PETA, a coalition of other organizations and Harvard Animal Law & Policy Fellow Delcianna Winders just filed a lawsuit this morning in U.S. district court. Hitting the “delete” key on inspection reports and other documents was illegal, the suit argues, and the agency must reinstate every one of them and add all new records in the future.
We’re not going to let the feds get away with hiding abuse at roadside zoos, laboratories, circuses, and other facilities that exploit animals!
President Trump will soon present a draft budget to Congress—a key step in implementing the administration’s agenda and signaling policy priorities. President Trump has vowed to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, a promise we believe needs to include modernizing our nation’s electricity grid. Our grid, the powerlines and power stations that deliver our electricity, was designed decades ago, and it’s still primarily focused on large, centralized, fossil fuel-fired power plants. Tell the White House that rebuilding America’s infrastructure should include modernizing our nation’s outdated, inefficient electricity grid and funding the critical projects, programs, and agencies that will move our country to a renewable energy future.
Tilikum, the orca who killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Branchau, and two other people over the course of his life, and who was made famous by the film “Blackfish,” died yesterday, Friday, January 7. The news is in hundreds of papers today, probably including yours. Most of the stories share perfunctory details, including Tilikum’s long battle with a respiratory illness, and some quote SeaWorld’s web site lines of his having died “surrounded by the trainers, care staff and veterinarians that provided him around-the-clock world-class care,” and the company’s suggestion that he was old for an orca. I will point out two stories of note:Though the Scottish Daily Mail coverage is standard, the copywriter who chose the heading seems to have strong feelings on the issue; the article is titled, “Free at last: Captive killer orca dies.” (Page 11 – unavailable online except to subscribers.) If I have Scottish subscribers who read DawnWatch regularly I would love to know it, and I hope their letters to the editor will acknowledge that touching headline.
The Christian Science Monitor, a highly respected paper, non religious, that is now published daily on line, and weekly via a print magazine, took a tone different from most media outlets, and a wider outlook. It’s article, by David Iaconangelo, is titled, “Tilikum legacy: How one orca changed SeaWorld; The orca whale, profiled in the 2013 documentary ‘Blackfish,’ became a symbol of the cruelty of captivity for animal-rights activists and much of the public.” Sharing much of the information in the standard Associated Press coverage, Iaconangelo went further:
“The orca’s story was often a tragic one, involving three human deaths in three separate incidents. The film that documented those incidents, ‘Blackfish,’ stoked a movement that questioned the ethics of keeping wild animals in captivity – a movement that is likely to outlive Tilikum.”
Note that he refers to “wild animals in captivity” rather than only orcas.
He writes, “SeaWorld’s decision to end its orca breeding program shows that shifting public attitudes around animal welfare can and do influence how businesses treat animals, conservationists say.”
And importantly, though he shares SeaWorld’s suggestion that age 36 is “about typical” for an orca death, his report ends with this line:
“His death comes the same week as the death of 105-year-old ‘Granny,’ a once-captive killer whale later freed in waters off of Vancouver and tracked by scientists, whose data eventually served as the underpinnings of endangered species classification.”
You’ll find the full story on line at http://tinyurl.com/ztzkhyx and I hope you will share it widely.
The Christian Science Monitor only prints and shares letters that are in response to articles in its weekly magazine. It seems likely, however, that a daily online story that gets a lot of positive feedback is more likely to end up in that weekly print magazine, so I encourage you, via the website, to leave a positive comment on the story. You can do that at http://tinyurl.com/h4pnadb
Even more importantly, as your local paper has surely covered Tilikum’s death, (or can, via you) and you are highly likely to be published in your local paper, please take a few minutes, on behalf of poor Tilikum and all of the other animals who suffer in captivity for human entertainment, and send a letter in their honor to your editor. The Christian Science Monitor story provides a nice guide of sorts for letters that look at the wider issues.
It’s easy to find the email address for a letter to the editor. Just go to your local paper’s website and scroll to the bottom of the page where you will usually see a small “contact us” tab, which will include contact information including that for letters to the editor. If you can’t find it anywhere on the website you could just call the paper and ask for the email address, get it in about thirty seconds, and store it for later regular use. Or you could ask me for help finding the address. I am also always happy to help edit letters to the editor of your paper — until you get the hang of making them short, to the point, and heartfelt on your own.
Always include your full name, address and phone number when sending a letter to the editor.
Today: The Los Angeles Times carries an op-ed from our friends at the Good Food Institute, about the dairy industry’s attempt to own the word “milk.” And the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Food Section cover story is about an increase in the number of men going vegan!The Los Angeles Times op-ed, by Emily Byrd, is titled “Can you call soy milk ‘milk’?” (Page A11.) As with her piece, last year, on the attacks on clean meat, Byrd uses a light manner including some laugh-out-loud lines to make an important point.
She opens with:
“About once a week, I pick up a half gallon of soy milk from the market. I do this of my own free will, fully cognizant of what I’m buying. But 32 members of the House of Representatives worry that consumers like me are confused by the word ‘milk’ on the label; they think we’re laboring under the false impression that the carton contains dairy from a cow.”
She lets us know, “Whatever lawmakers may say, they’re trying to protect the dairy industry, not consumers.” And we learn that while the dairy industry struggles, the dairy alternative industry thrives.
Check out the fun Los Angeles Times op-ed at http://tinyurl.com/gu7mu7n, share it widely, and please send a letter to the editor using the op-ed as a launching pad for any point you wish to make on government subsidies, healthy eating, or on what happens to cows so that humans can drink their milk.
That’s unless you live in Philadelphia, or are a man doing wonderfully on a vegan diet, in which case I hope you will respond to the delightful Philadelphia Inquirer Food Section cover story on men going vegan. (Or why not respond quickly to both? I know some of you resolved to do even more for animals in 2017, right?)
The article, by Elisa Ludwig, is titled “Vegan eating: More men are going animal-free.” (Page F01.)
It tells us that “a Vegetarian Resource Group poll in 2011 found that more men reported never eating animal products (3 percent of men polled vs. 2 percent of women), and that demographic shift is evident at some of the area’s restaurants offering plant-based options.”
“Vedge and V Street owner Rich Landau reports that he now sees about 60 percent men coming in – as opposed to the random boyfriends accompanying skinny vegan women he used to see years ago at his previous restaurant Horizons.”
His wife and business partner, Kate Jacoby says, “People are not as strict or as judgmental about veganism as they used to be. That makes it feel much more inclusive, and we’re not scaring off people. We’re inviting everyone in.”
Inviting, is the tone of the whole article. It’s at http://tinyurl.com/ho62gsa . Please share it widely, and don’t miss the opportunity to send a letter to the editor about your reasons for being vegan. As animals are not the focus of the article, you may wish to make them the focus of your letter.
The Los Angeles Times takes letter at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Philadelphia Inquirer takes letters at email@example.com and asks that they be under 150 words.
Always include your full name, address and phone number (for verification not publication).
First, harass climate scientists and politicize their research. Next, denounce lawmakers who call for climate action. Then slash funding for climate science—because it’s too “politicized.”Those are the words of Trump senior adviser Bob Walker, head of the NASA transition team. He wants to eliminate NASA’s funding for earth science and research.¹ Yep, you read that right.
Even forgetting climate change, NASA’s earth science research is crucial to billions of dollars of economic activity, improving weather forecasts, helping farmers measure soil moisture, helping predict the spread of disease, and more.² Gutting it would have permanent implications.
This disregard for science is visible throughout Trump’s transition team. That’s why we need to be more ready than ever to fight back—to protect science, to advocate for scientists, to defend the victories we’ve won together.
The outlook for endangered species in 2017 and beyond is startling. President-elect Trump does not take office for weeks, but his nominations to key positions in his administration signal that endangered species and the laws that protect them are at real risk.
Help fight to defend the Endangered Species Act in the Trump administration and GOP Congress with a dollar-for-dollar matched donation today.
President-elect Trump’s selection of billionaires and heads-of-industry for Cabinet spots is gravely concerning. Giving polluters such as Exxon not just access, but actual appointments, could upend what progress has been made to address global and domestic threats to the environment and wildlife. His nomination of freshman Representative Ryan Zinke to head the Department of the Interior is gravely worrying. Representative Zinke has shown little interest in protecting endangered species and has, to the contrary, used his time in Congress to weaken the Endangered Species Act–even seeking to strip highly endangered lobos of protections.
Your end of year donation will be doubled! Please help to defend the Endangered Species Act from attacks in 2017 with a 100% tax-deductible gift.
There is little hope that Congress will be any sort of a check on anti-wildlife policies either. GOP control means that new energy and focus will be on stripping protections and weakening regulations. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) said recently that he “would be happy to invalidate the Endangered Species Act.”
This level of candor is as unusual as it is alarming. As Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Representative Bishop has extraordinary power over legislation that moves–or stalls–and has shown his preference for weakening the Act. Make no mistake, we will fight every piece of anti-wildlife legislation with calls, emails, tweets, posts, and in-person visits from activists around the country. But, we need your help. Please support defense of the Endangered Species Act with a 100% tax-deductible year end donation today.
despite the speculation, no one truly knows what to expect under a Trump presidency. He’s contradicted himself on so many issues it’s dizzying.But one thing that’s become clear is that he is profoundly influenced by those around him. So let’s look at his team. Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, as an influential advisor on energy policy; climate denier Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (an attorney best known for leading the effort to sue the EPA); and literally dozens of outspoken climate change deniers.¹
Perhaps the most troubling of all: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.
No matter who he chooses, it’s clear that the political influence of the fossil fuel industry could be unprecedented.
UCS is ready to fight back, no matter what comes next. We’re independently funded by individuals like you, we’ve got decades of experience pushing for science-based solutions, and we won’t be intimidated by political threats.
Help the Union of Concerned Scientists defend science, whatever this administration brings. Renew your support with a tax-deductible gift of $5 or more before 12/31.
Erratic as he is, Trump wouldn’t be the first president to threaten science.
After George W. Bush was elected, we started hearing from government scientists whose work was being suppressed, manipulated, or misused by politicians—including when the Bush administration “rewrote” government climate research papers (an effort led by Myron Ebell, who—surprise!—resurfaced as one of Trump’s key transition advisors on the EPA).²
We immediately founded a new initiative, the UCS Scientific Integrity program, and publicized more than 100 cases of politically-motivated interference with government science in five years. In addition, we organized more than 15,000 scientists, including 62 Nobel laureates, calling for an end to Bush’s misrepresentation and suppression of scientific knowledge for political purposes.³
We were able to create political pressure that led to a permanent declaration on scientific integrity from the Obama Administration, covering more than 23 federal agencies.
What challenges will a Trump administration pose for science and scientists? Will he start out of the gate with censorship of research? Direct harassment of scientists? Rollbacks on safeguards like the Clean Air Act and fuel economy rules?
We don’t know. All we know is that we stand ready on the first day of the Trump administration—in less than a month—to defend researchers, champion hard-won science-based policies, continue progress in the states, and safeguard our health and the environment.
In fact, we have already started. We just sent a letter to the Trump transition team, signed by over 4,500 scientists, including 22 Nobel laureates, setting for the standards of scientific integrity that we expect from a new administration, with this underlying message: we are watching, and will hold accountable, those that don’t abide by these standards.