Friday, July 2


In addition to heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and obesity, the meat-heavy Western diet raises the risk of stroke, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in the current issue of Stroke. Their study of more than 71,000 nurses found those who cut their meat consumption way down and focused on fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains were less likely to have strokes than nurses eating a more typical American diet.


Technically this seems to be a Thursday recall, though of course it's before a big holiday weekend, so who's gonna notice this? After all it's only 200 tons of chicken recalled for Listeria contamination, not a testament to the all-American spirit of our nation's heartland. Oh wait, actually it's that too.

Thursday, July 1


Remember how dangerous it was last time this came up? Well... this time? More so. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that "A type of bird flu that has killed millions of chickens is becoming more infectious to mammals. Scientists fear it could cause the next worldwide pandemic in humans. Oh, well, you know those scientists. They're afraid of everything.

Wednesday, June 30


The elephants being freed from the Detroit Zoo and San Francisco Zoo are getting farewell coverage in their respective towns, and some forceful truths are sneaking out around the cracks. "For its two elephants, the Detroit Zoo doubled the size of their enclosure in 1998 to just over an acre and, in the past two years, had been looking to expand it even further. But the staff came to realize that their expansion would never be enough." For Kagan, even his decision to transfer his elephants came too late. "The problem is that we should have come to this conclusion sooner," he said. In his view, elephants simply don't adapt well to captivity. "While people want to see elephants, I think people don't want to see animals that suffer," he says.

Meanwhile, Lulu and Tinkerbelle from the San Francisco Zoo are moving to a sanctuary in Calaveras County. The director praised the sanctuary's proximity. It's 132 miles from the zoo, a 2 1/2-hour drive. "The lame-duck elephants will have a better trip, and zoo employees can visit more often." It's just like a happy ending to one of those Little Golden Books where a kid somehow acquires a wild animal, but isn't prepared to be able to care for it or house it properly, so it goes to a zoo where the kid will be able to what? "visit it any time." But is it the end? The AZA wanted the elephants sent to another zoo, but San Fran Zoo (with the backing of its Board of Supervisors) bucked the Association's wishes and announced they'd be going to a sanctuary, risking the loss of the zoo's accreditation from the AZA. "That risk hadn't receded Wednesday. 'The decision raises serious ethical and accreditation concerns,' said association executive director Sydney Butler." Ethical concerns. Yeah, that's exactly what it raises, Sydney. Had no idea you were actually paying attention.

Not paying quite enough attention was Carson & Barnes Circus, which trumpeted the arrival in Mendocino County of "Jennie, the baby elephant who performs in the center." Jennie "is very special as she is the first live birth from the breeding program."

That's great. Except that Jennie died in April. I know, I know, how's a busy circus supposed to keep track of which "co-worker" is alive or dead? Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who, after all.

At least some places are paying attention. A town outside of Boston has shut down its annual 4th of July circus, citing "years of low-key animal-rights protests as one of several factors in their decision to forgo the annual event." Interestingly, the story goes on include this tidbit: "The Cole Brothers Circus has stopped using elephants in most of its shows, said spokeswoman Renee Storey, who said the animals were aging and would not be replenished with younger ones." First I've heard of that, thought I don't get over to as often as I'd like. Anyway, it'll be fun to hear Ringling's inspired spin when they're the last corporate institution in America to continue exploiting elephants.

Tuesday, June 29


Remember when I pointed out that Veneman had switched her official stance from the Harvard Risk Study spin of "No Mad Cows" to "Oh sure, there'll be more mad cows"? Remember how I said she was softening us up for the next "discovery"? Well now she's putting that to use as planned, while defending the practice of releasing the inconclusive positive without divulging specifics about the animal or its location. "I would anticipate, I think we've said all along, that we'll not only have these inconclusives, but we may find a few more cases of BSE in this country," Veneman said. Wow - is it psychosis or what? To Ann Veneman, "all along" is the period from May 14 to now. Amazing.

Meanwhile, they've announced that the second animal in less than a week preliminarily tested positive for Mad Cow. I still won't conjecture on this, because these are more sensitive tests, and besides, this wasn't released on a Friday (though it was after the stock market closed today, of course). We'll have to see whether the USDA has anything interesting to say at their press briefing tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 28


Awwww... Temple Grandin is so sweet to those poor dumb cows, helping to ensure they're calm and compliant when they get slaughered for her to eat. And her record of improving slaughterhouses - who can argue with that? After all, "One of Grandin’s first projects, Swift’s plant in Greeley, Colo., serves as her showpiece and a laboratory of sorts." Isn't that terrific? Hmm. Greeley, Greeley, why does that sound familiar? Ohhhhh yeah - a little bit after it became Grandin's showpiece/laboratory, it was the site of 2002's fatal E.Coli recall of 19 million pounds of beef and was temporarily shut down months afterward by the USDA because it was still sending out such huge quantities of feces-smeared meat. Hey, great job, Temple! Hope you're eating some of your handiwork there!