Friday, December 10


Despite threats from the American Zoo Association, Winky and Wanda, the aging, arthritic elephants, "will spend their retirement in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada mountains, away from the cramped, cold Detroit Zoo." Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan finally reached an agreement with the AZA to send Winky and Wanda to California's Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary. But get this - "A break in the impasse came when a test indicated that Wanda either had the endotheliotropic herpes virus or had the antibodies to it. The disease would not be detrimental to her health but could be fatal to young elephants exposed to it." In other words, the AZA only caved because Wanda, the commmodity, was worthless to them. Or that may be their face-saving excuse - either way, it's an unfortunate mentality.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, new rules could wind up eliminating elephant attractions at that city's zoo. "Elephants must receive hundreds of times more space to live at San Francisco's zoo or not be kept at the facility, city legislators said on Tuesday in legislation that could effectively bar pachyderms for good." Why? Because to get that much space, according to Zoo director Manuel Mollinedo,the zoo would need to raise $17 to $20 million for the new elephant area. And (though this is unspoken) during a period, and in a cultural environment, when the question "why do we need elephants in cages?" is becoming louder and stronger. Then again, there are plenty of reactionary bozos with too much money, so this will be interesting to watch develop.

Thursday, December 9


There's a great show going on at the Supreme Court, as that old "checkoff" program that riled up the pork producers a while back comes up again, now in terms of beef. The question is "whether the government can compel cattle ranchers to pay for an industry marketing program, famous for its 'Beef, It's What's for Dinner' advertisements. The Livestock Marketing Association said meatpackers and processors, who are not required to pay for the checkoff, were benefiting more from the marketing program than ranchers." At heart, this is just an industry-management issue, but it's turned into vaudeville here by the fact that the US government is in bed with the beef industry and wants to play that two ways at once.

For instance: "During oral arguments at the court, several justices expressed reservations whether the beef program was actually government speech protected by the First Amendment, since the commercials don't identify the USDA. Instead, the Cattlemen's Beef Board is listed as the sponsor." Whoops. USDA, Beef Board... who can keep track of which rubber stamp we're supposed to use on which day?

Further, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and several other court members appeared skeptical of claims the beef program was government speech, thus giving the cattle farmers no right to challenge it. She said government public health experts would not encourage people to eat lots of red meat." Heh. Well, that depends on which hat they're wearing at any given moment, now doesn't it?

But the most chuckles come from the wacky logic employed by the Bush administration's ( = beef campaign's) lawyer Edwin Kneedler. "The beef checkoff was no different than the government requiring cigarette companies to pay for advertisements that warn consumers about the health risks of smoking, Kneedler said. In both cases, there are some who disagreed with the government's message." Well, perfect analogy - except in this case we'd be putting out ads telling people about the health risks of eating red meat, now wouldn't we? And finally, after much discussion of who should pay for this based on who benefits... "The ultimate beneficiary of the advertising is the consumer," says Kneedler. GREAT! So pass the cost onto the consumer by jacking up the price of beef to a realistic level! I'm all for it, Edwin. Where do I sign?

Wednesday, December 8


That pinnacle of off-the-beaten-track investigative journalism, The Onion, blows the lid off an issue many of us may have already suspected: World's Scientists Admit They Just Don't Like Mice. "Nearly 700 scientists representing 27 countries convened at the University of Zurich Monday to formally announce that their experimentation on mice has been motivated not by a desire to advance human knowledge, but out of sheer distaste for the furry little rodents."

It's a top-notch Onion piece, with gems like: "According to a 500-word statement, scientists hate mice for 'their beady little eyes,' 'their repulsive tails,' and 'the annoying little squeaking sounds they make.'" As Homer would say, "It's funny because it's true"... if by "true" we mean "truly hilarious."

Tuesday, December 7


"International wildlife experts called this week for bans on the trafficking of endangered Asian elephants, warning that demand from zoos and theme parks is driving the illegal trade from countries such as Thailand." There are some choice quotes here from Vivek Menon, executive director of the Wildlife Trust of India, who says that "elephant captive breeding programs in zoos do not work and do not have any conservation value. 'Western zoos claim their breeding programs will save the endangered Asian elephant, but nothing could be further from the truth,' Menon said. 'Captivity does not equal conservation. Research shows elephant captive breeding programs fail, and in the rare event a zoo elephant produces a calf, it cannot be released back into the wild.'" Finally, she says: "The best way for these zoos... to assist with the future conservation of this species is to support field conservation programs in Asia." Damn straight.

Monday, December 6


"The Environmental Protection Agency has sued a kosher meatpacker, claiming it repeatedly exceeded pollutant limits at its plant in Postville. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, alleges that Agriprocessors Inc. repeatedly violated the federal Clean Water Act." The EPA's lawsuit follows PETA allegations that Agriprocessors' slaughtering practices are needlessly cruel, violating the law. Boy what a shocker that they care neither about the animals nor about us, huh?

UPDATE 12/10: USDA probes beef plant accused of abuse and Meatpacker Makes Changes After PETA Charge. But wait...

UPDATE 12/14: Judge changes opinion on alleged abuse at kosher plant "The animals killed at a kosher slaughterhouse in eastern Iowa were treated humanely and died quickly, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge said after a weekend tour of the processing plant. 'What I saw today ... was humane. It was quick and there was absolutely no problem with the way they were handled,' Judge said Sunday. Oh, what you saw today. Hmmm. How to put this? Oh, fortunately, the AP spells it out for us in their headline: Tour of kosher plant reveals company's view of events


...but not for eating - for putting directly into your bones! "A material made from the vegetarian food tofu could help repair broken bones and teeth, UK scientists believe." The BBC goes on to explain that "the de-fatted soybean curd would act like polyfiller to fill in defects. It has the added advantage of encouraging new bone to grow as it biodegrades and releases natural anti-inflammatory agents" while in contrast: "Many existing materials used to fill bone are derived from animal sources, which the patient's immune system can react to and reject as foreign material." Hmmmmmm. Score another one for plant-based healing.


"If you eat lots of red meat you may be doubling your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis, say researchers from the University of Manchester, UK. Researchers compared 88 rheumatoid arthritis patients, drawn from a research sample of over 25,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 70, with 176 controls. Participants in the study completed a seven-day food diary and were asked about their smoking habits. Results showed those eating the most red meat had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Patients consuming red meat as well as other types of meat had similar higher risk factors."


Here's a good interview with Rex Bowlby, Author of "Plant Roots: 101 Reasons Why the Human Diet is Rooted Exclusively in Plants" with some witty (if canned) repartee: Bowlby says "Would Nature have left our very survival-food-to chance by placing our protein source in mobile animals ('Hey, come back here!'), another mammal's milk ('Let's see, we tried the hedgehog and the seal-only 4,498 species to go.'), and under a hen ('Hey Trog, what do you think of this chicken placenta?') ...OR in 260,000 varieties of immobile plants spread over the earth?" and another good catchphrase: "Vegetarians didn't choose their chose them!" Besides this, Mickey Z digs into some crucial issues of how the American left fails to grasp veganism as the ultimate leftist issue, and how blowhards like Michael Moore sell out the future of the planet in order to play to a supposed regular-Joe base.


A PCRM press release points us to two stories "souring milk's image" - one pointing to an ovarian cancer link and the other debunking the "milk helps you lose weight" meme. The cancer link is no surprise (even though the study's authors judiciously declaim any links to other cancers... riiiiight), but the weight thing is significant if only because weight gain and loss seems to be the only thing the mainstream media cares about in relation to nutrition. In a study with five times as many people as the previous "milk helps you lose weight" study, "there was no significant difference between the high-dairy [4 servings a day] and low-dairy [1 serving a day] groups, says Jean Harvey-Berino, chairman of the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington."