My name is Brandon Bosworth. I’m a freelance writer and editor with over a decade of experience. I have worked for both local and national publications, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Over the years I have written about a wide variety of subjects, including music, film, politics, and current events. My work includes book reviews, essays, profiles of newsworthy individuals and businesses, and coverage of local happenings. I have edited materials ranging from press releases and articles to speech transcripts and book excerpts.
Bees are our friends. Sure, they’ve been prominent villains in bad movies such as The Swarm. And yes, some of us (like me) are deathly allergic to them. But let’s face it: Bees do us a big favor by pollinating plants, which allows us to enjoy those little luxuries in life such as food.
Alas, the little black and gold insects are threatened. It appears they are being killed off by a type of pesticide called neonicotinoids. (Notice a familiar, cigarette-related word there? Yes, neonicotinoids are based on nicotine.) Made by corporate giant Bayer and sold under brand names such as Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, these pesticides are used on crops of soybeans and corn.
According to the New York Times, these pesticides “permeate all of the plants’ systems,” leading to bees and other pollinating insects absorbing the poison and carrying it back to their hives or nests. This is bad news for the bees. The Environmental Protection Agency knows it, but hasn’t done anything about it yet.
The livestock industry is nothing if not wily when backed into a corner. Just look at what’s happening in Washington state. Washingtonians for Humane Farms have started a signature drive to put an initiative on the state ballot requiring egg producers to provide each egg-laying hen with at least 1.5 square feet of space, enough to allow her to extend her wings fully and turn around freely.
The measure, called the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, has been assigned the number 1130. Even though no one has had the chance to vote on the measure yet, Washington poultry concerns have already responded by introducing their own, watered-down bit of legislation.
SB 5487 pretends to be an animal welfare bill. Really, it just introduces some minor improvements, and doesn’t go nearly far enough, or as far as 1130. Essentially, it just codifies the practice of battery cages, and requires new cages to be just a little larger. Notice the word “new.” Only those cage systems installed after August 1, 2011 would be affected by SB 5487.
Just what the fading jewel of the New Jersey seashore needs: a big dose of animal cruelty. Yes, the rodeo has come to Jersey.
At first, it’s a puzzling development. After all, New Jersey isn’t exactly known for its cowboys and ranches. Places like Alberta, Canada, at least have some sort of historical rationale for their own festivals of animal abuse. The new Atlantic City rodeo is — like most animal cruelty — a result of pure, unadulterated greed.
You see, it seems the casinos just aren’t doing so well. According to the AP, “revenue in the nation’s second-largest gambling market fell by 6.7 percent in March, the second straight month the decline was measured in single digits.” So, in a desperate money-grubbing venture, all the Atlantic City casinos colluded to launch the Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo.
Canada is a pretty progressive country, except when it comes to animals. Whether it’s the continued slaughter of seals, the Canadian horse meat industry, or the celebration of cruelty known as the Calgary Stampede, Canada (like all nations) could certainly do more to help make things better for animals. Yet change has been slow coming, and proposed changes to Canadian tax laws could slow down things even more.
The Canada Revenue Agency’s recently released “proposed guidance for The Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration” would essentially deny most animal welfare and animal rights groups government status as charities. According to the CRA proposed guidelines, “Promoting the welfare of animals is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans. Purposes that benefit animals, but not humans, are not charitable.” Furthermore, “To be charitable, the benefit to humans must always take precedence over any benefit to animals.”
It gets worse.
In a sign of just how weird international trade can be in our globalized world, the UK Sunday Times reports (pdf) that “Bord na gCon, the Irish greyhound board, wants to export dogs to China as part of an international expansion that could result in it operating racing stadiums there.”
Greyhound racing is big business in Ireland, generating €500 million, or about $711 million, a year to the Irish economy. Greyhound exports alone are valued at €40 million (about $56 million) a year. Ireland exports greyhounds to nations such as the U.S., Continental Europe, Australia, and Pakistan.
Now Bord na gCon wants to export to China, a nation not known for having high standards regarding animal cruelty. “A number of countries which export greyhounds to China are already under pressure to stop because dogs that do not race well are routinely killed,” says Orla Aungier, of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “If Irish greyhounds are sent to China it would be almost impossible to monitor their welfare. We are urging Bord na gCon to reconsider their plans and to think about how devastating this move will be for the welfare of Irish greyhounds.”
Drs. Martin and Barbara Wasserman may both be graduates of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, but loyalty to their alma mater doesn’t trump the Wassermans’ concerns about animal cruelty at the illustrious institution. According to CBS Baltimore, for five years they have been trying to get Hopkins to do away with animal labs, with no success.
Now the Wassermans have filed a complaint with the city prosecutor, saying the pigs’ pain and suffering is unnecessary. They urge the school to use its state-of-the-art technology to teach future surgeons. “The law says an institution for non-research purposes can’t inflict pain unnecessarily on an animal,” Martin Wasserman said. “They have continued to not follow the current statutes.”
What goes on at Johns Hopkins that is so disturbing to the Wassermans and other animal lovers? Here’s a description from the Physicials Committee for Responsible Medicine: “A scalpel slices through a live pig. The chest is cracked open. An instructor shocks and manipulates the heart. The pig is killed.”
In a landmark ruling, a U.K. judge has ruled that a belief in animal rights is a philosophical belief akin to religion, and thus deserves protection under British employment law.
The judgement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a gardener named Joe Hashman. Hashman lost his job at Orchard Park Garden Center, of Gillingham, Dorset, over his philosophical objections to bloodsports. His tireless anti-hunting activism didn’t sit well with his employers, Sheila Clarke and Ron Clarke, who are keen supporters of foxhunting.
Hashman’s efforts on behalf of animals eventually led to his dismissal. The catalyst appears to be the conviction of celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright for illegal hunting in 2000. Dickson-Wright, former co-host of the cooking program Two Fat Ladies, was convicted of attending two hare-coursing events in March 2007. Hare-coursing, according to The Times, involves hares being “driven by beaters into a field to be chased by greyhounds,” and was outlawed under the Hunting Act of 2004.
Proving once again that Hawaii can be sorely lacking in aloha for animals, another puppy mill has been found in the City and County of Honolulu. According to KHON, 150 dogs were rescued from a breeding facility that both neighbors and authorities described as a “noisy, filthy puppy mill.” The rescue effort was led by the Hawaiian Humane Society. “The conditions are absolutely filthy,” said the Society’s Pam Burns. “There are large numbers of dogs in pens with feces spread throughout the floor, the dogs are sitting in their own waste. The water bowls are filled with feces and urine.”
What goes on in the minds of people in charge of such an operation? Here’s a hint: Victor Bakke, the attorney for the puppy mill’s breeding facility manager Dave Becker, described mature dogs as nothing more than “breeding machines.” He further said of the dogs, “They’re filthy but these are not household animals. They are equivalent to farm animals. They’re being housed, fed and bred, and that’s basically all that’s required.”
Saturday, March 5th, is the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Race organizers describe it as a “race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer.” I describe as a way to exploit dogs and get them killed in the name of humanity’s obsession with sports.
Like all animal exploitation as entertainment, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has no place in modern society. Yet plenty of corporations are perfectly willing to line up and shell-out money to sponsor the thing.
One of these corporations is Target, which courts a hip, progressive demographic, while at the same time funding gay-bashing conservatives. And despite their canine mascot, Target sponsors something called the “Iditarod Teacher on the Trail” program. In doing so, they are also sponsoring the abuse and possible deaths of countless dogs.