Friday, November 30, 2007
With sentencing guidelines this weak, it’s a good bet that once out, they’ll be back to their old cruel ways.
But, on the bright side, the judge was clear about his disdain and the fact Michael Vick and his cruel cohorts engaged in animal cruelty.
By the way, links at the story below also take you to copies of the facts of the case for all involved as well as the plea deals.
-- A federal judge made clear his disdain for animal cruelty when he sentenced two of Michael Vick's dogfighting cohorts to 18 months and 21 months in prison Friday.
Two Vick Co-Defendants Sentenced
By LARRY O'DELL
Associated Press Writer
Two Vick Co-Defendants Sentenced
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A federal judge made clear his disdain for animal cruelty when he sentenced two of Michael Vick's dogfighting cohorts to 18 months and 21 months in prison Friday.
"You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel," Judge Henry Hudson told Quanis Phillips of Atlanta, who received the longer sentence.
The prison terms for Phillips and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach are a little longer than prosecutors recommended, but less than the five-year maximum Hudson could have imposed.
Vick, the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback, also faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 10 for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy that operated on his 15-acre property in southeastern Virginia from 2001 until last summer.
"It's good news for Michael Vick because it shows the judge is willing to sentence within the range," said Steven Benjamin of Richmond, secretary of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for prison terms of a year to 18 months for Peace and 18 months to two years for Phillips, who has 10 prior misdemeanor convictions. Prosecutors recommended sentences at the low end of those ranges because of the co-defendants' cooperation in the government's investigation.
But Hudson, who owns a bichon frise dog, said he believed slightly tougher sentences were appropriate. Peace's sentence is at the top of the guideline range, Phillips' in the middle.
And Benjamin said Vick still could get a sentence above the negotiated range in his case - a year to 18 months - if Hudson concludes 27-year-old Vick is more culpable than the others because he admitting bankrolling the operation and providing gambling money.
According to court papers, Vick not only financed the "Bad Newz Kennels" but also participated in executing several underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other means.
Vick publicly apologized for his role in the dogfighting enterprise and turned himself in Nov. 19 to begin serving his prison term early. He is being held in a state jail in Warsaw, Va.
Vick's attorney, Lawrence Woodward, attended Friday's proceedings and declined to comment as he left the courtroom.
John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States, also attended and said he was satisfied with the sentences.
"The judge sent a pretty strong and clear message that dogfighting is a dead-end activity, and it carries some meaningful consequences," Goodwin said.
Peace, Phillips and Tony Taylor of Hampton pleaded guilty last summer and agreed to testify against Vick, prompting the former Virginia Tech football star to enter his own plea agreement a few days later. The 35-year-old Taylor will be sentenced Dec. 14.
In addition to prison time, Peace and Phillips were fined $250 each and will be placed on three years' probation after their release.
Hudson said he was "disturbed" to read in a pre-sentencing report that Peace told the court he saw nothing wrong with dogfighting and believed "it's natural for dogs to fight."
"I am very sorry," Peace told Hudson, fighting back tears while his family members in the packed courtroom softly wept.
Peace also expressed remorse and pleaded for understanding in a letter to Hudson, who received five other letters from Peace's friends and relatives.
"I have asked God and my family to forgive me, but I would also like to ask you, the public, and everyone else that I have affected and or offended not to just pardon me, but to try and understand I am not without sin, and I am more than just the dog slayer the world has come to know me as," Peace wrote.
The 28-year-old Phillips passed on his opportunity to address the court and did not submit any letters from supporters. His attorney, Jeffrey Swartz, later told reporters Phillips was "nervous and decided not to speak," so he did the talking for him.
Swartz told the judge Phillips was sorry and would be willing to "help address the issue of dogfighting" as part of his probation.
"That's going to have to flow from the heart, not an order from me," Hudson said.
Swartz also explained how Phillips got involved in the enterprise, tracing it to his childhood in Vick's hometown of Newport News.
"He grew up around people for whom dogfighting was an accepted and acceptable activity," Swartz told Hudson. "It was a way for young men to prove themselves."
Swartz said he was not trying to excuse the behavior, which Phillips now realizes was wrong.
All four men also face state charges, and Swartz told Hudson that "I still have to shake my head and wonder a little bit about the federal government's decision to prosecute this case."
Federal prosecutors refused to comment as they left the courthouse, where several protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals gathered holding posters with pictures of injured dogs.
Taylor's attorney, Claire Cardwell, also left without answering reporters' questions.
Phillips, who has been in custody for violating terms of his release, was led away in his orange prison jumpsuit. The 36-year-old Peace will report to prison Jan. 3.
The case began in April when a drug investigation of a Vick relative led authorities to the Surry County property, where they found dozens of pit bulls and an assortment of dogfighting paraphernalia.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Decision by Judge Allows Medical Research on Dogs, Monkeys and Other Animals to Continue At University Of California San Francisco
Judge tosses lawsuit against UC San Francisco
Filed under: SAN FRANCISCO , John Upton , UCSF animal welfare lawsuit
Nov 28, 2007 4:00 AM (12 hrs ago) by John Upton, The Examiner
SAN FRANCISCO (Map, News) - Medical research on dogs, monkeys and other animals will continue at UC San Francisco, as a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit by animal rights activists that claimed their rights as taxpayers were violated when the university pays fines for breaking the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Attorneys for the activists had asked the San Francisco Superior Court judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee animal research at the university, and to shut down the university’s animal research until it guaranteed that it would comply with the federal animal welfare law.
But Judge Patrick Mahoney on Tuesday sided with university lawyers, who argued that such a ruling would interfere with the agriculture department’s enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.
“The plaintiffs are essentially trying to circumvent federal law,” University of California counsel Chris Patti told The Examiner.
Dan Kimburn, an attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and for the six Southern California professors and physicians who launched the court case, said he would appeal the ruling.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has previously cited UC San Francisco researchers for violating the Animal Welfare Act.
In December 2003, researchers were cited because a monkey was not given proper painkillers after its skull was cut open, according to court documents.
The fines associated with the violations include a $92,500 settlement in 2005, court documents show.
The animal activists adopted a novel strategy in the case, according to committee spokeswoman Jeanne McVey.
“If you’re a person, you can’t sue under the Animal Welfare Act, because the purpose is to protect animals,” McVey said. “And animals can’t sue because they’re animals.”
Nothing surprising here. Disappointing, but not surprising.
Russia not a place for veggies
The concept of vegetarians, and especially vegans, is not widely known or understood in Russia. Many people do not accept its idea and there’s even an online anti-vegan community. Health concerns is another reason why Russians remain sceptical.
Fur is fashionable, practical and certainly not taboo. And when the chill starts to bite, many Russians enjoy nothing more than warming up with a hearty meaty meal.
“I sense from others negative emotions towards myself, my family, my child. People find every possible way to prove I live the wrong type of life,” Oksana Markovchina, a vegan, says.
“People do not accept somebody different from themselves,” she adds.
But despite its lack of popularity, it’s relatively easy to be vegan in Moscow, as there are many soya food substitutes in the shops.
The biggest difficulty vegans have is buying clothes and materials, without leather.
Very interesting and noble award. More on the Arthur Ling Memorial Award Vegan Award can be found at: http://www.vegan-awards.org.uk/
Christmas Without Cruelty Vegan Awards in World Vegan Month Finale
World Vegan Month will finish on December 2nd at The Animal Aid Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre at Kensington Town Hall, London. The finale will spark a shower of vegan awards for people, companies and vegan products.
The most prestigious of the awards is the annual Arthur Ling Memorial Award in memory of vegan pioneer and ethical innovator Arthur Ling. The Arthur Ling Memorial award, sponsored by vegan chocolate manufacturer Plamil Foods, uncovers vegans working hard to change the world we live in and help it to be more ethical.
Annual Vegan Award
Adrian Ling, who runs Plamil Foods, who initiated this award said "We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my father’s spirit of innovation and also encourage, publicise and reward people or groups who innovative projects that make a difference to people, animals and the environment."
Winner of The Plamil Arthur Ling Memorial Award 2007
This year the Arthur Ling Memorial Award sponsored by Plamil goes to Dr Dan Lyons from anti animal testing campaigns group Uncaged in Sheffield.
Earlier this year Dr Lyons was awarded a PhD for his research into the evolution of British animal research policy. This establishes Dr Lyons as one of the country's leading authorities on the politics of animal experimentation, giving enormous potential benefit to Uncaged and the anti-vivisection movement, which is often portrayed as ill informed. This Phd status will give clear and new credibility to the legal fight against animal experimentation.
Dr Lyons will be presented the award at the Christmas Without Cruelty Fair in Kensington Town Hall Sunday 2nd December at around 2 pm.
Winner of The Plamil Arthur Ling Memorial Award 2006
Last year's Arthur Ling Memorial Award sponsored by Plamil was presented to Sandra Hood, a dietician with Foods for LifeSandra Hood wrote the invaluable vegan parent handbook "Raising your vegan infant – with confidence'
Appeal To Local Newspapers to find 2008 winner
"We are appealing to regional newspapers and local vegetarian and vegan groups to help us find people developing vegan alternatives and vegan projects that deserve the 2008 award and prize money to help them develop their ideas." Adrian Ling says optimistically.
Adrian Ling MD - Plamil Foods Ltd. Folkestone, Kent. CT19 6PQ. UK. Tel +44 (0)1303 850588 www.plamilfoods.co.uk
Tony Bishop-Weston - PEA PR - www.peapr.com –Tel : 07944068432 Fax: 08712884643
Dan Lyons - Uncaged - www.uncaged.co.uk Tel: 01142722220
Brutal Former Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick to Appear in Court April 2 on State Dog fighting Charges
Judge sets April 2 trial date for Vick on state dogfighting charges
Updated: November 27, 2007, 5:39 PM ET
SUSSEX, Va. -- Michael Vick's lead attorney left open the possibility of a plea agreement after the suspended NFL star was scheduled for an April 2 jury trial on state dogfighting charges.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge in August and voluntarily reported to jail last week, even though he will not be formally sentenced until Dec. 10.
As he left the courthouse, defense attorney Billy Martin was asked why Vick is fighting the state charges after pleading guilty in federal court.
"I can't tell you we're fighting them, I can't tell you we're taking a plea deal," Martin said. "We're going to look at this matter and give him some legal advice, and that has not been decided yet."
Vick was not in a Sussex courtroom Tuesday when Surry County Circuit Judge Samuel Campbell set Vick's trial date during a five-minute consultation with defense attorneys Lawrence Woodward and Martin and prosecutor Gerald Poindexter.
Vick, who's being held at a Warsaw, Va., jail, faces up to five years in prison for his federal conviction.
The two state charges -- beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs, and engaging in or promoting dogfighting -- are also punishable by up to five years in prison each.
Vick's lawyers previously indicated they would fight the state charges on the grounds he can't be convicted twice of the same crime. Woodward declined to discuss that strategy before Tuesday's court proceedings.
Campbell also set trial dates of March 5 for co-defendants Quanis L. Phillips and Purnell A. Peace and a May 7 trial for Tony Taylor.
Vick and the three co-defendants pleaded guilty to the federal charge in U.S. District Court in Richmond. In an Aug. 27 plea agreement, Vick admitted bankrolling a dogfighting enterprise and providing gambling money, as well as helping to kill six to eight dogs.
In another development, Vick agreed to federal prosecutors' demand that he set aside about $928,000 for the care of pit bulls seized from the dogfighting operation.
Prosecutors last week filed court papers seeking a freeze on money, saying they were concerned about Vick's "deteriorating financial condition." Several creditors are suing Vick for more than $5 million, and an arbitrator has ruled he should repay the Falcons nearly $20 million in bonus money.
A consent order entered Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond says Vick has agreed to place the money in an escrow account maintained by Martin's law firm. The money must be deposited by Friday.
The dogfighting operation known as Bad Newz Kennels operated since 2001 on Vick's 15-acre spread in Surry County. A drug investigation of a Vick relative led authorities to the property, where they found more than 50 pit bulls and equipment commonly used in dogfighting.
Tuesday, 10 protesters from the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stood outside the courthouse in rural southeastern Virginia. They held placards with pictures of injured dogs and the messages "Report Dogfighters!" and "Dogs Deserve Justice."
"The message is loud and clear, that all dogfighters must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, no matter who they are," PETA protester Melissa Karpel said.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Court Asks to Order Brutal Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick to Pay up to $900,000 to Care for 54 Pit Pulls Seized from his Atlanta Property
For those who don't remember, here is the story we put out that speaks to the brutal methods of Michael Vick - http://geari.blogspot.com/2007/08/michael-vick-former-quarterback-of.html
Vick faces $900,000 bill for dog care
(CNN) -- The government asked a federal court Tuesday to order former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to keep on hand assets valued at more than $900,000 -- the amount earmarked for the care of 54 pit bulls.
Michael Vick leaves court in Richmond, Viriginia, in August after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges.
The animals were found on his property when a dogfighting operation was busted last April.
Vick turned himself in to authorities Monday to get a jump start on serving his sentence for running the ring.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson noted that Vick, in his plea agreement, agreed to pay "restitution for the full amount of the costs associated with the disposition of all dogs" in the case.
Vick agreed that those costs could include "the long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of those animals," which were seized from the "Bad Newz Kennels" on his property in Surry County, Virginia.
The motion said that only a restraining order can ensure that Vick's assets are not placed beyond the reach of the government.
It noted that Vick's financial condition is deteriorating, and cited the team's attempt to recoup bonus money from his 10-year, $130 million 2004 football contract; his alleged default on a $1.3 million bank loan for a wine store; another bank lawsuit seeking payment for default on a $2.5 million line of credit; and yet another bank's lawsuit seeking at least $2 million for loans related to a car-rental business.
"In addition, published reports also indicate that Vick is in the process of selling assets, specifically a suburban Atlanta home listed at $4.5 million," it said.
Vick, 27, is being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, until an upcoming sentencing hearing.
He pleaded guilty in August to a federal conspiracy charge of bankrolling the dogfighting operation after three associates admitted their own roles in the ring and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. See a timeline of events in the case »
Vick, who has been suspended indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, faces 12 to 18 months in prison on the conspiracy charge.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 10.
On September 25, a Virginia grand jury indicted Vick and the three co-defendants on state charges of running a dogfighting ring.
The Surry County grand jury brought two felony charges against the four men: one count of unlawfully torturing and killing dogs and one of promoting dogfights. Each could result in a five-year prison term.
Be effective in defending animal rights
By Laura Moss / The Bulletin
Published: November 20. 2007 5:00AM PST
It doesn’t matter if you are a wallflower or if you are outspoken, you can be a part of getting legislation passed that could possibly help your pet and other animals.
At a Lobby 101 seminar held at the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend recently, more than a dozen people were told that each person can have an impact.
“You don’t have to be an expert to have an influence and to have a voice,” said Kelly Peterson, Oregon state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
Face-to-face meetings are a great way to make your views known to your representative, Peterson said. Oregon has a legislative schedule that is conducive to that, because it convenes only every other year. That means legislators have more time to spend in their districts. In 2008, however, a short supplemental session is scheduled to begin Feb. 4.
For more info
Information on effective lobbying techniques may be found on the Humane Society of the United States Web site, www .hsus.org, as well as other animal-related Web sites, like www.aspca.org.
If a face-to-face meeting is not possible, phone calls and e-mail are quick and effective forms of contact, Peterson said. Letters sent through the post office may take up to six weeks to arrive, she added, because they have to be transported out of state to be tested for anthrax before they are delivered.
If you are unsure who your current representatives are, you can find out on the state’s Web site, www.oregon.gov, or by visiting the Humane Society of the United States Web site, www.hsus.org.
It is important to know what could influence a legislator to take on a proposed bill, Peterson said. The merits of the issue, cost, impact on a representative’s district and personal affiliations could play a role in a legislator’s decision, Peterson said.
Knowing whom to contact is key, she added. Be sure you are contacting your own representative, as they may be less likely to be influenced by somebody who is not a constituent. If a legislator is a committee chairperson on a committee that could play a role in getting certain legislation passed, be sure to contact them, especially because they are likely paying attention to the statewide impact of any legislation, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
And finally, remember that a bill is not complete until the governor has signed it, so calling Gov. Ted Kulongoski couldn’t hurt, either.
Informing the public is also important, and attending public meetings and writing letters to the editor are good ways to do that. Peterson said that if you do attend a public meeting, especially one where a representative is speaking, be sure to be friendly and not attack them if they sound as though they disagree with you.
That is important with any contact you have with your representative, she said. Compromise is going to be part of getting any legislation passed, so be ready to do so as long as the compromise will not harm any animals.
When attending public meetings with representatives, the Humane Society of the United States gives a few tips for being an effective animal advocate. First, introduce yourself by name, address and organization, if any. State a clear and concise objective, refer to bills by their numbers and names, explain why the issue is important to you personally, and never mislead them. If you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, tell them you don’t know, and that you’ll find out. Peterson said she has had to do this before, and it is much more appreciated than guessing at an answer.
There is one animal-related piece of legislation that is expected to be part of the special session, Peterson said.
This is significant because during the special session, each legislator is allowed to bring only one piece of legislation to the table, which suggests that the issue is important to him or her, according to Senate President Peter Courtney’s policy analyst Sasha Pollack.
Courtney is scheduled to propose increased penalties for any person believed to be present at a dog fight, as well as any person in possession of dog-fighting paraphernalia, according to Pollack. Currently, it is considered a misdemeanor to be present at a dog fight and to be in possession of dog-fighting paraphernalia. If Courtney’s proposed legislation passes, it would make those crimes a felony.
Courtney is also proposing to add items like treadmills to the list of possible dog fighting paraphernalia, Pollack said. She said other crimes related to dog fighting are already deemed felonies, and what Courtney is attempting to do is go back and tighten up the rest of the legislation related to dog fighting.
In the 2007 legislative session, there were two bills that dealt with household animals, according to www.leg.state.or.us.
According to the state’s Web site, the passage of Senate Bill 570 requires the state offices of emergency management and agriculture to develop plans to help companion animals, service animals and livestock in major disasters or emergencies. The plans will encompass evacuation, transportation and temporary sheltering of those animals.
Senate Bill 1017 deals with reporting animal abuse, according to the state’s Web site. The bill, which also passed, requires veterinarians and officials to report if an animal they have come in contact with has suffered or is currently suffering aggravated animal abuse or animal neglect in the first degree. Included in the bill is a provision that no civil suits may be brought against a person who reports such crimes,.
Both of these bills will be in effect beginning Jan. 1
Even after Brutal Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick Sent to Jail on Dog Fighting Charges Practice Continues
Apparently the practice still continues. This story is regarding Mississippi, but the problem is still nationwide.
Sadly, as mentioned below, "...an estimated 40,000 Americans participate in the sport and use some 250,000 pit bulls, according to the Humane Society of the United States, one of the few agencies to provide such figures."
Dog fighting a dangerous problem
Dog fighting a dangerous problem
11/19/2007 4:48:58 AMDaily Journal
11/19/2007 4:48:58 AMDaily Journal
BY EMILY LE COZ AND DANZA JOHNSON
The recent discovery of 49 pit bulls alleged to have been used in a Benton County dog-fighting ring reflects not an isolated case but a widespread and elusive problem, several experts say.
Dog fighting, a gruesome sport where canines are thrown into a ring and fight until one either gives up or dies, has been around for ages. But this year's case against suspended NFL quarterback
Michael Vick put it in the national spotlight. Vick pleaded guilty in August to federal charges in connection with a Virginia dog-fighting operation.
It's an issue that has law-enforcement officials and animal activists stumped, because, according to Debra Boswell, director of the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, these operations are "harder to infiltrate than a drug ring."'It's an epidemic'"It's an epidemic," Boswell said, "not only in Mississippi, but nationwide."
An estimated 40,000 Americans participate in the sport and use some 250,000 pit bulls, according to the Humane Society of the United States, one of the few agencies to provide such figures.
Numbers are hard to track because of the sport's highly secretive nature, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has been combating dog fighting for more than a century, according to its Web site.
ASPCA officials did not return calls for comment. Tracking it locallyTracking difficulties also pose problems in Northeast Mississippi, where law-enforcement officials get tips about the illegal activity but rarely - if ever - bust a dog-fighting ring.
The exception was in Benton County last month, where sheriff's deputies discovered an operation while on call to indict a resident on separate narcotics charges.Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson, Itawamba County Sheriff Philip Crane and Lafayette County Sheriff Buddy East say they haven't found any dog fighting in their counties. "We have had some complaints throughout the county about people fighting dogs, but we haven't been able to locate any dog fighting rings," said East. "We investigate, but we just haven't been able to find any signs."Those most likely to come in contact with dog fighting are animal shelter workers, who sometimes recover pit bulls that appear to have been injured in a match. Boswell said it's impossible to estimate how many rings exist in Mississippi, but at her Jackson-based shelter last year she said she took in about 200 pit bulls that exhibited fight-experience signs, such as scars and an overly aggressive nature.
Those dogs were euthanized, as were the several dozen involved in the Benton County ring. They can't be rehabilitated, experts say, because they are bred to fight and kill other dogs. "They're not aggressive toward people, they're aggressive toward other dogs," said Loretta Willis, manager of the Corinth-Alcorn County Humane Society.Willis said she takes in an average of 10-12 fighting dogs a month from her area, but she called this an improvement from several years ago when there used to be more.
In Tupelo-Lee County, animal shelter director Debbie Hood hasn't seen any evidence of a fighting ring since she took the reins about nine months ago. The reports are similar in Starkville-Oktibbeha County and Oxford-Lafayette County, where the areas' animal-control officers also say they see few, if any, fought canines."We hear rumors, and occasionally we'll find a dog that's scarred up pretty bad and we think that's what it's all about," said Rich McKaee, one of the Starkville's two animal control officers. "We know it goes on it's just hard to catch them."A springboardThe activity isn't just a problem for the dogs - which can suffer atrocious wounds and even death from the sport - but it's a springboard to other illegal deeds, law-enforcement officials and dog-fighting experts say.
The blood sport has strong links to the drug trade and has been connected to other crimes including theft, brutality and even murder.So serious are the implications of dog fighting that even the feds sometimes get involved, said FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden.Most recently, she said, the bureau was involved with Vick's indictment because he allegedly violated several federal laws, including participation in the interstate transport of dogs for the purpose of fighting.Why the risk? It's about money, experts say. Breeders can earn up to $5,000 for each puppy of a grand-champion winner - a dog that has won five times - Boswell said. And stud fees for these canines can run in the thousands of dollars.Fights rake in even more money. The ASPCA reported seizures of more than $500,000 involved in major dog fights and called pots of $20,000 or more "standard fare."
In Mississippi, Boswell recalled a case a few years ago where two people arrested at a traffic stop were found with $12,000 won in a dog fight. In an Arkansas case, she recalled police discovered a bet pool of more than $80,000."This is big money," she said. "It's a dangerous business."And those involved will do anything to protect their profits and way of life. Boswell read an ad from an underground dog-fighting magazine, "Sporting Dog Journal," soliciting officers to track the sport: "Officers needed to work with our enforcers to catch thieves and killers and recruit new and trusted people to eliminate snitches," Boswell read. "Need 10 officers in each state.
Requirements: martial arts degree, black belt or higher, must be familiar with all types of firearms, be familiar with all blood lines, travel throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America."The danger involved in this sport has prompted 46 states - including Mississippi - to make dog fighting a felony crime.
Here, those convicted face up to three years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Even spectators face punishment - up to one year in prison and $3,000 in fines.Once the state files its charges, Madden said, the FBI might want a crack at participants."Should anyone in Mississippi have knowledge of dog fighting - or cock fighting - they should contact either the local authorities or the FBI," she said, "because we will investigate."
Vegetarians, Meat-Eaters Dig In To Send Sales of Tofurky Soaring
By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2007; D01
Seth Tibbott was just an ordinary hippie living in a treehouse when inspiration struck.
The year was 1986, and Tibbott had hoped for six years that his small business selling vegetarian meat alternatives in rural Washington state would catch on. Success proved elusive -- the treehouse was the only place he could afford to live -- until he developed a soy-based version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. He called it Tofurky.
"It's a name that resonates with consumers," said Tibbott, who grew up in Chevy Chase. "We're fine with the fact they think it's funny or they get a smile out of it. You remember jokes."
Tofurky hit store shelves in 1995, and the meatless dish has become a cultural phenomenon, even showing up on the TV shows " Jeopardy" and "The O.C." Tibbott's company, Turtle Island Foods of Hood, Ore. , has annual revenue of $11 million. Tofurky sales have grown 37 percent this year from 2006. He expects to sell 270,000 Tofurkys by the end of the holiday season, which translates to 438,000 pounds of tofu, wheat protein, canola oil and spices.
The concept was born of Tibbott's vegetarian frustrations. After attending Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, he left for college in Ohio in 1969 and returned home having sworn off meat. Thanksgiving was particularly tough, he said, recalling a nasty bout with a stuffed pumpkin and a rock-hard gluten roast.
"We were looking for something for an answer and we figured there's probably other people out there," he said.
A 2006 poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the nonprofit Vegetarian Resource Group found that about 2 percent of adults are vegetarian, meaning they do not eat meat, poultry or seafood. The total was up from about 1 percent from a similar study the group conducted in 1994. The percentage of adults who do not eat poultry in particular grew to 6 percent from 3 percent.
The market, meanwhile, has been helped by omnivores who seek alternatives to meat for health reasons. They helped turn vegetarian foods into a $1.2 billion industry last year, up 44 percent from 2001, the consumer research firm Mintel said. The report found that 23 percent of non-vegetarians eat meat alternatives, though consumers still say the products cannot match the real thing.
John Cunningham, consumer research manager at the Vegetarian Resource Group, which has received donations from Tibbott's company, acknowledged that Tofurky does not taste like turkey. That doesn't mean it doesn't taste good, with a firm texture and a salty, savory flavor. It just tastes different.
"It can take the place of a big piece of meat," he said. "People are feeling a little bit neglected because all they get to eat are side dishes" during the holidays.
Tibbott started Turtle Island Foods in 1980 with $2,500 in savings and later with investments of $5,000 from his mother and $17,000 from his older brother, Bob, who lives in Chevy Chase . Originally, Tibbott peddled a product called tempeh, which is made from fermented soybeans. He started making 100 pounds of tempeh after hours in the cafe of a cooperative in Oregon, then delivering it to clients in Portland overnight.
Two years later, he moved the shoestring operation to an abandoned elementary school in a small logging town in the Cascade Mountains . The building had no heat, but it was near a scenic river and about a mile from Tibbott's treehouse. It was cheaper than renting an apartment, and he could not afford much else. The treehouse was not quite as primitive as it sounds -- there was electricity and phone service. At night, flying squirrels passed by his window.
Tibbott lived there for seven years before marrying and moving in with his wife, Suzanne, who lived in a more traditional apartment. When Tofurky hit, the treehouse days were gone for good.
Tibbott had seen a similar name used informally on other products, but he shortened it to have the same number of letters as a telephone number and had it trademarked. The first version of Tofurky, made from soy milk, was a mammoth affair with eight tempeh drumsticks. Tibbott said he had visions of families giving thanks over a large Tofurky, only to realize that just a few people at any gathering were likely to eat it. The latest version serves three or four people, and the drumsticks were replaced by cranberry apple potato dumplings.
The quirky product slowly gained notice. In 2000, it was mentioned in an episode of the TV show "The "X-Files." A year later, Tofurky was a question on the game show "Jeopardy." (No one got the correct answer.) The comedian Ellen DeGeneres brought up Tofurky on her show in 2003 and drew laughs from the audience.
"People don't believe me," she said. "There is a Tofurky."
Though Tofurky has attracted the most attention, Tibbott's company makes a range of faux meats. In fact, its best-selling products are vegetarian sausage and hickory-smoked deli slices. The Thanksgiving Tofurky roasts rank fifth in popularity and make up about 17 percent of the company's revenue.
Despite the industry's rapid growth, mainstream appeal may be limited. Harry Balzer, vice president at consumer behavior research firm NPD Group, said that less than 1 percent of households will be putting a meat alternative on their table this Thanksgiving. The National Turkey Federation estimates that 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey Thursday, adding up to 46 million gobblers, the most of any holiday.
"Clearly," Balzer said, "it's a strong tradition."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Report on States and Animal Abuse Laws: Utah Has Weakest Animal Abuse Laws in Country
In essence, those who commit animal abuse in Utah get off too easily as animal torture is not a felony in Utah. In addition, Utah has little animal fighting provisions. The other states with low scores: Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, and North Dakota.
The full report can be found at http://www.aldf.org/news/details.php?id=323
Here is a synopsis of the results. As stated at their site, the reports “..is based on a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each jurisdiction, researching fourteen distinct categories of provisions throughout more than 2,800 pages of statutes. The ranking groups states into a top, middle or bottom tier, and includes a listing of the best five and worst five states.”
Best Five California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon
Worst Five Arkansas, Alaska, Kentucky, North Dakota, Utah
Top Tier California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont, Virginia
Middle Tier Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina
Bottom Tier Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming
Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University Accused of Violating Eight Provisions of the Animal Welfare Act
Unfortunately, once again, the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University has once again been caught by an undercover worker in numerous instances of animal abuse.
PETA infiltrates primate center
Animal research -
The activist group will formalize its accusations against the Hillsboro facility today
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
For the second time in a decade, an animal-rights activist has slipped past employment screeners at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, taken a job as a monkey handler and accused the facility of routinely abusing animals.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a national animal-rights group, planted one of its undercover investigators at the Hillsboro center from April 9 to July 25, officials at the nonprofit told The Oregonian.
The investigator, whom neither PETA nor the primate center would identify, took a job as an animal husbandry technician and secretly took notes and shot video to document her complaints. PETA will formalize her accusations today in a complaint to federal regulators.
"We are an open facility," declared Michael Conn, the associate director and acting head of the primate center's Department of Animal Resources, in a response Monday. Regulators have inspected the primate center three times since February, finding the facility in full compliance with federal law, he said. "There are no secrets here."
PETA's complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture accuses the primate center, a wing of Oregon Health & Science University, of violating eight provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, a federal law intended to guarantee humane treatment of research animals. Among PETA's allegations:
Primate center officials failed to provide timely or effective veterinary treatment for monkeys suffering chronic vomiting, diarrhea and kidney stones.
The center failed to ensure that employees were qualified to perform medical procedures, allowing a worker with palsied hands to give hypodermic injections that caused blood to spurt from a monkey's arm.
Workers failed to prevent monkeys from suffering trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm and unnecessary discomfort, sometimes putting sedated animals into group enclosures that exposed them to falls or attacks from other monkeys.
"The actions of (primate center) staff show a flagrant disregard for the law and for the animals for whom they are responsible," the complaint alleges.
Similar complaints from another animal rights infiltrator in 2000 were investigated by the USDA, and the center was found not to violate the law. Conn said he would be "absolutely shocked" if the new allegations were substantiated.
Oregon's primate center, with annual research grants of $33.3 million, performs experiments on many of the 4,200 monkeys in its care, putting the facility in the cross hairs of groups such as PETA.
The key purpose of the Norfolk, Va., nonprofit is to protect animals from being used for food, clothing, entertainment or medical research.
In 1998, Matt Rossell, a former PETA investigator, went to work as an animal welfare technician at the center. He spent more than two years taking notes and photographs, secretly videotaping screeching monkeys, including one that had chewed a large gash in its own arm.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, in Maryland, formalized Rossell's observations in a Sept. 6, 2000, complaint to the USDA. It accused the facility of caging animals in filth and abusively small enclosures; conducting needless surgeries; and letting unskilled workers give monkeys injections.
Rossell also complained that the center's method of extracting sperm from monkeys -- a process called electroejaculation -- caused them pain.
The USDA sent six officials to investigate Rossell's complaints. Four months later, they cleared the primate center of violating the Animal Welfare Act, although inspectors did recommend the center improve conditions for 1,201 monkeys then kept indoors.
The center has spent much of the past seven years developing one of the nation's best "psychological well-being" programs for monkeys, said Kristine Coleman, who heads the center's behavioral sciences unit. Today, Coleman said, monkeys get more fruits and vegetables, which stimulate their natural foraging instincts.
The primate center also improved its method of extracting sperm, a process, taped by Rossell, which had burned the penises of two monkeys. Pain and injury have been halted by giving the animals a light sedative and an analgesic, said Dr. Gwen Maginnis, the center's chief attending veterinarian.
Primate center officials were caught off guard seven years ago, after learning they had hired Rossell, who champions a belief that animals are sentient beings entitled to legal rights against exploitation.
The center, which hires about 50 employees a year, improved job screening by adding a full criminal background check and asking applicants and their references whether they think animals should be used in medical research.
"If they come here with a clean criminal history and they lie about their interest and the reason they're here," Conn said, "there's not a lot you can do."
PETA's director of research, Kathy Guillermo, defended the group's use of undercover investigators at biomedical facilities.
"If the laboratories would open their doors and let us in, we would certainly rather do it that way," she said. "Unfortunately what we find over and over and over again is that the doors are shut tight."
Veggie-based promises dominate dining
Penn joins 34 other schools in night of vegan-only meals at Kings Court Dining Hall
Pizza was a little different yesterday at Kings Court/English College House.
On the standard college staple, the cheese, pepperoni and sausage were replaced with non-dairy products like soy cheese, soy meat and layers of vegetables.
That dish was part of the dining hall's bi-annual entirely vegan dinner last night, in celebration of College Veg Pledge Day.
The event was sponsored by the Penn Students for Animal Rights, a coalition of college animal-rights groups. PSAR obtained 89 signatures from students who agreed to abstain from eating meat for a day.
The aim of the day is to raise awareness of vegetarianism and stimulate students to think about it.
"There's a lot [of vegetarian options] out there and they're good," said College senior Heather Gorn, president of PSAR.
"It's not the goal of the pledge to reach x number of vegetarians," Gorn said. Rather, student groups are out to spread the truth about the consequences of eating meat.
And reasons to turn vegetarian involve more than just ethical ones.
Meat consumption is also one of the top three causes of pollution, Gorn said.
For example, the greenhouse gas methane comes from cows and contributes to global warming. And when an unnaturally large number of cows are raised for food, it creates a serious problem.
To commemorate the day, 34 other participating schools hosted similar events.
Princeton University threw a vegan dessert party, serving vegan hot chocolate and catered desserts from Zen Palate, a vegetarian restaurant.
"We want to show that [eating vegetarian] is actually doable," said Princeton junior Jenny Palmer, who is the president of the Princeton Animal Welfare Society.
But because the dining halls serving vegetarian and vegan entrees everyday, vegetarianism is nothing new at Penn.
In fact, Penn is one of the more vegetarian-friendly campuses in the country.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently nominated the University for their 2007 ranking of schools with quality vegetarian and vegan food available. Penn earned ninth place on the same list last year.
A lot of the credit for that goes to Penn Dining.
"Penn Dining is fantastic," Gorn said. "They are very willing to accommodate vegetarians and vegans."
Food served at the dinner included crispy fried tofu and sauteed vegetables.
Although some students turned away at the prospect of meat-free entrees, most students enjoyed the dinner nonetheless.
"As long as it's good, I don't care," Engineering freshman Eyas Mahmoud said.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Here is the link to the video:
I thought you might be interested in this for your newsletter.
The Japanese tradition of dolphin hunting continued this year, despite international scrutiny and celebrity protesters. Heroes (NBC) Actress Hayden Panettiere was among the protesters who attempted to swim out to a pod of dolphins in danger.
Panettiere was visibly upset after fisherman prevented her and other protesters from reaching endangered dolphins.
Each year over 22,000 dolphins are hunted and slaughtered by Japanese fisherman during the six month hunting season. Japanese fishermen find the protests insulting to their cultural traditions.
Check out this compelling video from National Geographic.com:
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Blow for fans of boiled lobster: crustaceans feel pain, study says
Ian Sample The Guardian Thursday November 8 2007 Sensitive chefs, avert your eyes now. An investigation into the most contentious of kitchen dilemmas has reached its unpalatable conclusion: lobsters do feel pain.
The question of crustaceans' ability to experience pain has become an unlikely obsession for some scientists. Over the past few decades, the question has been batted back and forth as fresh evidence comes to light. Two years ago, Norwegian researchers declared the answer was a firm no, claiming the animals' nervous systems were not complex enough.
The latest salvo, published in New Scientist today, comes from Robert Elwood, an expert in animal behaviour at Queen's University, Belfast. With help from colleagues, he set about finding an answer by daubing acetic acid on to the antennae of 144 prawns.
Immediately, the creatures began grooming and rubbing the affected antenna, while leaving untouched ones alone, a response Prof Elwood says is "consistent with an interpretation of pain experience". The same pain sensitivity is likely to be shared by lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans, the researchers believe.
Prof Elwood says that sensing pain is crucial even for the most lowly of animals because it allows them to change their behaviour after damaging experiences and so increase their chances of survival.
The claim will add weight to campaigns by animal rights organisations which protest against lobsters being boiled alive.
But conscientious eaters need not, necessarily, abandon lobster. Other scientists believe the debate is far from over. Many think only vertebrates have advanced enough nervous systems to feel pain, and suspect that the prawns' reaction to having acid daubed on their antennae was an attempt to clean them.
"Shrimps do not have a recognisable brain," said Lynne Sneddon, a Liverpool University researcher who has studied pain in fish. "You could argue the shrimp is simply trying to clean the antenna rather than showing a pain response."
Richard Chapman, from the University of Utah's pain research centre in Salt Lake City, stressed that most animals possessed receptors which responded to irritants. "Even a single-cell organism can detect a threatening chemical gradient and retreat from it," he said. "But this is not sensing pain."
Prof Elwood insists such arguments are flawed. "Using the same analogy, one could argue crabs do not have vision because they lack the visual centres of humans," he said. He urged further work looking at whether crustaceans have the neurological architecture to feel pain.
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