Sep 01 2018

Animal Crackers fall prey to animal rightists.

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

Destroying the circus wasn’t enough for PETA. In an article entitled “Nabisco Forced to Uncage Animal Crackers” author Greg Henderson on www.porkbusiness.com , wrote “the beasts on boxes of animal crackers have been turned loose. Under pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Nabisco has redesigned packaging of Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animal crackers removing – after more than a century – the cages.

PETA, which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years, also had their sights set on Nabisco’s cracker boxes. In 2016, PETA wrote to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, with a mockup design without bars and an explanation that circuses often mistreat animals. Illinois, where Mondelez has its headquarters, became the first U.S. state to ban circuses with elephant shows at the start of this year.”

“Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public’s swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats,” PETA said in its letter.

The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages – implying that they’re traveling in boxcars for the circus – the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland.

MGM Sues Las Vegas Massacre Survivors

In another outrage, in mid-July dozens of survivors of last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas have started to receive some startling legal notices, according to a LA Times story by By Matt Pearce, Richard Winton  and David Montero.

“A lawsuit has been filed against you,” the notices say.

The plaintiff? MGM Resorts International, the casino and hotel company, owner of both the fairgrounds where 58 people were shot to death at a country music festival and the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the gunman perched himself on the 32nd floor to carry out the October 1, 2017 massacre.

In a bold legal maneuver, MGM has sued survivors to claim immunity under a federal law passed in the wake of September 11 that was designed to protect corporations from lawsuits after terrorist attacks. Experts said it was the first time such a lawsuit had ever been filed under the law.

MGM is facing lawsuits from more than 2,500 people after the massacre, which also wounded hundreds.

Survivors, backed by high-profile attorneys, have said the company did not do enough to prevent the attack or limit the extent the harm.

To defend itself, the company is turning to the little-known federal statute called the Safety Act, passed by Congress in 2002 to limit the liability of companies that provide anti-terrorism services.

The idea was that companies might not introduce new security technologies designed to thwart terrorist attacks if the companies would then face expensive — and potentially business-ending — lawsuits when those technologies fail to stop killings.

So policymakers offered companies a deal: With approval for their services by the Department of Homeland Security, they are protected from terrorism-related lawsuits.

“They’re basically giving you a get-out-jail-free card for something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Bob Karl, a managing partner for Safety Act Consultants, a Milwaukee firm that advises companies seeking Safety Act designations.

Safety Act designations can be an attractive legal protection for event and security companies. In recent years, several National Football League and Major League Baseball stadiums have obtained them.

So did Contemporary Services Corp., also known as CSC, the contractor that provided security for MGM during the music festival.

The company prominently features its Safety Act designation on its website.

MGM is arguing in two federal lawsuits against the survivors — filed in Nevada and California — that the hotel company is, by extension, shielded from the survivors’ lawsuits, because of the terrorism law’s protections. The statute also requires that related litigation be pursued in federal courts.

In a statement, MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong suggested that its lawsuits would ultimately help the victims.

“The federal court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution,” the statement said. “Years of drawn-out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”

Though the Safety Act is aimed at terrorist attacks, MGM argued that the federal statute is written broadly enough to include mass shootings where the motive is unknown, such as the Vegas massacre.

MGM’s lawsuits referred to statements made in November by Elaine Duke, who was acting secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security: She “noted the emphasis of ‘terrorists and other violent criminals … on attacking soft targets,’ including ‘recent tragedies in Nevada.’”

Karl, the Safety Act expert, said he believes the lawsuits are the first of their kind and could lead to a highly public throw-down between victims and MGM.

“That whole thing is going to be a mess,” Karl said. “The only people who will come out of it well is high-priced attorneys.”

MGM drew backlash as news spread of the company suing survivors.

Craig Eiland, an attorney for several victims, said the attempt by MGM to insulate itself from a lawsuit using the Safety Act was “unprecedented.”

“CSC had nothing to do with Mandalay Bay not having security stop Stephen Paddock from unloading luggage with 23 assault rifles, carrying them up to his room and not noticing anything for three to five days,” Eiland said. “They had nothing to do with allowing him to deadbolt the stairwell — all of these things. And Mandalay Bay is saying because this yellow T-shirt company got this safety designation, everybody is immune?”

Mark Robinson, an Orange County attorney who represents hundreds of potential plaintiffs against MGM, called the company’s behavior “outrageous.”

“They are re-victimizing the victims and their families,” Robinson said, adding that MGM had asked for a list of clients he represented and that after receiving it MGM “responded by suing them all.”

Oh What a Difference…

A decade or two makes. In 1990, movie star Kevin Costner had a huge hit directing and starring in the moving Dances with Wolves. Dubbed a “American Epic” at a time when Westerns were out of fashion, the movie was over three hours in length and came in millions of dollars over budget. However, in the end the movie made over $400 million.

Costner is currently involved in what may be an epic television series that has him as a multi-generation Montana rancher who isn’t dancing with wolves — he is in a fight for the future with wolves, developers and water grabbers, oil operations, a near-by Indian reservation, recreations who want land use only for themselves, and even his family.

Yellowstone just finished its first season on the Paramount Channel and is available on Netflix. It is worth the time to watch it. While there is more violence than necessary, Costner is a meaner patriarch than necessary, and the language isn’t fit for public consumption, once in awhile it is as close to real as any film depiction I have seen.

On the subject of profanity…

There was a debate on Fox News the other day about whether or not the f-word is profanity. It was mind boggling. The lack of civility in our speech is appalling and even scary. If we don’t have the vocabulary to find a word to express our sentiments, we all better start carrying dictionaries around.

The unbelievable one-liners…

On another news network they were touting the next story – the headline was “On the investigation of the Russian investigation.” Does anyone but me think that no matter what the story was, the whole thing is ridiculous?

Another line that has been bandied around a lot since President Trump made a statement that the media is the enemy of the people is “Free press is not the enemy of the people.” Newspapers across the country published editorials in mid-August making that statement. The effort, initiated by the Boston Globe, has brought both positive and negative attention.

For my two cents, the President didn’t say a free press is an enemy, he said the media. That may be distinction without a difference, but a press that is biased can be an enemy. If news outlets reported the news rather than making it, there wouldn’t be a need for this entire conversation.

Drug Residue Story is ‘Pseudoscience’ & ‘Scare Tactics’

In a strongly worded official statement released in late August, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA )Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Acting Deputy Under Secretary Carmen Rottenberg took issue with the conclusions of a newly published Consumer Reports (CR) article that suggests that banned or restricted drugs may appear in the U.S. meat supply more often than was previously known according to a story on meatingplace.com by Julie Larson Bricher.

“You may have seen a Consumer Reports story claiming that the poultry and meat you purchase in the grocery store and feed your families could contain harmful drug residues,” Rottenberg wrote in the FSIS statement. “That is not true. This story is sensational and fear-based infotainment aimed at confusing shoppers with pseudoscience and scare tactics.”

The article, “Are Banned Drugs in Your Meat?”, asserts that data obtained from the agency via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that trace amounts of prohibited drugs — including ketamine, phenylbutazone and chloramphenicol — were found in meat and poultry samples taken between October 2015 and September 2016. Based on analysis by CR’s food safety scientists, the report calls into question FSIS drug residue testing methods and acceptable level cutoffs and accuses the agency of “failing to ensure that meat is free of potentially unsafe drug residue.” 

In her response, Rottenberg stated that the FOIA data on which the CR report is based are misleading.

“On March 3, 2017, in our haste to be transparent and responsive, we mistakenly released in response to a FOIA request, unconfirmed, preliminary test results for samples taken from poultry,” she wrote. “We corrected our mistake with the requestor. However, the unconfirmed sampling results continue to be passed around as accurate, truthful information – they are not.”

FSIS performed the complete screening and testing process on all the samples represented, wrote Rottenberg

“The final, confirmed and validated test results show that there were no drug residues in the chicken. If violative drug residues are found in any meat or poultry product, FSIS does not allow that product to be sold for human food.

“Consumer Reports admits in their closing paragraph that the real agenda behind this piece is to convince Americans to eat less meat,” she added. “Shame on Consumer Reports for attempting to advance a rhetoric that lacks scientific support or data, at the expense of American producers and the 9,000 food safety professionals who ensure the safety of meat and poultry in this country every day.”

Wayne Pacelle Returns Despite #Metoo Claims

Wayne Pacelle is back on Capitol Hill lobbying for an animal rights agenda, according to Greg Henderson.

The former president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who was forced to resign in February over sexual harassment allegations, is working for a friend’s PAC (political action committee) lobby for animal welfare issues on Capitol Hill. Despite efforts to keep a low-profile, Pacelle’s re-emergence with the PAC Animal Wellness Action has stirred friction with HSUS.

According to Politico, legal action is under consideration by HSUS because Pacelle had a non-compete clause in his contract. A memo obtained by Politico says, “The board leadership is aware of the situation and will be considering our options.”

Animal Wellness Action was registered in May by David Harvilicz, a lawyer and entrepreneur. Politico reported the new PAC already had deep ties with HSUS as Marty Irby, a former HSUS executive who oversaw its rural equine protect ion and rural outreach departments, is now Animal Wellness Action’s executive director.

Pacelle’s resignation came after an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by three HSUS employees. Days before stepping down, Pacelle told The Washington Post, “I absolutely deny any suggestion that I did anything untoward.”      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, September 2018