Odds & Ends: Flu Factories, Shelter "Pets" & JVM

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Here are a few links I’ve been sitting on for awhile. So much to discuss, so little time. Oh, the life of a B-list blogger!

In no particular order:

1. Flu Factories: Tracing the Origins of the Swine Flu Pandemic

Dr. Greger, whose Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching I reviewed several years back, was kind enough to send me a copy of his latest project, Flu Factories: Tracing the Origins of the Swine Flu Pandemic. Flu Factories is a one-hour presentation by Dr. Greger on the H1N1 influenza pandemic; it’s available for purchase on DVD, or for free viewing (in 40 parts!) on the HSUS’s website.

While I haven’t yet had a chance to view the entire video, if it’s anything like Bird Flu (and, judging from the chapter titles, there looks to be much crossover, particularly in the areas of biology and history), it’s bound to be both illuminating and terrifying. Although Dr. Greger doesn’t take an explicitly animal rights/vegan position in Bird Flu (nor do I know anything about his personal politics, his position at the HSUS notwithstanding), he does emphasize the role that factory farming – and, to a lesser extent, animal agriculture in general – plays in zoonotic diseases, including the influenza (avian and swine). If you can ignore the speciesism (e.g., in the quoted resources), it’s well worth a watch.

Embedded above is a clip from the presentation: Chapter 2, the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

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#oink, #oink

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Photo via Farm Sanctuary

In Friday’s weekend activist link roundup, I included a piece by Tracy @ Digging Through the Dirt, Use Twitter to Advocate on Behalf of Pigs. Tracy put out a call to animal advocates to tweet in support of the pigs on Sunday the 16th, for example, by including links to undercover investigations of factory farm operations, talking about the swine flu, encouraging people to go vegan for the animals, etc., etc., etc.. In order to piggyback (pun intended) on the anticipated success of the animal ag. propagandists, all tweets needed to include the hashtag #oink.

I’ll let Tracy explain:

Animal exploiters on Twitter hope history repeats itself Sunday.

On Aug. 2 a group of dairy farmers worked to make “#moo” a trending topic on the social-networking site. They want to do the same for “#oink” on Sunday.

With “#oink” a trending topic, those in animal agribusiness want to convince people to call swine flu “H1N1.”

If the “farmers” succeed, animal advocates can use this opportunity to raise awareness of the suffering pigs endure in agribusiness.

If enough people use a word, phrase or hashtag, said word, phrase or hashtag will appear in all Twitter users’ right-hand sidebars, under the headline “Trending Topics.” These are fluid and change on a constant basis; while some topics, such as “American Idol” or “Les Paul” are rather intuitive, others – like #moo and #oink – are less so. Whether they’re familiar with the topics or not, many Twitter users look to the Trending Topics as a guide or sort of news ticker, clicking through to weigh in on a topic, or to see what all the fuss is about.

Animal exploiters (along with other spammers), then, hijack the Trending Topics tool in order to disseminate their industry propaganda. Whereas animal exploiters hoped to “educate” Twitter users about the safety of “pork,” extol the virtues of “happy meat,” and frame the debate about swine flu/H1N1, the goal of animal advocates was to counter their message with a healthy dose of reality.

(For more on Twitter, trending topics, etc. check out this Twitter FAQ.)

I’m not a big Twitter user – the 140 character limit is enough to make me pull my hair out – but I was vaguely aware of the #moo movement. So with the advance notice about Sunday’s planned #oink takeover, I pledged to participate this time around. To make things even easier, I developed a list of Tweets and links the day beforehand, since I knew I’d be in and out of the house on Sunday. (It’s a good thing, too, since my Internet connection was spotty throughout the day on Sunday.) I added to the list, which I stored in a Word doc, throughout the day on Sunday, mostly by copying and pasting RT’s – re-tweets, that is, tweets from other animal advocates on Twitter, which I “crossposted” on my own account. I also kept an eye on the Trending Topics and adapted my hashtags as necessary. (For example, #fact became a Trending Topic later in the day, so I added it to #oink where appropriate.) Every two, ten, twenty or 120 minutes, I’d post a tweet or two, then go back to whatever it was I was doing.

Other animal advocates were even more engaged, for example, responding to followers who wanted to know what all the #oink-ing was all about, arguing directly with animal exploiters, and providing further information to those interested in a vegan diet. Stephanie at Change.org falls into the first category, and has an excellent write-up of her online animal activism over the weekend” “Vick, Dogs, Dairy, Cows, Pigs, Twitter, and the Rape Rack,” Parts One and Two. Tracy also summarizes her experience here.

In a related note, Happy Herbivore is using Twitter hashtags in a different way. In a new section of the website called Weekly Eats, HH will feature recipes submitted by Twitter users, with a different theme for each day: “meatless Mondays, tofu Tuesdays, raw Wednesdays, tempeh Thursdays, fat-free (or gluten-free, if you prefer) Fridays, seasonal Saturdays and seiten Sundays!” To participate, you can either tweet about your recipe or meal idea, or email your submissions to HH directly. Try to use the hashtags #vegan and #meatlessmonday (or wev) – ‘twould be awesome to see #vegan elevated to a Trending Topic! Or keep an eye on existing Trending Topics, and tweet about your animal advocacy using existing popular hashtags where appropriate.

After the jump are my tweets for Sunday. Because I’ve more or less abandoned my other blog, I set up my delicious and Twitter accounts to post digests of each day’s activities to Smite Me!. So that’s how I came up with a nice lil’ roundup of Sunday’s #oink tweets, just in case y’all are wondering.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 4

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

LGBT Compassion - Screenshot

LGBT Compassion

One of the newest additions to the “Intersections” category on my blogroll, LGBT Compassion is a

coalition of San Francisco Bay Area gay animal advocates (and some non-gay friends) working to promote awareness of animal welfare, health, environmental, and civil rights issues within our community – along with any other important social issues that we feel strongly about.

We feel that the LGBT community, having experienced discrimination, oppression and suffering ourselves, having special health issues, and often having unique bonds with companion animals, should be open to learning and helping others who may not be able to speak up for themselves – whether human or non-human.

Their motto: Fighting oppression and discrimination for all. Love it.

I first learned of the group through its investigation into San Francisco’s live animal markets, where chickens are kept and displayed for sale in plastic bags (!). If you haven’t yet, definitely go check ’em out.

PETA Asia-Pacific: Urge Egypt’s Prime Minister to Stop Cruel Pig Cull

When I saw that PETA was campaigning against the pig culls in Egypt, I was excited. Last I checked, the WSPA had reached a standstill with the Egyptian government, which was insisting that the culls had ceased, despite evidence to the contrary. Writing about the issue at change.org, I wanted desperately to offers readers an opportunity to take action. But nada – until now.

When I actually read the sample letter provided by PETA, though, my heart sank. Rather than calling for an end to the culls, PETA asks the government to “Please place a moratorium on the pig cull until guidelines can be put in place to ensure that the killing is as humane as possible.” This despite the fact that the culls are wholly unnecessary – an inefficient way to guard against swine flu. And this comes not from animal advocacy groups, but government experts (such as those at the UN) – who, on the whole, aren’t really known for their animal-friendly views.

Add to the mix the possibility that the culls might have as much to do with religious discrimination as swine flu paranoia, and PETA really dropped the ball here. Not only has the group failed to defend the pigs from slaughter – it also failed to take the majority Muslim government to task for oppressing the minority Christian farmers. PETA even reinforces the government’s bigotry by pleading for a “humane” pig cull at a later date!

Oh, with friends like these…

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 3

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I’ve been feeling kind of crappy since Friday, so I all I have to offer is this link roundup. Happy reading…or not.
 


 
Kelly Garbato @ Animal Rights @ Change.org: Egypt’s Pigs: Beaten, Stoned, and Burned Alive (Part 1) and Religious Discrimination and the Killing of Egypt’s Pigs (Part 2)

In my second round of guest posts at change.org, I look at the recent pig culls in Egypt, and explain how the mass killings may have less to do with concerns over the swine flu than with religious discrimination directed at the country’s Coptic Christians – as well as “their” pigs.

I, Bonobo: Guess who’s really at the bottom of the shitpile? and

Vegan Soapbox: Why Women Should Care About Animals

Bonobobabe and Eccentric Vegan both respond to a recent piece that appeared in the community section of Feministing. Not surprisingly, the author asserted that animal rights and feminism are unrelated movements, such that the animal rights movement has nothing to contribute to feminism and vice versa. Thus, it’s perfectly acceptable for good liberal progressive feminists to eat meat, wear fur and shit on animal advocates when they complain. I’m taking liberties, of course, but you get the idea.

Bonobobabe’s reply, in particular, is a must-read. I skimmed it over several times, trying to boil it down to an excerpt or two to illustrate her argument, but it’s all awesome. This about sums it up, though:

So, while I think it’s fine for a woman who calls herself a feminist to put her time and energy towards women-centered things, I also feel that if a feminist is supposed to be sensitive to class and race issues, that she should also be sensitive to speciesist issues. It’s not OK to say that you are better than an animal. Besides, hierarchies are the invention of men. Being a speciesist, even if one is a feminist, is playing by men’s rules. You’re better than that.

Hat tip to Stephanie for this one.

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