Archive: April 2009

somebody kill me please

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Just a quick note to let y’all know why I’ve been absent from the blog for a few days, and probably will be for a few more.

Saturday the Mr. and I spent the day thinning out the juniper saplings behind our house, before they sprout into big Mr. and Mrs. Juniper Trees (and we have to pay the pros to chainsaw ’em down), and – well, it never even occurred to me that I might be allergic to the damn things, even though possibility should have at least crossed my mind, seeing as my skin is allergic to everything. So I broke out in a massive red, blistery rash on Sunday, and have been hopped up (down, rather) on Benadryl and Melatonin ever since. Only, even with enough downers in my system to knock out my 200-pound husband for a night, I can’t sleep but four hours without waking up with a horrid case of the itchies. I’d say about 30% of my body is covered in what I can only describe as a weird mix of poison ivy rashes, road burns and chemical burns, no lie. Google for pics of “poison ivy rash,” and maybe the worst picture you find will remotely resemble what I currently look like. Maybe.

I finally sucked it up and went to see my local RN today, and I’m happy to report that that lovely bitch is Not. Fucking. Around. She gave me a shot of steroids in my hiney, and put me on a 12-day course of oral prednisone, and prescribed a huge tube (with refills!) of topical steroids, and gave me a 5-day scrip for hardcore rx antihistamines, the kind used to treat anxiety and induce sleep. Considering the many contact dermatitis rashes I’ve suffered over the past ten years, I’m no stranger to any of this, but…no doctor has ever given me both a shot of steroids and an oral course. Dog bless that sweet, sweet woman.

Until I get back, I leave you with this Adam Sandler song from The Wedding Singer, which I’ve been playing on a mental loop whilst drifting in and out of consciousness all week. Only, substitute “Mother Nature, poison ivy and juniper trees” for “Linda.”

easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-26

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Action Alerts

Amnesty International: End Sexual Violence against Native American and Alaska Native Women
“The U.S. Department of Justice’s own statistics indicate that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than two and a half times more likely than women in the United States in general to be raped or sexually assaulted. In order to achieve justice, Native American victims of sexual violence frequently have to navigate a complex maze of federal, state, tribal and local law. In addition, the agencies responsible for responding to this violence are severely underfunded, and their services are far from adequate to ensure that required law enforcement and medical attention are supplied. More than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetime.”

Common Cause: Impeach Judge Jay Bybee
“Common Cause has called for the impeachment of federal Judge Jay Bybee for his role in signing a 2002 memo released last week that authorized torture. And now we need your help to make sure there’s enough pressure on Congress to launch impeachment proceedings. Tell your Representative to launch impeachment proceedings on Judge Jay Bybee of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Defenders of Wildlife: Join Jeff Corwin to Help Save Wildlife Threatened by Global Warming
“Scientists warn that global warming could threaten one-third of the world’s known species with extinction. That’s why Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin has joined with Defenders of Wildlife to help pass comprehensive global warming legislation that includes dedicated policies and funding to help wildlife survive in a changing climate.”

Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust: Save lives by saving land: Sign the pledge
“By signing the pledge, you’ll join thousands of others who support land conservation for the benefit of wildlife—and then receive the monthly e-newsletter from the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust about how you can help free-roaming animals.”

Moms Rising: Make sure every child has the necessary nutrition for a healthy life!
“We must stop the epidemic of childhood obesity! Tell Congress to support improvements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) when it is reauthorized this year as a part of the Child Nutrition reauthorization. This program provides reliable and regular nutrition to our children most in need. Let’s make sure that every child has the nutrition they need to become healthy adults.” Please edit the sample letter provided to include a request for increased funding for and availability of vegetarian and vegan food options!

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?, Morgan Spurlock (2008)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

A surprisingly weighty read.

five out of five stars

With the tongue-in-cheek goal of tracking down Osama bin Laden, award-winning filmmaker (SUPERSIZE ME, 30 DAYS) and expectant dad Morgan Spurlock travels through the Middle East in search of the FBI’s most wanted terrorist, in this book based on a film of the same name.

Far from serious, the “Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?” angle serves as the vehicle through which Spurlock examines some pretty weighty issues. Naturally, Spurlock begins with a biography of bin Laden, detailing his transformation from trust fund baby to radical Islamic jihadist. He then traces bin Laden’s steps through much of the Middle East, including Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, learning about the man’s life and influence throughout the region in the process. During his quest, Spurlock converses with a variety of people, such as religious and political scholars, government and military personnel, teachers and students, relatives of terrorists and former terrorists, and secularized Saudi youths. Taken together, these voices speak (oftentimes contradictory) volumes about life in the Middle East.

From cover to marketing copy, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? appears on its face to be a somewhat flippant look at a deadly serious subject, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth: Spurlock’s written a mighty weighty read here. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? presents an accessible, empathetic and cogent look at the long-running conflict(s) in the Middle East, as well as the U.S.’s changing role in the region. Topics covered run the gamut: the nature of terrorism, religious fundamentalism and fervor, the spread of secularism and attendant clashes with theocracy, past and present Palestinian/Israeli conflicts, how best to “spread” democracy, ethnic and religious intolerance – Spurlock packs quite a bit into only 300 pages.

The author/filmmaker weaves his tale against the backdrop of his impending fatherhood; throughout his travels, for example, Spurlock solicits advice on parenting from his sundry interview subjects. While this grows a little tiresome about halfway through the book, the payoff is well worth it: Papa Spurlock concludes his search for bin Laden, not with the apprehension of the fugitive, but with a tear-jerking call to peace, tolerance and an end to the “othering” of our fellow humans, hopefully beginning/continuing with his own little “Sponge Bob.” (It’d be nice if he’d extend this consideration to non-human animals, especially in light of his baby mama’s veganism – I mean, WTF is up with eating foie gras in front of your pregnant vegan girlfriend, dude!? – but hey, you can’t win `em all!) Spurlock knocks not just Islamophobia among Westerners, but also anti-Westernism, anti-Semitism and misogyny amongst religious fundamentalists in the Middle East.

My only real complaint is that Spurlock’s trademark smartass humor – which I found so charming in SUPERSIZE ME and DON’T EAT THIS BOOK – falls a little flat in WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?. It’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly; I’m not sure the weightiness of the subject quite explains it, as SUPERSIZE ME’s material is just as heavy (pun intended). Perhaps it’s because, in cracking jokes in war-torn countries, Spurlock sometimes comes off as a caricature of that obnoxious Yankee that bin Laden & Co. have so successfully traded on.

Even so, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? is an entertaining, moving and delightfully informative read – and much more hopeful in tone and feeling than similar books about “The War on Terra,” to boot.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Yes, thank you!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

(On multiple levels, seeing as this is a PETA ad and yet everyone managed to keep their knickers on.)

And also: *swoon!*

(More below the fold…)

easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-23

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Action Alerts

Amnesty International: Tell the truth about torture through an independent commission
“Tell your Representative and Senators and President Obama to expose abuse and hold perpetrators accountable. Momentum for an independent investigation into torture is growing. However, without your help, we may not achieve a strong, independent commission with the force of law that can expose the torture and abuse committed in our name and that can help prevent the U.S. from torturing in the future.”

CREDO Action: Tell Chevron: Fire the lawyer behind Bush torture.
“President Obama says it’s up to Attorney General Holder whether to prosecute the individuals responsible for the Bush administration’s torture policies. We submit that one of the top names on Holder’s list should be William J. Haynes II. […] Haynes left the Pentagon when Rumsfeld did, but instead of going into exile – or better yet, prison – Haynes instead went to a cushy gig as chief corporate counsel for Chevron.”

Earthjustice: A Global Warming Story You Haven’t Heard; Soot causes global warming.
“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is sending a team to represent the United States at Tromsø. As a senator, she co-sponsored a bill on black carbon and visited the Arctic to see the devastating effects of climate change first hand. Now, as her team prepares for the Arctic Council Ministerial, we must let her and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson know how important it is for the United States to lead the way. This is your chance to have a voice in critical world affairs. But time is very short. You need to take action now by urging Sec. Clinton and Administrator Jackson to take the lead in Tromsø.”

Feminist Majority Foundation: Help Free Journalist Roxana Saberi
“Please join feminists and human rights activists worldwide in urging the Iranian government to commute the sentence of journalist Roxana Saberi. Saberi was initially arrested in February, purportedly for working without press credentials. In March, she was charged with espionage and being an American spy. She was sentenced to 8 years in prison after a one day, closed-door trial. No evidence against Saberi has been released by the Iranian government. It is increasingly evident that the charges against her are baseless and reports indicate that she may have been forced to make incriminating statements while imprisoned. Write to urge Iran’s reversal of Saberi’s sentence and her immediate release from prison.”

In Defense of Animals (IDA): Tell President Obama: Adopt from a Shelter
“Please express your disappointment that the Obamas obtained a puppy from a breeder, rather than adopting from a shelter as they had previously promised. Urge that any dogs the Obamas add to their family now or in the future should be from a shelter or rescue.”

(More below the fold…)

Just look at those baby blues!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Via the Flickr blog, I stumbled upon a collection of superawesomecute photosets, collectively called the Bluebird Nestboxes:

Every year going back to 2004, Flickr member lucycat has documented the progress of egg laying and hatching of Eastern Bluebirds in some nest boxes, and it looks like the season is underway! Be sure to check out past year’s captures in her Bluebird Nestboxes collection too.

Lucycat currently has three nestboxes set up around her property, each of which may provide shelter for up to four bluebird families every season. The photos are taken on a daily basis, so you can literally watch the newly hatched babies grow from pink little blobs into big, feathery blue birds like mom and dad.

Naturally, the grump in me can’t help but wonder whether Lucycat’s audience would also oooh and aaah over newly hatched “broiler” chicks…or whether they’d oooh and aaah over the chicken babies just long enough for them to grow into tasty KCF nuggets, but – well, just go enjoy the photos, and leave the bah-humbuggery to me.

(More below the fold…)

easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-22

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Action Alerts

Amnesty International: Ensure Justice for Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu!
“On October 16, 2008, WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were arbitrarily arrested after participating in a peaceful protest, in which they demanded immediate access to much needed food aid in Zimbabwe. Police used excessive force to break up the peaceful protest of about 200 WOZA activists. Magodonga Mahlangu was beaten by police during her arrest. Following this incident, Jenni and Magodonga were charged with “disturbing the peace.” Their trial is currently scheduled for April 30. Call for the charges to be dropped immediately.”

Audubon: Help Stop Bird Kills at Communications Towers
“Millions of birds are killed each year when they collide with communications towers. Please urge the Federal Communications Commission to stop this needless killing of migratory songbirds. With the annual spring migration underway, take a moment right now to send a letter to the FCC and ask for immediate action to prevent migratory bird deaths at towers.”

Audubon: Protect the Endangered Species Act!
“The Endangered Species Act has been vital in preserving our nation’s most vulnerable birds and wildlife, but it has been significantly weakened by Bush administration rule-changes designed to limit scientific review of federal projects which could harm endangered species. The Secretary of Interior has until May 9 to reverse these ill-conceived changes and restore the Endangered Species Act. Please ask Secretary Ken Salazar to restore the full protections of the Endangered Species Act.”

Big Cat Rescue: Save The Tigers
“From being farmed in China for their parts. Sign our petition below and ask your friends to do the same.”

Council for a Livable World: Avoiding Confrontations with Iran; Urge your Representative to co-sponsor H.Con.Res 94
“Please support H. Con. Res. 94, introduced by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Geoff Davis (R-KY), which calls for the United States to negotiate an “Incidents at Sea Arrangement” with Iran. This agreement would help protect American lives in a strategically important waterway in the Middle East. Currently, numerous U.S. naval ships have few procedures for dealing with the Iranian navy operating in the Persian Gulf. An agreement between these two countries, like the successful one we negotiated with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, could establish procedures to prevent dangerous military confrontations in this waterway.”

(More below the fold…)

Happy Earth Day…I guess.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

(Just as I began to write this post, my middle furkid Peedee vomited up his breakfast – vegetarian kibble, natch. As is usually the case, he did so in the office, the floor of which is made of this weird textured faux pebble material that’s impossible to clean. In contrast, the rest of my home’s flooring is either concrete or tile, and couldn’t be easier to clean off. He’s got a gift, that one.

2007-06-25 - Morning Playtime - 0023 [original]

Anyhow, Peedee’s timing is fortuitous, as he so aptly manifested my feelings on Earth Day – or rather, on the half-assed lip service engaged in on Earth Day by the bulk of its Western human residents – through such a simple, biological, involuntary act. And yes, I am feeling a tad grumpy today, thanks for asking.)

As a vegan and environmentalist, it’s really hard to get excited over Earth Day when most of the mainstream environmental groups and media outlets – Earth Day Network, The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Protection Agency, Tree Hugger, et al – don’t so much as mention vegetarianism and/or veganism as a means to combating climate change, deforestation, the loss of biological diversity, pollution, water scarcity, disease, hunger, poverty, etc.

While these groups encourage “activists” to drive fuel efficient vehicles, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and use cloth bags when shopping, a meat- and/or dairy-free diet hardly ever make the list – and, when they do, it’s usually in a highly diluted form, such as “eat less meat” or “go meatless one day of the week.” Bleh.

(More below the fold…)

easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-21

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Action Alerts

American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU): Watch the Video and Share Your Message of Support
“When Savana Redding was just 13 years old, she was strip-searched for allegedly possessing prescription-strength ibuprofen. This traumatizing search was based solely on the false and uncorroborated accusation of a classmate who was caught with similar pills. Savana’s case was argued before the Supreme Court by ACLU attorneys seeking to protect the privacy of all students — and make it clear that such conduct has no place in America’s schools. Watch a short video of Savana’s story and share your message of support.”

Amnesty International: Release journalist Roxana Saberi from detention after flawed trial
“Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old journalist who holds both U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison following a brief closed-door trial in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She had been arrested and detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison since January 31, 2009. Legal proceedings in Iran’s Revolutionary Courts are severely flawed and fail to meet international standards for fair trials. The evidence against Ms Saberi has not been made public. Amnesty International is calling for her to be immediately released from detention.”

Animal Law Coalition: Support the PA Anti-Tethering Bill
“Rep.Mario Scavello has introduced an anti-tethering bill, H.B. 1254. The bill has been introduced in previous sessions. This bill would make it a summary offense to tether or chain a dog outside unattended to a stationary object between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. […] This bill, H.B. 1254, is now in the House Judiciary Committee. Find and contact members here and write or call and urge them to vote YES on H.B. 1254. Go here to find Representatives including your own if you live in Pennsylvania. Write or call and urge them to support this bill.”

Center for Biological Diversity: Take Action to Protect Beluga Whale Habitat
“In 2006, the Center for Biological Diversity — along with Trustees for Alaska, Cook Inletkeeper, and other organizations — petitioned to protect the Cook Inlet beluga under the Endangered Species Act. In October 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal agency charged with protecting marine mammals such as the beluga, finally listed the species as endangered. This overdue protection came only after litigation brought by the Center and allies. Unfortunately, rather than designate critical habitat for the beluga at the time of listing, as required by the Endangered Species Act, the Fisheries Service stated that it would defer habitat protection for a year.”

Corporate Accountability International: Tell Coke CEO Muthar Kent to give us the “real thing”
“This Earth Day, Coke is spending millions to spin its image green, leading us to ask, “what is the real thing, really?” Instead of responding to the concerns of tens of thousands who have taken action through Think Outside the Bottle, Coke has launched a green PR blitz. Let Muthar Kent know we see through the PR campaigns and the sponsorships. Send a message to CEO Muthar Kent today and join the thousands that have already taken action.”

(More below the fold…)

Rachachuros Seasoning, Redux: Zombie Cannibal "Meat"!

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

As a follow-up to last week’s Sexy Meat post, I bring you another series of advertisements for Rachachuros Seasoning.

(Courtesy of Ben at Suicide Food, who covered these ads last year. Timely, I am not.)

Rachachuros Seasoning - Chicken 2

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith, Martha Beck (2006)

Monday, April 20th, 2009

“Your religion is crazy!”

five out of five stars

Growing up the daughter of an infamous Mormon apologist can’t be easy; doubly so when you’re raised in a cloistered, uber-evangelical conservative Mormon community in Provo, Utah. Just ask Martha Nibley Beck, whose now-deceased father Hugh Nibley made a career out of twisting (and sometimes even fudging) the facts for the Mormon church.

In LEAVING THE SAINTS, Beck remembers her child- and young adulthood. One of eight children, Beck and her siblings lived in near-poverty. Though her father was well-respected in Mormon circles, an academic job at Brigham Young University (BYU) is considered “God’s work” – and thus is its own reward, with an appropriately paltry salary. Beck married her husband John at a young age (twenty-one – that’s old maid in Mormon years!), and the two left Provo so that Beck could attend Harvard, where she eventually earned a PhD in sociology. The two returned to Provo after the birth of their second child, Adam, who has Down Syndrome; Beck felt that her choice to have Adam would be met with greater support in Provo. While living in Provo, Beck finished her thesis at Harvard, gave birth to her third child, and took a part-time teaching job at BYU. Within three years, Beck experienced repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse; soldiered through academic repression and intellectual purges at BYU; and, along with her husband, resigned from BYU, left the Mormon church, and fled from Provo. (Though it’s not revealed in LEAVING THE SAINTS, both Mr. and Mrs. Beck later divorced and “came out” as homosexuals.)

Beck’s most contentious claim is that her father sexually abused her from the ages of five to eight. The feminist in me tends to believe women when they say they were sexually assaulted, abused or raped: the rate of false reports of sexual assault are no higher than that of other crimes; the rates of report, investigation, prosecution and conviction in sexual assault cases are notoriously low, i.e., victims are unlikely to report such crimes and, when they do, the likelihood that they’ll find justice is nil; and, finally, such cases are rife with victim-blaming, such that women who report sexual assault are put on trial themselves. Given these circumstances, I find it highly improbable that most women would simply “make up” stories of sexual assault, for whatever reason.

However, I also find recovered memories suspect, particularly if they’re recovered during psychotherapy. Elsewhere, Beck says that, while she did undergo psychotherapy, this was only after her repressed memories began to resurface. Additionally, physical evidence (including extensive vaginal scarring) does point to past trauma. Beck also claims to have elicited a confession of sorts from her mother when she initially told her of the abuse. Unlike the childhood memories of sexual abuse, it’s unlikely that Beck’s mind manufactured this memory; so either she’s lying or she isn’t. Though her mother later recanted, this might be easily explained both by Mormon culture and the fact that Mrs. Nibley is wholly dependent on her husband for support.

Whether you believe Beck’s recovered memories to be real or not, LEAVING THE SAINTS is nevertheless a fascinating look at the Mormon religion and culture. Unlike older religions like Christianity and Islam, Mormonism is so young that it’s been documented – extensively – in modern history. Contemporary news reports reveal founder Joseph Smith as a con artist and fraud, and his own accounts of church teachings and personal revelations show that he was also an egotist and philanderer. For this reason, I find Mormonism (and similar “young” “religions” like Scientology) remarkably interesting. (Full disclosure: I’m a heathen vegan feminist.)

Most of the exposes I’ve read previously have focused on fundamentalist, breakaway Mormon sects which still practice plural marriages (see, for example, Jon Krakauer’s UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN). In contrast, LEAVING THE SAINTS looks at mainstream Mormonism – and reveals it to be just as wacky, dysfunctional and misogynist as the excommunicated cults. For example, Beck’s account of a women’s forum held at BYU, which she moderated shortly before leaving the church, is jaw-dropping – and actually has one Mormon scholar blaming children for their own sexual abuse!

Beck recounts her journey – leaving the saints and finding her faith – in a series of flashbacks, interspersed with a conversation/confrontation she had with her elderly father in a hotel room shortly before writing LEAVING THE SAINTS. Beck is a master story teller, and though the reader can posit a guess early on as to the source of Beck’s trauma, the details are no less surprising once Beck’s repressed memories come flooding back with ferocity. As an atheist, I had some trouble relating to Beck’s spiritual journey, but these sections are written beautifully, and non-practicing religious/New Age readers will no doubt enjoy Beck’s quest for a more intrinsic, less prescribed sort of faith.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

IDA: Take Action Today For World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL)

Monday, April 20th, 2009

WWAIL 2009 Poster Banner

Saturday marked the beginning of World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL), which is being held from April 18th through the 26th this year.

In addition to emailing the White House Office of Public Liason (OPL) (see below), you can find additional ways to take action at You can view a list of 2009 events here, or register your own. IDA helpfully provides a bevy of literature, posters and stickers for your events – no matter how big or small – which you can view and download here.

Striking at the Roots’ Mark Hawthorne also offers his suggestions for 5 Things You Can Do to Help Animals in Labs.

Are you participating in WWAIL? Share your action and outreach ideas in the comments!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals
Date: Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 11:31 AM
Subject: Take Action Today For World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL)

WWAIL 2009 - IDA Header

World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL) Is Here!

April 18 – 26 – Scroll down for an important message you should send to President Obama

In February 2009, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received an additional $10.4 billion in funding. This money is in addition to NIH’s 2009 budget of $30.3 billion.

Although technology has progressed and there is broad acknowledgment of the flaws of animal models, NIH funding for animal research has remained unchanged and the numbers of animals used has increased.

Please join IDA in contacting the White House Office of Public Liaison during World Week for Animals in Laboratories (WWAIL) to ask that the $10.4 billion in stimulus money be designated exclusively for non-animal research. Click here to read IDA’s letter to President Obama.

(More below the fold…)

Dogs Deserve Better (DDB): Pending Legislation in Nevada, Hawaii & Texas

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Update, 5/11/09:

Sadly, Texas SB 634 – reported on below – failed. In a email from 4/28/09, DDB reports:

Everything’s Bigger in Texas…Including Disappointment

Tamira Ci Thayne journeyed to Texas to testify for Senate Bill (SB) 634, a bill in the Texas legislature to strengthen the state’s current anti-chaining law. The bill would have prohibited a person from leaving a dog alone on a chain or tether. It would also require a minimum of 150 square feet of space for a dog being kept in an outdoor enclosure. However, the bill was thrown out in committee. Approximately 15 people who wanted to continue chaining their dogs showed up to speak, stating things like: “I have champion pit bulls, who LOVE it on the end of the chain. Yes, they are happy.”

And “We don’t allow our four year old to go within the circle made by our dog’s chain, because we know what could happen (wait, isn’t that proving OUR point?)”

And “Chaining is actually a very appropriate way to keep your dog, and the safest way…”

Now, if you think this all is a load of crap, then you HAVE to start showing up for your state and local legislation efforts! Right now the opposition, who doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, is winning because we aren’t showing up.

Therefore, the state passed last session remains in force, and this line is what allows people to continue chaining despite seeming time limits:

UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT OF DOG. (a) An owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog’s movement:

Huh? Who’s to say what unreasonably limits the movements?

Texas Dogs Deserve Better Representatives are shaking off the upset and are ready to work with Texas communities using the state law, which is only a base guideline, to strengthen individual city ordinances against 24/7 chaining of backyard dogs. Tamira Ci Thayne then went to Asheville, North Carolina to testify against tethering there.

In this case, animal advocates were amazingly present due to Chain Free Asheville’s efforts, and city council has now given Chain Free Asheville and the Chief of Police 60 days to hammer out a revised ordinance. The citizen support made the difference for the chained dogs of Asheville.

Visit for more information and link to


“Nope, there ain’t no chains on us. Nothin’ is going to hold us back from our fight against this accepted form of backyard cruelty!” You can Help


Dogs Deserve Better (DDB) has featured three anti-chaining / breed-specific legislation (BSL) action alerts in their most recent newsletters, which I’ve excerpted below. If you live in Nevada, Hawaii or Texas, please read on and call or write your state representatives!

DDB E-News 04/16/09 Shhh…Silence Loves You:
CALL TO ACTION! Committee Passes Nevada’s Anti-Tethering Bill!

The Senate Natural Resources Committee has passed the anti-tethering bill, S.B. 132!! It’s on to the full Senate!

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: Quickly! ACT NOW! Don’t let this bill fail!

Call or write your Nevada state senator, and urge him or her to vote YES on S.B. 132. Tell the senator that you are a constituent. If you are not sure whom your Nevada state senator is Go Here for help. If you don’t live in Nevada please urge friends and relatives in the area to take action! Remember, Senators want your vote, being a constituent holds the most power! Explain to Senators how the passing of the law would encourage your vacation and travel plans or even relocation to the Nevada area. Go Here to find Nevada state senator’s contact information. (USE the LCB phone numbers because they are all in Carson City now.) If you want to send formal letters use this mailing address for all the senators: 401 S. Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701

The bill was amended; GO HERE for a copy to download. The amended bill, S.B. 132, reflects a limit of 14 hours per day for tethering and also restricts the use of choke, chain and prong collars in tethering or chaining dogs. The amendments clarify that a tether, tie, chain or other restraint must be at least 12 feet long. Dogs tied to a stationary object must have a restraint that allows the dog to move at least 12 feet. Dogs tied on trolleys or pulleys must be able to move a total of at least 12 feet. Also, the amended version does not specify pen sizes for dogs but does state enclosures should be appropriate for the size and breed of the dog.

The bill would not apply to dogs (1) kept by veterinarians or in a boarding facility or shelter or temporarily at a campsite or as part of a rescue operation, (2) being trained for hunting or used for hunting during hunting season, (3) entered in an exhibition, show, contest or the like; (4) living on land that is directly related to an active agricultural operation if the restraint is reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of the dog; (5) whose owners are engaged in a temporary task up to one hour. “[A]gricultural operation” means “any activity necessary for the commercial growing and harvesting of crops or the raising of livestock and poultry.”

In making their decision, the Senate Natural Resources Committee heard from supporters and opponents of S.B. 132. One of the witnesses was Dr. Frank McMillian, a long practicing board certified veterinarian, clinical professor of veterinary medicine, and noted author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters as well as the textbook, Mental Health and Well-being in Animals.

Dr. McMillian told the committee, “The term ’emotional pain’ has been around a long time, but only recently has research in neuroscience shown that this is not just flowery language – that the brain circuitry of animals is wired to induce emotional feelings that hurt. In fact, the neurological systems controlling the emotions of loneliness are located in the brain right next to the circuits that give physical pain its hurtful sensation. The evidence now suggests that the feelings of loneliness evolved from the more primitive feelings of physical pain.”

“And while physical suffering gets all the attention, the fact is that emotional suffering in animals can be even more distressing than physical pain. In the lab, researchers have compared an animal’s response when forced to choose between physical and emotional pain. Consider one simple experiment that is particular relevant to the issue of dogs being left alone on a chain: Researchers separated dogs from their human companions and put an electrified metal grid between them. The dog had a choice: endure the emotional pain of loneliness, or endure the physical pain of electric shocks to rejoin their human companion. What do they choose? It isn’t even close. They overwhelmingly choose to cross the grid-being shocked the whole way. They choose to suffer the physical pain in order to spare themselves the emotional pain.”

“[T]he next time you see a dog that is living his life on a chain, …know that the suffering is there – inside – and that that dog is shackled to his own personal pain – until someone unchains him from it.”

Nevada breeders, however, have decided to oppose this bill that would eliminate cruel chaining of dogs. The Nevada Veterinary Medical Association has also announced opposition to the bill, S.B. 132.

So, don’t wait, call or write Nevada state senators now in support of this bill! Neglected and abused dogs in Nevada are counting on YOU as their ONLY HOPE!

Talking points – Why Nevada legislators should vote yes on this bill

1) CDC-Chained dogs are 5x more likely to bite children, 3x more likely to bite adults.
2) American Vet Medical Assoc.-many fatal attacks and dog bites involve animals that have been restrained.
3) Nat’l Canine Research Council-Almost 30% of all Fatal attacks are from chained or penned dogs.
4) ASPCA-81% of fatal attacks were by dogs that were isolated.
5) Cornell Univ. College of Vet Med-both chained and penned dogs suffer from similar behavior problems.
6) HSUS-Dogs kept continuously outdoors, chained or penned, will suffer from the same boredom, loneliness & isolation leading to aggressive behavior.
7) Nicholas Dodman, Ph.D. in vet med/Tufts Univ-“chaining dogs makes them more aggressive. They are natural social animals & it induces “isolation-induced aggression” & creates a “junkyard” dog effect. They basically go mad.”

Go HERE to find ATTACHMENTS of 5 sample letters to be downloaded!

(Acknowledgment and full credit for this article and information is credited to

Special thanks from Dogs Deserve Better extended to Laura Allen, Animal Law Coalition, Karen Goodman and Beth Coen.

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easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-20

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Action Alerts

CARE: The Human Face of Climate Change
“Climate change is not only affecting butterflies and polar bears, it’s affecting humans, too. For people living in extreme poverty — 60 percent of whom are women — climate change presents a profound threat to their very survival. […] Poor women and families are least responsible for causing climate change, yet they are suffering most from its effects. And, with the fewest resources to help them adapt to new conditions, they will pay the highest price. Indeed, they are already. Heed President Obama’s call for immediate action to help the world’s poorest people by asking Congress to enact legislation now!”

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR): Impeach Torture Architect Bybee
“Last week, President Obama released four torture authorization memos written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) under the Bush administration that devised a legal framework for the justification of the Torture Program. The memos were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the Center for Constitutional Rights helped file with the ACLU and other organizations. The memos were intended to provide legal cover for officials to carry out abhorrent, illegal and ineffective techniques that were approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration in violation U.S. and international law and the U.S. Constitution. One of the principal authors was Jay Bybee, the former head of the OLC and today a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Color of Change: Stop Discriminatory Sentencing
“Misguided politicians and their “war on drugs” have created a national disaster: 1 in 9 Black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are now behind bars (and 1 in 15 Black adults overall). It’s a man-made disaster, fueled by unfair sentencing rules. These rules treat 5 grams of crack cocaine—the kind common in poor Black communities—the same as 500 grams of powder cocaine, the kind prevalent in White and wealthier communities. Tell Congress to challenge unequal justice right now by ending unfair sentencing laws.”

DawnWatch: 60 Minutes fluff piece on matadors 4/19/09
“CBS’s 60 Minutes has done some beautifully animal friendly stories recently — last month’s piece on the poisoning of lions in Africa, and a piece in December on the ivory trade, for example. Unfortunately last night, Monday April 19, the show ruined its good record with a piece on two matadors who were referred to as Spain’s most eligible bachelors. The story reported and furthered their heartthrob status, and while showing them in the ring slaughtering bulls, did not discuss the cruelty of bullfighting.”

FARM on Change .org: Act Now to Protect the Rights of Animal Activists
“The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was enacted by Congress with little debate or awareness at the behest of the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries and signed by President Bush in late 2006. […] The leaders in the Judiciary Committees, charged with protecting our civil liberties and the rule of law, must take the initiative in repealing this disastrous legislation.”

(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: Friends of Kinship Circle Alerts, 4/13/09

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – KinshipCirclePrimary [at]
Date: Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 9:31 PM
Subject: We Are Their Hope [Friends Of Kinship Circle, 4/13/09]

Kinship Circle - Friends of KC Banner

4/13/09: We Are Their Hope



1. Recent Kinship Circle Alerts Are A Click Away
2. Pound Seizure & Humane Euthanasia
3. Save Stu – Wrongfully Impounded Since 9/15/05
4. New England Animal Rights Workshop 6/13/09
5. Party To End Puppy Mills On 4/19/09
6. Urge Portugal City To Become Anti-Bullfighting
7. We Are Their Hope: World Lab Animal Liberation Week
8. Vegans Take On The “3 Peaks” Challenge

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Your moment of Zen.

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Update, 6/2/09:

Stephen announces Tharoor’s victory, this time with a vegetarian option.


Okay, so Stephen Colbert’s interview with Kanishk Tharoor (featured in Thursday’s episode of The Colbert Report) has little to do with animal rights – nevertheless, there’s a delightful bit of awesomeness squeezed in at the end, starting at the 4:18 mark:


For those who can’t view the video, Colbert interviews Kanishk Tharoor, son of “Friend of the Show” Shashi Tharoor, who’s currently vying for a seat in India’s General Elections.

Colbert: Now, your dad, Friend of the Show Shashi Tharoor, is running for position as an MP in Kerala, correct? OK, let’s move his numbers right now. I can’t endorse in this country, but I can in India. I hereby endorse Shashi Tharoor. He will put a chicken in every pot. Or – at least – at least – a chicken in every tandoor.

Tharoor: I’m afraid he’s not going to do anything of the sort. He – like me – is a vegetarian. So it’s not very likely that he’s going to do anything like that.

Colbert: Then he’ll put a vegetable korma in…whatever you wish to eat it out of.

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Spam FAIL.

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

So, in the week since Obama accepted a purebred breeder dog from his good bud Ted Kennedy, I’ve noticed an influx of spam comments from websites trading in the flesh of purebred pups. No sellers of Portuguese Water Dogs as of yet; rather, most of the “commenters” sing the praises of Obama’s second choice, the Labradoodle. (Purebred dogs are healthier, less aggressive, and fart rainbows, dontchaknow.)

The lack of PWD ads isn’t surprising; being a rarer breed, methinks it’ll be a few months before the PWD mills start churning out their first batches of pups, like so.

Thanks a ton, Obama.

(More below the fold…)

easyVegan Link Sanctuary, 2009-04-18

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Action Alerts

Amnesty International: Prosecute torturers
“The recent release of memos has made all the more clear what we had previously heard about the last administration’s torture policies. Forced nudity. Slamming detainees into walls. Forced sleep deprivation for days of shackled prisoners, standing in diapers in excruciating pain and filth. Although Attorney General Holder, on April 16, suggested that the Obama administration would not prosecute intelligence agents who carried out interrogations following legal advice, both those who authored the policy and those who executed it must be held accountable. Press your representatives to help establish or support a non-partisan independent commission and urge them to help expose and prosecute those responsible for abuses.”

Corporate Accountability International: Massachusetts: It’s time to Value [the] Meal
“Next month, Massachusetts could become the second state to ensure that fast food chains provide customers with nutritional information on menu boards. But the fast food industry and its allies have been putting pressure on local and national leaders to hold off – and are instead pushing much weaker federal legislation that will allow them to hide the nutritional facts that we need to stay healthy. Tell Governor Patrick that all eyes are on Massachusetts!”

CREDO Action: Fax your senators: Support Obama’s pro-choice nominee.
“Now is the time to stop your senator from supporting a filibuster of one of President Obama’s most progressive nominees. This is so important we will fax your message to the district office of your Senator before Congress returns to Washington from their spring break. Dawn Johnsen is a former legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She has been a fierce and outspoken critic of John Yoo and the Bush administration’s unconstitutional policies. As one of President Obama’s most progressive nominees, she could soon take over John Yoo’s former base of power: the Office of Legal Counsel. But not if the rightwing Focus on the Family is successful in blocking her confirmation.”

Democrats .org: No Amnesty for Torturers
“On Thursday, President Obama stood up to intense pressure from rightwingers by releasing four of the infamous “torture memos.” This is an enormous victory for those of us who worked so hard to elect President Obama, while also working tirelessly to defend the Constitution against the crimes of Bush and Cheney. Unfortunately, President Obama also said he would not prosecute CIA agents who engaged in torture, simply because George Bush’s lawyers told them it was “legal.” President Obama also said Attorney General Eric Holder would use taxpayer dollars to defend torturers against lawsuits by torture victims, and to pay all judgments if they lost.”

Ecological Internet / Climate Ark: Join Bushfires and Scientists in Condemning Australian Climate Change Policy
“Australia must stop being a climate change laggard. Given severe drought and massive wildfires, the Rudd Government’s target to reduce carbon emissions by 5% by 2020 is dangerously insufficient.”

(More below the fold…)

Going silent.

Friday, April 17th, 2009


Today is the Day of Silence,

a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take some form of a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. The event is designed to illustrate the silencing effect of this bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

The DOS organizers explain:

As the Day of Silence approaches we’ve been getting lots of questions and comments along two similar but distinct threads on our various websites and in our email.

1) Do I need to be silent all day? Can I communicate at all? Can I blog/tweet/facebook?

2) Being silent doesn’t help and only perpetuates the problem. We should be speaking out.

The answer to both of these is similar: being silent has been and continues to be a very powerful way to create positive dialogue around the problem of anti-LGBT bullying for many students across the country. However, each person who participates in the Day of Silence has a different way of participating.

For some, the best way to participate is by being completely silent, including not participating in online communication. For others, the best way to participate is by spending the day speaking out about the issues of LGBT bullying. Some who participate get limited approval from their schools for their participation and so can only be silent during breaks between classes. There are many ways of participation ranging from complete silence to no silence.

The point is that the DOS is a day to bring attention to the problem of anti-LGBT bullying and each person who participates must determine how they can best use, or not use, their voice to do that. If you feel you will have the deepest positive impact by remaining completely silent and have the appropriate approvals to do so then go for it. If you feel that in your situation, you can have a deeper positive impact by speaking out then that should be your way of observing. No one can make that determination but you.

Your voice, whether silent or loud, WILL make a difference this Friday and the Day of Silence will speak volumes.

The DOS isn’t just for students, however. Adults can participate as well, by signing the pledge of solidarity; speaking out against anti-LGBTQ prejudice and bullying; observing a day of silence, whatever form that may take; Tweeting about the DOS; writing about the DOS on Facebook, your blog or similar; silencing your blog; and/or wearing red or rainbow-colored clothing.

In observance of the Day of Silence, will remain silent for the rest of the day. Please take this opportunity to check out the Day of Silence blog and website, and educate yourself about LGBTQ issues.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History, Jorge Ramos (2006)

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Surprisingly boring.

three out of five stars

On May 14, 2003, nineteen people died while en route from a small Mexico/Texas border town to Houston, Texas, in what at the time was called the “greatest illegal immigrant tragedy in modern history.” An estimated 73-84+ undocumented immigrants – most of them Mexican citizens, with a small minority hailing from other Latin American countries, such as Honduras – were packed into the back of a hermetically-sealed, locked-from-the-outside tractor trailer, without water, air conditioning or fresh air. Over the course of four hours, 17 people asphyxiated to death before the truck’s driver finally pulled over to rest. When Tyrone Williams – who was contracted by coyotes to transport the immigrants to Houston, on what should have been the final leg of their trip – opened the trailer and discovered the dead, he fled from the scene. Most (if not all) of the immigrants were apprehended by local police and ICE, and were given temporary work visas so that they could remain in the U.S. and testify against their human traffickers. Two more immigrants died at the hospital, bringing the death toll to 19. The coyotes were charged with a variety of offenses, including murder.

Jorge Ramos, a native of Mexico and anchor for Noticiero Univision, weaves survivor, witness and official accounts of the tragedy together in DYING TO CROSS. The bulk of the story is told from the perspective of the half dozen or so survivors who were willing to speak to Ramos. The account of the perilous four hours spent in the trailer, for example, are primarily survivor accounts, with liberal use of direct quotations interspersed with medical explanations of what the victims’ bodies and minds would have been going through, given the circumstances. Ramos also offers brief biographies of a few of the immigrants, as well as accounts of how they came to buy a spot on that fateful trailer. The book concludes with a description of the aftermath, however, as there was no real trial to speak of, this section of the report is almost anti-climactic. Ramos attempts to use this tragedy to illustrate failings in U.S. immigration policy as well as U.S./Mexican political relations, but his analysis seems a little scattered and superficial. (It’s not that I necessarily disagree with his conclusions, rather, I don’t feel as though he made a very comprehensive argument in favor of a more open and humane border policy.)

Given the book’s subject matter, DYING TO CROSS is surprisingly boring, and I can’t really pinpoint why. It seems as though the survivors’ accounts of the trailer ride should have been more nail-bitingly suspenseful – but, not so much. There was a lot of talk about prayer, Satan worship, God-begging, etc., which got really tiresome, really fast. Case in point: all of the women passengers survived; one of the surviving men attributed this to the fact that the women started praying to God immediately, while the men “wasted” their energy on “frivolous” activities – like banging on and rocking the trailer, in a failed attempt to get the driver’s attention. Um, yeah. Trying to stop the truck – what *were* they thinking!? Plus, the women’s 100% survival rate couldn’t possibly be due to the fact that women’s bodies tend to retain more water than men’s, for a variety of reasons including menstruation and oral contraception, right? (Ramos loses major cred for failing to counter these superstitious claims with scientific explanations.) Naturally, the survivors all thanked God for sparing them, proclaiming it a “miracle,” etc., which begs the question of why God favored them and not the nineteen who died – one of which included a 5-year-old boy. But hey, maybe that’s just the cantankerous ole atheist in me.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)