It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Animal News You Can Use from Paul Shapiro! Yay, Paul! Yay, animals!
The latest beef in the battle between the pork industry’s leadership and HSUS is a newly filed lawsuit. HSUS charges that the National Pork Board struck an unlawful “ham scam” backroom deal with the National Pork Producers Council to purchase the “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan. The purchase is bankrolling a third of the NPPC’s annual budget, which includes waging anti-animal lobbying efforts.
Both ConAgra and Dunkin Donuts announced in the past week that they’re eliminating gestation crates from their supply chains. Despite ConAgra being based in Nebraska, true to form, the head of the Nebraska Farm Bureau derided the company’s move and assured the public that “The use of gestation crates is really a better way to care for hogs.” The dude may as well be defending the NFL replacement refs…
In non-NFL news, my esteemed coworker at HSUS, Dr. Michael Greger, has a piece that was on the CNN home page about the public health dangers of factory farming.
Finally, the New York Times had a good feature last week on how mainstream vegan eating is in Southern California. Check it out!
Video of the week: Dog meets trampoline:
Good news: Ian Somerhalder secures land for super-sanctuary! »
I don’t know what really happened but the awesome animal sanctuary my lover Somerhalder is planning was in danger! Luckily for us, Ecorazzi has been following the story via Twitter. The land Somerhalder wanted for his sanctuary was possibly going to be “turned into a business park and transfer station.” Whatever the eff that means. But it looks like my super-hot future husband* was able to reach a deal and can now move forward with his super-awesome sanctuary. This is good news! Let’s save the animals and the kiddies!
*JK, marriage is for suckers! Born alone, die alone—that’s what I always say.
New York’s WABC channel 7 News spotlights Vegan Divas! Vegansaurs already know that Megan Rascal loves Vegan Divas and has attended two of their parties, which is no surprise because she is the vegan queen of the East Coast. But now regular news-bringers are talking about it! And loving it! The best part of this little piece is the end, when the field reporter, the two anchors, and that dude on the side (I don’t know your newspeople, New York) are enjoying the goods so much they can barely talk. Vegan desserts are the best!
Last week, Meave asked, “Is Iowa Rep. Steve King the worst person in Congress?”. This week, Stephen Colbert rips Steve King a new one re: his defense of dog fighting. COINCIDENCE? Probably yes, but still. I guess all Steve King is saying is that we shouldn’t judge him for having impregnated that dog and then taken it across the border for a forced abortion to protect the world from his monstrous glassy-eyed man-puppies, right??? Right.
Update on the 50,000 chickens left to starve, many rescued need your help! »
One of the rescued hens. You can see more pictures of the rescue on Flickr.
We got an update from Marji at Animal Place:
We actually took out 4,610 hens total - more than 3,000 are currently at our Rescue Ranch facility. The hens were released into Animal Place and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary custody. They are slowly recovering…we could really use help w/ this rescue. This is the largest and most expensive rescue we have ever undertaken.
Please donate if you can! So sad! They need our help!
Update on the 50,000 chickens left to starve in California »
The news site wouldn’t let me embed their video…come join us in the 21st century, KTVU! This is a still though—they can’t stop my screengrabbing! Can’t stop won’t stop.
Here’s an update on the 50,000 chickens that were left for dead in Stanislaus County. Apparently, while most of the 50,000 chickens were euthanized because of their poor condition or they were already dead when rescuers got there, 500 chickens have been rescued. Still, 2000 chickens have to stay over night without food again. I’m not sure if that means they are being rescued tomorrow or just that they definitely aren’t being rescued tonight.
A petition has been started on Care2 to let the shelters rescue the surviving chickens. It takes a minute to sign and certainly can’t hurt the situation! Happy petitioning.
A bill proposes a shark fin ban in New York State! Also: Shark fins may have neurotoxins! Whaa? »
Sharksavers.org has lots of great info in the fight against shark finning.
On Tuesday, legislators in New York State announced a bill that, following the example of Western states, would ban the sale, trading, possession and distribution of shark fins, possibly as of 2013. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are enacting similar bans that were passed last year, while Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia have legislation pending.
The bill in New York is sponsored in the Assembly by Alan Maisel, Linda B. Rosenthal and Grace Meng, who represents the heavily Asian district of Flushing, Queens, and is the only Asian-American in the Assembly. Identical bills are expected to be introduced in both houses of the Legislature.
Yay! Let’s keep this party going! Everybody ban shark fins! Except on sharks—those are cool.
There might be even more reason to ban shark fins, a new study says:
Researchers from University of Miami sampled fin clips from seven different species of sharks collected in South Florida coastal waters and analyzed its contents. Upon examination, they detected cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA (Î²-N-methylamino-L-alanine) in the fins of all species with concentrations ranging from 144 to 1836 ng/mg wet weight.
Mind you, the neurotoxin BMAA has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
The report suggests that consumption of shark fins may increase the risk for human exposure to the cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet, according to the researchers.
Shark-finning is all around grody! Go New York! Read more about the bill introduction and actions you can take on the Humane Society’s website. WildAid invites you to sign their "Say No" pledge to end shark finning. You could also spread around their super infographic—everyone loves and infographic!:
Craptastrophe: Pig manure foam is making factory farms explode. »
Large midwestern hog farms have for the last few years been battling a mysterious foam that is forming on top of their barns. In the worst case scenarios, the foam blocks ventilation ducts and the barns explode — yes, explode — killing the thousands of hogs inside.
This is so disgusting and sad. The most recent explosion was last Sept., killing 1,500 pigs and injuring a worker.
Here’s a news story about it:
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
This story is as gross as the lighthearted Green Acres scenes are inappropriate. I’m sure you also like how the reporting talks about the monetary loss and makes no mention of the pigs that die in explosions or any workers that are injured (#priorities).
For more info on this story, our boyfriend Tom Philpott has some good coverage over at Mother Jones. He makes the point that these explosions are relatively rare. Except that six crap-foam explosions since 2009 kind of seems like a lot to me, even though there are thousands of facilities that haven’t exploded. But however rare these explosions have been, Philpott says that the foam itself “has become alarmingly common.” So we can probably expect some more explosions in the future.
What does Grist think the solution is?:
The pork industry has been funding research into the foam and how to stop it. But as I see it the answer is simple. Get the pigs out of the barns and onto pasture, and raise them at a less intensified scale without the need for huge manure-storage “facilities.”
While that’s preferable to exploding barns, I’d go a different direction: free the pigs! Maybe a hotdog isn’t worth all this trouble.
Dude, all Northern California Café Gratitude locations are CLOSING?! »
SFist has the word and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it! Café Gratitude, why you have to be so crazy? Can’t you just serve up your delicious kale bowls and key lime cheesecake and STOP BEING A CULT? So annoyed at them. SO ANNOYED! Where will I get my delicious coffee shakes?? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, GODDAMMIT, GRATITUDE! My question of the day is: “WTF YOU GUYS!?”
More TK because we’re hella going New Tales of Sherlock Holmes on this shit.
UPDATE: SFist talked to Shandra Gilbert, Gratitude’s Director of Operations, who explained to us that, yes, Gracias Madre is also up for sale. Alas.
Et tu, Gracias Madre!??!!?
UPDATE 2: We now know for a fact that many employees (like, higher-up employees) had NO CLUE this was happening. They found out via SFist. Really nice, Café Gratitude.
UPDATE 3: We talked to Steve Sommers of Kumin Sommers LLC, who filed the two current lawsuits against Café Gratitude. He told us some interesting things! They mainly concern their tip-pooling practice, which goes like this: Every penny generated in tips and sales goes into same pool of money. At end of the day, they tabulate how much they should have earned from food sales, and they remove that amount from the pool— this, says Sommers, is called “breakage,” and it “shoulders the risk of the business onto the employees,” and is illegal. Next, they take 20 percent from the remaining money and send it to the central kitchen. Finally, they divide the remaining money among all the employees, from the managers to the janitors. Sommers says that one of his clients, Sara Stevens, would collect $200 in tips per night and only pocket $40. She is suing for between $80,000 and $85,000 in lost tips, and missed fuel and rest breaks.
The second lawsuit comes from their CURRENT—as in, he was still an employee as of 2:30 p.m. today, when we spoke with Sommers—bookkeeper, Ravi Shankar. He was being paid a salary as an exempt employee, which is illegal, and is suing for about $60,000 in overtime pay.
Sommers says that they have offered to let the Engelharts—Gratitude’s owners—“pay over time, if it’s a matter of money,” but by closing all their Northern California restaurants “they are scapegoating these two people.” Sommers also notes that once he filed these suits, Gratitude purchased three industrial shredders. “What are they hiding?” he asks.
It’s a legitimate question!
Also of note: These suits are entirely unconnected with Landmark and all that weirdness the East Bay Express wrote about in 2009.
UPDATE 4: Just heard from another (current) employee who said that they’re for sure being sold and that so is Gracias Madre, and it looks like there might already be a buyer for Gracias Madre, and it’s a big corporation. They didn’t tell the employees who the big corporation is (we’re thinking of starting the rumor that it’s McDonald’s! You in!?), but all Café Gratitude employees and central kitchen employees are getting fired. Super sad and shitty.
UPDATE 5: We just got news from a tipster (thank you!) that the Gratitude’s commercial kitchen and offices building on 14th Street is for sale. Asking price is $1.895 million, agent is Rob Maccarone at TRI Commercial. Check out the brochure here.
Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi are opening a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles! »
How fucking cool is THIS?! It’ll be on Ventura Avenue in the San Fernando Valley, and I will move to Los Angeles to eat there. And you think I’m joshing, but I am totally serious. Fuck a San Francisco Bay Area, I need to have dinner with Ellen and Portia like I’M MEANT TO.
I will move there and we will eat every meal at their restaurant and we’ll be best friends and they’ll adopt me and we will have so many hugs and then we will watch television and swim in the infinity pool at the mansion-house they bought me.
Oh! And then they will bake me chocolate chip cookies and they’ll tuck me into bed and I really have to stop doing this because it’s really making me hate my life. Ugh.
Anyway, another awesome vegan restaurant for Los Angeles, owned by famous vegans, and life is great there and it’s the worst everywhere else. TH-TH-THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!