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We hope that you find the information available here helpful.  If so, and if you can afford it, we would like to offer one of our high quality, Champion 100% cotton, crew neck tees (featuring our unique Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! logo on the front and our url on the sleeve) as a thank you gift for a mere $15 donation to our site.  This first batch comes in tech orange and neon green...

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Saturday, July 13, 2002

Mad Cows, Mad Deer and Mad Bureaucrats by John Stauber

Most Americans never heard of British mad cow disease until the shocking news of March 20, 1996, when the British government was forced to admit they had been wrong for a decade.   The mysterious and always fatal dementia disease that had felled hundreds of thousands of cows was now killing people, especially younger Brits who are dying of the devastating illness apparently from eating contaminated beef.  Today, six years later, the growing British death toll is at about 130 confirmed dead or dying from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the name given to human mad cow disease.  Unfortunately, British deaths are doubling every three years  now, and thousands who ate British beef a decade ago might die in the decades ahead because of vCJD's long and invisible latency period during which people appear healthy until dementia begins and they die a horrible death as holes and plaque destroy the brain.

Britain no longer uses its own human blood plasma  because lab tests demonstrate that the infectious prion (pree' on) agent that causes mad cow disease is spread by blood, and CJD victims have been blood donors.  The British government realized fifteen years ago that mad cow disease resulted from the widespread practice of taking slaughterhouse waste, rendering it through cooking, and then feeding it back to livestock as mineral, fat and protein supplements.  Britain began banning the practice of feeding mammalian protein to mammals, but it took years to do so properly and in the meantime Britain exported contaminated feed so that now countries across the globe from France to Israel to Japan are seeing cases of British mad cow disease, and fearing their own human deaths. [Read more]

Posted by Richard
7/13/2002 08:14:41 AM | PermaLink

Man Who Hunted in CWD Area Dies of Brain Disease

This very important story appears to have fallen through the major-media news cracks as reporters focus upon Bush and Cheney's highly unethical previous corporate dealings, the upcoming Gulf War II: Fields of Fire, and the final end of market madness. One reason for not giving higher coverage to Mad Cow-Mad Deer disease (besides that it offends big agro-business and the large civillian population of hunters) is that until now it hasn't been demonstrated that it is a "human" problem. That is, it hasn't crossed that tenuous threshold of narcissism by which media and politicians consider the importance of information -- does it directly affect consumers or not? But, contrary to many claims to the opposite, it appears that Chronic Wasting Disease does have the capability of crossing "species barriers" and killing the people involved in infected areas. As this disease is spreading more rapidly than the Southwest wildfires, farmers, hunters, rural citizens, and policy makers need to start paying attention now, less our only solution to the problem be the slaughter of millions of animals...the recent slaugher of nearly 30,000 deer in Wisconson alone (without mentioning what happened previously in England or Japan, etc.) should underscore that this is no joke and a serious social-issue brewing under-the-surface.
A 63-year-old Thornton man who hunted elk and deer in a Colorado area beset with chronic wasting disease died early Wednesday from a similar human brain disease.

Otto Berns first noticed signs of memory loss in early May. Doctors struggled to find the correct diagnosis, first telling his family that he had suffered a stroke.

After his condition worsened, Berns' daughter, Nicki, told doctors her father was an avid venison eater who hunted north of Fort Collins. She said she suspected he was suffering some form of CJD, or Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. In June, a biopsy confirmed her suspicions.

Like chronic wasting disease affecting deer and elk in northeast Colorado, CJD is caused by mutant proteins called prions.

Scientists say there is no proof that humans can get CJD from eating infected deer or elk. However, research has begun to see how strong the "species barrier" is.

Nicki Berns said she suspects that her father got the disease from eating game, and that a state health worker said she and her family cannot donate blood.

One way to help answer the question would be to have an autopsy. However, Nicki Berns said her mother declined to allow it, citing a promise she made to her husband.

By Lou Kilzer, Rocky Mountain News or (303) 892-2644.

Posted by Richard
7/13/2002 08:10:03 AM | PermaLink

Friday, July 12, 2002

WWF and an Over-eaten Earth Report

While I was away, the WWF released an interesting document (link above) that I will be looking over and commenting on in-depth over the coming days. The few media reports I was able to hear regarding it mostly played up the idea of how shocking the findings of this report are. Of course, the notion that we will surpass by double the planet's capacity to sustain life within the next half-century IS SHOCKING! Unfortunately, the media has not mentioned that this report is conservative in comparison to the United Nation's own UNEP report that puts global catastrophe somewhere around the year 2030, all things being equal.

For those who would be prone to dismiss the findings of this report as only so much "environmental" hogwash, I would remind you of the status of the WWF as a policy organization. While there are those on the far-conservative right who continue to deride the WWF as "liberal," in fact the WWF is derided by many environmentalists as "conservative." With leadership the likes of Thomas Lovejoy, who also is a chief scientist for the World Bank, the WWF is one of a handful of environmental organizations respected enough by governmental cronies to be able to influence institutional policy. It is not unfair to portray the WWF as "moderate" in its politics and, without doubt, mainstream. Thus, when the World Wildlife Foundation releases a report that signals global catastrophe, if all the other reports weren't enough, it does mean that its worth your attention to give it a look over as the future comes on fast.

Again, I will try to break down some of the findings and contextualize them here at the Vegan Blog in future postings.

Posted by Richard
7/12/2002 10:56:48 PM | PermaLink

Animal Rights: An Interview with Gary Francione

Interview with Professor Gary L. Francione
On the State of the U.S. Animal Rights Movement

Richard Epstein, a Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, once asked whether the animal advocacy movement would grant rights to bacteria. Similarly, people challenge ethical vegetarians by asking whether mosquitoes should have rights. Perhaps the next question will be whether the horse should sue the horsefly.

Francione puts such discussions into the appropriate perspective. By explaining that animals need one right -- the right not to be property -- we place the energy of the movement right where it must be: into liberating the animals we systematically exploit.

In this interview, Francione answers the question of whether rights theory is an "all-or-nothing approach," whether it is unfair to decline to assist in providing welfare improvements for the animals who are alive and suffering now, and what we can do to help living animals as we work for animals' interests to be taken seriously in a future society. Francione also speaks to the matter of putting the philosophy of liberation into practice at the grass roots level. Here, Francione reveals his own changes in perspective over the years.

Francione discusses the ramifications of advocates' shift from an emphasis on sentience to an emphasis on cognitive ability. Then, Francione returns the animal rights movement to the goals we came here to achieve, providing a set of principles that might be used as shorthand for "the moral baselines of a real animal rights movement."

The interview appears in the Summer 2002 issue of ActionLine. This announcement from Friends of Animals.

Posted by Richard
7/12/2002 10:16:28 PM | PermaLink

Green Groups Share Blame for U.S. Fires, Say Republicans

NPR picked up this story today, at least once simply propagandizing for the government line by repeating the House findings that the fires have "green" causes. Later in the day, the story was run in depth on All Things Considered. There a more moderate line was touted in which it was pointed out that "all sides are finger pointing" and that what is at stake is how to define "old growth" and "brush."

The All Things Considered story actually did a decent job of attempting to explain how it is that government allows the lumber industry to clear out areas, often leaving only the small trees (the one's they were contracted to clear!), in the attempt to get forests managed cost-efficiently in a timely manner. The story also pointed out how environmental groups have held up forest management processes through legal proceedings in the attempt to block the Forestry Service from simply harvesting wood where they should not. Finally, it also documented how between the government and the greens, suburban civillian populations on the edges of such forests are now starting to take the job of logging these trees into their own hands -- think Guardian Angels dressed as lumberjacks. Scary.

It was equally shocking that the NPR piece finished by concluding that both government and environmental groups will have to "give in" and "meet in the middle" in the name of sustainable forest lands. While it is true that there are some environmental organizations that are by policy oppossed to any logging of the forests for any reason, the large majority do not take such a hard line. These groups, mainly responsible for the legal actions that "are the cause of the fires," to quote the Republicans, are simply acting responsibly as watchdogs to make sure that woodlands are not illegally logged and destroyed under the pretense of "managing" them so as to "save" them. In this sense, to portray the environmental groups as uncompromising and complicit in causing large wildfires is simply inaccurate. Most of these groups would not press legal cases if either the U.S. Forest Service or the logging industries with which it contracts had a serious track record of sustainable practice.

To blame the environmental groups for the fires, either wholly as the government is attempting to do or half-way as has National Public Radio, is like blaming social services organizations for breaking up families when they are left no choice but to remove children from homes rampant with neglect and abuse. The Reuters story that NPR broadcast uncontextualized and its corresponding link follows:
Washington, D.C. -- Republican lawmakers on Thursday blamed environmental groups for contributing to U.S. forest fires that destroyed more than 3.1 million acres this year by blocking federal attempts to thin undergrowth.

Green groups and the timber industry disagree on when brush and small trees should be removed from federal forests to reduce the risk of wildfires.....

Posted by Richard
7/12/2002 10:05:29 PM | PermaLink