Slaughterhouse Closed for Cruelty is Back in Business One Week Later by Piper Hoffman August 28, 2012 6:30 pm

 get causes updates Central Valley Meat Company, the California slaughterhouse that the USDA shut down for humane violations after watching a Compassion Over Killing undercover video of the plant, is open again.

Care2 reported on the shut-down on August 21, 2012, in a post titled Cows Electrocuted, Abused at California Slaughterhouse. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Aaron Lavallee, spokesman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said Monday that Central Valley Meat Co. had agreed to make a number of ‘corrective actions,’ including additional training for its workers on the humane handling of cows.

” The abuses documented on the video, which was four hours long, illustrated a culture of animal cruelty and abuse. It is difficult to imagine what kind of “corrective actions” could shift a culture so significantly that people who now view animals as objects for their sadism would come to respect them or at least treat them decently. The USDA disagrees. It has prescribed a few concrete changes to address specific kinds of torture captured on the video. As the L.A. Times and The Washington Post report, Central Valley Meat Company must: * Allow only properly trained employees to use electric or vibrating prods on its cattle * Ensure that electric prods are used sparingly, and only on muscled and well-fleshed areas and not on a cow’s face or sensitive parts * Ensure cows that are not capable of walking while being transported are humanely stunned

* Require that employees are retrained on the humane treatment of animals on a quarterly basis. One glaring gap in this list is a provision for punishment of workers who violate these rules or humane slaughter laws. Another is the assumption that humane stunning is always possible. Captive bolt guns, which slaughterhouse workers shoot into cows’ heads to stun them before slaughter, are notoriously unreliable.

One former slaughterhouse worker told The Washington Post that “dozens” of the steer who would pass by his assembly line station each day were still conscious. He cut their legs off anyway. The slaughterhouse announced that it will have better monitoring of its facilities. But during the time that the damning video was made, two USDA inspectors were on the premises full-time. No explanation is forthcoming as to how monitoring of its facilities will be improved. One of the USDA’s reasons for closing Central Valley Meat for a week was its concern that by slaughtering cows who could not walk and integrating them into the country’s meat supply, the facility may have been spreading disease.

The agency continues to investigate whether any diseases were introduced into the human food supply. Central Valley Meat will suffer some financial repercussions from recent events. In-N-Out Burger will no longer buy from the supplier, and McDonald’s and the USDA have both suspended their purchases of Central Valley meat products. The USDA, however, is open to changing its position once the company makes the changes outlined above.

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Shocking Cruel Treatment of Calves Closes Vermont Slaughterhouse

Shocking Cruel Treatment of Calves Closes Vermont Slaughterhouse by Sharon Seltzer November 3, 2009 2:08 pm

Shocking video was released last week about the cruel treatment of newborn calves, at Bushway Packing, Inc. – a slaughterhouse in Vermont. It’s hard to say which part of this story is more intolerable. The fact that these calves, who were only days old and still had their umbilical cords attached, were kicked, stunned with electrical prods and cut open while they were conscious or the fact that this slaughterhouse already had its license suspended three times earlier this year for animal abuse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture closed down Bushway Packing for a day in May, June and again in July after an inspector cited the company for inhumane treatment of animals. However, it wasn’t until the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) released an undercover video on Friday, that the government finally decided to react by shutting down the company. THE VIDEO FOOTAGE According to a release from HSUS the video shows how the calves weren’t “rendered insensible to pain” as required by law. One awful scene shows an infant making noises as his head was being severed. Another scene has one of the co-owners of Bushway Packing, Inc. repeatedly shocking a calf who could not stand up. On the tape he says, “There’s nothing wrong with you, Shitbox.” In yet another scene, workers are taped while throwing water on a calf in order to intensify the electrical current of the prods. CHARGES U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had a very strong reaction to the abuse at Bushway Packing and immediately issued an investigation. He also assured the public that he would press for criminal charges against the owners of the company. In a news release he said, “The deplorable scenes recorded in the video released by the Humane Society of the United States are unequivocally unacceptable. The callous behavior and attitudes displayed in the video clearly appear to be violations of USDA’s humane handling regulations.” The Department of Agriculture also issued an investigation into conduct of the USDA Inspector who is stationed at the slaughterhouse. Inspectors are “obligated to take immediate action” when they see behaviors that are not in compliance with federal laws. FACTS Male calves wind up at the slaughterhouse via two different routes. Some are sold to veal factory farms where they are kept until they are 4 months old. Then they are shipped to a slaughter plant. Other calves are slaughtered for “bob veal” which is the meat that ends up in hot dogs and lunch meats. These calves are sent to the slaughterhouse within a week of being born. Bushway Packing, Inc. specialized in calves used for “bob veal.” “The calves are taken away from their mothers at birth and sent, as mere infants, to the slaughter plant for immediate slaughter – to be used as “bob veal.” Without their mothers to nourish them, they are in a weakened state – hungry, lonely, confused, frightened, and in some cases, unable to stand or walk,” said Wayne Pacelle CEO of HSUS. The other greatly disturbing fact in this case is that Bushway Packing was “certified as an organic processor.” This brought a strong reaction from organic dairy farmers who supplied the slaughterhouse with their calves. Paul Stecker, an organic dairy farmer who watched the video told HSUS, “That’s not right, that’s really nasty. I wouldn’t be in this business if that’s the way it was. That’s not the norm. I can tell you that.” The whole ordeal is making dairy farmers look at an area of their industry they usually do not want to address. As an animal advocate, I sincerely hope this horrific story won’t just become “the story of the week” and slowly leave our minds as the days pass. Care2 blogger Angel F. has been writing a series of stories about the Vegan lifestyle.

Maybe now is the time to reconsider this option. Link to the HSUS Video Read more: animal welfare, bushway packing, hsus investigation calves, vermont slaughterhouse Read more:

small house/BIG GARDEN

On Monday mornning, August 27, 2012, Tropical Storm Isaac passed over Key West, enroute to the Gulf of Mexico and classification as a hurricane. During this journey, a rainband detached from her easternmost edge, and stayed for hours over Vero Beach, dumping a foot of rain.

What happened next threw me for a loop:

Front Page, Press Journal, Vero Beach, 8/28/2012

Twilight descended at 10am and deepened along with thunder unlike anything I’d EVER heard ➡ sonorous and rumbling, a persistant drone beneath gusty winds and rain that fell like sheets along a diagonal line.  If this sounds  intense and dramatic it’s meant to…it was a scary, over-the-top kind of storm. We’d been under a tornado watch since the previous late evening, which the Weather Service upgraded to “warning” between 9-11am…standard procedure during tropical storms. Typically nothing happens…typically the sky doesn’t turn green!

Unlike northern construction, southern homes are built without cellars–(we’re too close to aquifers here,) so I decided my…

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Bigger creatures live longer, travel farther for a reason
by Staff Writers
Durham NC (SPX) Aug 30, 2012

When combined, the two insights about animal body size that were examined produce a constant for the number of breaths per lifetime, Bejan says. This gives most creatures about the same number of breaths in their lifetime, but the larger, slower-breathing animals use their breaths up over a longer span of time. “So bigger means a longer lifespan,” he said. “I was looking at this enigma about body size and longevity from a point of view that hadn’t occurred to biologists,” Bejan said.

A long-standing mystery in biology about the longer lifespans of bigger creatures may be explained by the application of a physical law called the Constructal Law. What this law proposes is that anything that flows – a river, bloodstream or highway network – will evolve toward the same basic configuration out of a need to be more efficient.

And, as it turns out, that same basic law applies to all bodies in motion, be they animals or tanker trucks, says Adrian Bejan, the J.A. Jones Professor of mechanical engineering at Duke and father of the Constructal Law.

In his latest theory paper, appearing Aug. 24 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, Bejan argues that there is a universal tendency for larger things, animate and inanimate, to live longer and to travel further.

He starts his argument with an examination of the well-known observation in biology that larger animals tend to live longer. Bejan wanted to see if this general rule might apply to inanimate systems as well and proceeded to mathematically analyze the relationship in rivers, jets of air and vehicles.

He found, as a general rule, that bigger rivers are older and that larger jets of air, such as atmospheric jet streams, last longer. By his calculations, larger vehicles should also last longer, but hard evidence of that is lacking, he says, and there are outliers of course, like Subaru Justys with 300,000 miles.

By being larger and lasting longer, all of these systems also travel farther, he says.

If you look at a moving vehicle or animal simply as a mass in motion, that is, something flowing, “the spreading of the mass of vehicles and animals is completely analogous to the flow of water in river channels,” Bejan says. “It is the same design.”

Interestingly, if the body size and lifespan of known species of animals are plotted on a curve, it falls on a slope of about ¼. And then, following a different line of inquiry, if you plot the frequency of breathing to body size, that is a slope of -1/4.

When combined, these two insights about animal body size work out to a constant for the number of breaths per lifetime, Bejan says. This gives most creatures about the same number of breaths in their lifetime, but the larger, slower-breathing animals use their breaths up over a longer span of time. “So bigger means a longer lifespan,” he said. “I was looking at this enigma about body size and longevity from a point of view that hadn’t occurred to biologists,” Bejan said.

The Constructal Law governs how big an engine a truck needs and how big a heart a whale needs. “There’s no difference between a vehicle and an animal,” Bejan said. “Being larger means two things, not one: you live longer and you travel farther.”

There are, of course, notable exceptions to the rule: The 4-ounce Arctic Tern travels more than 44,000 miles a year.

“The size-effect on travel and life time is the same for the animate and the inanimate,” Bejan argues. “Everything that moves enjoys the same design.”

“Why the bigger live longer and travel farther: animals, vehicles, rivers and the winds.” Adrian Bejan, Nature Scientific Reports. Aug 24, 2012

Related Links
Duke University
Darwin Today At


New Maps May Reduce Tourism Impacts on Hawaiian Dolphins
by Staff Writers
Durham NC (SPX) Aug 30, 2012

Photo courtesy of David Johnston.

Over-eager tourists intent on seeing spinner dolphins up close may inadvertently be disturbing the charismatic animals’ daytime rest periods and driving them out of safe habitats in bays along Hawai’i’s coast. But a study led by researchers at Duke and Stony Brook universities gives scientists and resource managers a promising new tool to curb the frequency of the repeated human disturbances and help reduce their negative impacts.

“Using the maps produced through this study we can identify the bays where the effects of human activities on spinner dolphins should be monitored most closely, and where immediate conservation actions are required,” said David W. Johnston, research scientist at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The mapping models developed by the researchers indicated that only a small number of bays – 21 out of 99 – in a study area along the western coastlines of the main Hawaiian islands were suitable habitats for resting dolphins. Knowing this, Johnston said, “conservation efforts can be focused on specific areas of importance.”

“We may be able to minimize detrimental effects on dolphins by putting restrictions or preventative measures into place in a relatively small number of bays, rather than limiting access to dolphins along the entire coast,” said the study’s lead author, Lesley H. Thorne, a lecturer in marine science at Stony Brook University, who received her PhD from Duke in 2010. “That benefits tourists and tourism operators as well as the dolphins.”

To create the new mapping models, the researchers used the geographic coordinates and key environmental factors – such as water depth, the size and proportions of the bays, and proximity to deep-water foraging grounds – for hundreds of spinner dolphin sightings made throughout the study area between 2000 and 2010.

Spinners are small dolphins famed for their graceful aerial movements and balletic spins. Found in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world, coastal populations of the animals divide their time between daytime rest periods in shallow, protected bays and nighttime foraging in more exposed waters.

Distinguishing between sightings of resting and active dolphins was key to defining critical habitats, Thorne said, because while socially active spinner dolphins are more tolerant of humans’ presence, resting dolphins will leave the safety of a bay and retreat to less suitable open waters if they are repeatedly interrupted.

“Sleep is essential for most animals,” added Johnston. “When deprived of their necessary ‘zzzz’s,’ they gradually show a decreased ability to process information and remain attentive to environmental stimuli. In technical lingo, we call this a ‘vigilance decrement’.”

Spinner dolphins are no exception to the rule, he said. Over time, dolphins that are harassed by people daily during rest periods will never fully recover their vigilance decrement, and their ability to forage successfully and detect the presence of nearby predators will be degraded. Their ability to produce sounds used for communication and navigation may also be impaired.

Scientists and conservationists have long worried that spinners’ popularity with tourists – and overlap of their resting habitats with popular ocean recreation destinations – may be placing them at risk. Reports of interactions have increased sharply in recent years, but few published studies have examined the detrimental impacts these interruptions may have on the animals, especially at the population level.

“It would be next to impossible to survey spinner populations and human activities in every bay that might be a resting habitat. We’re talking about hundreds of bays in the Hawaiian islands alone,” said Thorne.

“Using predictive models, such as the maximum entropy spatial modeling approaches we’ve produced, is a much more cost-effective method,” she said. “This type of modeling has only recently been applied to the study of marine mammals, but our work suggests it may be especially useful for studies (where data is) derived from opportunistic sightings and surveys using different types of research platforms.”

Thorne and Johnston plan to test their models by conducting similar studies of spinner dolphin distributions and habitat use in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere in the Pacific islands region. Results from those studies, they said, could confirm the new models’ usefulness.

The study was published August 27in the online, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE. Johnston and Thorne’s co-authors on the PLoS ONE study include Dean L. Urban, professor of landscape ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School, and Lars Bejder, associate professor at Murdoch University, Australia, and adjunct assistant professor at Duke. The data on spinner dolphin sightings used to develop the models in the study were provided by a team of eight additional co-authors from Murdoch University, the Pacific Islands Photo-Identification Network, the Cascadia Research Collective, the Hawai’i Marine Mammal Consortium, the Hawai’i Association for Marine Education and Research, the Dolphin Institute, the University of Hawai’i (UH) at Hilo, UH at Manoa, and Marine Mammal Research Consultants.


Related Links
Nicholas School of the Environment
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics


Children at risk from rural water supplies
by Staff Writers
Norwich UK (SPX) Aug 29, 2012

File image.

Children drinking from around half the UK’s private water supplies are almost five times more likely to pick up stomach infections – according to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). Research published in the journal PLOS ONE shows children under 10 who drink from contaminated supplies are suffering around five bouts of sickness or diarrhoea a year.

This figure is similar to the rates of infection among children in the developing world.

Around 1 per cent of the UK population are served by private supplies – such as wells and boreholes. In Europe the number is as much as one in 10. And many more drink from such water supplies as visitors and while on holiday.

But half of all private water supplies in the UK do not meet…

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Japan estimates monster quake could kill 320,000
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 29, 2012

Japan’s government on Wednesday unveiled a worst case disaster scenario that warned a monster earthquake in the Pacific Ocean could kill over 320,000 people, dwarfing last year’s quake-tsunami disaster.

Tokyo’s casualty toll estimate was based on a catastrophic scenario in which a powerful undersea quake of about 9.0 magnitude sparked a giant tsunami that swamps Japan’s coastline south of Tokyo

The Cabinet Office’s hypothetical disaster would see the quake strike at nighttime during the winter with strong winds helping unleash waves that reach 34-metre (110 feet), sweeping many victims away as they slept.

Many of the estimated 323,000 victims would be drowned by the tsunami, crushed under falling objects or in fires sparked by the disaster, it said.

On March 11 last year, a 9.0 magnitude quake struck seismically-active Japan in the early afternoon…

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small house/BIG GARDEN

Haulover Canal, built in the mid-1800s, is the only connection between the Indian River Lagoon to the West and the Mosquito Lagoon to the East. Located in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the canal is a popular kayak launch site for eco-tourists:

Considered one of the most diverse estuaries in North America, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to over 3,000 different plant and animal species, like the wild boars 😯 we saw grazing at the boat ramp turn-off:

Wild Boars, Merritt Island Refuge

But we were there for other reasons, so drove off to find the kayaks:.

Our eco-guide explained what lay ahead ❗

From July through October, the lagoon comes alive at night with bioluminescence, a unique microbial phenomenon found en masse in only 4 places on earth!  Tiny marine plankton known as dinoflagellates emit a bluish-green light when disturbed. Although these algae are invisible to the naked eye, when agitated…

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