<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Yes, I'm Still Online 

This is simply a quick note to let you all know that I am still up and running. I have simply been too busy scrounging enough work to keep going in order to keep this blog alive and pay my bills to do much posting here, but I have been keeping up with happenings as much as possible. So far, I did get the phone taken care of last week (obviously), and it does look like I will be able to make the payment this week, too. Thanks to everyone who has shown concern about this.

I really don't have anything else to post about today because I need to leave out of here to go do some work. I'm running quite late because we spent the whole morning nursing a sick little chicken back to health. It looks good for now, but we will be keeping a close eye on the situation.

Have a good day, everyone. Do a good deed today for someone - human or non-human. If you feel like it, go ahead and write to tell me what you did and how it made you feel. Some of the more interesting stories I may even include here if you like. We should all be working to make this a better world. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Good News! (and a few more comments on things) 

Well, I have been working really, really hard lately to try to keep this blog online. Between what Laura and I have been able to scrounge together and a reader and wonderful woman named Frances sent me, we will definitely be online at least another week! Yes, we got together the money for the electric and the phone. Thank you Frances! And, of course, thanks go to all of those who have been supportive, whether financially or morally, throughout the life of this blog. I couldn't do this without your support! All of you who have done whatever you can to help, pat yourself on the back. Hell, give yourself a big ol' hug from Laura and me. You deserve it. Together, we can change the world! And we will!

I have been quite interested to see all the people coming here from France. And there have been quite a few over the last couple of days! Welcome to all of you! Merci to you all for caring enough to read what is written here. And a double merci to the person that was responsible for putting this site up for those people to find! Also a big thanks to David for translating and adding the post "Inside the Mind of a Killer" in the magazine, "Cahiers Antispecistes."

With everyone working together from all over the world, we can make a difference!

I would also like to thank Patty in Australia for bringing this blog to the attention over there. To Billye, for being a person of dedicated courage and a true friend. And Cheryl for her support and help. And, of course, all the members of the Yahoo group I own. They have stood by me from the beginning, fighting against the scourge of factory farming. What a wonderful group of people, that keeps growing by the week! Thanks to Richard for helping with what he can, when he can, and to all the others who have sent donations. I could never list all of you without taking up a whole page. You know who you are. And David (a different David from above) for spreading the word about my desire to work as a consultant to different animal organizations, even if only part-time. There are many happy things happening behind the scenes right now.

As they continue to materialize, I will keep on posting the updates here for the loyal readers who have been so steady and supportive throughout the life of the blog. There are speaking engagements, maybe even a speaking tour, and perhaps even a movie! Lots going on!

I will try to keep you updated as best I can, but I have really been working hard lately at everything I can find (that is legal, anyway) to make sure that this blog stays up and running. I still have two more weeks of payments on the phone bill to make before I am out of the woods on that. But, do I have faith that this will all work out. After all, I'm doing the right thing, huh? And where there is a will, there indeed is a way!

For the first time in my life, I have learned what the word "friend" really means. The AR community is full of some of the best people in the world. And I am damn proud to be a part of it! Thank you all for your courage and dedication to helping the plight of the innocent, exploited animals.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done. Chickens (and other animals) still die every day, abused and tortured for their flesh and the eggs they produce. This won't stop any time soon. But, with every mind we crack open, we have made a change. That does give me hope for the future. A future where people don't decide that humans are more important than any other species on this planet. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?!!! Sigh...

You probably remember seeing the pictures and stories of the poor chickens we rescued that had fallen off the back of the truck. Well, there have been more sightings, but sadly enough, they were already dead on the road. And, unfortunately, since I don't own a digital camera myself, I can't get pics of everything I see. But, I don't forget, either. And I guarantee that I won't let anyone else forget. It is still happening, even if you aren't seeing pics of this.

The worst thing about this is what I said before: It is so unnecessary!

All of this suffering is unnecessary.

You know, at one time, I never would have thought that I could lead a life without the use of animals in my diet. It was inconceivable to me. At one time, I actually never even thought I would work anywhere but at that hellhole of a chicken plant. It just goes to show how much one person's life can change so easily. If I can do this, so can others. It wasn't even hard to do.

I just made up my mind that I would not be a part of the suffering anymore.

It was that simple.

Nothing hard about it, really. There are so many choices out there that don't require the suffering and death of animals. And, as a bonus, my health has improved tremendously. I am also living closer to my desire of leaving a smaller ecological footprint. Not eating meat not only saves the animals, but the environment as well. This new way of life has also helped renew me spiritually, helping me to grow in that manner. I have become a totally different person than I used to be. And it feels wonderful! And free!

What it all comes down to is that I like me much better than I used to.

I may still have a ways to go, but I am getting there. That plant left scars on me that run really deep. I have been thinking about that a bit more lately since a reader emailed me to ask me why people work in these places for so long, given the fact that they are such unsafe hellholes and pay so little.

I have addressed this question here at length, but it boils down to a loss of hope. And, there is the compounding factor of the fact that the longer you work in one of those places, the worse of a person you turn into, espeically in your own mind. There is no way to escape that. You feel "less than" someone else. It makes you into someone who doesn't care, is more prone to violence, more prone to substance abuse, more prone to many other antisocial activities and thoughts. In short, it is such a dehumanizing experience that you are never the same person again. I hold mental scars from that place that I will probably carry for the rest of my life. And guilt. Always the guilt that I actually did that for so long. It doesn't ever completely go away.

But, I can't really regret that time or those experiences.

Why? Because if I hadn't gone through that sort of a dark hell, then I couldn't do what I am doing now - educating the public. Because the public does have the right to know what happens in their name. Just like the anti-war people are protesting the admistrations practices with their signs of "Not in My Name!" the behaviors and practices of the factory farming industry do go on in their name if they continue to eat the flesh of animal corpses. There is no escaping the fact that if you continue to eat these innocent, defenseless, and harmless creatures, you are indeed supporting and condoning the sort of actions I have written about here.

There is no good argument against that fact. If you eat meat, then you support cruelty to animals. You support it with every purchase you make, every bite you take. That may be hard to take for some people, but it is the unvarnished truth. Eating meat is cruel and unnecessary in today's culture.


If you engage in that sort of diet, then you support not only animal cruelty and environmental degradation, but also the exploitation of your fellow countrymen, too. These are your neighbors. Like the guy that died from the ammonia leak at Enterprise. And, he is not the only one. There have been many others maimed and killed in these plants because of safety problems. There is also such a prevailing uncaring attitude by their superiors that considers such people as expendable assets.

Been following the Tyson purge lately? Not too long ago they announced that they were reducing their workforce by 5% across the board. Now, they said that they were going to do this mostly by attrition. However, I have read two stories now where Tyson has done an internal audit targeting the illegals in some of their plants. They, of course, deny any connection, but we all know how much they lie and deceive people. I have proved that time after time after time. I really don't think that there is much question about that anymore.

Let me explain to you a few important things for you to consider about their hiring process that will shed a little light on this situation:

When you go to be hired at Tyson, you are required to supply at least 3 references of jobs where you have worked in the U.S. And they check all 3 of those. You are also required to supply a photo id, along with a Social Security card, which they also verify. Now, if they check all of that against state and federal records, then how do you suppose all these illegals would get in there?

Because they wanted them there, that's why.

Now, you couple that with the fact that several of the illegals that I worked with down there at Grannis told me that they knew they had a job lined up before they ever left Mexico, and you begin to see exactly what is going on here. They bring people in, give them the necessary papers they need, and get rid of them when they need to, making it seem like they are "doing the right thing" by these internal audits. There is just no way that they didn't know that these people were illegals. No way.

I also told you before about the catch crew boss that was arrested just before I left that plant. They arrested him for tax evasion, as I understand it. They also deported the whole catch crew. This whole thing went down right there in the Tyson parking lot. I saw it happen, along with over 50 people. Tyson knew they were illegal. Everyone knew. Another thing that happened that night was that about 2/3 of the Mexicans that worked inside the plant, got in their cars and left the plant. Now, why do you suppose they would have done that? Because they were illegals, too? Do you really believe that Tyson didn't know that? If so, then why would they let them stay? And why would a supervisor have holllered that INS was there on other occasions when there was a raid? Is that the way to purge illegals, by alerting those individuals to the fact that the authorities are there? Hardly.

Why do they engage in this? Because, they needed them. They needed them because, even in this poor rural area where there are few jobs, there is a shortage of people willing to put up with their abusive exploitation and unsafe working conditions.

Look what lengths I have gone to in order to avoid working at such a place again! I could have done so if I had wanted to. It wouldn't have been hard. They have a policy whereby if you are fired, they will rehire you again in 6 months if you want to come back. Of course, you lose all seniority and benefits, but you can get your job back. I did that before when they had fired me on other occasions, like when I went to jail. My shift superintendent had actually called the authorities to tell them that I had a job lined up when I got out. He did this, even knowing that I had been convicted of violent offenses. When I got fired this last time, they told me to come back in six months - that I was guaranteed to have my job back. I was told by several people, including my supervisor, that last night, "You'll be back." They love to get an experienced hand for new-hire pay. I didn't have to go public this time. And I certainly didn't do it out of revenge.

I could also have gone to another plant, even another company, like Pilgrim's. It's not hard for someone to get a job on that line, especially if you have the years of experience that I have. They would have hired me on the spot.

But, I did none of those things. I decided to go public instead, even with the full knowledge that by doing so, I would probably not be able to find another steady job around here.

I did it because it was the right thing to do.

And, even with the intense hardship and sacrifice that this decision has brought into my life, I am not sorry that I made that decision. No, everything that I have gone through has been worth it. Every bit of it.

All the days of doing without, watching the cabin we started building deteriorate because of lack of funds to finish it, the many days of working at hard labor all day long for less than $50, have been worth it. And, I would do it again, even knowing what I know I would have to go through.

It hasn't been easy, and it hasn't always been much fun. But it has been necessary. Very necessary. Somebody had to, after all. Someone had to speak up for the workers, and for the chickens they kill.

And, that someone has been me.

I never thought that it would go this far when I made that first statement. I had no idea. I certainly never foresaw something like having all my stuff translated into other languages and being spread around the world. I never thought that I would be written up in newspapers and magazines. I never had a clue that someone might want to make a movie about me. And, I never imagined someone like myself, a backwoods hillbilly ex-chicken-killer, going on a speaking tour around the country! I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around it sometimes.

Because my story is not any different from the ones that many other people doing that job would tell. That is the saddest part of this. I am not at all unique in my experiences. There are many people that I know that still go down there. Some are threatened by what I have done and have gotten angry with me. But, there are a surprising number who have come up to me privately, shaking my hand and thanking me, even two of the USDA inspectors. One of them told me that they were glad that I was telling this story - that somebody needed to. But, in the same breath, they also told me not to ever mention their name.

That's fear talking.

Several of the people that worked next to me were fired since I left, probably because of their ties to me, and Tyson's knowledge that I was still maintaining a friendly relationship with employees down there who were feeding me information. They read this blog every day, and their spokesman, Ed Nicholson, even joined my Yahoo group to watch what I do and say. I also imagine that Tyson wasn't too happy about Paul getting in there with a video camera and filming the kill floor three different times! I figure there was a purge of everyone that they suspected could have been in on that. I suspect that they wanted to get rid of anyone that they thought might have any sympathy and support for me and my fight against them.

But, you know, they can never get rid of all of those people. If they did, then that plant wouldn't run very well. There is a lot more support than they have a clue about. And they will never know which ones those people are because they are too afraid to speak out in public or to others in the plant. Tyson tried to make an example out of me, and possibly even out of those that worked closest to me. It didn't work, though. I still hear things. There are still those down there that are totally supportive of what I am doing.

Surprising? Not hardly. Why? Because if I can get the changes made that I want to see made, it will benefit them tremendously. Like the gas-killing. If those birds were already dead before the hangers had to handle them, not only would it be easier on the chickens, but also on the workers. And they know this. They know that I am fighting for them, just as much as I am fighting for those poor, helpless chickens.

And I will keep right on fighting.

That's a promise.

And again, I'm not alone!!!!
Posted by: # Virgil / 7:40 AM 0 comments

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Happy MeatOut Day! 

Well, it's the 20th annual American MeatOut today! If you want to find out if there is such an event in your city, then here is the website to go to: http://www.meatout.org/mevents.htm and here is the official MeatOut website: http://www.meatout.org

Too bad there isn't such a thing happening here in Tyson country. Maybe one day there will be...

Hey, I can hope, can't I?

Anyway, this is just a quick post in celebration of the day. I have also noticed that some of the people holding such events are combining them with the anti-war protests, handing out leaflets to the people already fighting for peace. Perhaps this is a way to show them a new way to contribute to a much more peaceful, loving world. A much less violent world, where we all have respect for all life.

I had intended on posting a bunch of statistics here today, but I have had trouble with my computer today, and couldn't access some of my files. Also, since the weather has been a bit iffy, my connection to the Net has been disconnected repeatedly. (In fact, it happened as I was writing this post.) I decided to just do a quick post just in case I get cut off yet again. It's annoying to take the time to write a long post, only to have it disappear when the computer acts up, as I am sure most of you know from experience.

Anyway, I have been reading quite a bit today. I also have an interesting article to share with you tomorrow. I have been working on a few things lately that will be quite wonderful. I will tell you more as I bring them together and get all the details.

Speaking of which, you will be glad to know that I believe I have managed to be able to manage to scrounge enough work for the electric bill. Now, my next biggest concentration will be on the phone bill. I have to come up with $150 quickly, on top of everything else that I am working to catch up on. It's not that I don't work hard, because I do. And, Laura helps as much as she physically can. No, the problem is simply that the work I am doing doesn't pay much. We have actually been known to work for 6 hours for a measly return of about $20. But, we never make over $40 a day - that's all we make for the both of us. Yes, that is less than minimum wage - a lot less - but that's the way it is when you are just doing whatever you can find when there is no steady work to be had. And something is better than nothing. I can assure you that we are anything but lazy. In fact, I frequently get accused of working too hard! LOL!

There is hope on the horizon, if I can just hang on a little longer. I appreciate everyone that is helping or has helped in the past. It looks like I have found someone to translate the French article, too. I'll let you know more about that when I see it.

I also received an email from a reader that told me that he thought that I was not making it clear how much donations were needed before, and that I had only implied such, hoping that people would understand and help out of the goodness of their hearts. Those of you that have been reading this blog from the beginning remember how hard it was for me to bring this up for the first time. You may also remember that it was done under protest after another reader kept encouraging me to do so. Well, I guess it couldn't have gotten any more plain than my last post, huh? I guess I shouldn't have waited so long to bring the situation to light.

It's just hard for me. For one thing, at first, I did think of it as charity that I was asking for. And that hurt my pride. I had never asked for charity in my life, and I didn't want to start now. But, it has since been explained to me differently. By several different people, in fact. In the words of one reader, he looks at it as "reallocating resources to where they can do the most good for the continuing health and well being of our planet." I guess it's all in how you perceive things. My perception of the world wasn't so great before I started this, but through all of you and your support, I have been albe to change my view of the world. I thank you for that.

Also, I have been made to understand how useful the information I have posted here has been to so many people. And, I guess I just naively thought that they would want to help if they found it useful, even if I didn't ask for such help. I would love nothing more than to do this work full-time for free. But, unfortunately, I am just not able to do that as well as I could when I received a check every week.

But, I am not giving up hope, and you shouldn't either. "The Cyberactivist" doesn't intend to quit or give up - EVER!

I will keep right on talking and spreading the word - somehow. And, I do very much appreciate those that have supported me, whether financially or simply through their kind and thoughtful words in their emails. You readers are my biggest inspiration. You keep the hope alive that one day this nightmare will come to an end.

Until then, I will keep on fighting. I will continue to be one more voice for the "voiceless."

And I hope you will join me in this fight.

I need you - and the animals need you. Indeed, the world needs you.

The arrival of spring brings renewed hope. Let's spring into action to help the animals even more this season. (Yeah, I know - I couldn't resist the pun.)

Have a good cruelty-free, meatless day, everyone.
Posted by: # Virgil / 3:16 PM 0 comments

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Parlez Vous Francais? Good news/Bad news 

Great news! I was written up in the French magazine Epok. I received my copies of it in the mail yesterday. Welcome to all the readers from France! But, I can't read a word of this article to see what it says. If there is anyone out there that is willing to do a translation for me, I would be most grateful.

Also, I am afraid I have some rather bad news. For all of you that have been reading this blog for awhile, you are well aware of the financial difficulties that I have had since leaving Tyson. You also know that I had to cut back on my activism after the unemployment ran out. Your generous donations helped me get through the first couple of months after that, and I have been working as much as I possibly can doing all that brush-clearing, firewood-cutting, etc. Basically anything I could find, as long as it was legal. I have been working almost every day, for at least part of the day. Laura has helped as much as she can, but she can only do so much with all of her serious and debilitating medical problems. She has ignored her doctor's advice many times to help me, much to her detriment, and suffered great pain because of it. We are talking really bad pain. She lives with pain every second of every minute of every day due to her medical problems, and probably always will, but she has done her very best to "do her part," as she says, and I am thankful for that, even though I tried to get her to take it easy.

Well, I'm sorry to say that it just hasn't been enough. Within about a week or so, this blog may very well go offline due to my inability to pay the phone and electric bills. We counted change to feed the dogs after the trailer we were using to haul the pulpwood out of here collapsed on the way to the mill (gotta get that thing off the road!), and their food runs out today. Now, we have one last half-day at a job we have been doing, so I will at least get a little bit from that today, so I will be able to feed them. We will not let them go hungry, even if we have to go without ourselves. It wouldn't be the first time. But, it won't be enough to pay the bills. Unless a miracle happens, my online activities will be over until I can get together more money to get caught up. My last hope was my tax refund. It wasn't going to be much, but it would have gotten me out of the hole and kept me going for another month. But, it has been confiscated for a debt I owed. I didn't know that they could do that, but apparently so. I have gotten pretty far behind on a number of things, but I do the best I can with what I've got. It just isn't much, as you all know.

That goes for the Yahoo group, too, I'm afraid. At least I have a couple of members there that I made moderators a while back, so that will keep going, even without my daily presence. I will check in as often as I can, though. I will have some spotty access to a computer if mine gets shut down, but nothing regular. So, if I don't answer an email right away and this blog quits getting updated for awhile, you will know why. I will keep going as long as I can keep the lights and phone on, though. But, I will be devoting even more time to trying to find work - any work - to get the bills paid. You will just have to be patient with me. At least the temperatures are warming up, so we won't freeze without electricity. I have lived without it before, and can do so again if I have to.

There is one bit of hope, though. A few of the people that I have been working with are going to see what we can do to start up an official non-profit organization to not only keep this blog educating the public and the group running, but to hopefully expand upon it, with me doing more speaking engagements, and perhaps with enough funding, starting a shelter for all these animals that keep getting dumped out here. (BTW - I still don't have homes for the three dogs featured on the photo page, if anyone can help give them a home. They really need one badly.) There is someone else taking care of setting up this organization for me, since all my time will be spent trying to find some work. Well, at least until the gas in the truck is gone. I don't have long distance on the phone now. They already shut that off, so I can't call around anymore to look for work. In this area, anyone that doesn't live within just a few miles is long distance, and there are no businesses within my local phone area, at least none hiring - there are only a few family businesses. And, since I have been actively looking for steady work for over a year and not finding any, I'm not too hopeful about that prospect. But, I am hoping to at least keep finding odd jobs like we have been doing. Unfortunately, the ad I had running in the paper has expired, and I don't have the money to rerun it, so I don't know how that will turn out, either. I will just continue to have hope and faith that something will happen to allow me to continue. (I still can't say those words without thinking of those poor chickens I showed you pics of.)

Anyway, I thought I owed all of you an explanation for the anticipated absence. I haven't given up hope, but I didn't want to wait until the very last minute to tell you, either. Some of you I have gotten to know pretty well, and you, of all people, deserve to know what is going on. Some of you generously donated funding to help, and you certainly deserve to know. You can't know how much that help was appreciated. There were several of you that really made a big difference. And it wasn't necessarily just the people who donated the larger amounts, either. The last donation I got was only $10, but it came at a time that I didn't have any gas money to be able to make the trip to town to try to take the ill-fated load of pulpwood in, and show up for another day of work, thus assuring that the dogs got their food. I had just run out that day. That person was a life-saver. You know who you are. Thank you yet again. Every little bit helps. It really does.

I had really hoped that this would turn into a full-time thing, and for a while that looked possible, but until things change for the better, that won't happen. I have always made sure that the information I post here could be used freely by anyone (as long as it was not for profit and shared freely), and many people have taken advantage of that. I'm very glad that I could help all of you. I have really enjoyed it. And, I have especially enjoyed hearing from so many of you through the months. Your words of support have been quite inspiring and have reminded me that there are good, caring people in the world. Those emails, cards, and letters have meant so much to me. They kept me going when I got down. I have looked back over them several times when I needed the inspiration. Thank you for that. :)

I will never regret my decision to go public, even though it has cost me greatly in many ways. I know that I did the right thing, and that is all the truly matters. I will keep on fighting this fight as much as I can, with the hope that one day things will be better. On thing is for sure:


I will be back - some way, somehow. But, I will not compromise my principles. I will not commit illegal acts to get money. I would rather go a little hungry than do that. No, I have turned my life around (with a lot of help from some loving people, especially Laura - thanks, babe - I love you), and I intend to keep it that way. I can't go backwards now. And, I won't let them have the satisfaction of that, either. I am a survivor. Even when things get hard, I don't give up. And, I usually come out the other side a better person for the hardship. They say that hardship builds character. Well, won't I be a really neat old person one day? LOL!

Well, keep me and Laura in your thoughts and prayers. And do the same for the animals that depend on us, too. There is still hope. I haven't given up hope yet.

And, if you have found the information here useful to you, then please consider donating something to keep it going, even if it is only a little bit. Don't make things unduly hard on yourself if you truly can't afford it. I wouldn't want that, but for those of you who can, then please at least consider it. I really do hate to ask (it hurts my pride, but I have others that depend on me that are more important than my pride), but I don't think I can pull out of this by myself this time, at least not anytime soon. Every little bit will help. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, then you will know that I am anything but a lazy bum. I work very hard every day, (even if it is just burning the dead pine around here to eradicate the pine beetles - I don't just sit around on my butt, that's for sure!). It just doesn't pay much when I do work hard. And, there just isn't much work around here. People around here are poor, and just don't have much to pay for help. Believe me, we have been known to have both Laura and I put in around 4-6 hours for the minimal return of only $20 for that amount of time at the end of the day. So, we don't turn down anything in the way of work that we find, no matter how little it may pay. At least it is something. And something is better than nothing. There just isn't much, and what there is, doesn't pay too well. I really hate to ask like this, but readers, you are the only hope there is right now to keep this thing alive. It's up to you whether it keeps going or not.

Thank you again for your support, everyone. Have a good day.

And, don't worry about me. I will be okay. I am more worried about Laura and the animals than anything. And, of course, losing the ability to keep up this fight. I may get knocked down from time to time, but I always get back up. I have to. And I will again. You haven't heard the last of me yet, no matter what happens.

Not by a long shot.

Now, wipe the frown off your face and smile. It's not the end of the world. It's just a major setback. It ain't over yet. I promise you that. Okay?

Go enjoy your day. And don't forget to give your animals a hug or two. Ad, if you can't help me, then do a good deed for someone. It doesn't have to cost you a thing. Smiles are free. Holding the door open for someone is, too. Be good to each other.

And, don't give up hope. I sure won't.

I'll be back!
Posted by: # Virgil / 7:45 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Wonderful News About the Scourge of Dog-fighting 

I was quite happy to read an article this morning telling of the arrest of James Fricchione for felony dog-fighting. While this was good news by itself, what makes this bust truly wonderful is the fact that this sadistic freak also published Sporting Dog Journal, a leading dogfighting magazine and that, among the other evidence the authorities seized, they also got his list of more than 5,000 Sporting Dog Journal subscribers. Woo hoo! Hopefully they will be able to use that to put more of these cruel-minded individuals out of the dog-fighting business.

Something else that this article mentions is the fact that anonymous postings on pit bull-related internet message boards warn dog-fighters that the Pittsburgh area should be considered off-limits because the risk of raids and arrests is too great, due to the vigilance of the D.A.'s office there that had its first-ever dogfighting case just five years ago, and the fact that they have prosecuted 24 people for dogfighting since then.

Why is this important? Well, a bill that is pending in Congress would make it a felony to transport fighting dogs across state lines. This is quite important in that it gives the authorities another way to stop this horrible blood-sport. I have written about this dog-fighting issue before here on this site and listed some of the other problems associated with it. Write to your representatives to support this bill. It's important.

Some of these events are quite organized, with large bets taking place, some of them running into tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the most vicious bloodlines bred by fighters produce dogs worth thousands of dollars each. This is big business for many of the people involved, as is the drug business. And this type of cruel activity tells a lot about the moral integrity of a person. If they see nothing wrong with subjecting an animal to abuse, torture, and a painfully horrific death, then they are a danger to society and willing to violate other laws, too. Their lack of respect for life presents a grave danger to us all.

This type of person has no conscience, and many times they pass this lifestyle and mindset on to the next generation of children that are brought up believing that there is nothing wrong with abusing animals in this cruel way. These people are sociopathic monsters that need to be stopped.

I'm sure glad they got this scum. Hopefully his list of other scum across the country will lead to more arrests for this low-down, offensive bloodsport.

Another little article that I enjoyed this morning can be found here. I'm glad to see that the authorities are starting to really crack down on animal abuse. People capable of that sort of uncaring and cruelly callous behavior tend to move on to humans if they are not stopped early enough.

Animal abuse is something that has the potential to affect each one of us. It should be eradicated wherever it rears its ugly head. There is no place for it in a decent and moral society. Decent, caring people do not treat animals this way for any reason. They treat them with love and compassion. They treat them with the respect they deserve. This, in turn, makes them more likely to treat their fellow humans the same way.

This world needs more love and compassion, and much less evil. The next time you see someone mistreat an animal, speak up. Get involved. You will be doing us all a favor. You will even be doing that person a favor by stopping them before the situation gets even worse. And you may prevent an even worse crime of cruelty - maybe next time to a child. Perhaps even to your own child.

Because this kind of thing tends to fester and grow in the dark. It cannot thrive when there is a light shining upon it, exposing it to the ever-watching eyes of society. And you may even prevent the next generation of people from growing up thinking that there is nothing wrong with thinking and acting in ways not favorable to sentient beings, whether these beings are human or not. It really doesn't matter which. We all feel pain - just as we all feel joy and love. That goes for animals just as much as it does for humans.

But then, most of us already know that. Most of us could not even conceive of doing the kinds of things talked about in those articles to our own companion animals any more than we can imagine treating our kids that way. Now, we just need to get that across to that segment of society that doesn't think or act that way. Decent people don't. Moral people don't.

Only sleazy scum does.

And no one wants someone like that living next door to them and their kids. No one wants that in their community.

It's up to all of us to do our part to make sure that doesn't happen. Speak up and get involved, even if only anonymously. Because it is your business.

It is all of our business because this scourge affects us all.

Let's all pledge to take an extra moment today to spend a little time with our companion animals. Give them that extra hug. It only takes a second, but it means the world to them. Let's do it in the name of all of the dogs that are abused every year. Do it for the poor dogs that had to be euthanized because this guy made them so vicous as for them to not be able to be rehabilitated and given a chance to learn love in a proper home.

Above all, do it just because it is the right thing to do. Spread love and compassion. Let is start at home with the animals you love the most.

Then let it spread to the rest. They are waiting patiently.

Go ahead. Do it now. Turn away from your computer for just a minute to show your loyal friend(s) how much you love them. A pat on the head, a hug, even a kiss on the nose. Come on. It only takes a second.

Now, doesn't that feel good? You can't help but smile, can you? :)

Now, just imagine if you expressed that love every day.

To all animals - human and non-human.

What a happier, more compassionate and loving world this would be...
Posted by: # Virgil / 9:38 AM 0 comments

Monday, March 15, 2004

Fecal Feet - the Delicacy 

Well, I promised you a story on the chicken feet yesterday, but I got pretty sick after coming in contact with a Tyson plant worker fresh off of work who was still filthy, at Wal-Mart the day before and shaking hands with him. I didn't even stop to think about it, since the natural thing to do when someone sticks out their hand to shake yours is to shake it. I didn't even think about it, didn't think to wash my hands before touching my face a few minutes later, and ended up getting a sinus infection that has swollen up my face, made it hard to breathe, and given me a bit of a ringing in my ears. Anyway, because of feeling so bad, and not having the money to go to a doctor and get any medicine, I just took it easy yesterday and didn't manage to get the post written. I am a little better today, but not much. However, I figured that I owed it to you after teasing you the way I did in that last post, only linking to an article about all the chicken feet stuck on ships and the Chinese demanding inspections of them to determine contamination levels.

So, here it goes.

When Tyson first started harvesting the chicken feet, called paws in the industry, I was extremely surprised. I couldn't imagine what in the world they would be used for. So, I asked. The answer I got shocked me. Why would anybody want to eat anything that had spent its entire existence buried in chicken feces? Nasty!

Anyway, the Chinese that are demanding that these paws be subjected to the same inspection as the USDA provides for the chicken pieces consumed as food in this country, have a very valid reason for needing such inspections. However, it is my opinion that this inspection process should go back further down the line than that. I believe that there should be inspections of the houses where they raise the chickens, as there is a big difference between the houses as far as the level of nastiness is concerned. But, that's another story. Let's get back to our topic today.

By the time that chickens are caught out of a house - even a "clean" house - the feces is 3-4 inches deep. A really dirty house can be as bad as three times that much. Now, we are all aware of the fact that the feces is the most common source of contamination on the meat. And, if we take into account that, despite all the inspections, antibiotics given to the chickens, and the other measures that are taken, people still fall ill, sometimes even fatally, from disease caused by this fecal contamination. This is on the cleanest meat that has gone through the most rigorous process offered to make sure it is safe.

Now, how much worse do you think that the feet could be, especially given the fact that they don't inspect them like they do the meat? Oh yeah, the Chinese do have a valid point when they say that they deserve the same level of protection of their food as what is provided here, even if what we get is extremely inadequate.

The only type of inspection that is done on these feet before they are shipped and sold to the unsuspecting Chinese consumer is a quick visual inspection of the top of the heap by a Tyson Quality Control (QC) person. That's it. And this QC knows that if he/she holds up production for a problem found, he/she will probably end up back on the line, working for $1.75/hr less, doing much harder work than QC. This is used as an example to the next QC that might dare to cause a ruckus for finding fecal contamination on these paws.

Therefore, the Chinese get a little "bonus" with their paws. Let's talk about that bonus - or should I say "bonuses".

Now, the first argument that comes to mind that Tyson may make against this allegation is that the paws are run through what is supposed to be a disinfectant bath. What that is is a high-pressure sprayer that sprays a cold-water chlorine solution. But, that doesn't do anything for the ones that we, as hangers and killers and utilities, picked up off the floor and carried back to the paw room. And, the bath itself doesn't have much chlorine in there. I caught some of the water coming from the sprayer in my hand once and couldn't smell or taste the chlorine in it. I didn't drink this, just stuck my tongue in it to see how much was actually in it and whether or not the amount of chlorine was high enough to be likely to do any good. Nope.

And, not all of the feet go through the chlorine bath, either. Well, they do go through it initially, but then some of them will be re-contaminated by hitting the floor after the "disinfection" process. Let me explain why.

You see, when you are running over-size birds and you have to wedge the legs into the shackles to get them to fit, the machine called the "hock puller" that is supposed to knock the feet off, doesn't actually end up doing that. So, they come back around to the 1st hanger, who pulls them off and throws them into a pile on the floor of the hanging cage. And, if you have been reading this blog for awhile, then you know how nasty that floor actually is. Then, every once in a while, the utility for back dock comes around with a big 5-gallon bucket with a bunch of holes drilled into it that looks kind of like a homemade colander. He will scoop them up with a scoop shovel, along with everything else on the floor, spray a little water on them with a hose to get the big chunks off, then dump them back there in the paw room. Of course, these get packed up right along with the ones that have been "disinfected" in the bath. They are dumped into the same bin right on top of the others that are supposed to be clean. None of them - even the so-called "disinfected ones" - are actually very clean, though.

I've seen the paw room workers have to peel the fecal matter from the paws with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Sometimes it can be done with your fingers, though. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that no "disinfectant" bath or hosing-off gets rid of all of this fecal matter. It is clumped up and dried on there on the feet like cement. Sometimes it will actually take the skin off the feet when they peel it off and throw it on the floor. A blast of water just doesn't get all of this stuff off - in fact the high pressure just drives the contamination deeper. That's why someone has to do it by hand. And no one really pays much attention to what kind of a job this person does.

I asked a supervisor one time how they could actually sell this stuff to people for food with a good conscience. She just laughed and told me, "There's too damn many Chinamen over there anyway. What's it matter if a few of them die. They'll never miss them anyway." She's not down there anymore. Last I heard, she was night-shift superintendent at another plant. Makes me wonder how much more damage she is doing now with the increased authority. But, that goes to show you the type of "team player" that Tyson likes to promote.

I also knew a guy that worked in there in the paw room that dipped Copenhagen snuff, just like I used to do. He tried to keep him a spit can for awhile, but that never worked out. So, he just started spitting in the bin of paws. These were the ones that were about to be shipped out. I knew several other people that smoked in there that let their ashes fall on them. There were other incidents of things getting on the paws, but I won't go into them all here. I have my reasons for that.

The point is that this was behavior that occurred on someone's food, and no one seemed to care about that fact. There was no real inspection. There was only selective enforcement of the rules pertaining to this behavior. If they wanted rid of you for some reason, they would use these rules to do so. Otherwise, you could pretty well get away with anything you wanted to. You just had to be a "team player."

I don't ever remember seeing an inspector going into the paw room. Not one single time.

Sounds yummy, huh? I wouldn't eat one of them, even if I was starving. And I can't imagine the Chinese people doing so if they knew about this. I hope they stick to their guns on this one and make sure that if they are going to eat these nasty things, that they get the same sort of inspection that our food does, even if that level is woefully inadequate. At least it is something.

Perhaps the Chinese should just quit eating such nasty things at all. I think that they just don't understand what the inside of a factory farm chicken house over here looks like. Because I just can't imagine that they don't care about this. I know that I would.

Wouldn't you?
Posted by: # Virgil / 9:28 AM 0 comments

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Channel Islands Disasters - A Plea From a Reader 

I have offered before to other people the chance to use this blog to get the word out about problems that need addressing. You have probably noticed that I have done this for Dave Louthan, among others. Well, now there is a young woman in one of the groups I am a member of that wrote about a problem in her area that she felt needed addressing. When I read her post in that group, I contacted her by email to find out if she was interested in having her issue posted here to gain more attention to it. She was quite interested, so here is her post (only edited slightly for typos and capitalization of words that were needing it to make it more readable - the words themselves that she used, as well as her grammar, have not been edited or changed by me at all - they are all hers):

I live in California, and off of our coast is an island chain called
the Channel Islands. I don't know how many of you have heard of this
group of islands, but one of its popular/well known parts is
Catalina. I am speaking of the other, unpopulated islands which I
know and have loved for my entire life. To know my love for these
islands, you would have to know my family and how I was raised. when
I was 7, about 8 years ago, these islands were privately owned and
managed very well. I knew the care takers, and they were my friends.
Soon the national park service decided that they wanted to buy the
islands and return them to their natural state. Many endangered
species live on these islands, such as the bald eagle, the island fox,
various rodents and numerous birds. The iron wood tree grows ONLY on
these islands. The park service attempted to buy Santa Cruz, the
largest of the islands, but the owners would not sell, so the park
service sued the owners for the "smuggling of ancient artifacts,"
those of the Native Americans that lived there so long ago. The
service won the case and received the islands as payment. After this,
they began to remove all 'unnatural' species from the islands.
Sometime in the 50's, farmers brought sheep out to raise. The park
service allowed hunters to come out and eradicate every last sheep.
The hunters did not take the carcasses, but rather the heads and left
the islands covered with sheep bodies. My family saved 2 lambs, but
the rest were brutally murdered. Now the island fox were always doing
poorly on Santa Cruz, and there was a slight rise after the sheep were
eradicated. But soon there was a great rise in the number of golden
eagles because they began to flock out to the meat source. The eagles
are now in danger of being shot because they are 'unnatural' too,
though they flew out there themselves. There is much more to this
story than I am telling you - for the most part of it is kept hidden
from the public.

Another species they are trying to eradicate are the feral boars.
Two families of boars roam Santa Cruz - three adolescents were released
there, and one was named Harry. Harry was the sweetest wild boar ever.
He was just like a dog, he loved being pet on the belly, and he would
roll over and just follow me around. Last time I ventured out to his
beach we found him dead, a bullet wound in his hide, and his head
was gone. I know I may be young to all of you, but I care just as
much about all animals as many of you do. I wish there was something
I could do, but I just seem so small compared to the rest of the
world. My dad is with me on this one, but I don't know anyone else
that knows of this situation, where the national park service is more
of a hindrance than a help.

If you wish to offer help and/or advice, then her email address is jerber2713@yahoo.com (Yes, she asked me to include it here as she needs all the help she can get.)

**NOTE** I remind readers that if you are in a similar situation and need an issue addressed, then just shoot off an email to me, and I will see what I can do to help you. I don't mind the occasional use of this blog as a platform for other activists to use to speak out about an issue that they are personally aware of and needing help with. I won't post all the alerts I receive from activists, though, because there are many groups and lists to do that on that are dedicated to doing just that, with members that are signed up to do that very thing for you. So, don't send me petitions and action alerts from organizations. I get those every day through the groups I am a member of.

But, if you have a local issue that isn't being covered, and you have nowhere else to turn for help, then go ahead and write me on it, spelling out in detail what the problem is and preferably what can be done about it, especially if you are taking steps and just need a little help getting the word out. This won't be a regular thing featured here. This is still my blog for me to write my own comments in, so regular readers have nothing to fear. This won't degenerate into an action-alert list. However I do believe in helping the "little guy" whenever I can, even if all I end up doing is contacting a few other activists to help, rather than actually posting here on the blog about the problem.**END NOTE**

I believe that the efforts of young people like this young woman should be supported. If you can't offer anything but your moral support, she would probably appreciate hearing from you. Perhaps if she has enough emails from enough concerned citizens, something could be done to save these animals from being brutally executed. Maybe then the officials would listen. Even if it is decided that some of these animals should be removed, I'm sure that there are sanctuaries that would be glad to take them. If you are involved with a sanctuary yourself, perhaps you could contact the officials in charge of this and offer these animals a home?

Surely there are other options than simply murdering these innocent, and apparently very beloved and affectionate, animals. There are always other options. Animals should not be killed because that is the cheapest and/or most convenient solution. That is cruel and barbaric, not to mention uncaring.

I am working on another post now after reading a story in the news that I think everyone will be interested in reading. I should have it up by tomorrow. It will be another graphically gross one, though. You have been warned. I told you there were other stories buried in my memory. I just need to be prodded with a little reminder to bring them up from the depths. Remember, I spent a long time burying such things in order to be able to keep working in that hellhole. It is hard to access some of them without something to prod the old memory.

Okay. Okay. I have your curiosity up now, don't I? I'll give you a hint then.
Posted by: # Virgil / 12:48 PM 0 comments

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Cruelty vs. Caring 

Sorry that I haven't written anything here lately. I have been really busy. Most of my time on the computer lately has been talking with other activists and answering their questions in other Yahoo groups, as well as spreading info in mine. I guess I have kinda neglected this blog a bit. I'll try to do better. There are just so many hours in the day, and I spend quite a few of them just trying to scratch out a living to survive lately. It seems that I can never get through all the emails and articles that flood my inbox everyday.

So much cruelty and so little time to spend stopping it. Sad, but true.

The latest thing that has been bugging me the most, though, is the deer killings up in Akron, Ohio. You heard about these yet? It's despicable. Let me just go ahead and show you what has arrived in my inbox on this issue so that we are on the same page here:

Dear Friends,

I guess I should be used to it by now - the corruption of public officials - but I'm not - I'm pissed. Yesterday I met with Ray Dixon, Chief Ranger for Akron's Metro Parks. I asked for the return of our undercover surveillance equipment taken by Metro Parks rangers to keep us from getting the truth out about the murder of deer in Akron. Dixon refused to return our equipment, although he could not state that any rule or law that was broken by our undercover video operation.

It must have been a hilarious sight a couple days ago. Imagine a bunch of tree police running around the Metro Parks, climbing every hill and crawling through every valley, checking under every rock and behind every tree for a dreaded camera that might expose them as the animal abusers they are. Imagine as they began finding one camera after another, wondering if the rising number of cameras would ever stop. The tree police grabbed eight of our cameras, while we retrieved the rest. They seized well over $5,000 worth of equipment, which they now refuse to return.

With the video operation over, we contacted Akron/Cleveland media. At this point two television stations have covered the story numerous times, and two newspapers should have a story today. Predictably, Metro Parks spokespeople are claiming that all the deer were instantly killed, the truth be damned. Metro Parks also denies any abuse to their victims. That's something to focus in on for one moment.

The footage of what happened will soon be on a website for everyone to see. It shows beautiful, innocent deer drawn to baited sites. The animals are not afraid of the killers. In fact, the killers have been feeding the deer to train them to come to the slaughter, so now the deer actually react with joyful anticipation when the killers arrive.

In return for the trust of the deer, the murderers of Metro Parks and White Buffalo, the serial animal killers contracted for the slaughter, blast their victims one after the other. The deer in most cases stand there in confusion long enough for the killers to plug a number of them. But as utterly disgusting as this is, it gets even worse. Our footage shows numerous deer that continue to move after being shot. This movement continues not just for seconds, but for some minutes, until the deer is removed from camera view.

There is one particular deer that will be the litmus test for integrity, honesty and dignity in Akron. The victim is one of three deer shot. The deer went down when shot, but continued to struggle for life. Instead of shooting the deer again, the killers allowed the animal to writhe in pain, and the struggling increased as four members of the killing team approached the victim.

A minute and a half after the deer was shot, as the deer continues to struggle, one of the killers grabs the deer by an ear, pulls her head up, and puts a plastic bag over her head. He then tightens the bag around her neck. Understandably the deer begins to struggle more. At two and a half minutes after being shot, another killer grabs the deer by the hind leg, and she goes ballistic. His reaction is to retighten the bag around her neck. Then, with the deer still moving, the killer grabs her by the neck and pulls her out of camera view.

Last night, television news stations interviewed a wimpy Metro Parks spokesperson named Mike Johnson who claimed that all deer shot were killed instantly. He said, "We are following our sharpshooting program to the letter. I saw nothing disturbing." In response, a SHARK investigator remarked, "I wonder what it takes to disturb an animal abuser."

It must be mentioned that the footage of the deer is so disturbing that both television stations have refused to show it in its entirety, and have said so in their reports. The television crews included present and former hunters, all of whom were appalled and outraged at what they saw, recognizing the treatment of the deer as incompetent, unethical and totally unacceptable. So it is interesting that Metro Parks and its wimp spokesperson Mike Johnson see "nothing disturbing." It says a lot about their character -- or the lack thereof. And it proves yet again that those willing to abuse an animal will be willing to lie about it.

And where is Anthony DeNicolla and his White Buffalo in all of this controversy? Nowhere that we can find. They continue to murder their victims in secrecy, for a price, knowing that the last thing they want to do it tangle with us. Well, we will tell them here and now that they will tangle with us again, and again, and again.

Where are we now? Ranger Dixon told me that local prosecutors are trying to find a way to press charges against me. Interestingly, when SHARK investigator Pat Vinet called the Summit County prosecutor's office and spoke to County Prosecutor Douglass J. Pouley, he told her he knew nothing about the matter and planned on having no involvement whatsoever. Imagine that - we were apparently lied to by the Metro Parks! Who woulda thunk it?

I must say that most people we talked to love the deer. It seems to be mainly the "authorities" who have a lust for innocent blood. The deer are not starving. They are fat and healthy. The parks are also healthy and beautiful, save for the merciless killers running around and stinking the place up.

In closing, I am asking that you contact the Akron mayor and city council again and demand that they stop this slaughter, and begin an investigation into the deer kill program and the conduct of those involved.

Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic
Suite 200 Municipal Building
166 South High Street
Akron, Ohio 44308
Phone: 330-375-2345
Fax: 330-375-2468
Email: Mayor@ci.akron.oh.us (your postal address is required for a response from the mayor)

Council Office
166 South High Street - Room 301
Akron, OH 44308
Phone: 330-375-2256
Fax: 330-375-2298

Kindest Regards,

Steve Hindi

There's more, but that is the gist of it. They did send me another email letting me know that their new site on this issue was up - AkronDeerTorture.com - where they have some of the video up. now. They also told of one deer that was found that had been shot, left for dead, and then ravaged by coyotes. Pretty bad situation, if you ask me.

I have been noticing lately more of a trend toward caring about animals by a larger segment of the public. This is a good thing. Usually activists like me (and maybe you) only hear about the bad news. I gave you a small dose of that on a recent post, sharing just a few of the worst abuses I read about.

I also have come across a few activists lately that have been getting a bit disheartened, teetering on burn-out, wondering if all this effort is worth it, and if we are really accomplishing anything at all. I told them that we were, even if it sometimes doesn't feel like it.

One of these people runs a sanctuary for pigs. They have adopted 7 pigs to add to the rescued potbellies they were normally focusing on. People have wondered why, when 7 is only a drop in the bucket. Well, to those 7 pigs, it made a huge difference, I'm sure. Also, the person told me that these pigs serve as ambassadors to the public, showing them what pigs are like in their natural surroundings, as opposed to being confined to a factory farm. That definitely makes a difference, too.

Every small thing we accomplish makes a difference. Every person we get to crack open their mind is a wonderful accomplishment. Every person that changes their life to respecting the right of animals will also be having a positive influence on the attitudes of others. Kind of like a snowball effect. It's the natural next step in our evolution process.

We don't need to exploit animals for our survival anymore, so why should we?

And I don't want to hear any more of, "Well, that's just the way things are. That's the way they always have been."

That's a cop-out. A big one. What if our society had said the same about slavery, civil rights, womens' rights? If we do not progress, we stagnate. Without positive change, we are stuck in a rut. We can do better, so it follows that we should do better. It's really that simple.

Let me share one piece of good news with you that came in my inbox this morning. Apparently, a city over in Italy has passed an animal rights bylaw. Check the story out here.

See, good things are happening. We just hear more about the bad.
If you are a fellow activist, don't get discouraged. I, of all people, know how easy it is to start feeling that way. But then, when I seem to get the most down, I receive an email from a reader thanking me for speaking up, offering their support, and/or telling me how much my words have changed their life. Then I get inspired all over again to keep right on fighting.

Did you know that their is a band that has made a cd lately that wrote a whole song caled, "Why Vegan?" They tell you why. Their name is Beloved Binge. Check them out. They sent me a copy of their cd. The music was quite a bit different than what I am used to (growing up with nothing but country and later a little classic rock thrown in), but, surprisingly to me, I actually did like some of it. And, hey, they even donate a percentage of their profits to a good cause. They are great people doing great things.

Change is happening, even if it's only lots of "little" changes in lots of "little" people's lives. But, it's not. Some of them are big changes happening to "big" people, too. As Bob Dylan used to sing, "The times, they are a-changin'."

Things didn't get this bad overnight, and they won't get better overnight, either. I've had to realize this myself. I can understand the frustration that has driven some of those in the movement to take direct action. (**DISCLAIMER**Before anyone starts wanting to send me a hate-mail, or any of the law enforcement people decide to start tapping my phone or intercepting my email, calling me a "terrorist," I said I understand it. I am neither condoning nor condemning any illegal activities. I am staying out of that discussion as it is not something that I am involved with. I just spread the news, not make it. Ok? Ok.)

Take heart, people. The world is changing for the better. We may hear about more horrific things happening in all corners of the globe, but did you ever stop to consider that these things have gone on for a very long time, even if we never heard about them? With the Internet connecting people everywhere, it is much harder for things like this to go unreported.

The world has not necessarily gotten that much meaner. There are still plenty of good people left in it. Aren't you one of them? I certainly hope so. And, what about your friends and family?

Do you do your best every day to try to make the choices that will make this a better world?

And, if not, then why not? If so, then good for you! Glad to have you on my side. And, ultimately, on the side of us all, even those who don't want to listen. We are making it a better world for them, too.

We are all making a difference in this world, even if all we do is to choose not to eat the carcass of a dead animal today. That's one more animal that didn't die for nothing in a horrible way after a horrible life. Isn't that, in fact, making a difference?

One of the people I correspond with a lot in my group has an interesting statistic in her signature:

A mere 10% reduction in meat consumption by Americans would free up enough land to grow 12 million tons of grain – enough to save the 20 million people who starve to death on our planet each year.

Are you part of that 10% reduction? And, if not, then why not?

Each of us does have the power to change the world. It's up to us whether that power will be used to better it or worsen it.

I sure hope you make the right choices in your life today. Even if it is only for a day, you have done something. Then you can maybe start thinking about how much more you can easily do. It's really not so hard.

Posted by: # Virgil / 9:07 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Dave Louthan Speaks Again - and So Do I 

Dave Louthan wrote me again. But, before I get into what he said, I have a few things to say myself.

First off, I would like to point out an article I read a couple of days ago that proves the very points that activists have been hollering about for years. This describes the report that the GAO did on the enforcement of the humane slaughter law. Or, perhaps I should say, non-enforcement. According to the report, the inspectors are still not enforcing the humane slaughter act, even though there has been more funding approved and orders to devote more resources to enforcing it.

One of the things they found wrong was the fact that there is a lack of enforcement on making sure that the animals are stunned before killing them, skinning them, and cutting them up into pieces. Isn't that what activists everywhere have been screaming about?

Instead of following the recommendations that Congress gave to hire 50 more inspectors when they approved an additional $5 million for this purpose, the department only increased the time spent by the existing inspectors enforcing the humane slaughter. Congress approved that money to set up a separate group of inspectors whose sole purpose would have been to enforce humane slaughter laws, as opposed to having the ones responsible for making sure that not too much hair, feces, worms, etc. are on the meat doing it.

**NOTE** Of course, you must keep in mind that chickens are NOT covered under this law, so nothing is done about this in chicken slaughter plants. This is why the workers at Tyson were able to get away with blowing up chickens with dry ice bombs, among the many other horrible things they did that I detailed early in the archives of this site.

Also, you might be interested in this article, which tells us that the USDA lied to the public about how much meat was actually contaminated when they found that mad cow. Nearly four times as much as they admitted was sent out to stores all over the place, but they claim that the secrecy was necessary "to gain cooperation from businesses...because that information is considered proprietary."

Well, I'm sure that makes the people who ate that crap feel so much better.

This article talks about how many times 15 firms in Washington state broke the rules on making sure that feed doesn't contain BSE material.

Want to know something else? The USDA doesn't even have the power to force a company to recall a tainted product! All they can do is recommend it and impose sanctions on the company if they refuse. Of course, since the BSE scare, several consumer groups and members of Congress have pushed to make recalls mandatory, but those rules have not changed one bit. It is still up to each company's good graces to recall their tainted products before they sicken, or even kill, consumers. And, it's apparently up to them to tell you who has them. Luckily, there were some grocery stores and restaurants that did post notices that they had received the BSE-tainted beef, (although quietly and discreetly), but the rest just shipped it right on out without saying a word. Doesn't that make you feel oh so very confident in the safety of our food supply?

I watched the video of Dave Louthan's testimony the other day. You can also find it on his site if you want to see more of what he has to say. (You have to have RealPlayer to see it.) You ought to hear what he told them in that testimony. Things about cows having broken - or even missing! - legs, being starved and dehydrated, and other - even worse - horrors that the poor things face as they are dragged by chains into holding pens and in and out of trucks. There is a lot more to the story of how those cows are treated than you will ever hear about in the news. A whole lot more. Terrible things happen to those cows that you hear discussed as "downers." As long as they are alive, they can use them. It doesn't much matter what shape they are in, as long as they are still breathing.

It is just awful to think that a so-called civilized society allows such treatment of the animals it kills for food. If you do end up watching that video, remember that these practices he outlines happen every day, and that every person that buys and consumes meat is supporting such atrocities with every bite they take.

Another article I read this week detailed the story told by a senior scientist at the Department of Agriculture that told of top officials pressuring the scientists to approve meat for sale to the unsuspecting public before the safety of it could be confirmed. Check out this excerpt from the article:

The senior scientist said department researchers had been pressured by Veneman's office to approve cattle from Mexico at risk of tuberculosis, pears from China with fungus problems and, in August, boneless meat from Canadian cattle, calves, sheep and goats as well as hunters' kills.

There is a lot more to that story, so I recommend that you check it out if you haven't already. It will give you a much better picture of how tight the inspectors' hands are tied by the officials over them. I always said that it really wasn't the fault of most of the inspectors on the line. Most of them do the best they can. But they are penalized for stopping the almighty production line without a very good reason - and sometimes even with it. I saw people get replaced at Tyson for doing just that. You either go along with things and play the game or they get rid of you. It's that simple.

Public health be damned! Production and profits rule the roost! Gotta keep those priorities straight. Let me give you an idea of how just one company - Tyson, the world's biggest - does business before I continue.

John Tyson has a golf course to build, even as Tyson closes plants and lays off workers. Not to mention their practices of screwing over union workers, hog farmers, and cattlemen, as well as poisoning communities and kids. John Tyson is apparently even screwing over stockholders, more than doubling his pay even as profits and stock prices fell. Gotta build that golf course, after all. It's obvious where his priorities are. His profits in his pockets!

Why in the world does anyone do business with this company? And why would anyone believe a single word they say? They are ruthless profiteers that care only about money. That should be obvious to you by now. The evidence is mounting. They can't discredit everybody, like they tried (unsuccessfully) to do to me. At least the majority of people saw through their lies and believe the truth I was telling. I imagine that there are those that didn't believe me then (or didn't want to) that have changed their minds as the evidence continues to pile up against them.

Now, if you want to see the recommendations given to new inspectors, then click on this site. Not very appetizing, is it? And, it also shows the lack of power these people really have in those plants. It is a clear illustration of how so much tainted meat gets out there in the first place and why the humane slaughter laws are routinely and repeatedly violated every day of the week.

Another thing that has been going on is that Creekstone Farms has announced that it wants to conduct the same rapid BSE tests used elsewhere in the world on 100% of the cattle they process, without it costing the government a dime. They said that they will pay for it, and the companies they sell to are willing to pay a little more for this to happen. Japan has already agreed to buy their products if they implement this plan, which will cost the less than they are losing ($80,000/day) in business right now. They estimate only a cost of $20 per cow. That's not much per pound, considering that the average cow weights about 500 lbs. Predictably though, the USDA, National Meat Association, and the American Meat Institute have all come out against this idea.

I figure it's because if they allow this one company to do this, then everyone will be pushing for the rest of the industry to do the same. Which, of course, is exactly what should happen. There are countries, like Japan, that won't buy our beef until we do that. So, doesn't it make sense to do it? Well then, why won't they?

Well, the USDA says it is afraid of "false-positives." In other words, they don't want any more tests to come back positive. They know that if they start testing all the cows, then they will find more BSE. That is a big nightmare for them economically, not to mention the reduction in confidence of the safety of the food supply of the public. They would obviously rather gamble with public health than do the right thing to assure that the products sold to feed families are safe. They are scared to death of finding more cases. I saw a quote somewhere made by an official to the effect of "One BSE-infected cow is an isolated incident, two is a pandemic."

And, btw, there are high-risk parts still going into the food supply. Don't believe me? Then check this out for yourself. Anything with beef broth is a source, as well as other products. Scary, huh?

I have never been so happy to be a vegetarian as I am now. I don't have to worry about stuff like this. Although, I am likely to be a little less likely to eat out anymore. I had never even considered that the forks used in restaurants that have been used by other diners could have the prions on them before reading something about that this past week. It never even crossed my mind as being a possibility. How scary! Wouldn't it be ironic if a strict vegetarian/vegan was to get BSE from a fork that had been used to eat a piece of meat? I'll eat at home, thank you very much. Our forks here aren't being stabbed into the corpses of dead animals on a regular basis. Can't say the same for forks in restaurants that serve beef every day to other diners. I wonder how many other veggie people know about this? Maybe I should start bringing my own fork with me when I eat out. But, what about the plates? Wouldn't they also be possibly contaminated? Maybe I'll just stay home and eat. Cheaper anyway. I would just as soon not have my brain look like Swiss cheese. Nope. Doesn't sound like much fun at all.

Okay, okay, enough of my rambling for now. I guess you are waiting to see what Dave Louthan had to say this time, so I'll get on to that now.

Take it away, Dave!

Hi there Dave Louthan here. See I told ya we'd get it figured out. J.
Patrick Boyle CEO of AMI is slapping Ann Veneman around like a rag doll. Get
the Canadian border open and do it now. He says he wants to do it to spur
all foreign countries into buying our meat but the fact is he's got a lot of
beef standing up there eating hay and getting to fat to sell. I told
everybody the meat people only had until calving season to get this fixed.
That time is now upon us. All that inventory they have been holding back to
keep the prices up must move now to make room for all the new feeders
popping out now, today. Take a drive in the country and start counting
calves. They are everywhere. The dam is breaking. J. Patrick says we're not
testing our cows and your going to eat them whether you like it or not. He's
mad. He was forced to show his hand. He's the one that pulls Ann's strings.
At a press conference at AMI friday John Stewart CEO of Creekstone Farms
said he will test all his beef whether the USDA approves or not. J.Patrick
said no your not. John Stewart said we'll have to agree to disagree.
J.Patrick said we'll have a private meeting when the reporters go home. It's
all on the Meating Place web site. Check it out.
Here's the deal. J. Patrick demands Ann Veneman declare Canada a low risk
country even though they have had a couple of mad cows already. She will do
that. All those cows will start coming down here in droves. J. Patrick will
demand the U.S. Gov't start punishing all the countries that refuse our meat
with trade embargoes, high tariffs and with holding of foreign aid. Mexico
and some of the smaller countries will cave in to pressure. Japan and South
Korea will not. There will be a huge surplus of fat cattle waiting to be
slaughtered. Prices will continue to plummet. All the smaller feedlots will
go under right away. They will demand subsidies. The American taxpayer, you,
will pick that up. The Gov't is already broke. George W. spent all the money
beating up Saddam. Higher taxes will be necessary.
In the mean time we have a whole bunch of diseased cattle the powers that be
don't want to do any thing about. They just want to play tycoon. Your not
going to get sick for a while so unlike lysteria, E-coli, and salmonella
they can simply push it under the rug in the name of Profit. If this was a
disease you got today and died tomorrow it would be a whole different ball
game. As long as Joe Average is getting his bills paid on time and watching
the evening news which is completely devoid of any MadCow reports he'll be
content to sit there munching on contaminated beef and pretend that BSE is
something that happens some where else. Besides it's perfectly safe and risk
free the Gov't said so. Time after time. When all those poor smucks start
getting sick and are laying in the hospital with tubes running out their
noses all of todays beef tycoons will be laying on private beaches in the
South Pacific sucking down Margueritas and laughing about the time they
tricked America into eating diseased meat and paying good money for the
privilege. My God why doesn't some body wake up the American people. NBC,
CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX where are you. This is your job. If you want to be the
reporters of the news stop worrying about your sponsors behave with Honor
and start damn well reporting the news. Hello there is a story here. Thank
you for your time

Remember to check out his video testimony to the Department of Agriculture on his site. You will be interested to hear the rest of the story, especially that part of it that describes how these cows are treated before they made it to the slaughterhouse. It is quite revealing. You won't hear that on mainstream media. Too graphic, no doubt.

I guess before people like Dave and I started speaking up, outside of animal activists, no one really knew how bad these things were. And, of course, most people just dismissed the stories, pictures, and videos of the animals being tortured as propaganda or as being outdated or isolated incidents. Well, none of that was true, as people are starting to realize.

You might also be interested to know that there has been a survey done to determine how much the public cares about humane treatment of the animals they use for food. Click here to read the story.

According to this survey, 75% of the American people will choose food products certified as protecting animal care over those that are not. Most would switch brands if they found out that the brand they were buying came from a company using cruel practices, with a sizable percentage of them willing to pay more for the products that have been produced humanely.

You would think that given all of the above information, that the USDA and the industry would respond to such sentiment and numbers, especially in light of their desire to resumption of the exports they seem so worried about. Why do you suppose they are dragging their feet?

Well, I'll tell you what I read a while back. They are doing it because they don't want to be perceived as caving into animal activists. That's right. They will continue to serve tainted food, not change their ways in order to resume the exports, and keep on refusing to implement a bunch of other needed changes that the public supports simply because they are hard-headed and don't want the activists to "win." They believe that it would only encourage us to do more. They would have to admit that we were right. And, of course, they would have to admit that what they are currently doing is wrong. Which, of course, we all know that it is.

The Great American Meat-Out is held every March 20. That's the day that many people everywhere give up meat (at least for a day). If you haven't done so yet, perhaps you should consider doing so. For a day, at least? Or even perhaps until the USDA and the industry make some much-needed changes? They are using statistics that show that the American people not changing their spending habits on meat as the reason for not doing anything about these problems. As long as people are buying their products, why should they change their ways?

Just think what a show of solidarity by the American public could accomplish if we all suddenly decided to boycott the industry!! We all vote with our dollars with every purchase we make.

What kind of message are you sending with your purchases????
Posted by: # Virgil / 8:41 AM 0 comments

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