My own private Idaho: Pursuing ag-gag secrecy

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Bumps and bruises: The “inadvertent cruelty” of factory farming. Mercy for Animals Idaho dairy photo; click image

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

“My Own Private Idaho.” You might know it as a ’90s era movie, but its new identity is being forged in the Idaho legislature right now. “My Own Private Idaho” could soon be how factory farm owners refer to their holdings–places where anything goes and no one knows–if ag-gag legislation is signed into law. But according to some, it goes far beyond undercover filming in animal agriculture settings. Continue reading

Rabbit ranching: Pat the bunny, whack the bunny

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

Easter morning dawned bright and beautiful in Western Montana. I glanced out the window and there sat Sylvilagus nuttalliithe mountain cottontail. Though our mostly-wild, predominantly-native property is perfect habitat, rabbits don’t show themselves readily, and the sighting was a special treat. I mean, who doesn’t love a bunny?!? Then I recalled the day a few years back when we heard gun shots across the road and saw the neighbor throw a limp body from his then-unfenced garden. No, not everyone loves a bunny.

Later, relaxing with the Sunday paper, a feel-good Easter story about a “bunny rancher” left me feeling decidedly bad. “I only have three Easter bunnies left right now,” the breeder told the reporter. “This time of year, they go as fast as I can make them.”    Continue reading

Wielding words for animal rights: Rapping, religion, & blogging

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Do you ever suffer from weariness of words? I do. Words piled on words. Remember when Polonius–attempting to determine if Lord Hamlet had gone mad–asked him what he was reading? “Words, words, words,” was Hamlet’s crafty reply. So many words. Too many words. Animals suffer; we write words. Animals die; we read words. We log on, post to Facebook, read blogs, write blogs, comment on blogs, link to blogs, blog about blogs…meh. At the end of the day I ask myself, “What’s been accomplished?” Animals are still suffering, still dying, and all I’ve done is shuffle words, words, words. Have they changed anything?     Continue reading

All things are connected: Finding truth in a fake speech

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts are gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”

Never did a phony speech ring so true. By now we all know (don’t we?) that these words–and that whole web of life riff–come from a fake speech attributed to Suquamish chief Seattle. Its falsified provenance has been exposed many times over, but its staying power persists on posters, T-shirts, bumper stickers, garden plaques (I have one, a gift), in a children’s book–and in hearts. We want to believe that a seer, wise and eloquent (which Seattle was for a fact), speaks to us so poignantly about the strong bond between all species: our irrevocable connection, our shared fate. That a mid-19th-century visionary addressed us directly in the early 1970s–just when our environmental movement was taking off (imagine that!)–and continues speaking ever more urgently in these rapidly-warming, species-depleting 21st-century days. Continue reading

“Well-mannered predators” and other speciesist notions about animal captivity

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

No sooner do we turn the page on the sad story of two wild Montana grizzlies gone psychotic in a Midwestern zoo when along comes more tragedy involving captive wild animals. Yes, wild animals taken from their habitats or born into captivity to live unnatural, diminished lives are tragic cases in their own right. Witness a bear turning endless tight circles in her cement cell (instead of ranging across 100 square wilderness miles) and tell me this isn’t tragic.

But the latest calamities are compounded in that they are also human tragedies–and needless ones but for our speciesist insistence on keeping wild beings captive for our own pleasure and profit. Continue reading

Schwarzenegger’s Legacy: Skinned Animals

David Cassuto

Amid all the hagiography (outside of California) for soon to be ex-Governor Schwarzenegger, comes this: he vetoed a bill that would have required clothing made with fur to be properly labeled.  Currently, so-called faux fur products are actually made of real fur, just the fur from less “desirable” animals.  The gov was concerned about cost.  Apparently,  the $1,000 penalty was just too harsh for manufacturers who deliberately deceive the buying public.  Never mind that Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin have such labeling requirements or that even the the Congress is getting into the act or that, by golly, it’s just the right thing to do. The judgment of history can be brutal indeed.

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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A Small Victory for Live Skinned Raccoon Dogs

Michelle Land

On January 29th, the Humane Society of the United States announced a settlement had been reached with clothing retailer Saks Fifth Avenue on the matter of false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.  As a result, Saks has agreed to impose new garment labeling practices and change advertising policies.  Lord & Taylor and Andrew Marc retailers have similarly settled, with Macy’s and Neiman Marcus refusing to budge in the HSUS lawsuit.

At issue is a regulatory loophole that currently allows many fur-trimmed items to be sold without informing consumers whether and what kind of fur those products contain.  As reported on the HSUS website, dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments were identified across the industry with Raccoon Dogs as the most commonly misrepresented type of fur.  A previous post here explained that Raccoon Dog fur is often labeled as a different animal, as “faux” fur, or possibly not even labeled at all. Continue reading

Does the Winter Mean Fur Coats?

Simona Fucili

As the holiday season is approaching, one cannot help notice all of the fur ads you see in magazines and commercials.  The ads portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance and status but fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths.  According to the Spanish animal-rights organization Igualdad Animal, four hundred thousand minks are killed and turned into fur coats every year.  The organization advocates for the abolition of animal slavery and has been researching the killing of mink to produce fur coats.  Some of Igualdad Animal’s research was recently highlighted by a press agency that focuses on Mediterranean countries referred to as ANSAmed.

November is usually the month where mink farms prepare to harvest the mink fur.  This year, Igualdad Animal Organization decided to videotape this process through the use of hidden cameras.  This ghastly video was distributed through the online version of the Publico newspaper to illustrate “the other side of the fur business and the suffering behind the elegance of a mink coat.”  The video shows a very cruel reality of the harvesting of mink fur.  It vividly illustrates where conditions the mink live in, as well as, the cruel procedure used to separate the fur from the animal.  In the video, you can see that the minks are usually killed by carbon monoxide blown from the exhausts of large tractors.  In addition to the images shown in the video, the organization took more than 650 pictures from various farms in Spain during different hours.  All the material was collected and distributed as part of an investigation conducted by Igualdad Animal organization.  The results of the investigation were published on the Piel Es Asesinato website.

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