at 45 separate studies, involving 580,000 healthy women and 25,000 breast cancer patients. They analysed the data from these studies, taking into account other known and suspected risk factors for breast cancer. The researchers found that women who ate high amounts of saturated fat were on average around 20% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who ate low amounts." Not that this is news to most of us, but it's yet another confirmation.

Wednesday, October 29


More than two and a half tons of salmon, herring and sea bass have just been recalled for listeria contamination. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer remninds us that FDA tests are missing many contaminants in imported seafood. Looks like Taiwan ain't the only country hawking dangerous fish.

Tuesday, October 28


That previous post on veggie lunchroom trends was getting overloaded with updates and addenda, so I'm starting a new one. Latest items: The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is expanding its veggie options - "Future plans for the menu include new types of wraps that will be rotated into the selection. At the moment there is one vegetarian item and one vegan item, but the Rappz plans to add new vegetarian and vegan items, as well as new ethnic flavors." And at Dickson Elementary, a school near downtown Asheville with 368 students, the Cafeteria manager Tina Rector estimates that 25 percent to 30 percent of the school's students are vegetarians. "We have seen more and more vegetarian students," Cindy Lawler [child nutrition director for Asheville City Schools] said. "I've been here going on eight years now, and I would say there's been a gradual increase every year." And elsewhere in the mountains of North Carolina... "We've noticed that also," says Margaret Troy, Buncombe County's director of child nutrition. "There's no way to measure it, but just by observation I would say it is growing."
UPDATE 10/30: Los Angeles school district's Obesity Prevention plan passes, requiring that each school meal must include at least one vegetarian option, and also that soy milk must be made available to students.

Monday, October 27


Dr. Joel Furhman is interviewed by the Discovery Channel. He carefully explains how to get the fat you need from plant foods, and brings up yet another problem with Atkins - after a year, he says, participants had "decreased the blood flow to their heart by 40 percent and increased the inflammatory markers."