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Republicans Plan to Overturn All Animal Protections With One Law
EATS Act Will Wipe out All Animal Farming Regulations in the Nation

On August 5, 2021 senators Marshall, Grassley, Ernst, Cornyn, and Hyde-Smith, all from deep red states, all solid Republicans, introduced senate bill S. 2619 (IS) - Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression Act (EATS). As innocuous sounding as the title may be, this is another overt attempt by the GOP to thwart any attempts at bringing a moniker of decency to the plight of America's farm animals.

The bill aims to "prevent States and local jurisdictions from interfering with the production and distribution of agricultural products in interstate commerce." The EATS Act would grant a private right of action allowing affected persons to seek an injunction against any state or local regulation that imposes a production or manufacturing standard on agricultural products that is more restrictive than a standard at the federal level. Modeled after Texas's restrictive abortion law, it empowers individuals to sue the state or locality that requires animal farming regulations more restrictive than a federal standard established.

Here is the absolute fiendishness of the act, as there are almost no federal standards concerning animal farming agriculture, the bill will in one fell swoop wipe out each and every regulation that has been set by every state and municipality throughout the nation! Just read that sentence one more time for it to sink deeper into your consciousness.

The EATS Act is intended to invalidate California?s Proposition 12. Proposition 12 establishes minimum confinement standards for certain farm animals and bans the sale of food products from animals that are not raised in compliance with the standards, which subjects out-of-state food manufacturers selling products into California to Proposition 12. Several legal challenges questioning its constitutionality were already filed against the proposition by the animal farming and meat industries. They were all dully dismissed by the courts. The rulings raised alarms in GOP circles; that states would be able to legislate the treatment of farm animals. Thus this cabal of right wing republicans got together and decided to kill the beast with a single draw.

The lives of farm animals makes for a chapter straight out of Dante's Inferno. Without elaborating too much, be it said that our treatment of these poor and harmless creatures draws from the deepest evils embedded in the human soul. With the federal government held at bay via the senate filibuster rule and the complete lack of any conscience by elected republicans, the heavy lifting in the arena has been done by the states. Now the GOP has decided enough is enough, they will try and kill all regulations in the nation with this one action. We can only hope and pray the Democratic Party will stay true to the animals and block the EATS act in its tracks. Please oppose the EATS act as best you can, especially if you live in one of the states of the aforementioned several senators. Maybe the GOP should change its name to the Cruel and Heartless Party!

The opinions expressed are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.

Social media is reducing climate change debates to your views on veganism
Climate change is here and it will affect your eating habits
Online debates over the environmental impact of eating meat are getting heated

Ten years ago, when we ranked the most controversial articles on Wikipedia, George W. Bush was at the top of the list with global warming at number five. The article on global warming has now been re-titled as climate change, but this remains among the most polarising issues of our time – and one frequently debated on social media.

This might seem like it’s due to the way climate change is often presented primarily as a political issue: something you can choose whether or not to support. But perhaps it’s as much a result of the way social media works. Our recent research shows that polarisation on social media is mathematically inevitable.

What’s more, this polarisation is allowing online discussions about climate change to be overridden by culturally-focused arguments about things like diet. This appears to be further cementing the idea that climate change is a matter of ideology, making it harder to convince people to support action to tackle it.

The fact that it’s so easy to unfriend or unfollow people you disagree with on social media has accelerated the formation of online echo chambers to the extent that even an algorithmic tool designed to break the bubbles won’t be able to help.

We bring the expertise of academics to the public.
Don’t get us wrong: we’re big fans of social media and most likely have already tweeted this article by the time you read it. Social media can be seen as a marketplace of ideas, providing an open forum to exchange facts and opinions and, importantly for scientists, to inform the public about their research. But polarisation can ruin it for everyone.

An example of this relates to the UK bakery chain Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, which ignited days of social media turmoil when it was introduced to the UK in January 2019 to coincide with Veganuary, a month-long UK-based charity campaign designed to encourage veganism. Veganuary-oriented social media discussions that year were dominated by arguments over the sausage roll’s relative merits.

To understand the extent of this interference, we analysed about half a million tweets posted between 28 December 2018 and 28 January 2019 containing any of the hashtags “#vegan”, “#veganuary” and “#veganuary2019” to map out the prevalence of extreme opinions among the tweets.

Around 30% of the tweets we analysed were firmly pro-vegan, while 20% of tweets used Veganuary-related hashtags to express their protest against veganism. More importantly, many Twitter users who tweeted about Veganuary explicitly said if it wasn’t for the Greggs story, they wouldn’t have gotten involved.

On one hand, bringing extra attention to the campaign might be considered a blessing. On the other, the polarised nature of online arguments disproportionately focused on the issue of the vegan sausage roll.

This shifted what could have been a fruitful and logical discussion around the pros and cons of veganism towards unproductive fights centred around perceived threats to people’s identities tied up with what they do or don’t eat and what that means. Many quickly took sides, refusing to engage in conversation and instead attacking the personal qualities or intelligence of the “other side”.

This conflict surfaced again on social media a few months later, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-endorsed organisation, published its Special Report on Climate Change and Land in August 2019. In order to gauge the level of public engagement with the report, we collected all tweets sent in August 2019 which contained the phrase “IPCC”. We then used software to analyse the content of some 6,000 tweets in English in order to extract the main topics of discussion.

We found that not only were a large portion of the tweets in response to the IPCC report specifically about diet, but these tweets contained the most toxic and polarised language in the sample. This is even more surprising when considering that diet was only mentioned briefly in the original IPCC report, without any explicit recommendations about meat or dairy consumption.

Evidence like this suggests that diet and cooking are now forming the core of a new culture war around climate.

This could be catastrophic for climate action. Politicians and policy makers traditionally tend to avoid issues that are culturally controversial, and polarisation of public opinion has been shown to weaken politicians’ accountability when it comes to making major decisions.

A map of Twitter users and those they retweet, from our Veganuary dataset. Author provided
Our work recently published in Climatic Change shows how tools such as computational topic modelling and sentiment analysis can be used to monitor public discourse about topics like climate events, diet and climate policies. This could help policymakers plan more engaging communication strategies: in other words, to help them read the room.

Both scientists and science communicators who discuss reports like that produced by the IPCC must understand, and anticipate, the likelihood of emotionally charged, potentially negative responses to such polarising issues as climate change – as well as specific areas of polarisation, such as diet, that are currently more popular. This way, they can work to communicate key information in ways that allow readers to focus on what really matters.

*** Taha Yasseri is an Associate Professor at the School of Sociology and a Geary Fellow at the Geary Institute for Public Policy at University College Dublin, Ireland. Formerly he was a Senior Research Fellow in Computational Social Science at the Oxford Internet Institute, a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science, and a Research Fellow in Humanities and Social Sciences at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Taha Yasseri has interests in analysis of large-scale transactional data and conducting experiments to understand human dynamics, government-society interactions, mass collaboration and collective intelligence, information and opinion dynamics, collective behaviour, and online dating.

The opinions expressed are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.

Republished under Creative Commons license. Originally published by The Conversation. Original article may be found by clicking here.

As Bad as It Gets
Jeffrey Nally goes from nasty to bad to worse
Jeffrey Nally Jr

In 2011, there was a news story about Jeffrey Nally Jr., a young man from New Cumberland, West Virginia, who’d been arrested for obtaining dogs from “Free to Good Home” ads and then torturing the animals to death. Many of the victims were puppies. When police were tipped off, they found the remains of 29 dogs and a cat on his property, as well as an eyewitness, because he'd been holding his girlfriend captive and terrorizing her.

Fortunately, the prosecutor in the case, Jim Davis, is a dog lover and really cared. He worked tirelessly to be the voice for Nally’s helpless and innocent victims, and with some help from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, was able to have the man sentenced to 10-45 years in prison. A sentence that’s almost unheard of in animal cruelty cases. That fact didn't get past Nally, who brought an action against Davis and Judge Jason Cuomo, claiming that 'his Equal Protection rights were violated because he received felony counts for animal cruelty.  That others accused of the same crimes have been charged with misdemeanors and/or have received more lenient sentences.'

Nally lost that case, and came up for parole in June of 2021, but that bid for early release was also refused. It's nice to think that the petition, letters, and postcards that advocates sent to the West Virginia Parole Board before his hearing helped them to make this decision.

Nally's crimes may be unique, in that he was a serial offender, consciously and purposefully seeking out one helpless victim after another, and stated that killing the dogs 'made him feel good.'
His reasoning behind his attempted action against the prosecutor and Judge underscore that he has no remorse.

Penalties and laws against animal abuse have been changing in recent years, and for good reason. Psychiatric and humane professionals agree: animal abusers are five times more likely to move on to commit other violent crimes like assault and murder. In Jeff Nally’s case, he had already served time for domestic assault.

Nally poses a danger to others and he should remain behind bars to serve his entire sentence. Now that he's been passed over for parole once, he will be reviewed every two to ten months for the remainder of his sentence. His next hearing is in November of this year -- only a month away!

Advocates need to keep the pressure on. That’s why this is a CALL TO ACTION. Here's how you can help:

Sign the petition on Change.org and then share it via your social media.

• Write a letter to the WV  Division of Corrections parole board asking them to deny Jeffrey Nally early parole. You should address your letter to “Honorable Members of the Parole Board“. Tell them you’d like for them to deny parole for Jeffrey A. Nally, Offender #3507601. He is currently being held at McDowell County Correctional Facility.

Ask that Nally  be given a “set-off” and be required to serve his full sentence. Tell the parole board why you think Nally is a danger to society, and how you feel about his cruel crimes. Sign your letter and mail it to:

Parole Board
WV Division of Corrections
1356 Hansford St. Suite B
Charleston, WV 25301

Neither the offender nor his attorney will see your letter — only the parole board. Personal letters carry the most weight with the parole board, but if you need help, there are sample letters you can copy and paste on the Facebook page JUSTICE FOR 29 PUPS.

• If you are an individual or a member of a group who wants postcards to pass out, please send an email to thewoof7@gmail.com with your mailing address and the number of postcards you think you’d be able to get others to sign and mail.

• If you are an official of a rescue or humane group who updates your members with emails or a newsletter, please share this article with your readers.

• Share this article with your contacts on social media.

*** Ariel is an animal advocate who uses her art and writing to advocate for animal welfare legislation and to rally support of tougher laws for animal cruelty

The opinions expressed are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.

Live Animal Markets Should Be Closed to Prevent the Next Pandemic
Wet markets are perfect breeding grounds for pathogens that can jump from animals to humans.
Typical photo of a wet market in Yangon, China

The exact origin of the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which started the COVID-19 pandemic, is still unclear. Early reports suggested that the virus jumped from an animal to a human at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a “wet market” that sells live animals. On March 30, the international team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report of their recent visit to Wuhan to investigate the source of the virus and confirmed the “zoonotic source of SARS-CoV-2.” “Evidence from surveys and targeted studies so far have shown that the coronaviruses most highly related to SARS-CoV-2 are found in bats and pangolins, suggesting that these mammals may be the reservoir of the virus that causes COVID-19,” the WHO report states. “In addition to these findings, the high susceptibility of mink and cats to SARS-CoV- 2 suggests that additional species of animals may act as a potential reservoir. … Several samples from patients with exposure to the Huanan market had identical virus genomes, suggesting that they may have been part of a cluster.”

Virologists believe that these sites, which bring together a variety of live animals into close contact with humans, are ideal places for this sort of interspecies viral transmission. In 2002, for example, scientists identified the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in Himalayan palm civets, a small mammal, in wet markets in Shenzhen in southern China. SARS-CoV-2 is a strain of SARS.

“While there remains a need for more investigation, we are not surprised about the wildlife origin referenced in the report and we know enough to act now to reduce risks of future zoonotic pandemics,” said Dr. Christian Walzer, chief global veterinarian of the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a press statement. “Some 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases reported globally are zoonoses, causing about 1 billion cases of human illness and millions of deaths every year. Of the more than 30 new human pathogens detected in the last three decades, 75 percent have originated in animals. Importantly, research has shown zoonotic-origin pathogens increase along the supply chain from source to market.”

Wet markets are “unique epicenters for transmission of potential viral pathogens, [where] new genes may be acquired or existing genes modified through various mechanisms such as genetic reassortment, recombination and mutation,” according to a paper written by a team of microbiologists from the University of Hong Kong and published in the journal Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases in 2006. They add that these markets, “at closer proximity to humans, with high viral burden or strains of higher transmission efficiency, facilitate transmission of the viruses to humans.”

“Once you walk into one of these places, it’s quite obvious why they’re called wet markets,” said Jason Beaubien, NPR’s global health and development correspondent, on the radio station’s “Morning Edition” show last year. “Live fish in open tubs are splashing water all over the place. The countertops of the stalls are red with blood as fish are gutted and filleted right in front of the customers’ eyes. There are live turtles and crustaceans climbing over each other in boxes. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. So things are wet.”

In January, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Fred Upton (R-MI) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to address the public health risks posed by wildlife markets, called the Preventing Future Pandemics Act (H.R. 151). The bill “prohibits importing, exporting, purchasing, or selling live wild animals in the United States for human consumption as food or medicine.”

It also directs the Department of the Interior to “hire, train, and deploy at least 50 new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement attachés around the world.” Additionally, the bill obliges the United States to work with other members of the United Nations toward instituting a global ban on commercial wildlife markets and enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws. A companion bill, S. 37, was introduced into the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

“For the sake of our health, our economy, and our livelihoods, preventing the next pandemic before it starts is perhaps the most important thing we must do,” said Rep. Quigley. “We were thrilled with the robust, bipartisan support the bill received last year and we’re committed to building on that momentum to see this bill become law.”

In addition to their threat to public health, wet markets are sites of extreme pain and suffering for so many animals. “Wild animals sold in commercial wildlife markets endure extreme stress and unsanitary conditions before being slaughtered,” according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit based in Cotati, California, that works to pass state and federal legislation supporting animal rights. “As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, our continued exploitation of animals and our environment is fueling the next pandemic. Shutting down commercial wildlife markets—and the international wildlife trade—is critical both to reducing the risk of novel zoonotic disease and animal suffering.”

“We must acknowledge the basic tenet that the more we destroy and intrude on nature, the more likely zoonotic spillovers will occur,” said Dr. Walzer. “Zoonotic spillover events and subsequent outbreaks are inevitable, as the interfaces between wildlife and humans increase, primarily due to deforestation and agricultural expansion.”

The cruelty to animals witnessed at wet markets points to a deeper, ethical concern about how we view and treat other species. In November 2020, during an interview with Euronews, Jane Goodall, the renowned British primatologist and ethologist, said that “we, in part, brought [COVID-19] on ourselves by our disrespect of nature and our disrespect of animals.”

She added, “We push animals into closer contact with humans. We hunt them, eat them, traffic them, sell them as exotic pets around the world, we put them in factory farms in terrible close conditions and all these situations can lead to an environment where a pathogen, like a virus, can jump from an animal to a person, where it may cause a new disease like COVID-19.”

*** Reynard Loki is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He previously served as the environment, food and animal rights editor at AlterNet and as a reporter for Justmeans/3BL Media covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He was named one of FilterBuy?s ?Top 50 Health & Environmental Journalists to Follow in 2016.? His work has been published by Truthout, Salon, BillMoyers.com, EcoWatch and Truthdig, among others.

The opinions expressed are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or its affiliates.

Republished under Creative Commons license. Originally published by Citizen Truth. Original article may be found by clicking here.

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