Pigs, Politics, and Chris Christie

“Psst. I hear Christie might spring us.” “Nah. These days he cares more about what Iowa thinks than what New Jersey thinks.”

Want to know how you will be able to tell whether Chris Christie has decided to run for President in 2016? If he vetoes a widely popular law to ban gestation crates in New Jersey.

The Daily Beast explains:

In 2013, a measure to make illegal an inhumane farming practice made its way to Christie’s desk. S.1921 would have banned gestation crates—small, metal cages which are used to contain breeding sows during industrial pork production. There was no reason to assume Christie would veto it. For one thing, the cages—so small that the animals can barely move at all or lie down—were not even thought to be used much among the 250 pig farmers in the state, meaning the ban would be more of a symbolic gesture than one that would really impact farming methods. But more than that, the bill had passed almost unanimously in both chambers of the legislature and was supported by 91 percent of voters, making it perhaps the most popular idea to be floated in the Garden State since Bruce Springsteen had been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame several years earlier.

When Christie vetoed the bill, he claimed that it was because two obscure national veterinarian groups had not endorsed it (although a coalition of 100 others had) and that the Department of Agriculture wasn’t involved enough. But many assumed that it had more to do with his dreams of the White House, for which he would need the support of voters and donors in Iowa—a pork manufacturing wonderland—to obtain.

“Why wouldn’t he [Christie] ban them, except for the fact that the first Republican presidential caucus is in Iowa?” S.1921’s sponsor, Senator Ray Lesniak, told me at the time. “He has no values. His only value is himself.” He repeated it again, slowly: “He has no valuesHe has no moral compass whatsoever.”

A year later, Lesniak is back with another bill to ban the crates—S.998…Per Christie’s complaint, the new bill defers to the Department of Agriculture, and simply asks that breeding sows be able to move in their crates—not that they should be able to roam freely through fields. “For us, there should be no reason for him to veto [the new bill], if he was being honest with his reason for vetoing it last year,” Dominguez said, with an eyebrow raised. “The one out that he has is that he said he had a concern, and we’ve addressed it. He has no reason to veto this bill.”

Well, maybe one: Continue reading “Pigs, Politics, and Chris Christie”

Influenzas Compared

There are a lot of worries about the recent outbreak of H7N9 virus in China. Want to know how it stacks up against other deadly viruses when it comes to what species it can infect, and how deadly it is?

Or course you do, and, happily, there is an infographic for that. And it should be enough to make you re-think the human relationship with pigs and chickens (click image for full size):

Meat Is Killing The Planet: A River Full of Pigs

I know, I know. You can’t take any more grotesque meat news. Well, it is what it is, so deal with it next time you are tucking into a pulled pork sandwich.

The latest installment in this cringe-inducing series comes from China, where the public, though it doesn’t mind a few dead pigs floating in Shanghai’s rivers, is not very happy about 6,000 dead pigs floating by. Here’s the Washington Post:

When hundreds of porcine bodies started surfacing this weekend in rivers upstream from the city, it prompted only mild shock, showing perhaps how routine safety scares about food and water have become in China.

But worries turned to panic late Tuesday, when authorities revealed that the number of pigs pulled out of waterways had climbed in the course of three days to an astonishing 5,916.

Shanghai officials pleaded for calm and insisted drinking water for Shanghai’s 23 million residents is still safe. They said there is no disease epidemic at cause. Instead they pointed their fingers at farmers in a nearby city of Jiaxing, who they say are dumping pigs who die in the course of their farming into the Huangpu River instead of properly burying or incinerating them. Local authorities near the pig farms in turn blamed their recent spike in dead pigs on colder temperatures, which they say caused the pigs to freeze or catch colds.

But all such explanations have been met online with equal measures of skepticism, anger and gallows humor, with some residents joking that perhaps the pigs killed themselves after refusing to breathe China’s increasingly polluted air or in protest of being force fed hormones and antibiotics.

Just another indication that of all the meat production industries, pig farming is the worst.

In case the above words don’t adequately convey what is happening, here’s a video report.

Seeing Is Important: Nicky’s Story

Sometimes natural disasters kill. And sometimes, very rarely, they save.

This is a moving and well-produced story about a pig, a flood, and her escape from a factory farm. So the humans are the aggressors–the deus ex machina–and nature–the deluge–is the engine of salvation. It’s an ironic role reversal which punctures our preferred narrative of human courage and generosity in the face of overwhelming power.

[WARNING: Images of absolutely horrific inhumanity. Do not watch if you prefer to keep deluding yourself that factory-farmed bacon and pork is in any way okay to consume].