Sharks of Kuwait, sharks of D.C. »
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) spent the second-to-last day of the Senate before its “autumn recess” complaining about Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) attempt to pass, among other animal protection legislation,* S. 850, the Shark Conservation Act. This is the Senate’s version of H.R. 81, which passed the House in March 2009; both bills would “prohibit removal any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the shark carcass at sea,” and make even possessing shark fins unattached to shark bodies illegal. This is good stuff! But could Sen. Dr. Tom “rampant lesbianism” Coburn allow the Senate to save hundreds of thousands of sharks? What are you, new? Apparently the bill has “been proffered for special interest groups,” but not special interest groups that give Tom Coburn money, so it’s not worth his precious time.
All over the world, actually, sharks are being slaughtered at an obscene rate. In this episode of Witness, Al Jazeera’s documentary show, a small crew chums the waters of the Arabian Gulf off Kuwait looking for sharks. It’s narrated and filmed in an almost emotionless manner, but some of the scenes are heart-wrenching. Shark embryos are said to be a source of virility, so even though adult sharks aren’t usually eaten, the unborn babies are. It’s 22 minutes long, and completely astonishing. As one of the researchers says, anyone can go to South Africa and see a white shark, but who even knows to go to Kuwait? Definitely watch it in full screen.
[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com]
*The other legislation ol’ Harry Reid was looking to get passed was “the Crane Conservation Act, marine mammals rescue assistance legislation, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act.” Man, fuck that Tom Coburn. Fuck him right in the ear.
Update: Let’s not forget that Sen. Coburn has also placed holds on legislation that would give $1 billion to Haiti; make settlements worth $3.4 billion with Native Americans and black farmers; allow the government to purchase land to build a National Women’s History Museum; give aid to victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda; provide financial aid and training to caregivers of disabled veterans, investigate “unsolved Civil Rights-era crimes from before 1970”; help prevent veterans from committing suicide; and also, the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act. Why? Who knows? Maybe Jesus told him to be a hateful human being with no compassion whatsoever! Fuck that guy in both ears.
Hey drug company assholes, stop killing sharks, OK? »
What the hell. The pharmaceutical industry is so fucked up in so many ways. It’s bad enough they’re using factory-farmed chicken eggs to grow flu vaccines, now they had to go and make it extra fucked up by killing nearly endangered sharks.
Yes, you read that right, drug companies are buying squalene, an oil extracted from the livers of sharks, for use in flu vaccines. And the more threatened the shark species, the better. Deepwater sharks are the best squalene producers, but they also have the lowest reproductive rates. To catch them, deep-sea fishers use bottom trawling, a horribly destructive method that’s like running a bulldozer along the ocean floor, destroying everything in its path.
The purpose of squalene is to extend vaccine supplies. Squalene can be made into what’s called an adjuvant, which boosts the body’s immune system response. This allows vaccines to do their job more effectively, which means you can use less of the vaccine and stretch the supply you have.
The “good” news is that squalene has not been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S., but it’s currently on the market in Canada and Europe. However, our Department of Health and Human Services reserves the right to start using it in case of an emergency flu epidemic, like if H1N1 were to suddenly get all crazy-go-nuts. So it’s like a cloud with a silver lining, except the silver lining is made of dead shark livers instead of attractive, shiny silver.
Sharks can be real dicks, but they don’t deserve this. Especially when there are other ways to get squalene, like from high-quality plant oils. Some drug companies, to their credit, are working on replacements, but without strong legal protections for sea life, there’s not much incentive for them to try very hard as long as it’s profitable. But if killing sharks magically became illegal tomorrow, I’d bet my liver they’d have a replacement by the end of the week.
SF Green Festival, meatball awards, the miracle of birth, delicious local tofu, Czech dumplings, urban gardening and more in this week’s link-o-rama!GE »
Win a copy of 500 Vegan Recipes! Hurry up and do it by Tuesday, Nov. 17!
The clever fuckers at the California Milk Advisory Board will be filming their latest “Happy Cows come from California” commercials in New Zealand. Torture the local cows, but don’t let the state benefit from production fees: such lovely people they are.
Local chefs discover that tofu is not an abomination against haute cuisine. Color us shocked. And hungry for samples!
Another poor review of Eating Animals, from another Gawker associate. Shut up, Joshua David Stein, you are much too pleased with yourself and your criticism.
For the strong-stomached, the birth of an elephant. Miracles: kinda gross! This goes for every human who records the births of their own young as well.
And in New Zealand, a shark gave birth to four live sharklets, thanks to the intervention of another shark? Freaky, gross, amazing.
Oh delicious: a recipe for Czech fruit dumplings! Yes PLEASE.
Filling closets with clothes for yourself is acceptable human behavior; filling a closet with matching clothes for your cat is NOT. I recognize we’re all guilty of anthropomorphism to some degree, but this not OK.
Watch out, sickies: you can pass on the swine flu to your companion animals.
King of Jerkoffs A. Bourdain says humans are allowed to eat animals because they are “smaller and stupider” than us. Ari Solomon says, intelligence is as intelligence does, bright boy. (Although we should note, Mr. Solomon, that “stupider” is an inflected comparative and most certainly a word.) (Grammarsaurus!)
More meat and more dairy makes Jack an angrier, more hostile and depressed boy; more carbs and less meat and dairy makes him happier and peaceful.
Friend-of-Vegansaurus Graciela has a new blog in which she explores urban gardening in L.A. We are so envious of all her lovely greens!
Check it out, another E. coli outbreak in ground beef!
Kind of pretty, kind of disgusting: your internal organs rendered in produce.
Genetically engineered apples that stay crispy without refrigeration!
An interview with our hero Deborah Madison, vegetarian chef and cookbook author extraordinaire!
Publisher’s Weekly selects this year’s best food books; titles include the bizarro Almost Meatless (“almost”? come the hell on), the revolting Lobel’s Meat Bible, and two books Vegansaurus wouldn’t mind unwrapping this holiday season: Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, and Salt to Taste: The Key to Confident, Delicious Cooking. Neither is vegan, but both seem extremely useful.
Revolting, slightly terrifying tale of a food writer’s giving in to a murderous impulse and shooting a baboon, and the global fallout.
Ours friends at Veg-Table are looking for writers for their city guides. GET ON IT, YOU WRITERLY PERSON.