The Puppy, The Huckabee and The Gay Parent

David Cassuto

Mike Huckabee says

“I think this is not about trying to create statements for people who want to change the basic fundamental definitions of family. And always we should act in the best interest of the children, not in the seeming interest of the adults. Children are not puppies. This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?”
Let´s think about this for a moment.  Apparently, gay parenting is some sort of zany experiment — kind of like seeing what happens when you eat Mentos and drink Diet Coke  at the same time.  The other takeaway is that the best interest of the puppy should not factor into any decision about the determination of its future home.  In other words, the interests of the dog do not matter.    Continue reading

Swine Flu: Born in North Carolina

So it turns out that the H1N1 or (let’s call it what it is:) SWINE Flu is a Tarheel.  This outstanding post in Daily Kos tells the story about how the genes of this most recent virus are traceable to a 1998 outbreak at a Sampson County, North Carolina industrial hog facility.  The whole piece is worth reading but here’s a little taste:

Crowding thousands of pigs into cramped, filthy quarters creates ideal conditions for the fast spread of potentially dangerous viruses. The Humane Society of the United States points out that the unnatural density of such operations enables the large viral loads considered necessary for the emergence of rare flu mutations that can then spread rapidly among animals. The crowded conditions also stress the animals’ immune systems, while the enormous quantities of decaying fecal waste predisposes them to respiratory infections and the lack of sunlight allows viruses to thrive. In addition, the industry’s heavy reliance on pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines immunologically pressures the virus to mutate. And the flies and other pests attracted to such operations may be able to pick up viruses and carry them for miles.

So let’s stop all this nonsense about how pandemics like these are inevitable and that preparedness is the key.  Preparedness is certainly essential but the best way to avert deadly flu is to stop creating ideal conditions for its incubation.

–David Cassuto

Hog CAFOs and the Swine Flu Outbreak — You Do the Math

hogssm21 Flying below the media radar (at least in the United States) is an apparent link between a Smithfield Farms hog confinement facility in Veracruz, Mexico and the swine flu outbreak.  Although it has received little attention here, the issue has gotten significant coverage in Mexico.

Initial reports linked the disease’s vector to flies that reproduce in contaminated pig waste although that theory apparently does not withstand close scrutiny.  Others link it to a vicious cycle of wild ducks drinking contaminated water from sewage lagoons, landing and excreting in  “farmed” fish ponds, whose water then gets drunk by confined chickens,whose feces gets mixed into the feed to confined pigs, who then excrete the contaminants back into the sewage lagoons,which then gets drunk by the ducks, ad infinitum.

Even if it turns out that Smithfield’s facility did not spawn the virus, however, that conclusion would change little.  Adding massive confinement facilities with poor sanitation to an impoverished rural community with poor infrastructure is a recipe for disaster.  If not now then soon.

Hat tip to Daily Kos for breaking the story.  See also the OC Progressive.

David Cassuto