Mercy for Chickens at Perdue Farms

 

Perdue announces improvements to animal welfare policy

Animal protection organization urges poultry producers to reduce suffering
July 21, 2017  source

Perdue Farms, the nation’s fourth-largest poultry producer, has promised critical improvements to reduce suffering for chickens raised and slaughtered in its supply chain, including the following:

  • Providing chickens more floor space with plans to further reduce stocking density
  • Providing chickens six hours of darkness at night and increased light levels during the day, including natural light
  • Third-party monitoring of all processing facilities
  • Conducting more research into breeds with measurably improved welfare.

Perdue’s announcement comes just weeks after a national survey found four out of five Americans want restaurants and grocers to implement policies that eliminate the worst forms of cruelty to chickens in their supply chains.

Perdue also promised to meet the current and future demands of food companies that have committed to using only chickens raised according to Global Animal Partnership standards and slaughtered using controlled-atmosphere stunning. This is a first-of-its-kind pledge among large poultry producers.

Dozens of food companies have already made such commitments, including Burger King, Subway, Chipotle and Panera Bread, in response to consumer outcry about the cruelty inherent in factory farms and slaughterhouses that raise and kill chickens for meat.

A Mercy For Animals undercover investigation revealed workers stomping and kicking chickens to death in a Perdue facility in 2015. As a result of the investigation and discussions with Mercy For Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, and Compassion In World Farming, Perdue took its first steps toward improved chicken welfare with the release of a policy in 2016.

“Perdue’s animal welfare improvements and its promise to meet the demands of companies with progressive animal welfare policies puts other poultry producers on notice,” said Brent Cox, vice president of corporate outreach at Mercy For Animals. “It’s time for Tyson Foods, Foster Farms, and others to catch up with business trends, consumer expectations, and the latest in animal welfare science by committing to GAP standards and eliminating the worst forms of animal abuse in their supply chains.”

For more information, go to www.MercyForAnimals.org.

The best way for individual consumers to protect chickens and other farmed animals from cruelty is simply to leave them off their plates.

Milky Way Over Monument Valley–Photo

 

 

The Milky Way over Monument Valley 
Image Credit & Copyright: Tom Masterson
Explanation: You don’t have to be at Monument Valley to see the Milky Way arc across the sky like this — but it helps. Only at Monument Valley USA would you see a picturesque foreground that includes these iconic rock peaks called buttes. Buttes are composed of hard rock left behind after water has eroded away the surrounding soft rock. In the featured image taken last month, the closest butte on the left and the butte to its right are known as the Mittens, while Merrick Butte can be seen farther to the right. Green airglow fans up from the horizon. High overhead stretches a band of diffuse light that is the central disk of our spiral Milky Way Galaxy. The band of the Milky Way can be spotted by almost anyone on almost any clear night whenfar enough from a city and surrounding bright lights, but a sensitive digital camera is needed to capture these colors in a dark night sky.   source

Talking Chimps etc. (video)

 

What Are The Planet’s Real ‘Talking’ Chimps And Gorillas Saying?

NPR’s Skunk Bear YouTube

The modern Planet of the Apes reboot begins with a research chimpanzee being raised in an American home. It’s a pretty plausible premise — that exact scenario has played out in the real world many times.

On June 26, 1931, for example, Luella and Winthrop Kellogg pulled a baby female chimpanzee away from her mother and brought her to live in their home in Orange Park, Fla.

The Kelloggs were comparative psychologists. Their plan was to raise the chimpanzee, Gua, alongside their own infant son, Donald, and see if she picked up human language. According to the book they wrote about the experiment, Luella wasn’t initially on board:

… the enthusiasm of one of us met with so much resistance from the other that it appeared likely we could never come to an agreement upon whether or not we should even attempt such an undertaking.

But attempt it they did. The Kelloggs performed a slew of tests on Donald and Gua. How good were their reflexes? How many words did they recognize? How did they react to the sound of a gunshot? What sound did each infant’s skull make when tapped by a spoon? (Donald’s produced “a dull thud” while Gua’s made the sound of a “mallet upon a wooden croquet ball.”)

Chimpanzees develop faster than humans, so Gua outshone Donald when it came to most tasks. She even learned to respond to English phrases like “Don’t touch!” and “Get down!”

But unlike the apes in the movies, Gua never learned to speak.

Donald, on the other hand, began to imitate Gua’s screeches. “Whenever an orange or other desired food was observed and barked for by Gua,” the Kelloggs reported, “Donald would usually take up this imitative call.”

The Kelloggs decided to end the experiment after 9 months. But the era of ape language research was just beginning.

In the decades that followed, scientists kept on trying to get apes to talk to them. That usually involved taking an intelligent, wild animal and forcing it to live out its life in an unnatural setting. No ape ever spoke, but some (perhaps most famously Koko — “The Gorilla Who Talks“) learned to employ hand signs. Did those apes understand what they were signing? Were they really using language?

Skunk Bear’s latest video explores footage and findings from decades of research. It might leave you questioning some of the more breathless claims about some of our closest, cleverest animal cousins.


You can ask Skunk Bear your science questions here. To find the answers, subscribeto our Youtube channel.

Barbara J. King, who consulted on this video, has written a lot about ape cognition over on NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos and Culture blog.

Segregated Cemeteries

 

The Persistent Racism of America’s Cemeteries

Not only is segregation still an issue but also America risks losing important history in its forgotten graveyards.

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 A view of Greenwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas. (Photo: © Google 2016)

IN 2016, THE CITY OF Waco, Texas issued an order to remove a fence in the city’s public burial ground, Greenwood Cemetery. But it wasn’t just a cosmetic change: Using a forklift and power tools, City of Waco Parks & Recreation staff cut apart the chain-link fence that had been used to divide the white section of the cemetery from the black section.

The cemetery had been racially segregated since it opened in the late 1800s. It was operated by two sets of caretakers, white and black, until the city took over the cemetery about 10 years ago.

Waco is not the only Texas community to struggle with the surprisingly robust ghost of Jim Crow: This spring, the cemetery association of Normanna, Texas, about an hour outside Corpus Christi, was sued by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund for barring a white woman from burying the ashes of her Hispanic husband there. Although the cemetery association later relented, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating. No Hispanic people are buried within the Normanna cemetery—there is one sole tombstone with a Spanish surname, located just outside the cemetery’s chain link fence.

San Domingo Cemetery, Normanna Cemetery, Bee County, TX

San Domingo Cemetery in Normanna, Texas. (Photo: © Google 2016)

Until the 1950s, about 90 percent of all public cemeteries in the U.S. employed a variety of racial restrictions. Until recently, to enter a cemetery was to experience, as a University of Pennsylvania geography professor put it, the “spatial segregation of the American dead.” Even when a religious cemetery was not entirely race restricted, different races were buried in separate parts of the cemetery, with whites usually getting the more attractive plots.

Some white Americans did fight against this policy. Abolitionists, such as Thaddeus Stevens, a radical Republican and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee during the Civil War, insisted on being buried in a non-segregated burial ground. Stevens chose to be buried in an interracial cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after his death in 1868. The issue of interracial eternal repose was so important to him that he wrote it into his own epitaph. His tombstone read: “I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude; but, finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I may illustrate in my death, the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before the Creator.”

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Thaddeus

Abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. (Photo: Library of Congress/LC-USZ62-63460)

From the 1920s through the 1950s, courts did not consider cemeteries to be “public accommodations,” so cemeteries did not qualify for special civil rights protections. But in May 1948, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelley v. Kraemer that state enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in land deeds violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. This had a major impact on the ability of blacks to buy houses in white neighborhoods, but it also affected the de-segregation of cemeteries. Whites-only restrictions on cemetery plots could no longer hold up in court. As a sign of the slowly-changing times, several interracial cemeteries appeared in the 1950s. Charles Diggs, Sr., a black undertaker and florist in Detroit, bought land to create an interracial cemetery just outside the city in 1953. Mount Holiness Cemetery in Butler, New Jersey, also promoted itself as an interracial cemetery in black newspapers like The New York Age in the 1950s.

But since blacks and whites continued to live and worship separately, such initiatives were few and far between.

Arlington National Cemetery was desegregated in 1948. (Photo: Sergio TB/shutterstock.com)

Just a few weeks after SCOTUS ruled in Shelley v. Kraemer, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which officially desegregated the military. Although it took years to desegregate battlefield units, the order went into immediate effect at Arlington National Cemetery. One of the first black veterans to be buried in a formerly white section of Arlington was Spottswood Poles, a star of Negro League baseball who enlisted with the infamous Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black unit that fought in the trenches of France during World War I. Poles earned five battle field star decorations, as well as the Purple Heart, for his military service. He was interred at Arlington with full military honors in 1962.

As the racial composition of communities changed over time, many black cemeteries became neglected and forgotten, and the resting places of countless unsung heroes of America’s black past quietly disappeared. In 2014, U.S. Senator Bob Casey called on the Veterans’ Administration to establish a public database listing where all black Civil War veterans were buried, because few such cemetery records exist. Since many black graves are unmarked, recording and cataloguing their locations requires ground-penetrating radar and high-precision GPS. Several months ago, over 800 unmarked graves were uncovered using this technology at a black cemetery in Atlanta, demonstrating the potential for similar discoveries in cemeteries and forgotten burial grounds across the country.

Spottswood Poles in 1913. After serving in World War One, Poles was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1962 with full military honors. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Like the city councilors of Waco, many community groups and civic associations are currently engaged in the difficult, lengthy, and expensive tasks involved in unearthing black history. In the process, they are discovering that addressing the wrongs of the past is often more complicated than simply removing the physical reminders of Jim Crow that haunt our landscape. The traces of the past are sunk deep into the earth, but with the right tools, it’s possible to make them visible.

The 4th–Family Fun? in Skokie

My dad’s siblings who lived locally gathered at our house for holidays, along with my mother’s brother  and his wife.   My cousin Marjorie much later remembered these celebrations as command performances. Lots of work for my mother, though my aunts helped with the clean-up.

 

I think Tom and I enjoyed playing with Marjorie and her sister Libbie or just talking when we were older.

Sometimes there were family fire-works, like the quarrel Uncles Mike and George had over how much liquor should go into the punch they were concocting.

One year, there were actual fireworks when one uncle brought them to fire off in our yard which was large because it included three vacant lots that we mowed for a playground.

Dad was very anxious over safety. The rule against swimming in Lake Michigan was violated often when we children learned to drive.  There never was a BB gun in the house, though pocket knives were OK.

Fireworks in the yard was unthinkable!  And unnecessary because we could watch the public display in the nearby park from our front stoop.

Dad was angry when he saw that an uncle had brought fireworks and became furious when Uncle Mike (probably)  ignored Dad’s order to put them away. Now we’ve got Dad shouting, uncles laughing,  firecrackers popping, and rockets zipping here and there over the ground.  I don’t remember and can’t imagine how all this entertainment ended.

Surely, we were all back together again for Thanksgiving when the issue was dull knives and Dad showed his persistence with a questionablre idea, no uncles involved.

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Wilmette’s  fireworks show is held at the water-front park about 3/4 mile from our house; the rockets are fired from barges out on the lake.  Without the noble trees here, we’d be able to see them.

Yesterday, I heard a journalist say on the radio that she does not attend fireworks displays, said, “I’ve been in too many war zones.”

As the booming and swishing and cracking started this evening over families gathered to share the excitement of the show, I thought of her and the enormous number of people trying to live in war zones for whom these sounds are terrifying

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And then I remembered that during our Civil War civilians did  pack a lunch and go to a battlefield for entertainment.  Some packed a wagon with food to sell.  Pictures exist showing civilians on high ground observing the slaughter and even mixing with the troops down below.

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One Fourth of July evening I had a window seat on a plane flying over the U.S. From?  To? I remember nothing about the trip except the fireworks.  It seemed that all the little towns below had fireworks shows.  Their colorful explosions looked to me like flowers that continually burst from the ground, grew, and faded,

RJN

 

 

 

 

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