Friday, January 20


Well that sure didn't take long. A little over a month after lifting its 2-year ban on imports of US beef over Mad Cow fears, Japan has reinstated the ban. And why? Oh, you know, just "the discovery of spinal material in a shipment that should have been removed due to the risk of mad cow disease." Hmmmmm. Oh well, I'm sure it was just that one shipment that had the problem, right?

Don't worry, though, folks, the USDA is making sweeping changes right away: "Within the United States, two USDA inspectors instead of one will now be required to review every shipment of beef to be exported to Japan." Did you get that? They're going to make doubly sure that the beef they send to Japan is safe... while you sit here and eat all that single-inspector beef that might or might not have BSE-carrying spinal cord in it.

Let's just be clear that this belies once again the whining that US vegetarians and consumer activists were the ones whipping up Mad Cow fear. It's the US Beef industry that is creating the fear by their shoddy practices (as well as the shoddy concept behind their industry) and it's international trade that's in the driver's seat of everything they do.


"Eleven people were indicted in a series of arsons, claimed by the radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, in five Western states, the Justice Department said Friday." With the incredible level of hooplah and grandstanding, you wouldn't know that the body count from these 'ecoterrorists' is exactly zero.

The disproportionate targeting of animal-rights and environmental activists (vs., say, right-wing militias and dangerous hate groups) is already obvious and has been commented on here. Let me stress that I don't approve of arson as a protest strategy - anything that can easily get someone killed as a direct result should be avoided by anyone working for a non-violent culture. BUT it has to be said: Terrorism is not about destroying property, it's about using the threat of personal, physical violence as a substitute for arguing a point. To my knowledge (I have not read the full indictment) none of these actions, nor any others here of ELF and ALF, crossed that line.

However, SHAC and its ilk routinely does cross that line, which is why it's easy for the mainstream to lump us all into the dangerous and hateful bin: "We know where you sleep at night" is what protesters down the street were shouting last week outside a drug company, helping both the employees and passersby grasp the concept that vegans only care about the lives of animals, not people. Previously SHAC has pioneered the concept of "home demos," breaking individual Huntingdon employees' windows and traumatizing their neighbors - and mnost egregiously, stocked its web site with the names, ages, and school addresses of Huntingdon employees’ children. Brilliant PR, guys. It wouldn't surprise me if Rick Berman himself turned out to be behind these actions - no one could do a better job of turning the public off to our message, and helping the government fool them into thinking that animal rights = terrorism.

Thursday, January 19


This study doesn't seem all that remarkable, other than the fact that a mental capacity previously thought to belong only to primates has been found in owls. But the lead is a cliche worth highlighting again:

"Owls just got a little wiser: Scientists say they've detected a link between sight and sound in the bird's brain, a phenomenon previously reported only in primates. This finding, published in the Jan. 19 issue of the journal Nature, also advances knowledge about how the brain is able to sort out incoming sensory information."

The opening sentence is (hopefully) meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but it's the standard opening for just about every story like this, the "joke" being that animals we're observing "get wiser" upon our discovery of their innate intelligence. I wonder how many of the writers who use this trope are aware of how this "joke" actually resonates with humans' standard conception of animals - that they're some alternate type of being from us, halfway between subject and object. Since our say-so is what determines reality, in one sense owls don't have this capacity until a supreme, all-knowing human says so. What would Heisenberg say?


This is sort of a small-town story, but it's rare to see (relatively) mainstream press coverage of "veganic" farming: "There are 10,000 square feet of lettuce varieties, kale, chard, spinach, rosemary, radishes and watercress. All 72 varieties grown on Santa Cruz Farm are certified organic, and vegan in that they're fertilized with organic cottonseed meal and compost, and Mora-grown organic alfalfa. No animal products ever come in contact with Bustos' fruits and vegetables..." And though the original switchover initially led to more pests, Bustos says that "Through the process, we've become better growers ... and our net product per acre has gone way up." And to bring it back to that small town: "It's more than how much you pay," he said, "but how much you put into the sustainable model. Organic is important, but local should be your mantra."

Wednesday, January 18


It would be nice if the Washington in that headline were our nation's capital, meaning a nationwide ban, but this is instead the state. Still, even proposed legislation shows that this issue continues to get traction in different locations as the indefensible practice is repeatedly brought to light.

"Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, has proposed a measure that would ban the process of harvesting bloated livers — known as foie gras, or “fatty liver” — and would ultimately remove the delicacy from state restaurants."

From the legislator: "Torturing an animal to make it tastier is not a proposition I support. There has to be some limitations on decadence when it comes to what we eat or what we do to animals." And the hoity-toity restaurateur, displaying that impeccable logic that distinguishes the defense of meat-eating: "It's probably not pleasant for the ducks, but it's probably not pleasant for a chicken to be slaughtered. I kind of feel like if we listen to these people, we’ll probably all be vegetarians." Exactly. So instead you keep your fingers in your ears, going "La la la la." Keep it up as long as you can, because you're gonna have to start listening sooner or later.

Monday, January 16


I know it's not the first time I've mentioned this, but it's timely, of course: Though Martin Luther King never went vegan himself, his wife and son have, and "believe that promoting animal rights is just the next 'logical extension' of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy of non-violence." Make it a day off (meat) or a day on (ahimsa), but don't just sit there and wishing you had marched with the man way back when. Change starts with you.