Archive for February, 2008

PETA’s Lame Response

February 8, 2008

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We’ll say this much for PETA’s leaders: they’ve got an answer for everything. If you write to PETA and ask them about our “PETA Kills Animals” website, they’ll send back a form letter including some of the lame excuses below:

“Thank you for contacting PETA about the ‘PETA Kills Animals’ billboard and the accompanying promotions for it … PETA can’t afford billboards in Times Square, so we’re grateful for the opportunity that this one provides to discuss the animal overpopulation crisis.”

PETA’s lying. The organization has erected not one but two Times Square billboards (one in 1997 and another in 2003), both featuring silicone beauty Pamela Anderson. Click here and here to see PETA’s own promotional materials about these advertisements. And PETA’s annual budget is over $25 million. That’s about seven times what the Center for Consumer Freedom spends.

“We do not run a traditional shelter. In fact, we refer every healthy, cute, young animal we can to shelters.”

Uh oh. There they go again. In 2003 PETA reported transferring exactly one animal to another shelter. In 2002 PETA transferred just two animals. Click here to see the documents PETA filed with the state of Virginia. Since 1998, PETA has transferred a total of 130 animals to other shelters, and 21 of them were chickens. By comparison, it killed over 10,000 animals.

“[M]ost of the animals we receive are broken beings for whom euthanasia is, without a doubt, the most humane option.”

PETA kills 85 percent of the animals it takes in, and finds adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By contrast, the Norfolk SPCA, whose shelter is located less than 4 miles from PETA’s headquarters, found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals in 2003. It’s rather hard to believe that the animals entrusted to PETA are any more likely to be “broken beings.” Dana Cheek, the former (and most recent) director of the Norfolk SPCA, wrote to us recently:

I often receive phone calls from frantic people who have surrendered their pets to PETA with the understanding that PETA will “find them a good home.” Many of them are led to believe that the animals will be taken to a nearby shelter. Little do they know that the pets are killed in the PETA van before they even pull away from the pet owner’s home … PETA refuses to surrender animals they obtain to area shelters for rehoming. If only the celebrity “deep-pocket” donors on the west coast knew that their donations were going to kill adoptable cats and dogs here in Norfolk.
PETA talks a good game about caring for animals, but seems uninterested in saving the only creatures it actually has contact with. If PETA were sincere, it could use its incredible wealth to buy a huge plot of land where its thousands of victims could live out their natural lives. Instead, these animals meet PETA’s hypocrisy head-on, in the form of “tough love.”



February 8, 2008

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The pastor at Anchorage First Free Methodist Church was mystified. Why was the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chastising him? No animals are harmed in the church’s holiday nativity display. In fact, animals aren’t used at all.

People, however, do dress the parts – Mary, Joseph, the wise men, etc. The volunteers stand shivering at a manger on the church lawn in a silent tribute to Christmas.

The Rev. Jason Armstrong was confused by an e-mail this week from PETA, which admonished him for subjecting animals “to cruel treatment and danger,” by forcing them into roles in the church’s annual manger scene.

“We’ve never had live animals, so I just figured this was some spam thing,” Armstrong said. “It’s rough enough on us people standing out there in the cold. So we’re definitely not using animals.”

PETA Killed Over 97 Percent of the Animals in its Care in 2006

February 8, 2008

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2,981. That’s how many dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, and other “companion animals” died needlessly at PETA’s hands in 2006. According to the group’s own records, PETA employees killed more than 97 percent of the flesh-and-blood creatures in their care that year.

Compare that with the Norfolk (where PETA is based) Society for the Protection of Animals, which euthanized only 38 of the 1404 animals placed in their care that year. Even the Norfolk city pound managed to release or adopt out more than half the number of animals it euthanized.

While PETA collects millions in donations by pretending to advocate for the welfare of animals, the group has killed 17,400 pets since 1998. Some animals are killed at PETA headquarters and stored in a giant walk-in freezer.

Others are killed in roving death vans and tossed into dumpsters. In fact, less than three percent of the animals handed over to People for the “Ethical” Treatment of Animals actually survive.

Hillary workers not getting paid

February 7, 2008

Because of cash shottages Hillary isn’t paying her staff. When asked if they were getting health insurance, she dodged the question.


Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest mother for sitting with a man

February 7, 2008

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A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia’s religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.

Yara, who does not want her last name published for fear of retribution, was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom’s “Mutaween” police.

Her story offers a rare first-hand glimpse of the discrimination faced by women living in Saudi Arabia. In her first interview with the foreign press, Yara told The Times that she would remain in Saudi Arabia to challenge its harsh enforcement of conservative Islam rather than return to America.

“If I want to make a difference I have to stick around. If I leave they win. I can’t just surrender to the terrorist acts of these people,” said Yara, who moved to Jeddah eight years ago with her husband, a prominent businessman.

Her ordeal began with a routine visit to the new Riyadh offices of her finance company, where she is a managing partner.

The electricity temporarily cut out, so Yara and her colleagues — who are all men — went to a nearby Starbucks to use its wireless internet.

She sat in a curtained booth with her business partner in the café’s “family” area, the only seats where men and women are allowed to mix.

For Yara, it was a matter of convenience. But in Saudi Arabia, public contact between unrelated men and women is strictly prohibited.

“Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked ‘Why are you here together?’. I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin,” recalled Yara, who wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women.

The men were from Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.

Yara, whose parents are Jordanian and grew up in Salt Lake City, once believed that life in Saudi Arabia was becoming more liberal. But on Monday the religious police took her mobile phone, pushed her into a cab and drove her to Malaz prison in Riyadh. She was interrogated, strip-searched and forced to sign and fingerprint a series of confessions pleading guilty to her “crime”.

“They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on,” she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.

“He said ‘You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell’. I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless,” she said.

Yara’s husband, Hatim, used his political contacts in Jeddah to track her whereabouts. He was able to secure her release.

“I was lucky. I met other women in that prison who don’t have the connections I did,” she said. Her story has received rare coverage in Saudi Arabia, where the press has been sharply critical of the police.

Yara was visited yesterday by officials from the American Embassy, who promised they would file a report.

An embassy official told The Times that it was being treated as “an internal Saudi matter” and refused to comment on her case.

Clinton would garnishing people’s wages

February 5, 2008

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In Health Debate, Clinton Remains Vague on Penalties

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton inched closer Sunday to explaining how she would enforce her proposal that everyone have health insurance, but declined to specify — as she has throughout the campaign — how she would penalize those who refuse.

Mrs. Clinton, who did not answer Senator Barack Obama’s question on the topic in a debate last Thursday, was pressed repeatedly to do so Sunday by George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program “This Week.” When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked a third time whether she would garnish people’s wages, Mrs. Clinton responded, “George, we will have an enforcement mechanism, whether it’s that or it’s some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments.”

She then added that the focus on enforcement clouded a more important point, that her proposal to cover the uninsured was superior to Mr. Obama’s because she would mandate coverage for all, while he would require it only for children.

What might seem a mundane debate over health policy has taken on outsized importance in the approach to Tuesday’s voting because it is one of the few substantive differences between the two leading Democratic presidential candidates.

Polling has found that health care is a top concern of Democratic voters, and that they rank covering the uninsured as more important than reducing health costs or improving quality.

Mrs. Clinton, therefore, has argued that her plan, because of its mandate, would achieve universal coverage while Mr. Obama’s would not. She has taken recently to calling universal coverage “a core Democratic value and a moral principle.”

Mr. Obama asserts that his plan, which is like Mrs. Clinton’s in its use of government subsidies to reduce the cost of insurance, would effectively guarantee coverage to anyone who wants it.

But about 20 percent of the uninsured have household incomes of $75,000 or more, according to the Census Bureau, meaning they presumably can afford coverage but prefer to take the risk. Mrs. Clinton argues that these “free riders” impose a hidden tax on the insured because their uncompensated care must be factored into medical charges and insurance rates.

Mr. Obama’s campaign has tried for months to move from defense to offense by pressing Mrs. Clinton to explain how she would enforce her mandate. A recent study published in the journal Health Affairs concluded that compliance with government mandates varied greatly, both in the United States and in other countries. But compliance is greatest, the authors wrote, when “penalties for noncompliance are stiff but not excessive.”

A group of doctors and health policy analysts, including a number of Obama advisers, pointed out in a letter released Thursday that Massachusetts, the only state with an insurance mandate, has thus far failed to enroll nearly half of its uninsured despite imposing a modest first-year tax penalty of $219 (the fine increases significantly this year). Because the Massachusetts program is less than a year old, it is not yet possible to fully judge the effectiveness of its mandate.

Mr. Obama raised the Clinton campaign’s ire late last week by charging in a voter mailing that “Hillary’s health care plan forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it… and you pay a penalty if you don’t.”

Mrs. Clinton argues that she can make premiums affordable for low-income workers by spending $110 billion on subsidies and cost-saving devices. Like Mr. Obama, she would pay for her plan primarily by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest Americans. She would not allow exemptions from the insurance mandate, as Massachusetts does for those who cannot afford even subsidized premiums.

Aides to Mrs. Clinton had said previously that she would consider garnishing people’s wages, and that the uninsured could be automatically enrolled when they present themselves at hospitals or government offices. But Mrs. Clinton, who faced criticism in the 1990s for not adequately consulting Congress on her husband’s health plan, has typically said she would leave such details to negotiations with lawmakers.

She said Sunday she would not impose fines, as Mr. Obama has said he would to enforce his insurance mandate for children. “We want them to have insurance,” she said. “We want it to be affordable.”

The reason for the continuing vagueness is simple, said Robert J. Blendon, a Harvard professor of health policy and political analysis. “Whenever you talk about penalties, you lose some number of people who support the principle of universal coverage,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of candidates proposing new programs that may lead to a tax increase but never wanting to discuss it.”

The Obama campaign hopes to make Mrs. Clinton pay a price, not just on health policy but on the issue of character. Bill Burton, the Obama campaign’s spokesman, said on Sunday that Mrs. Clinton had “again refused to directly answer the question,” and added, “America needs a leader they can trust, not someone who will avoid hard questions.”

Code Pink You Stink

February 2, 2008

More “stuff” from the granola state. When is the big quake comming?

Read entire article here

Berkeley council tells Marines to leave
By Doug Oakley

Article Launched: 01/30/2008 01:48:16 PM PST

Council says Marines unwelcome in town. Hey-hey, ho-ho, the Marines in Berkeley have got to go.
That’s the message from the Berkeley City Council, which voted 6-3 Tuesday night to tell the U.S. Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station “is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”

In addition, the council voted to explore enforcing its law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines because of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. And it officially encouraged the women’s peace group Code Pink to impede the work of the Marines in the city by protesting in front of the station.

In a separate item, the council voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.

Councilman Gordon Wozniak opposed both items.

The Marines have been in Berkeley for a little more than a year, having moved from Alameda in December of 2006. For about the past four months, Code Pink has been protesting in front of the station.

“I believe in the Code Pink cause. The Marines don’t belong here, they shouldn’t have come here, and they should leave,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates after votes were cast.

A Marines representative did not respond to requests for comment.

The resolution telling the Marines they are unwelcome and directing the city attorney to explore
issues of sexual orientation discrimination was brought to the council by the city’s Peace and Justice commission.
The recommendation to give Code Pink a parking space for protesting and a free sound permit was brought by council members Linda Maio and Max Anderson.

Code Pink on Wednesday started circulating petitions to put a measure on the November ballot in Berkeley that would make it more difficult to open military recruiting offices near homes, parks, schools, churches libraries or health clinics. The group needs 5,000 signatures to make the ballot.

Even though the council items passed, not everyone is happy with the work of Code Pink. Some employees and owners of businesses near the Marines office have had enough of the group and its protests.

“My husband’s business is right upstairs, and this (protesting) is bordering on harassment,” Dori Schmidt told the council. “I hope this stops.”

An employee of a nearby business who asked not to be identified said Wednesday the elderly Code Pink protesters are aggressive, take up parking spaces, block the sidewalk with their yoga moves, smoke in the doorways, and are noisy.

“Most of the people around here think they’re a joke,” the woman said.

Wozniak said he was opposed to giving Code Pink a parking space because it favors free speech rights of one group over another.

“There’s a line between protesting and harassing, and that concerns me,” Wozniak said. “It looks like we are showing favoritism. We have to respect the other side, and not abuse their rights. This is not good policy.”

Ninety-year-old Fran Rachel, a Code Pink protester who spoke at the council meeting, said the group’s request for a parking space and noise permit was especially important because the Marines are recruiting soldiers who may die in an unjust war.

“This is very serious,” Rachel said. “This isn’t a game; it’s mass murder. There’s a sickness of silence of people not speaking out against the war. We have to do this.”

Anderson, a former Marine who said he was “drummed out” of the corps when he took a stand against the Vietnam War, said he’d love to see the Marines high tale it out of town.

“We are confronted with an organization that can spend billions of dollars on propaganda,” Anderson said. “This is not Okinawa here; we’re involved in a naked act of aggression. If we can provide a space for ordinary people to express themselves against this kind of barbarity, then we should be doing it.”

U.S. Senator Wants to Revoke Funding From City of Berkeley, Calif., for Vote to Boot Marines

February 2, 2008

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Friday, February 01, 2008

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., says the City of Berkeley, Calif., no longer deserves federal money.

DeMint was angered after learning that the Berkeley City Council voted this week to tell the U.S. Marine Corps to remove its recruiting station from the city’s downtown.

“This is a slap in the face to all brave service men and women and their families,” DeMint said in a prepared statement. “The First Amendment gives the City of Berkeley the right to be idiotic, but from now on they should do it with their own money.”

“If the city can’t show respect for the Marines that have fought, bled and died for their freedom, Berkeley should not be receiving special taxpayer-funded handouts,” he added.

In the meantime, a senior Marine official tells FOX News that the Marine office in Berkeley isn’t going anywhere.

“We understand things are different there, but some people just don’t get it. This is a part of the military machine that gives them the right to do what they do, but what they are doing is extreme,” the official said.

— $975,000 for the University of California at Berkeley, for the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, which may include establishing an endowment, and for cataloguing the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui.

— $750,000 for the Berkeley/Albana ferry service.

— $243,000 for the Chez Panisse Foundation, for a school lunch initiative to integrate lessons about wellness, sustainability and nutrition into the academic curriculum.

— $94,000 for a Berkeley public safety interoperability program.

— $87,000 for the Berkeley Unified School District, nutrition education program.

The Marine official, speaking with FOX News on Friday, said Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway scoffed at the news, but there are no plans for to protest the City Council’s decisions. There are definitely no plans to move the recruiting station either.

“To actually put something into law that encourages the disruption of a federal office is ridiculous. They are not going to kick a federal office out of its rightful place there, and this is not going to discourage those young patriots who want to be Marines,” the official said.

The Berkeley City Council this week voted to tell the Marines their downtown recruiting station is not welcome and “if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests,” according to The Associated Press.

The council also voted to explore whether a city anti-discrimination law applies to the Marines, with a focus on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevents open homosexuality in the military.

The council also voted to give the antiwar group Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office once a week for six months, as well as a protest permit.

The Marine recruiting office in Berkeley has been open for about one year, but has been the subject of recent protests by Code Pink members.