Out of Sight, Out of Mind?
Posted: 28 Mar 2011 08:25 PM PDT
by Michael Markarian: Animals & Politics
A journalist goes to prison for broadcasting undercover video footage. A worker is persecuted for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment. It’s not the Middle East--it could happen right here in America.
In the Middle East and North Africa, people are jeopardizing their lives for freedom, and included among the most basic rights are freedom of expression and of the press. The global struggle for democracy should remind us about the greatness of America and value of free speech here, including in Iowa and Florida.
Unfortunately, some lawmakers in those states don’t seem to care much about these rights. They want to shield one industry—animal agribusiness—from open dialogue about animal cruelty, food safety problems, worker abuse, and toxic pollution.
A bill in Iowa, HF 589, has already passed the state House of Representatives, and its companion, SF 431, has been introduced in the state Senate. A similar bill, SB 1246, is pending in Florida. The author of the Iowa legislation, Rep. Annette Sweeney, R-Alden, all but proved the theory that she is trying to stop speech and expression, when she was caught on tape by WHO-TV tearing down a display by animal advocates in the state capitol.
These Iowa and Florida bills would ban whistleblowers from exposing illegal and unethical practices at factory farms and slaughter plants. They target legal methods of investigative reporting and would criminalize anyone blowing the whistle on animal cruelty, food safety problems, labor abuses, sexual harassment, or dumping of toxic pollutants.
The Iowa legislation is so extreme it would make it a crime for the news media to even “possess” or “distribute” images of such abuses. The proposals in both states are so overly broad they could prohibit taping of cruel and illegal conditions inside puppy mills and animal fighting operations. They could even turn farms into safe havens for criminal behavior, prohibiting recordings on any property where a handful of agricultural animals are present, even if it’s used for drug trafficking, prostitution, meth labs, dogfighting or cockfighting.
Telling the truth is not a crime; showing the truth should not be a crime. If you live in Iowa or Florida, please contact your state lawmakers today. Tell them we shouldn’t jeopardize our most basic freedoms just to shield the agribusiness industry from public scrutiny on a host of social problems associated with factory farms.
Here’s what some newspaper editorials and columnists are saying about this legislation:
This restraint of free speech cannot be squared with either the U.S. or the Iowa constitutions…The government should not have the power to penalize anyone for publishing or distributing information on issues of public concern. The law should allow the people to see what happens in these facilities and to judge for themselves whether what goes on is right or wrong.--Editorial, Des Moines Register, March 19, 2011
This is a bad bill overall. It overreaches and would serve to stifle valuable whistle-blower activity, and could even backfire and hurt responsible operators…It would do more harm than good.--Editorial, Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 24, 2011
It also begs a question of the slaughterhouse and puppy mill owners lobbying for it: What's going on inside the facilities that you would go to such lengths to prevent people from seeing?--Rekha Basu, Des Moines Register, March 25, 2011
We do expect livestock production to be humane and lawful. We also expect safe food. And with all the gaps in our government inspection dragnet, we just might need amateurs with cameras.--Todd Dorman, Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 24, 2011
Still, why is punishment necessary for the photographer if the farm owner has nothing to hide? Whistleblowers can use photos, for example, to document conditions that might be detrimental to the food supply. That would be in the public interest.--Editorial, Treasure Coast Palm, March 26, 2011
From Animal Blawg
by Jacqueline McMahon
Well, there go the rights of farmed animals and whistleblowers in Iowa. On March 17, 2011, the Republican-dominated Iowa House of Representative voted 65-27 to approve a bill criminalizing secretly recording factory farm practices. Under the bill, House File 589 § 9, drolly named “Animal Facility Interference,” any person who produces, possesses or distributes an audio or visual recording of an animal facility without the consent of the owner is guilty of either a class D felony or aggravated misdemeanor. The bill still has to pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate before officially becoming Iowa law, but with similar proposals popping up in other states including Florida, the idea of prohibiting these exposé recordings is picking up steam. Read more of this post.
Also read more on The Iowa Bill that's being proposed.
STRAIGHT FROM THE DAILY VET WEBSITE:
Continue to add four years for every year your cat is fortunate enough to live past the age of twenty.
I won’t go into all the details of what is included in the guidelines, but it talks about the importance of wellness exams, nutrition and weight management, diagnostic testing (e.g., blood work, urinalysis, blood pressure checks, and fecal testing), behavior and environmental issues, parasite control, vaccinations, and dental care.
One interesting tidbit that I took away from reading the report is that "41% of people looking for their lost cats considered them to be indoor-only pets," and that "only about 2% of lost cats ever find their way back from shelters, a major reason being the lack of tag or microchip identification." I had no idea these statistics were this dismal.
The guidelines are aimed primarily at veterinarians, but take a look at them yourself if you want to know the reasoning behind your vet’s recommendations or even more importantly, to make sure your cat is getting the care that he or she deserves.
Dr. Jennifer Coates
One mans quest to prove an idiot at a party wrong :)
African wild dogs live in packs of 6 to 20 on average and are very social. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups - both males and females babysit the young and provide food for them. Source: http://www.awf.org
Revealed: Wild Dog Trafficking
Category: Wild Dogs
A short documentary was released in 2010 by colleagues from the Painted Dog Conservation Project in Hwange, Zimbabwe. The documentary, put together by Dr Greg Rasmussen, reveals for the first time the true extent of the trade in African wild dogs.
This highly endangered species is not listed on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) because of a misconception that there is no commercial trade in wild dogs. This documentary demonstrates otherwise, and makes a compelling case for putting wild dogs on CITES. It also highlights the horrific conditions faced by many wild animals in China’s zoos.
The film shows how there are 200-300 wild dogs currently in China, most obtained illegally and living in appalling conditions. It shows that many of these originate from the wild, where dogs are effectively stolen from the wild and put into captive breeding centers to pass off their offspring as captive bred. It’s truly shocking.
Please have a look at the film (it’s only about 20 minutes long), and pass the link on to friends and colleagues. A lot of hard work by Greg and his team went into making this film in order to bring the problem to light. http://www.youtube.com/user/journeymanpictures#p/c/2C32A4BDEAD6466A/3/x_oQRe-L0m0
It only goes to show how vital are all our conservation efforts on the ground with the wild dogs, and how much we need your support to continue to try and protect this incredible and highly threatened species.
Rosemary, a wildlife conservationist grew up in Zimbabwe. She's now working for the African Wildlife Conservation Fund to promote the conservation of the enigmatic, fragile and highly endangered African wild dogs in this wonderful country. They work specifically in the Save Valley Conservancy and Gonarezhou National Park. The project is hosted by Chishakwe Ranch.
Straight from his website:
Greg Rasmussen founded Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) after years of living and working closely with painted dogs in the field. While on the job, Greg suffered severe injuries when his plane crashed into the African bush, but his persistent work has continued nonetheless. Greg is joined by Peter Blinston, PDC's Manager, who has helped translate Greg's vision and research into effective programming.
Greg presently serves as PDC’s Director. British-born, he spent much of his childhood in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). After college, he began work on an African wild dog research project in Hwange NationalPark and became so committed to the painted dogs that he sold all his belongings and moved permanently to Zimbabwe to live and work for their protection.
Greg was tracking radio-collared rhino from his microlight aircraft when his plane crashed in 2003. Alone, severely injured, and hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement, Greg withstood extreme temperatures and exposure to predators while he waited for help. The story of his survival and eventual rescue has been featured in a Discovery Channel documentary and also told in Thrown to the Lions, an episode in the television series “Alive.” READ MORE
I thought these were llamas when I was photographing them today. Now I'm not sure. I'll keep researching. Alpacas are much smaller than llamas and often have hair a "top knot" or "hair-do." Llamas have banana shaped ears while alpacas have pear shaped ears. Alpacas have shorter noses and their backs rise slightly up unlike the llama's straighter back.
Llamas and alpacas are members of the camel family (aka camelids) with a lifespan of around 20 - 25 years. Llamas were domesticated by the Incas about 4000 to 5000 years ago in the Andes Mountains in South America.
"During the Inca period, the breeding and production of llamas was controlled by the state "Llama-Michis" or llama herders. Llamas were the property of the government and breeding was closely monitored. The hunting of llamas and alpacas was forbidden.
The Inca empire used the llama in a variety of ways. Males were sacrificed and played a prominent role in religious ceremonies. Females who could not reproduce were occasionally used for sacrifice as well. The llama fiber was collected and used to weave the course fiber product "Aluascay" for the common people. The finer alpaca and vicuna fiber was reserved for the nobility. The meat from llamas was consumed fresh and any surplus was salted and dried for later use. Some parts of the llama digestive tract were used as medicinals." Source: http://www.llamapaedia.com/origin/domestic.html
"Females are first bred at 20-24 months depending on maturity and weight. Llamas do not have a heat cycle Ovulation occurs 24-36 hours after breeding. Thus they can be bred at any time of the year. Gestation is 350 days.
A single baby call a cria (cree-ah) is normally delivered without assistance from a standing mother during daylight hours. Birth weight is 20-35 pounds. Babies are normally up and nursing within 90 minutes. They are usually weaned at 4-6 months." Source:
Directly from: http://www.llamapack.com/text/history.html
"The domestication of the llama and alpaca marked the beginning of a high dependence on these animals by the Inca culture of the Andes. This dependence was somewhat analogous to the dependence the Plains Indians of North America had on the bison. The bison provided the base needs of the native cultures (food, fiber, fuel, shelter) and they served as cultural icons in spiritual and fertility rites. The important difference between the two situations is the domestication of the llama and alpaca. Domestication allowed the llamas’ additional use as a beast of burden as well as selective breeding for specific traits. The llama's adaptability and efficiency as a pack animal in the mountain terrain of the Andes made it possible to link the diverse altitude zones and to cover the great linear distances of the region. The llama was bred specifically to produce a large, strong animal for the packing function. The alpaca was bred to accentuate its naturally finer wool. The harvest of this fine wool served as the base for a significant domestic textile market. The pivotal role that llamas and alpacas played in the Incan culture and economy naturally elevated them to a highly regarded status." Source: http://www.llamapack.com/text/history.html (This website has a lot of good info on llamas.)
"Ask not what an animal can do for you; ask what you can do for an animal." Jasper
"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men." ~Alice Walker
The source of the quote is Walker's preface to Marjorie Spiegel's 1988 book, "The Dreaded Comparison" . Her next sentence was, "This is the gist of Ms. Spiegel's cogent, humane and astute argument, and it is sound."