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1
https://boingboing.net/2018/06/20/primary-that-dino.html

California Assembly member Miguel Santiago [D-83/@SantiagoAD53] is the chairman of the Communications and Conveyance Committee, where he is single-handedly sabotaging the state's outstanding proposed Net Neutrality bill.

The lawmaker, who received $60K in telcoms money in the last election and who counts AT&T as his fifth-largest campaign contributor, has introduced amendments that gut the the bill, allowing ISPs to charge "access fees" to websites so that the ISP's subscribers can visit the site; allowing ISPs to throttle websites who don't pay for premium access; and allowing websites to create data-caps that their own services are exempted from, leveraging their networks to choke out all competition.

Specifically Assemblyman Santiago wants to amend SB 822 to allow:

1. ISPs to be able to charge any website, any amount of money simply so that website can be used by that ISP’s subscriber. These are called “access fees” and the U.S. internet has never had them. They were explicitly banned by the FCC in 2010 and 205

2. Allow ISPs to throttle online services and websites at the point where data enters their networks. ISPS did this in 2013–2015, slowing down business services, online games and video for tens of millions of Americans until the FCC order in 2015 put a stop to it.

3. Allow AT&T/TimeWarner and Comcast/NBCUniversal to use their pipes to make their content win by making all other online content count against your data caps, but not their own. That kind of zero-rating scheme hurts everyone and gives them even more incentive to keep your data caps artificially low

This California Democrat is single-handedly ruining our best chance to save net neutrality




https://mashable.com/2018/06/20/net-neutrality-california-miguel-santiago/#JEPtli7HUmOT

If Santiago doesn't remove his amendments, he would be the first California Democrat to side with the Trump administration to actively destroy net neutrality, according to Fight for the Future (an internet freedoms advocacy organization).

Specifically, the amendments undermine net neutrality in a few ways. First, they would allow ISPs to charge any website a fee for people to be able to access it.

Next, they would give some content (such as content owned by the provider) preferential treatment on cellular data. That means that some content would eat up cellular data, while others would be free or less impactful to access. There's a high likelihood that privileged content would be created by the network's parent company, since so many telecoms companies like Comcast and, recently, AT&T, now both own the actual content, and the way it's distributed. This loophole makes it likely that people wary about using up the data that they pay for would opt for the content privileged by their telecoms provider, which undermines consumer choice.

And finally, Santiago's edits allow for throttling, which means intentionally slowing down content, but with a twist: Instead of slowing down the connection to consumer devices, the data is slowed at the website or service side, affecting everyone trying to access it.

2
......Influencers”

https://canadafreepress.com/article/homeland-security-compiles-list-of-all-bloggers-journalists-social-media-in

Many were hoping that once Barack Obama was out of office we would see less of this Big Brother surveillance nonsense, but instead it seems to be getting even worse.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has just announced that it intends to compile a comprehensive list of hundreds of thousands of “journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.”, and collect any “information that could be relevant” about them.

So if you have a website, an important blog or you are just very active on social media, the Department of Homeland Security is going to put you on a list and will start collecting information about you.................

3
Debate / Joy Reid : Hypocritical Homophobic Hack?
« on: May 16, 2018, 10:38:43 PM »
With a nod to the other "hacking" (term used vvvvvvvvvveeeeeerrrryyyyy loosely) story just posted.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/04/the-evidence-is-not-with-joy-reid/558935/

The Evidence Is Not With Joy Reid

A strange story about MSNBC host Joy Reid has been unfolding for a week. It began when a Twitter user with about 1,000 followers, @Jamie_Maz, dug up what appeared to be homophobic posts on Reid’s defunct blog, the Reid Report. They were similar in nature to posts that Reid apologized for as “insensitive” back in December, after @Jamie_Maz brought those to light.

 Reid released a statement to Mediaite saying that she’d been hacked and was not responsible for the posts. “In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology,” Reid said.

The posts had been dug up on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which maintains copies of many pages on the web. When Reid said she’d been hacked, many jumped to the conclusion that it was the Wayback Machine that had been hacked. On its blog, the Internet Archive said that Reid’s lawyers had contacted them about a possible hack, but that they had no indication that one had occurred.

“This past December, Reid’s lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog (blog.reidreport.com) taken down, stating that ‘fraudulent’ posts were ‘inserted into legitimate content’ in our archives of the blog,” they wrote. “Her attorneys stated that they didn’t know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).”

On review, the Internet Archive “found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions.”

As he notes, it is possible that someone did this, but “extraordinarily unlikely.”

Among the implausible factors is that for Reid’s story to be correct, someone would have had to hack her blog back in the ’00s, but no one, including Reid herself, noticed the invalid posts.

4
Of course, the same hacker that got to Joy Reid also must have been busy hacking this slob's accounts.

https://www.peacock-panache.com/2018/05/barnett-oklahoma-euthanizing-snap-34012.html



A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Oklahoma allegedly argued this week that those unable to support themselves whether they’re disabled, children or otherwise – should view euthanasia as an option rather than burden taxpayers through use of SNAP food assistance. Christopher Barnett – registered to run in this year’s Oklahoma gubernatorial election – told a commenter to his campaign’s Facebook page that “…why are we required to keep them up? Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government.”












5
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/04/curing-disease-not-a-sustainable-business-model-goldman-sachs-analysts-say/

Analyst report notes that Gilead’s hep C cure will make less than $4 billion this year.

One-shot cures for diseases are not great for business—more specifically, they’re bad for longterm profits—Goldman Sachs analysts noted in an April 10 report for biotech clients, first reported by CNBC.

The investment banks’ report, titled “The Genome Revolution,” asks clients the touchy question: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The answer may be “no,” according to follow-up information provided.

Analyst Salveen Richter and colleagues laid it out:

Quote from: Goldman Sachs
The potential to deliver “one shot cures” is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically engineered cell therapy, and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies... While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.

For a real-world example, they pointed to Gilead Sciences, which markets treatments for hepatitis C that have cure rates exceeding 90 percent. In 2015, the company’s hepatitis C treatment sales peaked at $12.5 billion. But as more people were cured and there were fewer infected individuals to spread the disease, sales began to languish. Goldman Sachs analysts estimate that the treatments will bring in less than $4 billion this year.

Quote from: Goldman Sachs
“[Gilead]’s rapid rise and fall of its hepatitis C franchise highlights one of the dynamics of an effective drug that permanently cures a disease, resulting in a gradual exhaustion of the prevalent pool of patients,” the analysts wrote. The report noted that diseases such as common cancers—where the “incident pool remains stable”—are less risky for business.

...........

6
They are chipping away little by little at pretty much all the protections that seperate consumers from corporate sharks. Expect another bill that raises the exemption level in the relatively near future.

https://splinternews.com/78-democrats-vote-to-weaken-a-key-wall-street-regulatio-1825249063

Today, the House voted to approve the Volcker Rule Regulation Harmonization Act, an innocuous name for a not-so-innocuous bill. The bill would weaken the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from making speculative investments with regular people’s money (with exceptions), by exempting banks with less than $10 billion in assets. And, for reasons beyond imagination, 78 Democrats voted for it.

In January, 11 Senate Democrats joined Republicans to cosponsor a bill to raise the threshold for extra regulatory scrutiny for banks from $50 billion to $250 billion, which would have left fewer than 10 banks in the US subject to such scrutiny. That bill included provisions similar to today’s bill, exempting banks with under $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule. ............

7
Debate / Record 21 States See Decline in Well-Being in 2017
« on: April 14, 2018, 10:16:44 PM »
Making America Great Again!!!!!!!!

http://news.gallup.com/poll/226517/record-states-decline-2017.aspx?g_source=link_NEWSV9&g_medium=tile_6&g_campaign=item_4708&g_content=Record%252021%2520States%2520See%2520Decline%2520in%2520Well-Being%2520in%25202017

- For the first time, zero states saw statistically significant improvement from prior year
- South Dakota and Vermont top nation for the first time, followed by Hawaii
- West Virginia has lowest well-being, followed by Louisiana

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly half of U.S. states saw their well-being scores decline by a statistically significant margin in 2017, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. And, for the first time in nine years of tracking changes in state well-being, no state saw statistically significant improvement from the year before.


8
https://www.sciencealert.com/flint-michigan-residents-clean-water-nestle-pump-gallons-cheap

Nestle pays only $200 a year.


CARLY CASSELLA, SCIENCE AS FACT
10 APR 2018

Last week, the state of Michigan approved a permit that would allow Nestle to significantly increase the volume of fresh water it currently pumps with no extra cost.

Four days later and 100 miles away, residents of Flint, Michigan were told they would no longer be receiving free bottled water from the government.


Naturally, many Flint residents were left wondering: why does a food and beverage giant get to bottle water for next to nothing, while residents are forced to pay for their right to lead-free water?

"We the citizens of Flint are unable to get water, but you can give Nestle water for free and force us to buy that back at a premium," said Flint resident, Anthony Paciorek.

"That ain't right."

While state officials have declared Flint tap water safe to drink, there are still thousands of lead pipes that remain in the city.

In fact, according to The Washington Post, more than 12,000 homes in Flint still have lead pipes that need replacing.

As a result, many residents remain worried by the quality of water in their homes, and they continue to rely on bottled water for their everyday needs.


Nevertheless, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, announced on Friday that city residents would no longer receive free bottled water from the state.

Instead, residents will have to pay some of the steepest tap water prices in the country: around $200 per month for water they aren't even sure is safe to drink.

To put all of this into perspective, Nestle pays around $200 per year to pump almost 100,000 times the amount of water that the average Michigan resident uses.

And now, the company has been given the go ahead to pump nearly double that amount – with no additional cost, of course.


Even though over 80,000 people – including 9 Tribal Governments - have publicly protested Nestle's permit request, Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) said it could not base its decision on public opinion.

But that didn't stop residents and politicans from trying.

"... there needs to be a balance between the economic benefit of Nestlé and the responsibility of the MDEQ to protect Michigan's environment and natural resources," said Michigan state representative, Tim Sneller, in a recent opinion article.

"What's more, Nestle Waters' request comes at a time when Flint residents are being told their pipes will not be replaced entirely until 2020," he added.

"This means they will have to continue relying on bottled water for the next three years and likely even longer."


In light of the permit approval, residents of Flint have announced plans to boycott Nestle's products.

9
A loon in Idaho government apparently doesn't think it is a terrible idea

https://www.sltrib.com/news/nation-world/2018/04/06/idaho-gop-candidate-supports-death-penalty-to-stop-abortions/

Idaho GOP candidate supports death penalty to stop abortions

Boise, Idaho • A Republican lieutenant governor candidate on Tuesday softened his stance that women who get an abortion should be punished if it is ever criminalized in Idaho, a day after saying the punishment should include the death penalty.

“Prosecutions have always been focused on the abortionist,” said Bob Nonini in a statement. “There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty. The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal.”

Nonini first raised eyebrows on the divisive social issue during a Monday candidate forum in Moscow hosted by the conservative Christian podcast CrossPolitic.

“There should be no abortion and anyone who has an abortion should pay,” Nonini said.

Pressed by moderators on the nature of the punishment, Nonini nodded in agreement when asked if he supported the death penalty as a possible outcome for abortion.

Nonini, a three term state senator from Coeur d’Alene, confirmed that position in a phone interview with The Associated Press. ...........................


10
http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2018/mar/29/only-black-people-prosecuted-under-mississippi-gan/

JACKSON — In the lead-up to this year's legislative session in Mississippi, supporters of a tougher gang law in the state talked a lot about the need to arrest white people. But in an ironic twist, the Jackson Free Press has learned that everyone arrested under the existing gang law from 2010 through 2017 were African American.

#Over the last year, members of the Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators worked to spread the message that not all gang members in Mississippi are African American, Hispanic or another ethnicity. In fact, they warned, many of the state's toughest gang members are now white, between the growing Simon City Royals, white supremacist groups like the Aryan Brotherhood, and biker "clubs" such as the violent Bandidos, started by a white Marine in Texas in 1966 who would later be convicted of murder.

#In August 2017, MAGI told The Clarion-Ledger that 53 percent of verified gang members, a number presumably pulled from the dozens of identified criminal groups in the state, are white. It is a potentially surprising statistic in the state with the highest proportion of African Americans in the nation and that experiences a large amount of media coverage of its black and Hispanic gangs.

#The Mississippi State Gang Assessment, published in December 2017, listed the white Simon City Royals as the third largest criminal street gang in the state behind the Black Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords, both black gangs. In addition, MAGI members regularly provide examples of heinous crimes by white gang members, such as the murder and dismemberment of a Royals snitch on the Coast in 2016. Welford Lee McCarty is now serving a life sentence for murder charges.

#MAGI's recent message was clear: The state's gang investigators are not fixated on black gangs and do not want the expanded gang law in order to profile young people of color. When asked to comment on the 53-percent-white report, Pascagoula District Attorney Tony Lawrence told the Jackson Free Press via email: "I have not seen that statistic and cannot comment on it, but I can say, in remembering gang cases in my office, I have prosecuted more white gang members for crimes than of any other race."

#Prosecuting someone for a specific crime who happens to be a gang member and prosecuting someone, or adding on additional sentences, for being a member of a gang are two completely different things, however.

#It is not talked about a lot in the push for an expanded gang law, but Mississippi already has a gang law on the books. The Mississippi Streetgang Act, passed in 2001, targets "three (3) or more persons with an established hierarchy that, through its membership or through the agency of any member, engages in felonious criminal activity." That is, much like the FBI does with the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, called RICO, the State can go after a group that conspires together to commit a criminal act. That is different from making it illegal to be part of a gang and thus being held responsible for crimes other members might commit separately, as the failed gang law this session could have done.

#But despite MAGI frequently warning that white gang members pose a strong threat in today's Mississippi, the arrests and prosecutions under the existing street-gang law have only targeted African Americans, State Public Defender Andre de Gruy pointed out to the Jackson Free Press after the expanded gang law failed this session.

The Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed that from fiscal-year 2010 through 2017, court disposition data show that 97 people were processed under current gang law. All of them were black.
...................

Another example of the good 'ole boys network being alive and well in Mississippi/the deep south? Not that such would be surprising.

11
https://theblemish.com/2018/03/pennsylvania-school-district-gives-students-rocks-to-throw-at-shooters/

Good news, you can stop worrying about your children being murdered in their classroom, the Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania has figured out how to stop school shootings. They’ve put rocks in every classroom that students can throw at anyone who happens to be mowing their friends down with a high-capacity assault rifle. I mean, problem solved, if the United Kingdom and Australia had thought of rocks they too could still have armed crazy people on every street corner.

I know what you’re thinking. “Eric’s just exaggerating again for humorous effect, like when he calls Jessica Chastain a Raytheon lobbyist.” Well no, I’m not exaggerating.

Here’s Superintendent David Helsel explaining his initiative in his own words, from WNEP 16 Scranton.

“Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned.”

This is just the latest dumb idea schools have had to stop shootings because our congress is so bought off by the gun lobby that when a mass shooting happens, their response is “Well, sure, we could ban guns, and as we’ve seen in every other western democracy that would end pretty much end mass shootings almost entirely, but I get a lot of money from the NRA so fuck your kids, their lives are a small price to pay for Remington’s stock to stay strong.” Now see, that’s exaggeration for humorous effect, congressmen don’t actually say that, they just think it.

So this is where we are as a nation. We can’t ban guns because we’ve elected a group of self-serving, spineless cowards to write our laws so we’re giving kids rocks to defend themselves from the school shootings that have been happening routinely for the past twenty years.


12
As if the below is not bad enough by itself,

http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/14/news/economy/senate-banking-bill-summary/index.html

Two large custody banks, State Street and Bank of New York Mellon, would also be spared from a rule that forces them to hold millions of dollars of capital to protect against losses.

Citigroup and other lenders have been lobbying lawmakers to broaden the exemption to win a break for themselves, too.

Although the bill doesn't offer big Wall Street banks relief, the Congressional Budget Office last week estimated there's a 50% chance that the Fed will relax the rule for Citigroup and JPMorgan after lawmakers pass the bill.
                                                                                                                                                                     
MAIN ARTICLE :

https://www.usnews.com/opinion/thomas-jefferson-street/articles/2018-03-05/why-are-senate-democrats-backing-the-gops-bank-deregulation-bill

Stop Doing the Banks' Bidding

A bunch of Senate Democrats support a bank deregulation bill that is bad politics and awful policy.

AT A TIME WHEN Democrats at the grassroots level are more fired up and ready to go then they've been in years – spoiling for a fight with President Donald Trump and his cronies in the GOP – a group of Senate Democrats is joining with Republicans to, if you'll believe it, deregulate banks.

Huh?

Yes, instead of taking action on, say, gun control, the Senate this week will likely approve a rollback of the regulations adopted in response to the 2008 financial crisis. About a dozen Democrats are backing the effort, along with nearly every Republican, and the GOP is fishing for even more votes from the blue side of the aisle in the hopes of turning a win into a rout.

Let's be clear: It's no surprise that a government wholly controlled by the GOP wants to reduce bank regulations. But that Democrats are lending them a helping hand is terrible policy and awful politics.

Democrats supporting this thing are making the case that it's for the benefit of small, community banks, which are politically sympathetic and generally not the cause of global financial panics. Don't buy it. While there are some bits of the bill that would reduce reporting requirements for small banks, it also includes big benefits for large financial institutions.

For instance, the bill would increase the amount of assets a bank needs to have in order to qualify for enhanced regulation from the Federal Reserve from $50 billion to $250 billion. This one move would exempt 25 of the nation's 38 biggest banks from stronger supervision. The bill also includes an exemption from capital standards – essentially the amount of money that banks need to have on hand in case things go south – that benefits some big financial firms, and even more are lobbying to be included.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the damage this bill would inflict. Read this piece by David Dayen at The Intercept for all the hoary details.

In addition to being very dangerous policy, this is very lousy politics. As senators like Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have shown, the energy and vitality when it comes to the Democratic base is in preventing financial shenanigans, not encouraging them. Polls bear that sentiment out. There's a reason no one who is considered a top tier 2020 Democratic candidate wants to touch this bank bill with a 100-foot pole.

So what's the deal with the Democrats who have signed on? Some, such as Delaware Sens. Chris Coons and Thomas Carper, are from bank-friendly states, and have local political reasons, I suppose, for doing what they're doing. But most of the rest are simply from places President Donald Trump won in 2016, and seem to be operating under the assumption that they need to display bipartisan bonhomie on something in order to survive their next re-election campaign.

Color me skeptical, though, that voters in Montana, North Dakota or Missouri will be more likely to support Sens. Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp or Claire McCaskill because they backed a bank deregulation bill. These are the kinds of places where Sanders ran very well against 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, so it's not like Democrats there are clamoring for a pro-corporate candidate who sings Kumbaya with the GOP.

In fact, they're the sort of places where a real populist candidate might do better than the standard-issue, centrist-approved Democrat over whom Washington consultants fawn, if given the chance.

Perhaps a simpler explanation, then, is that backing the bill is just about money. The senators in question have seen a boom in financial industry donations, and while I generally tend to dismiss the popular view of campaign contributions as an explicit quid pro quo for legislative favors, this one sure stinks more than most.

Meanwhile, there are Democratic senators from purple states such as Virginia's Tim Kaine and Mark Warner or Colorado's Michael Bennet for whom backing this bill is simply inexcusable, whatever pablum about community lenders they spew.

For Republicans, deregulating banks is standard operating procedure for which they generally don't pay a political price. It should be a different story on the left. If you live in a state where a Senate Democrat thinks that the world needs fewer rules for big banks, perhaps take a long, hard look at a primary challenger?

Again, proponents will say that the legislation we're discussing here is about freeing community banks from the shackles of government regulation so they can make more loans to Main Street. But a bank with more than $200 billion in assets is not straight out of "It's a Wonderful Life." To reduce the ability for regulators to keep a handle on them is unacceptable, and sets the country on the road to a 2008 redux.

Ten years ago, we learned what happens when the threads of the regulatory system are pulled out a bit at a time. No one should want to relive those dark days. But too many Democrats seem to have memories that are far too short.


13
Guess that doesn't apply when their coffers are filled by those who don't

 https://theintercept.com/2018/03/02/consumers-are-revolting-against-animal-cruelty-so-the-poultry-industry-is-lobbying-for-laws-to-force-stores-to-sell-their-eggs/

Consumers Are Revolting Against Animal Cruelty — So the Poultry Industry Is Lobbying for Laws to Force Stores to Sell Their Eggs

OVER THE LAST decade, thanks to a cascade of undercover exposés of factory farms and slaughterhouses by animal rights activists, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the horrors of industrial animal agriculture. Though it has received less attention than than the systematic torture of pigs and cows, perhaps no part of animal agriculture is more heinous than egg production, an industry in which hens are confined to excruciatingly small cages for the entirety of their tortured lives. As the Humane Society put it after an extensive investigation into the indescribable cruelties of this industry, “Perhaps the most abused farm animals, nearly 280 million laying hens in the United States are confined in barren wire battery cages so restrictive the birds can’t even spread their wings.”

As consumers have awoken to the barbaric conditions of the egg industry, they have begun to turn toward incrementally more humane alternatives, such as cage-free eggs, as well as truly humane options, such as eggs from pasture-raised hens at places like Vital Farms.

The market, as they say, is speaking. As Americans become more educated about the morally repellent practices of this industry, they are increasingly refusing to reward barbaric practices by buying eggs that are the byproduct of industrial torture.

But in response, the powerful poultry industry — which long invoked principles of the “free market” to justify their torture-derived products being available to consumers — have now reversed course. With consumers choosing more humane egg products, lobbyists for the poultry industry are pushing laws that would force stores to carry their products even if doing so offends their moral sensibilities and ethical judgments.

In Iowa, the nation’s biggest egg-producing state, lawmakers, at the behest of the poultry lobby, are making their most brazen attempt yet to fight the tides of change: simply making it a legal requirement for grocery stores to carry inhumanely produced eggs. A new bill in the Iowa state legislature, overwhelmingly passed by the Iowa House of Representatives on Monday by a vote of 81-17, would force any Iowa grocery store that participates in the Women, Infants and Children federal food assistance program and sells what the bill refers to as “specialty eggs” to also stock “conventional eggs.” “Specialty eggs” are cage-free eggs, free-range eggs, or “enriched colony cage” eggs — eggs produced in larger cages with perches and other amenities in them. “Conventional eggs” are eggs from hens confined in battery cages.


The bill’s supporters frame the measure as a consumer choice issue, arguing that the most economically destitute Iowans deserve access to lower priced eggs. Animal welfare advocates view the motivation differently.

“These bills are designed to keep a dying industry afloat that consumers no longer want to support,” said Cody Carlson, an attorney at Mercy for Animals. “This is an industry that refuses to change in any meaningful way.”

In 2010, Carlson worked at two industrial egg farms in Iowa, covertly documenting the inhumane practices employed in egg production as an undercover investigator. He and his co-workers, he told The Intercept, would walk down vast rows of battery cages looking for mummified bird corpses stuck to the floors. The cages were about the size of a microwave, with seven to 10 hens crammed into each one. The floors were made of an abrasive wire mesh, so when birds died — often from thirst or starvation after their confinement had debilitated their muscles and bones, rendering them paralyzed — the live hens would stand on top of the decaying carcasses to give their feet some relief. Workers like Carlson were responsible for removing the trampled carcasses.

“We called it ‘pulling carpets,’” he said

“It was common at the places I worked to find hens whose wings, legs, necks, and prolapsed ova became caught in the wires, condemning them to excruciating, prolonged deaths by dehydration or trampling by their cage-mates,” Carlson told The Intercept in an email. The “ova” that he refers to is the chicken equivalent of a uterus, which commonly prolapses because they are bred to produce so many eggs. “When I pointed this out to my supervisor and offered to help untangle some of the hens, I was told this wasn’t our job and should wait until they died to remove them,” Carlson added.

The cages Carlson worked among were stacked 12 feet high and extended for 200 yards. The hens were so tightly packed that each one had less floor space than the surface of an iPad upon which to spend her entire life. They couldn’t spread their wings, and by the time they were a year old, “they are raw and featherless from rubbing up against each other and the cage wires,” Carlson noted. He added:

With nothing to do all day, the birds would naturally begin pecking each other out of boredom. Rather than alleviate their stress by giving them more space, the industry’s response is to ‘debeak’ them, painfully severing the ends of their beaks (which are filled with nerve endings) with a hot iron. With this procedure, they still go mad from mental and physical deprivation, but lack the ability to act out.

Because male chickens don’t lay eggs and aren’t bred to grow as fast as broiler hens, they are useless to the industry. Typically, they are tossed into a machine that grinds them alive or are tossed into a large plastic bag where they are left to suffocate.

The two facilities Carlson worked in were not marginal, fly-by-night operations; they were owned by two of the biggest egg producers in the country. The conditions he witnessed on a daily basis are typical of the industry.

It would be a challenge to purposely design torture methods that would inflict more pain and suffering on hens than those used at the largest industrial egg factories in the U.S. This has been one of the most challenging issues of animal cruelty to arouse public concern, because chickens are commonly perceived to be less intelligent and less emotionally complex than dogs, pigs, or even cows, making it somehow more morally justified, or at least less personally painful, to inflict excruciating pain on them for life. Precisely for that reason, the standard practices at egg farms are among the most savage and torturous in the animal farm industry.

One undercover video produced by Mercy for Animals revealed such shocking images that the company, Eggland’s Best, announced it was “setting a goal of working with our suppliers and customers to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025,” and claimed it “has been at the forefront of egg industry best practices in a number of areas, including food safety, bird health, animal welfare, and 3rd party audit requirements.”

Despite some recent, isolated reforms, severe abuses throughout the industry remain commonplace, even as a full ban on battery cages for egg-laying hens took effect in the European Union in 2012. The Humane Society reports that “the vast majority of egg-laying hens in the United States are confined in battery cages.”

“There is no more tortured farm animal than a hen in a cage,” said Matthew O’Hayer, the founder of Vital Farms, a producer of certified humane, pasture-raised eggs. “If you visit a caged operation, there’s a chance you’ll never eat another egg in your life.”

UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATORS LIKE Carlson have helped to bring this reality to consumers, creating a market for more humane alternatives and an appetite among voters for reform.

In 2008, California voters approved the nation’s first law specifically reforming conditions for hens in the egg industry. The ballot initiative, Proposition 2, passed in a landslide, and it prohibited the state’s egg producers from confining hens in enclosures too small to allow them to turn around, stand up, lie down, and stretch their limbs. The initiative did the same for pregnant sows and veal calves.

Before the measure went into effect in 2015, egg-laying hens in California were typically crammed into battery cages exactly like the ones Carlson worked with in Iowa. The new standards provided a modicum of relief to millions of California hens.

The expenses required to comply with the new regulations, however, put the state’s egg farmers at a competitive disadvantage with out-of-state producers that sold their eggs in California stores. So the following year, to level the playing field, the California legislature adopted a new law that extended those standards to all eggs sold in the state, regardless of whether they were laid in a California facility or shipped from another state. Together, the ballot initiative and its successor bill constituted the codification of a new consumer awareness of the conditions that prevail in industrial egg production, and a new public willingness to compel producers to adopt more humane practices.

Since Prop 2’s passage, elected officials in Iowa and other egg-producing states have been vigorously fighting to undercut those laws in order to preserve access to California’s massive consumer market for their own egg producers — without requiring them to invest in better conditions for their hens. In 2013, Iowa’s Republican Rep. Steve King proposed an amendment to the federal Farm Bill that would have prevented any state from imposing standards on the production of agricultural goods created in another state — a measure explicitly aimed at nullifying the standards set by California’s Prop 2. The amendment failed.

In 2016, Iowa’s governor, along with the attorneys general of five other states, sued California’s then-State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Humane Society, seeking to block enforcement of Prop 2. The suit was dismissed at the district court level and on appeal, and the Supreme Court declined to hear it.

These successes have spurred advocates for ending animal cruelty to propose legislation for even more humane conditions. California’s legislators are now proposing to expand Prop 2’s minimum cage size yet further, and activists are pushing a new California ballot initiative that would require the state’s entire industry to go cage-free.

As the egg industry failed in its effort to undermine the voters’ will in California, the expanding national market for at least marginally more ethical eggs prompted 100 grocery store chains and dozens of chain restaurants and food manufacturers — Nestlé, McDonald’s, and Walmart among them — to pledge to abandon caged eggs over the next decade. This is an important development because these outlets collectively comprise 70 percent of consumer demand in the United States.

CAGED EGG PRODUCERS and their political allies, running short on options to stem the contraction of the market for caged eggs, are now resorting to extreme measures, including the outright abandonment of the free-market principles they once heralded as sacrosanct. In Iowa, the strategy of these corporations now rests on overriding the demands of the market and empowering the government to dictate to stores what they must sell — in particular, barring them from refusing to sell eggs that are the products of grotesque cruelty.

It’s an ironic position, because this kind of intervention in the private sector was exactly what politicians like King accused the state of California of doing with the passage of Prop 2. O’Hayer, the Vital Farms founder, explained that when California voters adopted the animal rights measure, “the response was that we should let consumers make their own choices, and you can’t boss them around.” Now that consumers are choosing humane treatment of hens, that free-market principle has been kicked to the curb.

“It’s extremely hypocritical that Iowa’s factory farmers have pretended for a long time to care about protecting the free market,” said Chris Holbein of the Humane Society, “because now that the free market is turning against them and in favor of more responsible producers that are trying to do the right thing for consumers and animals, the factory producers want the government to force grocery stores to sell a product that is both unsafe and unethical.”

Becky Higgins, a small poultry farmer in Iowa, explained in the Des Moines Register that the bill just passed by the Iowa House will harm small farmers, the environment, consumer choice, consumer health, and humane treatment of animals — essentially, everyone except big industrial agriculture to which Iowa state legislators are subservient:

Our state leaders are poised to consider legislation that would hurt Iowa family farmers like myself and consumers who support farming practices that are sustainable, humane and ethical. … These factory farms harm not only the animals, but also the environment and the viability of our rural communities. As a proud Iowa egg producer and small sustainable and traditional family farmer, I know firsthand just how harmful industrial animal agriculture has been to the Iowa way of life.

Now, disastrous bills are being discreetly and quickly moved through the Iowa Legislature. Sponsored by lawmakers beholden to corporate agribusiness interests, this legislation would force most grocery stores to sell eggs from hens cruelly confined in tiny, barren battery cages. A growing number of farmers like myself have dedicated their lives to raising the standard of care for our animals and employees, while producing safe, wholesome products. Like me, many of my fellow farmers across the state have converted to cage-free systems, and others opted to never use cages from the beginning. Cage-free production is more humane, better for the environment, and produces a safer, tastier, healthier egg. …

In addition to supporting the continued use of inhumane battery cages, these dangerous bills will also increase food safety risks for Iowa families. Extensive research has shown higher rates of the harmful bacteria salmonella in eggs from caged hens versus eggs from cage-free hens. The stressful living conditions and inability of caged hens to move lowers their immune systems, making the transfer of disease more likely. A  major industry trade publication, Poultry World, wrote that “salmonella thrives in cage housing.” If the industry itself admits battery cage eggs are more dangerous, why on earth would they knowingly subject Iowa families to higher food safety risks?

For as long as I can remember, industrial animal agriculture has been trying to stop any regulation of extreme cruelty by saying that the “free market should decide,” yet now that the free market is rejecting the worst forms of factory farming practices, industrial agribusinesses is demanding that the government bail them out and take a share of the market away from more humane and responsible farmers.

The government has no place mandating that grocers must sell a product that family farmers, businesses and consumers reject.


Neither the bill’s legislative sponsors nor the Iowa Poultry Association responded to requests for comment.

Animal rights activists have succeeded in making greater sectors of the public aware of, and repelled by, the extreme cruelty and barbarism of industrial farming corporations in the U.S. But these corporations still wield one last weapon, and it is a potent one: the ability to use their financial muscle and lobbying power to dictate laws, particularly in farming states. Their latest ploy demonstrates how desperate they have become — but also how powerful they remain.

Consumers have their own power: their refusal to reward industrial farms and corporations for imposing gratuitous and incomprehensible suffering on living beings by purchasing their products. That is now one of the primary fronts animal rights activists view as a key to ensuring more humane treatment for animals in the U.S. and abroad.

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Courtesy of Sam Seder  (Both are only 3 minutes apiece and make pretty worthwhile viewing.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9dcfXWtQks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNYqtj5xGWs

I know Sam and Jimmy Dore do not get along. But they each put up to the point videos exposing the corruption of the american business and political system.

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It's little we cannot figure out, but this type stuff is nonetheless quite disturbing when specifically layed out. Especially knowing it is not going to get better anytime soon given the current crop of crooks shaping U.S. policies. Though at least much of the rest of the world seems ready to face reality.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/11/13/thousands-of-scientists-issue-bleak-second-notice-to-humanity/?utm_term=.c8d6b8c639ae


In late 1992, 1,700 scientists from around the world issued a dire “warning to humanity.” They said humans had pushed Earth's ecosystems to their breaking point and were well on the way to ruining the planet. The letter listed environmental impacts like they were biblical plagues — stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, the collapse of fisheries and loss of soil productivity, deforestation, species loss and  catastrophic global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

“If not checked,” wrote the scientists, led by particle physicist and Union of Concerned Scientists co-founder Henry Kendall, “many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.”

But things were only going to get worse.

.......

This letter, spearheaded by Oregon State University ecologist William Ripple, serves as a “second notice,” the authors say: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.”

Global climate change sits atop the new letter's list of planetary threats. Global average temperatures have risen by more than half a degree Celsius since 1992, and annual carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 62 percent.

.....

But it's far from the only problem people face. Access to fresh water has declined, as has the amount of forestland and the number of wild-caught fish (a marker of the health of global fisheries). The number of ocean dead zones has increased. The human population grew by a whopping 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by nearly 30 percent.

The lone bright spot exists way up in the stratosphere, where the hole in the planet's protective ozone layer has shrunk to its smallest size since 1988. ........

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