Friday, April 2


The stories keep rolling in of hunters who feel they're above the rules - and why not? Their concept of "sportsmanship" is a one-to-one combat in which only their side gets a weapon or advance notice. I usually ignore them, but sometimes there are clusters of stories or particularly egregious examples. Here's a collection of poaching convictions and investigations in Utah, for example, and here's a couple guys who don't know when to stop cheating: "Gary Roger Motarie, 40, is charged with possession of unlawfully taken wildlife, a felony, and 16 misdemeanors: five counts of hunting without a license, five of improperly transferring a license and five of hunting while revoked, and one count of possession of an unlawfully taken black bear." But wait, there's more: "At the time of this alleged incident, Motarie's game privileges already had been suspended for 20 years for game violations in Lewis and Clark County, where he had illegally shot a trophy elk -- then had his hometown newspaper, the Western Breeze, run a photo of him with the animal... He also is serving two six-year suspended sentences, levied in January in Glacier County, for intimidating and tampering with a witness in that case." What a guy, what a scholar of Nugentism. Another hunting genius, Paul A. Garrison, of St. Xavier (MT), pleaded guilty to hunting coyote from an aircraft without a permit. He was found out when the plane he was hunting from crashed, leaving him with broken bones, and the plane's pilot dead.


How come we never see that headline, huh? No, I'm not just being snarky - this is a legit journalistic quesion. Why is it that when two people who claim to be vegan raise their kids that way and there's some problem with their nutrition, the headline tars all vegan parents, either by using the construction above, or at the very least, making sure the parents' veganism is the main point of the story (usually in the headline and the lede)? But when it's a situation such as yesterday's, where "a couple with 16 children allegedly abused four of them, sometimes keeping them locked in the basement with a urinating dog," where "the children were allowed to eat only mayonnaise or butter sandwiches, while their parents often dined on meals of steak or pork chops, vegetables and potatoes," where "a 13-year-old boy who is a diabetic often had blood sugar levels at dangerously low levels because food was withheld from him," the parents' decision to HAVE 16 FREAKING KIDS is not deemed central enough to the story to merit a mention before the tenth paragraph? Namely, "We love children," [Dad] told the newspaper about why he and his wife have 16. "We are also pro-life."Well, their concept of "love" is obviously off a bit, so we're left with the pro-life thing. "The boys have for years sneaked out of the house at night to steal food from a nearby gas station. Two boys were arrested in 2003 for stealing toiletries." So these good Christians have turned their children into criminals through their insistence on raising them in this cockamamie way? You'd think there would be a little more probing on that.

Yes, yes, I undersand that veganism is relevant in a story where feeding practices may have harmed a child. Got it. But surely having the child in the first place, after you've already had and abused 12 others, is much more relevant. Without the child being born, there's no one there to be harmed. It really makes one wonder how many of the other parents of our 900,000 abused or neglected children are vegan, and how many are pro-"life."

Thursday, April 1


Heh. April Fool's! Your trusty USDA wouldn't really go so far as to include cow anuses and rectums in your food, would it? Well, if you believe that, you're the real April fool, because aside from how, well, unappealing the concept is, it's also of dubious safety, and yet the USDA needs to be prodded to omit these materials from human food. Here's where you can go to do so. (Maybe first thing tomorrow, so they know you're serious.)

Wednesday, March 31


Considering the proximity to April Fool's day, I went through this site with a fine-tooth comb because it seems like it could easily be a joke. But my analysis says it's for real (OK, maybe that wasn't the only reason I went through it with a fine-tooth comb...) - it's the Vegan Vixen Show, apparently a bunch of models who are trying to parlay a Web site into an actual broadcast opportunity. Don't know if they'll succeed, but, well, at least they're vegan. The personal pages range from long, believable explanations of the women's vegan roots (including especially that of the main vixen, "Sky Valencia," who says she quit her agency rather than wear fur) to pages where, well, they believe a picture's worth 1000 words. Sky says, "We wanted to appeal to the male audience, the hunters, the dogfighters, the burger eaters - you know, the guys who love Stuff and Low Rider magazine as well as Jack Ass and Howard Stern." OK, good luck! (via - where else? - Vegan Porn)

Tuesday, March 30


You'll recall that I've been asking for a while to see the documentation that would support that "99.9% compliance" claim for feed producers vis-a-vis animal protein contamination? Turns out even if I'd seen the papers, they would have just said "We promise we're doing perfectly, Signed, Your Trustworthy Feed Producer." That's the only thing that number's based on. You see, 56 percent of the feed-handling companies have not been inspected since Dec. 31, 2002. This comes up in a story about California's numbers (the state's doing better than the average, with only 44% uninspected last year), which points out that this violates "regulations calling for annual checks - a key brick in the U.S. firewall against mad cow disease" and adds: "Those are among the reasons the General Accounting Office has launched its third investigation in four years into the FDA's inspection methods.

Consumers Union spokesman Michael Hanson puts it all succinctly: "Their claim to such stunning success doesn't make any sense if you think about it. They have all these businesses that haven't been inspected and so the FDA says, 'We don't have any evidence that they're out of compliance, so we'll count them as following the rules.' And on top of that, they're relying on feed companies to self-report."


So I'm reading along... "The U.S. government's main laboratory for testing mad cow disease, located in an Iowa strip mall, is not secure enough to store dangerous pathogens like the brain-wasting disease, USDA..." Hang on. Excuse me? The sole spot we've been counting on to ensure the safety of the entire country as well as several crucial industries... is a storefront in a strip mall? "The building housing the strip mall is close to other commercial businesses and has limited security at the entry and exit points," said a report by the USDA'S Office of Inspector General, which conducts independent audits and investigations of USDA programs. Well, yeah. Also, the Dunkin Donuts next door might lead some people to think we don't take actual BSE testing all that freakin' seriously. This article adds that "Investigators repeated their concern that scientists and students were allowed "unlimited access" to the laboratory without the USDA requiring background checks." But really, man. It's the strip-mall thing. Maybe that's why the USDA suddenly announced seven new testing facilities at big-name universities. Also possibly related - Mad Cow Blamed For Ames Plant Closing, as strip-mall BSE testing professionals move to college towns so they can get an education while doing their job.

UPDATE 3/31: Mad cow samples removed from Ames laboratory, reports the local Ames paper. Very odd. Why were samples there if they shouldn't be, and why do they need to be "removed" all of a sudden? And where exactly are these particular samples going to? Previously, "Officials of the animal and plant inspection service had stated that 'all pathogens of consequence had been removed,' but investigators learned later from a laboratory official that a mad cow tissue sample remained. Hmmmm. The more cynical among us might wonder if there were samples that could be "troublesome" which may wind up getting "misplaced" en route. Also, ya gotta love this description of our strip-mall BSE lab: "The lab moved to the site in 1973 and was intended to be temporary." Well, see, now it's gone, so it was temporary. I mean, it was only there 31 freakin' years...

Monday, March 29


As I've pointed out, one of the problems with hunting is that basing your hobby around killing defenseless beings can rub off on a guy, leading other transgressions, from minor legal ones to the the wrong beings getting killed. Sometimes the deaths are accidental. Other times it seems a little more complicated. John McNaughton "Mack" English, 26, collected a string of hunting violations in one county. "On July 4, English was cited for hunting deer at night with a light; hunting in a public road; and hunting from a vehicle. Deer-hunting season doesn't start until autumn. On Nov. 9, English again was charged with hunting deer at night with a light and hunting from a vehicle. On Nov. 25, he was cited for using bait to hunt ducks."

But since hunting teaches us that might makes right, English didn't interpret these citations as indicators that he needed to clean up his act, but rather tried to hire an assassin to kill the rangers who ticketed him. See, the outsourcing - that's what got him into trouble. If only he'd practiced more often shooting defenseless beings, he could have gone the DIY route!