Radioactive Fish

David Cassuto

There have been a number of developments on the agriculture front that I want to discuss but that will have to wait until things settle down around here at least a little bit.  In the meantime, here´s an interesting tidbit from today´s WaPo. 

Apparently, fish in the Connecticut river, in the New Hampshire/Vermont region, are testing positive for strontium-90 — a very dangerous radioactive isotope (it causes bone cancer and leukemia).  Some believe that the contamination comes from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is in the midst of cleaning up its most recent tritium, cesium-137, zinc-65, and cobalt-60 leak.  Others say that it can´t be from Vermont Yankee and is most likely residual buildup from Chernobyl.  Or maybe Indian Point.          Continue reading

Animals are Family Too

Seth Victor

          This past week I attended the 2010 New Jersey State Bar Association Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlantic City. I had a very enjoyable time, and while I think part of holding the event in Atlantic City is to entice lawyers to come and make a holiday of it, I was there strictly to attend the seminars (and maybe have some fried oreos on the boardwalk). The lectures did not disappoint. My Thursday started at 8:00am. I know of no law school courses that are scheduled for 8:00am because no student, or law professor, wants to be thinking critically that early. When, however, you have an intriguing discussion awaiting you with some of the top names in animal law, you find ways to perk up. Thus I found myself in “Animal are Family Too,” sponsored by the NJ Animal Law Committee.    Continue reading

Voiceless — Australian Animal Law Grant Opportunity

David Cassuto

From the email:

We are delighted to announce that from next week, applications will be accepted for the 2010 Voiceless Grants Program.

Now in its seventh year, the Grants Program has awarded more than $1 million to universities, local councils, and animal protection and non-profit organisations for projects that improve the lives of animals in Australia.

In 2009 almost $120,000 was awarded to 14 recipients for projects addressing a range of issues, including factory farming and the commercial kangaroo industry.  We also funded animal law and education projects, as well as TV, radio and newspaper ad campaigns related to animal protection in Australia.          Continue reading

Cute Frogs and the Death of Nature (But Certainly Not the Oil Spill…)

David Cassuto

This post is not about the oil spill in the gulf.  It´s not about the hideous and incalculable damage to fragile coastal wetlands, marine life, and shore birds, or the other collateral damage from this petroleum-based nightmare.  It´s not about the lack of a viable disaster plan or the continued national unwillingness to connect this spill with unsustainable consumption levels.  Nor is it about BP´s ongoing denial of the seriousness of the spill or the Obama Administration´s tepid public response coupled with inadequate laws and a dysfunctional system of oversight.   Continue reading

Talking Animals, Climate Change and Agriculture in Sao Paulo

David Cassuto

Today, I gave a talk on industrial agriculture and climate change at the Planeta Verde Conference, the largest environmental law conference in South America and maybe the world.  Instituto O Direito Por Um Planeta Verde (Law for a Green Planet Institute) is a Brazilian NGO founded (I believe) by Antonio Benjamin, a major figure in Brazilian environmental law.  Benjamin is now a Justice on the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (this court has no direct analogue in the U.S.; it resides somewhere between the courts of appeals  and the Supreme Court).  He also manages to be a professor at several law schools both in Brazil and Texas.

I have a few things to report.  First, on a personal note, I currently dwell in a limbic space between 3 languages.  My Portuguese is improving but still not fully conversational while my Spanish suffers from its proximity to Portuguese.  This leaves me unable to speak either one.  Meanwhile, my English worsens by the day.  The upshot: I spent much of today and yesterday stammering in no recognizable language, but with a New York accent.           Continue reading

Some Comings and Goings

David Cassuto

Our hero has been doing a lot of speaking lately.  I gave a talk in Belem (in the north of Brazil) a few weeks ago, in Rio at the Attorney General’s Office last week, and I’m in Sao Paulo right now getting ready to talk at the Lawyers for a Green Planet Conference tomorrow morning (in a few short hours).  All of these lectures have dealt with environmental law and all have at least touched on animal law (some more directly than others).  More on all of these in later posts.  In the meanwhile, let this serve as a placeholder until I can carve out some time.

`Octomom´ Nadya Suleman is the New PETA Poster Child

David Cassuto

Nadya Suleman, the (now) self-described `Octomom,´ has a sign on her lawn urging us to heed her example and “Don’t Let Your Dog or Cat Become an Octomom. Always Spay or Neuter.”   Suleman, who had octuplets 16 months ago (in addition to her 6 other children) and has been struggling to make ends meet, placed the sign on her lawn at the behest of PETA and in exchange for $5000 and a month´s supply of veggie burgers.  She maintains that she is not doing it just for the money and that she loves animals and believes that they should be spayed and neutered.   “Humans of course are much different,” she notes.   PETA claims the arrangement is a `win-win.´   

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Call for Papers: Race and Food

David Cassuto

Lots one could say about this.  The journal is Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts out of Ohio State.  The call for papers is here.  Submission deadline:  November 15, 2010.

h/t: Our Hen House

Does One Compromise Over Whale Slaughter?

David Cassuto

The hoo-ha is growing over the recent proposal by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to lift the existing outright ban on whaling in exchange for the scofflaw nations (Japan, Norway & Iceland) ceasing  “scientific whaling” (in the case of Japan) and getting to kill more of some different kinds of whales (in the case of Norway & Iceland).   Scientific whaling is simply the slaughter of whales under the guise of research.  It’s a loophole in the IWC ban that insults the intelligence of anyone who believes that words (like science) ought to have meaning.   Last year, of the 1700 whales killed by the 3 whale-killing countries, roughly half were killed by Japan in the name of “science.”  Even the Japanese recognize the silliness of this approach.   Continue reading

Speaking of Hermaneutics…

David Cassuto

Not that we were… 

A former student writes and asks:

Is it wrong that I was so happy he didn’t murder the dog, that I missed  the point of the story

New Book on AETA and Animal Activism

David Cassuto

From the email, a new book by Dara Lovitz:

I am pleased to announce the publication of my book, Muzzling a Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism, which examines the silencing of the animal activist movement in violation of time-honored constitutional principles.  For further information, or to order your copy, go to the website for Lantern Books.  You can also order the book from Amazon.  

Thank you so much for your support!

Dara Lovitz, Esq.

The Show-Me State Legislature Making the World Safe for Factory Farms

David Cassuto

I used to live in Missouri (in Rolla — a place locals call “The Middle of Everywhere“).  I have many fond memories of my time there including my first visit to Stonehenge, drinking grape juice made from local grapes (the wine is pretty good, too), and doing a radio show on gulf coast rhythm and blues for the local NPR affiliate .  So it pains me even more than it might to report about the steady capture of the legislature by agribusiness. 

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Missouri Court of Appeals Keeps Friends Close and CAFOs Closer

David Cassuto

Excellent post here about a recent Missouri Court of Appeals decision eradicating a buffer zone between the historic town of Arrow Rock and a proposed CAFO.  In Missouri, a CAFO need be sited only 3000 feet  from residential areas.  Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster litigated this case furiously on behalf of the factory farms, arguing that the town´s ordinance requiring the facility be further away represented a trend that  “[i]n the eyes of the agricultural community, [was] starting to spin out of control.” 

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Sloth

Seth Victor

 I wrote that gluttony is the biggest of these applied sins, but I may have spoken too soon. Everything I’ve written so far is meaningless if no one critically considers the issues contained in these posts, and while my goal is to get people thinking and talking about these issues, that alone is not enough. It’s a tired saying, but actions do speak loudest. Where our society goes with animal rights is determined solely by what actions we take. It’s that simple. For that reason, sloth is the greatest sin to overcome.    Continue reading

Some Measurable Poultry-Related Success in the U.K.

David Cassuto

A while back, I relayed some info about the `Quash the Squash´ campaign by the RSPCA in the UK aimed at improving the lot of chickens.  Apparently, the campaign was/is very successful.  Despite the recession, British consumers are increasingly willing to spend more money on `higher welfare´chickens.  And, more importantly, they are buying less chicken in general.  Excellent trends, both.  Particularly the latter.  Read more about it and take a brief poll here.

Envy

Seth Victor

Have you ever wanted to fly? Have you ever wanted to be able to dive into the obliqueness of the ocean, breathe through the water, and resist the pressure of the depths? How about sprinting over the terrain in but a few strides? Of course you’ve dreamed of these things, or if not the ones I’ve listed, some other superhuman ability. Countless comic books let us vicariously live these fantasies, be it through Aquaman, The Flash, or whatever superhero catches your fancy. Many superheroes (and supervillians) have powers similar to certain animals. Many take their namesake directly from the animal they admire, or which gave them their power, such as Catwoman (agility, curiosity that gets her into trouble), Spiderman (sticks to walls, makes webs), or Batman (like all bats, has a high tech computer and drives a tricked out car). Some writers even give their protagonists the power to turn into animals.     

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