This month's FDA guidance for reducing livestock antibiotics will actually make things worse, animal welfare and food activist groups are saying. "The FDA is using a garden hose on a forest fire," says Farm Sanctuary Senior Policy Director Bruce Friedrich. The guidance is a "diversion" that pretends to address the problem of factory farm-driven antibiotic resistance while accomplishing nothing. Antibiotic resistant infections, widely seen as driven by factory farming, sicken 2 million a year in the US and kill 23,000, says the CDC. By asking drug makers to voluntarily renounce the use of antibiotics for livestock growth on their labels, the guidance "won't cost the industry a penny" or reduce antibiotic use at all, says Friedrich. The reason? Factory farm antibiotics are also used to treat sickness which the crowded conditions tempt--a use that is still allowed under the guidance. Only the wording will change, says Friedrich.



In a December 11 conference call, the FDA's Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, William T. Flynn, deputy director for science policy and USDA's Thomas J. Myers, associate deputy administrator, told reporters that the government is asking drug makers to voluntarily restrict the uses on their antibiotic labels--yes, asking--in a shocking gift of self-regulation. Similar honor systems exist at slaughterhouses since Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) was instituted  in 1998 in which industry creates its own safety plan which the government simply cosigns. A similar honor system called the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) is imminent for poultry slaughterhouses.


Why are the FDA and USDA allowing industry to write its own ticket? (And why would industry write itself out of its own profits?) Because to mandate the changes would require "hundreds of separate regulations" and actions, whined government officials on the conference call. It is easier to just say please to industry.


To many reporters on the conference call, the plans sounded like fluff. If the changes are voluntary, "what will enforce" them and serve as an "incentive" asked an ABC reporter? Food producers and drug companies need no incentive retorted Michael Taylor because they are starting to phase out antibiotics "for their own reasons"--citing McDonald's and KFC. Right.


If factory farmers actually phased out antibiotics (which prevent animals from becoming sick in high density-farming) won't livestock producers "have to move to different buildings" asked a reporter from Reuters. That's why we are giving industry three years to comply replied William Flynn.


Will you release the identities of drug companies who do not comply asked another reporter? No, replied Flynn. We will give an "overview" of  the level of "engagement" of  industry but not individual company names. (USDA has also protected the identities of US ranches that released mad cows into the US food supply and restaurants who served them according to newspaper and government sources.)


Animal welfare groups like Farm Sanctuary, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund are not the only ones calling the FDA guidance toothless and a serious capitulation to industry. Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, called the guidance "an inadequate response to the growing antibiotic resistant crisis caused by overuse of antibiotics on the farm." Industry has spent over $17 million to block a bill Rep. Slaughter developed, in conjunction with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, called the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), says a press release from her office.


This is not the first time government has caved to drug makers over the regulation of livestock antibiotics. In 2008, the FDA had announced that there was "evidence that extralabel use of these drugs [cephalosporins] in food-producing animals will likely cause an adverse event in humans and, as such, presents a risk to the public health," and called for their prohibition. Notice the FDA says "will likely cause" not "could likely cause" and "presents a risk" not "could present a risk"?


But by the time hearings were held two months later and lobbyists had worked their magic, the "Cephalosporin Order of Prohibition" had somehow become a "Hearing to Review the Advances In Animal Health Within The Livestock Industry." Prohibition -- advances, same idea, right?


At the hearings, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Animal Health Institute, a Big Pharma trade group and the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries whined that they could not "farm" without antibiotics because more feed would be required and the animals would get sick from being immobilized over their own manure.


Afterwards, W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, who was the USDA's top vet before leaving for industry and helming the AVMA, penned a rambling, almost incoherent 18-page letter with 62 footnotes to the FDA. Cephalosporin resistant "human pathogens" aren't increasing, says the letter, and even if they are, they're not affecting human health, and even they're affecting human health, how do you know it's from the livestock drugs, and even if it's from the livestock drugs, the FDA has no legal authority to ban cephalosporin. Got that?


Alternately maudlin and accusatory, the letter plays on terrorism fears by calling a cephalosporin ban a "food security issue" affecting "the number of animals available for the food supply." It also plays on humanitarian sentiments by claiming a ban would impede veterinarians' ability "to relieve the pain and suffering of animals" as if cephalosporins are pain killers and other drugs aren't available. (And as if antibiotics are given for animals' welfare instead of revenue welfare!) But less than a month after the letter was sent, on Nov. 25 the FDA quietly revoked the prohibition. Good hire, AVMA!


It is no surprise that factory farm operators fight to keep their antibiotics says Farm Sanctuary's Bruce Friedrich. Without them, in their profit-driven "filth chambers," the animals would simply die. END


Do you care about animals and unethical consumerism? Give Martha Rosenberg's award-cited, Random House expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, for the holidays! Includes 30 cartoons.


The NRA's law-abiding citizens who have a Constitutional right to buy as many weapons as they want have treated us to some memorable Christmas-related shooting events.

Two years ago in Grapevine, Texas, 20 miles northwest of downtown Dallas, a gunman wearing a Santa suit executed seven of his family members even as they opened their presents on Christmas morning. Aziz Yazdanpanah was a law-abiding gun owner who bought his 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun legally said police. He had money problems said those who knew him, possibly inspiring him to become a mass murderer instead of a law-abiding citizen. At least on Christmas.


Three years earlier, another Santa killed his entire family, this time in California. "On Christmas Eve, 2008, Bruce Pardo dressed in a Santa Claus suit, armed himself with guns and drove to a house in Covina where his ex-wife, Syliva Pardo, was celebrating with her family," said one news report. "When an 8-year-old girl answered his knock, he shot her in the face. He continued inside, executing Sylvia and other members of her family. He then sprayed fuel in the home, prompting it to catch fire. Eight people died there. Pardo later killed himself, closing out one of the most violent outbursts in the history of the San Gabriel Valley."


Pardo was a NRA "law-abiding citizen" poster child, buying at least five firearms within five months from a single weapons dealer, according to news reports. Hey, he had rights!


And does anyone remember last Christmas Eve when convicted felon William Spengler lured firefighters to his residence in Webster, New York by setting a blaze and killed two of them? Spengler was a convicted murderer who served a prison term for killing his own grandmother. Spengler injured two other firefighters and one other person in his spree.


Like Yazdanpanah and Pardo, Spengler waltzed into a gun store and picked out his murder weapons. He choose a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle with a combat-style flash suppressor (the same as used days earlier in Newtown) and a shotgun at a Gander Mountain in Henrietta, New York, said law enforcement officers. How did a convicted murderer buy guns? He had a straw buyer at his side. Federal authorities charged Dawn Nguyen, to whom the serial numbers on the guns were traced, with "knowingly making a false statement" that she would be the legal owner of the guns. Nguyen told the gun seller "that she was to be the true owner and buyer of the guns instead of William Spengler," charge authorities. Would someone arm a homicidal felon and not lie? Let's enforce existing laws!


The NRA's bloody agenda is predicated on the public's short memory. No one remembers Spengler rampage (except the bereaved families) because it was a whole year ago! People don't even remember that Aaron Alexis killed 12 at Washington's Navy Yard three months ago (after legally buying a shotgun two days before the rampage). Or that Paul Ciancia allegedly killed a TSA agent at the Los Angeles airport last month with a legally obtained .223-caliber assault rifle. The public has practically forgotten about the school shooting in Colorado last week by Karl Pierson, another legal gun owner, because it's been almost a week.



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 Gun Lobby Turns On Its Own


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

November 20, 2013




By Elliot Fineman


Many are horrified by news of a Philadelphia “rat” website that exposes to retaliation crime witnesses who help police. “Post some new rats,” one avenger wrote, “I needa put a hit out on them.”


Yet just as chilling are gun advocates savaging their own for appearing to cooperate with the other side.


This month, a simple plea for mandatory gun-owner training in the magazine Guns & Ammo led to the firing of the contributing editor, Dick Metcalf, and the resignation of the magazine’s editor, Jim Bequette.


According to the National Rifle Association’s paranoid absolutism, gun training is the first step toward confiscation. So are universal background checks, limitations on large-capacity magazines, limiting gun purchases to one a month and requiring the reporting of lost or stolen guns.


Confiscation paranoia is why the results of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System must, by law, be destroyed within 24 hours by firearms dealers. Like many paranoid laws the gun lobby has gotten on the books, these are unabashed gifts to straw buyers and other criminals.


This is not the first time gun advocates have taught one of their own a lesson. A few years ago, the top firearms and hunting commentator, Jim Zumbo, dared to suggest that AR and AK rifles had “no place … among our hunting fraternity.” Hunters have always been proud to use “sporting firearms,” not assault rifles and should resist being “lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them,” he wrote.


Calls for Mr. Zumbo’s head on a mount were swift and merciless. He was dropped by Remington Arms, Gerber Knives, Mossy Oak and Outdoor Life and temporarily dropped by the Outdoor Channel. He was reinstated only after a re-education trip to the ranch of NRA member Ted Nugent to learn appreciation for so-called black rifles for killing prairie dogs and other animals.


As the CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council, I have seen the retaliatory wrath of gun rights avengers turned against my own organization. An informative piece called “My Month With a Gun,” written by council board member Heidi Yewman, was driven off the Ms. magazine website by threats and aggressive responses this past summer. Amazon ratings of a book by council senior editor Martha Rosenberg were sabotaged by gun advocates this summer. The quick tempers of many gun lovers and their desire to “shoot first and ask questions later” are one of the biggest arguments for better gun regulations.


Some gun advocates may be loud, threatening and tenacious but their numbers are minuscule. Polls consistently show extremists number only 1 million versus 100 million Americans who desire sane gun laws. Starbucks’ disavowal of guns in September and the defeat of pro-gun Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli this month suggest how small the gun extremist numbers are.


Gun and outdoor magazines may have to cave to angry gun advocates but Starbucks doesn’t. And it’s now feeling pressure from those who seek reasonable gun control. The National Gun Victims Action Council, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and the Fellowship of Reconciliation launched a boycott against Starbucks last year and it worked.


It is time for Americans fed up with blood in the streets, courtesy of the gun lobby, to stop saying “please” to politicians who haven’t passed one meaningful federal gun regulation in 19 years. From Mahatma Gandhi’s salt march in the 1930s to the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1960s, successful social movements need an economic vehicle to convey the will of the majority when lawmakers aren’t listening.


This is why the action council and supporting groups urge the 14 million Americans affected by gun violence to use their buying power to influence gun-friendly corporations, services, lawmakers and even states with our “Tell and Compel” pledge. Starbucks’ disavowal of guns is just the first example of our collective power.


Elliot Fineman is the CEO of NGVAC



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The fur biz, like the ivory biz, is forgotten but hardly gone. Not too many Americans wear fur or buy ivory anymore--or beam at the photo of the hunter Melissa Bachman posing with her murdered lion. The problem is the bloodshed has gone overseas.

Thanks to the newly wealthy in China, Russia and other countries, the price of a mink pelt doubled in the last five years and the fur market is booming overseas. Yes, like ivory. “The Chinese consumer just loves the American mink,”  Michael Whelan, the executive director of Fur Commission U.S.A., told the New York Times.


Animal lovers in the US and much of Europe have succeeded in dethroning fur and casting it as a cruel and unnecessary fashion banality. In October, a first-of-its-kind fur ban went into effect in West Hollywood which is expected to make the premier shopping destination "the Humane Capital of the United States." In the UK, the upscale store Selfridges refuses to carry fur and fur farming has been illegal since 2000 in England and Wales because of its cruelty. Last month in Geneva, the World Trade Organization ruled that even though aspects of an EU ban on imported seal products contradict fair trade, they can be justified on "public moral concerns" for animal welfare. Some of the well-known fashion names selling seal fur are Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, says the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.


Anyone with a computer has probably seen gory videos of fur "harvesting" by now. Animals are skinned and boiled alive to preserve the "beauty" of their skins. But long before viral videos, the late news anchor Peter Jennings demonstrated the cruel efficiency of the steel jaw trap, used to catch fur-bearing animals, on network TV. And in 1974, almost forty years ago, Mary Tyler Moore, Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, Amanda Blake and Jayne Meadows posed in a glossy magazine ad whose headline was "Five Women Who Can Easily Afford Any Fur Coat in the World Tell Why They're Proudly Wearing Fakes."


The changes in the US's attitude toward fur can be seen in Fur Free Friday parades which have wended their way through throngs of Black Friday shoppers for 25 years. When it began, Fur Free Friday was the one day the tables were turned in luxury shopping districts and women in full length minks and lynxes were not admired but booed as they underwent a perp walk past the marchers. In Chicago, Evans, the world’s largest furrier who anchored the State Street shopping corridor since the Great Depression and Mysels Furs, located in the world famous Palmer House Hilton, were driven out of business. (Before it cried Uncle, Evans used to hire a billboard truck to occlude a store on Michigan avenue during the parade.) Today, Fur Free Friday parades are not as polarizing because….who would wear fur?


Furs may be largely off the streets in the US, except on people over 60 or 70, but fur farms still flourish, including 300 mink farms largely serving overseas markets. Still, their luck may be changing. Between July and October of this year, more than 7,000 minks on farms in eight states were released in a resurgence of direct action by animal activists, reports the New York Times. 1,300 minks and foxes were released during the same time in Canada. While Michael Whelan of the Fur Commission U.S.A. dismisses the activists as “criminal thugs" they're clearly having an effect. “It’s our livelihood," said Virginia Bonlander whose minks, which she farms with her husband in New Holstein, Wisconsin, were recently released. "They’re trying to put us out of business." 




Do you care about animals and unethical consumerism? Give Martha Rosenberg's award-cited, Random House expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, for the holidays! Includes 30 cartoons.







Ladies--do you recognize this guy? He is volatile, possessive, moody and prone to adult temper tantrums. He plays the tough guy but reserves his ire for women, children and even pets. When you're through with his huffing and puffing and bullying and try to leave him--he turns violent and you need to get an order of protection.


George Zimmerman is the classic domestic batterer whose brushes with the law become more frequent and extreme until he is stopped. Partners of batterers end up dead with alarming frequency. Still, the NRA unabashedly defends domestic abusers' "rights" to remain armed while they are under orders of protection from terrified wives and girlfriends. Why? Because the right to own and carry a gun is more sacred to the gun lobby than victims of domestic violence! The NRA and other gun rights groups have "beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations," says the New York Times.


Weeks after emboldening the nation's cop wannabes with his acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman was questioned about alleged abuse against his wife, Shellie Zimmerman. She phoned 911 and told emergency operators "He's in his car and he continually has his hand on his gun and keeps saying step closer ... and he's gonna shoot us," according to the police-released phone call. This month in Florida, Zimmerman's girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, also told police he threatened to shoot her with a gun. "You point your gun at my fricking face," she is heard to say on the 911 call.


Why is someone who shot and killed a person last year and allegedly threatened to kill his wife this year still armed?


As every woman who has dealt with a violent partner knows, batterers are the opposite of the tough guys they pretend to be. Why else do they attack women and children? Zimmerman said he feared for his life when he encountered Trayvon Martin--even though he was the one with the gun. If he hadn't self-deputized into a cop wannabe staking out and stalking strangers, there wouldn't have been a lethal weapon to begin with. What's wrong with this picture?


Intimate partner homicide increases by 500 percent when a firearm is present and women are three times as likely to be shot and killed by gun-wielding intimate partners than by strangers. Yet NRA-bought politicians keep laws on the books that elevate gun rights above women's lives. Who will be Zimmerman's next victim?


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Rosenberg: Several US groups expose inhumane and frivolous animal experiments but your new group White Coat Waste Project specifically focuses on government-funded animal research.


Bellotti: Yes. $12 billion of tax-payer money a year goes to animal experimentation and the government is the largest funder of animal research in the US. Yet the public is largely unaware of the waste, fraud and abuse, not the mention cost. The White Coat Waste Project is a watchdog group exposing what goes on in government’s animal laboratories on the public's dime. If it’s not paid for by your taxes, it’s not part of our mission.


Rosenberg: Do you have first-hand experience with animal research?


Bellotti: Between junior and senior years of high school, in the 1990s, I worked as an intern in an animal lab at a hospital in Manhattan. For seven weeks I witnessed experiments on pigs, beagles, rats, monkeys and more. I went through what I think a lot of people go through when they encounter animal research. First, you experience "shock and awe" at what is actually permitted and legal. I remember thinking, this is one of the good labs--I hate to think what the bad labs are doing. Then you kind of pull back within yourself and think, "I don't want to make waves." Finally, you decide you will fight back and speak out which is why I founded White Coat Waste Project.

Rosenberg: Exposing animal research is a tough mission. Twenty years ago, we heard of lab break-ins and rescues but today research facilities are triple fortified and some have been put underground. The other tough part is--animal research is always given a scientific mystique. The public is told we can't judge it but it is benefiting us.


Bellotti: Right--"we know how to spend your money better than you do" is the attitude. Yet the public has the right to know what is done with a staggering amount of its money--and we will soon be launching "Waste of the Week" to show appalling examples of government waste. What the government spends on animal research and what experiments it funds are public information and we will soon be publicizing it.

Rosenberg: Why does cruel and stupid government-funded research persist? For over 30 years, the University of Minnesota's to Marilyn Carroll has addicted animals to street drugs. $3.6 million of our tax dollars in the last decade went to studying how heroin, crystal meth and Angel Dust affect menstruating monkeys. No tax-payers or scientists who aren’t in on the money could defend this kind of waste.


Bellotti: What happens is the research grows, becomes entrenched and produces its own constituents and lobbyists. The universities and researchers who get this money think its their not ours and that they are entitled to it. There are huge incentives and the programs grow bigger each year.


Rosenberg: Sounds like scientific "pork"!


Bellotti: Yes. The universities and researchers are given a blank check and do not even have to defend the research or cite anything of value it has produced. For years, mice were consider miniature human beings and now we know that most mouse-based research has no applicability to humans and has been pretty worthless.


Rosenberg: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis S. Collins always professes his spirituality and God-centeredness. Yet millions of animal die under his watch. NIH's new brain initiative will only increase the toll.


Bellotti: NIH projects including the new brain initiative are investments of public money. We are entitled to a return on our investments. What was spent, what is being done to animals, what do tax-payers get out of this? These are the questions the White Coat Waste Project will highlight.


Rosenberg: Animal research is so disturbing. Dogs having their vocal cords removed so they won't bark in pain, primates are put in plastic tubes so they won't move during invasive experiments. Cats are blinded and deafened. Is there any good news?


Bellotti: Yes. Public attitudes are changing and changing very rapidly about animal research. In a short period of time the percent of Americans who approve of animal research has fallen from 70 percent to 54 percent. This year, NIH announced it would phase out chimpanzee research, no doubt hearing public sentiment. The problem is that the NIH's budget for animal research is growing despite changing public attitudes.


Rosenberg: How will the White Coat Waste Project let people know about tax-payer waste?


Bellotti: We will find and ferret out the most egregious tax-payer funded animal research. We will publicize and advertise the waste in digital and other media. Finally, we will build lobbying coalitions with concerned groups. This is both a humane and a fiscal issue. You don't have to care at all about animals to see what a waste $12 billion a year is--especially in these economic times. There has probably never been a time of greater focus on federal budgets and this is a clear example of waste that can be cut and cut now.


Do you care about govenment fraud and animal treatment? Give Martha Rosenberg's award-cited, Random House expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, for the holidays! Includes 30 cartoons.








Ken Cuccinelli's defeat in the race for Virginia governor has mainstream Republicans calling Tea Partiers fanatics and Tea Partiers calling mainstreamers RINOS (Republicans In Name Only). The only thing they agree about is their hopes for the 2014 elections are kaput and they might as well start thinking about 2016.


Many attribute the Cuccinelli defeat to the women's vote. Funny how women won't vote for a politician who promises to take their rights away. Aren't Republicans watching the rise of Texas state Senator Wendy Davis?


But Cuccinelli's guns-everywhere/no restrictions NRA platform is also a women's issue. Intimate partner homicide increases by 500 percent when a firearm is present and almost always it is the woman who is killed. Women are three times as likely to be shot and killed by gun-wielding intimate partners than by strangers. During his campaign, Cuccinelli tactlessly promoted gun rights at Virginia Tech where 32 were killed. He opposes universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole and wants to see guns in clubs and restaurants. Cuccinelli has an "A" rating from the NRA which likely got him an "F" rating from women voters.


Despite its tough talk against criminals, the NRA works hard to keep abusers armed because sales are $ales. According to the New York Times, the NRA and other gun-rights groups "have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations. They argue that gun ownership, as a fundamental constitutional right, should not be stripped away for anything less serious than a felony conviction-- and certainly not, as an N.R.A. lobbyist in Washington State put it to legislators, for the 'mere issuance of court orders.'" What?


The NRA got another black eye this week besides Cuccinelli's defeat. Maribeth D’Alauro, wife of Richard D’Alauro, NRA field rep for New York City, came out for background checks to prevent domestic abusers from buying guns. “I was being bullied,” the mother of three says of her marriage to the NRA honcho. In 2010, D’Alauro was charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child and a noncriminal charge of harassment to which he pleaded guilty, reports the New York Daily News, Police removed 39 pistols, shotguns and rifles from D'Alauro's Long Island home. Hey, we have the right to keep an arsenal. Maybe he was expecting 39 intruders! Police had to return to the home because there were even more guns and ammunition on the premises.


Of course guns protect women too, bellows the NRA. Just like guns protect conceal carriers when the mugger is a block away, High Noon style, there is no element of surprise and the mugger doesn't use the gun on the carrier. In point of fact, "gun defense" often goes horribly wrong in the same way for women. Three women were killed with their own guns just in October in the US according to news reports. Thank you, NRA.


“I was shot with my own gun," says Christy Salters Martin who was also a gun-used-against-her statistic, despite being a professional boxer. “Too many times, their male counterpart or spouse will be able to overpower them and take that gun away.” Christy Martin was stabbed and shot by her husband after she attempted to leave him.


Women with violent husbands and boyfriends don't want to own a gun too. They want the lethal weapons out of their abusers' hands. Which part of "reduce gun violence" doesn't Cuccinelli understand?



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Just in time for Halloween, Heifer International's new catalogue is in the mail. Heifer International is a Little Rock-based Christian charity that "ends hunger and poverty" through sending live animals to poor people overseas. The images of cute kids hugging cute animals, many of whose throats will be slit after the cameraman leaves, are right out of Walt Disney or Pet World. If she were alive today, Dorothy Parker would "frow up."


This year's catalogue of cherubic children and smiling market women with perfect teeth and clothes, tells donors their live animal gift will feed families, help the poor rise above poverty and "empower women around the world to overcome…[the] burden of discrimination."


"Before receiving a gift of ducks from a Heifer supporter, Pham Thi Nguyen from Viet Nam remembers, 'In the past, my children would be sick often,'" says the catalogue. "Now we have more money to improve our house and send our children to school."


How do people with no food feed animals, people with no money provide veterinary care and shelter for animals and people with no resources keep animals from harm and being lost and stolen?


If poor families can’t “grow enough feed” they "are taught the best substitutes to buy locally," says a Heifer International newsletter. Yes, buy. When animals get sick, families can use “local natural substances that are known to provide specific medicinal benefit.”  Families can also build shelters out of "locally available materials," the newsletter assures donors. Heifer does not address the risks of zoonotic diseases and swine and avian flu outbreaks to the poor communities. Maybe there are "natural" vaccines.


Another question is why Heifer sends milk-producing animals to countries where 80 percent of the population is lactose intolerant? Heifer received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to open dairy operations in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, replete with chilling plants, backup power generators and "refrigerated commercial dairy delivery trucks." Why are dairy operations and animal-based agriculture in general, which wastes 80 percent of plant and grain crops, an upgrade for poor countries?


Two teachers who Heifer sent on a tour saw the downside of this insipid business plan when they visited a Honduras community that received live animal gifts. A “disease killed off all the chickens in a particular village,” and children were sleeping with the animals to keep them from being stolen, they reported. Heifer recipients are also reported to be feeding their animals over their children because it is a better return on investment, according to some anecdotal reports. Thanks, Heifer.


Fifteen years ago in Chicago, a Heifer International attempt at a domestic animal poverty project also failed. A aquaculture operation was set up in a Chicago housing project so at risk youth could sell fish to area restaurants and embark on promising livelihoods. But in 1999 all the fish froze to death when the heat and power went off. Two years later, the same thing happened only this time the air conditioning went out because of a storm. The fish leaped “out of their barrels trying to escape accumulating ammonia and rising temperatures,” said the Chicago Tribune.


Many in the US are mourning the death of more than 20,000 head of cattle and calves who froze to death in a freak blizzard in South Dakota. The sight of the poor mammals, huddled together in a last, vain attempt to retain their warmth and evade their fate is heartbreaking. What is the fate of live animals shipped to poor countries when the world's richest country could not prevent such a shocking, tragic die-off?




It’s every employer’s worst nightmare. An angry employee with a gun takes out his revenge on a boss, coworkers or both.

Last year, Andrew J. Engeldinger did it when he killed five and injured three after being fired from his job at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis. Lawrence Jones did it when he killed two coworkers and wounded two others at a Fresno chicken processing plant. The year before, Rocky T. Christian, did it when he shot and killed his boss at Build Direct Floor, LLC in Apopka, Florida. Let’s bring guns to work!

Last year, 375 employees were shot and killed on the job, says the Department of Labor. If you are an employee, you are five times as likely to be shot to death at work if your employer allows guns says an American Journal of Public Health study.

Gun advocates have pushed through laws letting people bring their guns to work, storing them in their cars, in 22 states. The NRA says an Alabama version of the law, which went into effect this summer, "extends the current Castle Doctrine to include places of business to ensure the right of self-defense does not end when you enter your business."

Employers see it differently. "Allowing employees to have near, immediate access to firearms, at work, creates an element of risk that is unacceptable," said Mark Hogan, FedEx’s vice president for security, in testimony last year before Tennessee lawmakers. “Much like a private homeowner is able to tell his guests whether they can bring a gun into his yard, FedEx should have the right to decide what it will and will not allow on its private property,” says Hogan. Volkswagen, Caterpillar and Bridgestone have joined FedEx in opposing the expansionistic gun laws.

Forcing property owners to allow guns is so intrusive, even an NRA member objected when the laws began surfacing eight years ago. Bob Thornton, a former liquor store owner, actually heckled NRA leader Wayne LaPierre at an Atlanta news conference which announced the campaign. "I really object to the government getting involved to say what's allowed on my property," he said, sporting a "Wayne Never Asked Me" T-shirt.

Joe Fleming, senior vice president for government affairs at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce agreed in a 2008 newspaper oped.  The NRA has "threatened all Georgia senators who fail to fall on bended knee with ‘F's’ on the next NRA re-election scorecard," he wrote. “Those senators who don't succumb to the NRA's bully-tactics, name-calling, temper tantrums, insults and lies will be subjected to election-year retaliation." The Florida Retail Federation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida also opposed the coercive gun laws which force property owners to take on risks not their own.

As always, the NRA tries to make gun carriers victims instead of aggressors. Banning weapons on parking lots “is a wrecking ball for the Second Amendment,” pronounced Wayne LaPierre. “It's also a blueprint for totally eviscerating and nullifying right-to-carry legislation in 38 states in our country," because despite the “constitutional right to have a firearm” carriers “couldn’t stop anywhere.”

Of course safety and insurance-minded property owners say that is exactly the point. Like cigarettes, you can have your gun at home but don’t even think of bringing it in here. Why should employees and customers be exposed to a 500 percent increase in their gunshot risk because carriers are afraid to go places without their guns? Lawmakers may be muzzled by the gun lobby but corporations aren’t.

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The yellow, Do-Not-Cross police tape was barely in place before John Lott appeared on the Sean Hannity radio show to spin the Navy Yard shootings. Why were twelve killed and three injured this week at the Washington Navy Yard?  Because it was a "gun-free zone" says Lott! Criminals always choose gun-free zones says the author of the More Guns, Less Crime. Sure the Navy Yard has armed guards, sure it had the best Department of Defense security. Thanks to the 1993 Clinton administration ban on military personnel carrying personal firearms, the fortified compound was a mass shooting waiting to happen, says Lott. Who knows how many other criminals right now are planning to assault military installations because they are such easy targets?


What Lott did not address is why another mentally ill gunman mowed down innocents thanks to our EZ, NRA-driven gun laws. Aaron Alexis bought at least one of his weapons just last week, say news reports, at a Virginia gun store. Despite three gun-related violence events, he passed his federally-required criminal background check because the charges were dropped. And, like Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho who killed 32, records of Aaron Alexis severe mental illness were not forwarded to federal authorities so he could be stopped.


It is no secret that the NRA helps to restore gun rights to people with mental illness histories because sales are $ales. In 2007, after the Virginia Tech murders, NRA lobbyists slipped a provision into the NCIS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 that allows the restoration of gun rights of mentally ill people if they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” and if “the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.” The NRA also works to restore gun rights to felons and to let violent husbands and boyfriends under orders of protection keep their lethal weapons. Why should the fact that someone is a felon, hears voices or has threatened his intimate partner infringe on his right to buy and carry weapons that murder?


Of course the Navy Yard massacre will not pry federal and state lawmakers out of the NRA's grip. Lawmakers barely blinked when one of their own, Congressman Gabby Giffords, was shot in the head by a conceal and carrying legal gun-owner who was mentally ill. Nor did the death of 20 first-graders on December 14, 2012 even inspire Congress to pass universal background checks in April.


No wonder people who have had their fill of preventable gun-violence are circumventing NRA-indebted pols and going directly to the people with voter referendums. No wonder they are going directly to corporations like Starbucks who, today announced that guns are no longer welcome in their stores. Thank you, Starbucks!


Are you DONE ASKING for sane gun laws? Force them! Join the thousands making the <a href="">TELL AND COMPEL™</a> pledge.