Independent Democracy

Thought provoking commentary

Crutchfield $20 coupon code

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November 15, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Barack Obama, Books, Cult, Current Events, Election 2008, Entertainment, Environment, Florida, Fun Stuff, Health, Helpful Resources, Humor, Iraq, John McCain, Letters to the Editor, Magazines, Military & War, Money, Movies, Music, News, News of the Wierd, Newspaper, Politics, Radio, Random, Religion, Rhode Island, Sarah Palin, Shopping, Sirius, Sirius Radio, Sports, Tampa Tribune, Television, Uncategorized, Utah, Utne, XM, XM Radio | Leave a comment

SNL Mark Wahlberg – Andy Samberg talk to animals video

While your here, try a free 14-day trial with the best online photo and video storage company, To show my thanks for stopping by and checking out this post, I’m offering a $5 discount on all new Smugmug accounts in addition to a free 14-day trial.  Click here to use the free Sumgmug $5 coupon code and claim your free thank you gift compliments of Independent Democracy.  By the way, no credit card is required and there’s no obligation.

The report is Mark Wahlberg will apprear on SNL tonight (18 Oct) to confront Andy Semberg about the “talks to animals skit”.  Visit the link below to watch the original SNL skit and watch Wahlbergs reaction on the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Click any of these photos to watch the videos on Smugmug

And this is the picture from the 18 Oct skit. Click the picture to visit the video gallery.

October 18, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, Entertainment, Fun Stuff, Humor, Random, Television, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Man gets stuck in elephant’s ass

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, Fun Stuff, Humor, News of the Wierd, Random | 4 Comments

Angry Goat Kills Pastor

A Tennessee pastor suffered a fatal heart attack after being rammed by his pet goat. What this story fails to say, rather than the cause of death being an angry, possessed, mean-spirited goat, it was probably due to the Pastor being overweight with a history of heart trouble. Hmm, maybe farm animal love had something to do with it.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, News, News of the Wierd, Religion | 1 Comment

Dad forces 7 year old daughter to kill pet cat

Story Highlights

  • Indiana man told children he wanted them to learn how to kill, police say
  • After boy tried to hide cat, father held knife in girl’s hand, detective says
  • Siblings, who live with grandparents, told authorities that their father was drunk
  • Man charged with battery, animal cruelty and neglect of a dependent

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — A man was jailed Thursday on charges that he forced his 7-year-old daughter to kill the family cat by holding a knife in her hand and making her stab the pet.

Danield J. Collins, 39, told his children during a visit to his home Sunday that he wanted them to “learn how to kill” and gave his 11-year-old son a knife to do it, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

The boy tried to save the cat by hiding it under a sofa bed and putting ketchup on a knife when Collins went to the bathroom. But when the father realized that the cat was not dead, he forced his daughter to hold the knife and then held her hand tightly as he drove the knife into the animal, Muncie police Detective Jami Brown said.

Police said Collins stabbed and strangled the cat himself, and told his son to throw the dead pet in the trash. Officers retrieved the carcass to be used as evidence.

The children told family members about the incident Monday, the day after the alleged killing, according to the affidavit. The children told police that their father was drunk when they arrived at his home and that he’s a different person when he’s sober, it said.

The siblings live with their grandparents.

Collins was being held in the Delaware County Jail in lieu of $40,000 bail. He’s charged with one count each of animal cruelty and battery and two counts of neglect of a dependent. The battery charge alleges that the girl was injured because Collins held her hand so hard that it ached.

The jail had no record of an attorney representing Collins, and there were no published phone listings for him in Muncie.

Brown said the case was particularly troubling because Collins involved his children in killing the animal, an 8-month-old tuxedo-type cat named Boots.

“I’ve been doing investigations for 10 years, and this is really bothering me,” the detective said.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, News | 6 Comments

Inspectors say meat safety is threatened

Associated Press Writer

Sometimes, government inspectors responsible for examining slaughterhouse cattle for mad cow disease and other ills are so short-staffed that they find themselves peering down from catwalks at hundreds of animals at once, looking for such telltale signs as droopy ears, stumbling gait and facial paralysis.

The ranks of inspectors are so thin that slaughterhouse workers often figure out when “surprise” visits are about to take place, and make sure they are on their best behavior.

These allegations were raised by former and current U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors in the wake of the biggest beef recall in history — 143 million pounds from a California meatpacker accused of sending lame “downer” cows to slaughter.

The inspectors told The Associated Press that they fear chronic staff shortages in their ranks are allowing sick cows to get into the nation’s food supply, endangering the public. According to USDA’s own figures, the inspector ranks nationwide had vacancy rates of 10 percent or more in 2006-07.

“They’re not covering all their bases. There’s a possibility that something could go through because you don’t have the manpower to check everything,” said Lester Friedlander, a former USDA veterinary inspector at a plant in Wyalusing, Pa.

Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, acknowledged that the department has been struggling to fill vacancies but denied the food supply is at risk.

“Every single animal must past antemortem inspection before it’s presented for slaughter, so only healthy animals are going to pass,” she said. “We do have continuous inspection at slaughter facilities.”

Similarly, Janet Riley, a spokeswoman for the American Meat Institute, defended the meatpacking industry’s safety record. “It is interesting to keep in mind how heavily regulated we are,” she said. “Nobody has this level of inspection.”

The current and former inspectors and other industry critics charged that the staff shortages are also resulting in the mistreatment of animals on the way to slaughter, and may have contributed to the recall announced earlier this week.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin, said Thursday that his Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a Feb. 28 hearing on the recall.

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer and the presidents of the Humane Society and the American Meat Institute, among others, will testify, he said in a printed statement.

The USDA recalled the beef after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video that showed slaughterhouse workers at the Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. kicking and shoving sick and crippled cows and forcing them to stand with electric prods, forklifts and water hoses.

Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society’s president and chief executive, said the video was filmed over a six-week period last fall and all the abuse happened when USDA inspectors were not present.

“The inspection system obviously has enormous gaps if these routine abuses could happen,” he said. “The inspector would show up and if there were downed animals, the workers would try to get them up before the inspectors got there.”

Generally, downer cows — those too sickly to stand, even with coaxing — are banned from the food supply under federal regulations. Downer cows carry a higher risk of mad cow disease. And because sickly animals typically wallow in feces and have weakened immune systems, downer cows are more likely to carry E. coli and salmonella, too.

Veterinary inspector looks for such symptoms as an unsteady gait, swollen lymph nodes, sores and poor muscle tone.

Industry critics say the staff shortages are compounded by a change in USDA regulations in the late 1990s that gave slaughterhouses more responsibility for devising their own safety checklists and for reporting downer cows to the USDA when inspectors are not present.

That policy places slaughterhouses on an honor system that can lead to abuse in an industry that thrives on close attention to costs, said Stan Painter, chairman for the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, which represents 6,000 inspectors nationwide.

“The fox is guarding its own henhouse,” said Painter, who also works as a part-time inspector at hog and poultry packing plants in the South. “If you throw a three-pound chicken away, so what? But if you throw a cow away that’s 300 pounds of meat, and you can’t get any money out of it, that’s a big issue.”

Inspectors whose job is to make sure that the cattle are treated humanely said staff shortages mean they are forced to adopt routine hours for their checks, removing the element of surprise.

USDA numbers show anywhere between 10 and 12 percent of inspector and veterinarian positions at poultry, beef and pork slaughterhouses nationwide were vacant between October 2006 and September 2007. In some regions, including Colorado and Texas, a major beef-producing state, the rate hovered around 15 percent. In New York, vacancy rates hit nearly 22 percent last July.

To bolster its ranks, the department is offering big signing bonuses of at least $2,500 to inspectors willing to relocate to 15 states. The agency has 7,800 inspectors covering 6,200 federally inspected establishments, 900 of which slaughter livestock.

USDA’s Eamich blamed the vacancies on competition with private-sector wages, high costs of living and the often-undesirable rural locations of many slaughterhouses.

The agency hired 200 new inspectors in the past year, bringing staffing levels to their highest point since 2003, and cut veterinarian vacancies by half through hiring incentives, the spokeswoman said.

Felicia Nestor, a policy analyst with Washington-based Food and Water Watch, said the food supply may be at risk.

“I have talked to so many inspectors who used to work for the industry, and part of the training is how to get around the inspection. They’ve got walkies-talkies to alert each other to where the inspector is, they double-team the inspector,” she said.

At two packing houses in Nebraska, veterinarians monitor up to 700 head of cattle at a time for signs of illness — just enough to make sure all the cows are standing, said one veteran inspector who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job.

The inspector has worked for 15 years as an inspector at two plants in Lexington and Grand Island, Neb. One-quarter of the inspection positions at one of his plants have been vacant now for two years, he said.

“There are so many vet shortages out in the field right now, they can’t keep it properly staffed,” the inspector said. “When they come into these big slaughter facilities, they’ll put 200 head in a pen. All you can tell is they’re moving.”

Friedlander, who left the USDA in 1995, said he recalled checking up to 220 cows an hour by standing on a catwalk above a pen of hundreds of animals. He would also check to see if cows could walk by having workers drive them from one pen to another, six or seven cows abreast.

“If you’re a vet, you see the first cow, you might see the second cow, but the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh cow you might not see,” he said. “How can we tell if there’s any facial paralysis or droopy ears? You can’t tell.”

USDA’s Eamich said that there is no limit to the number of animals an inspector is allowed to look at at one time, “but they have to look at every single one.”

February 21, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, Health, News | 3 Comments

Beef Recall Videos – Watch them here

Humane Society video here

ABC News video here

Warning: This video contains graphic and disturbing footage. In it, an Humane Society investigator describes his experience working undercover at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. slaughterhouse in Southern California.

Humane Society Undercover Video Prompts Nation’s Largest Beef Recall

Government Recalls Record 143 Million Pounds of Beef From a Southern California Slaughterhouse, Westland/Hallmark Meat Co

February 18, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, News | , | Leave a comment

Humane Society Undercover Video Prompts Nation’s Largest Beef Recall

Click here to watch the video

Government Recalls Record 143 Million Pounds of Beef From a Southern California Slaughterhouse

Feb. 18, 2008

A disturbing undercover video showing cows too sick to stand being shoved with forklifts or dragged with chains across a cement floor at a Southern California slaughterhouse has sparked the largest beef recall in the nation’s history.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered a recall of 143 million pounds of beef Sunday evening from Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which is the subject of an animal-abuse investigation. The recall affects beef products dating back to Feb. 1, 2006 that came from the company.

“Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection,” the Food Safety and Inspection Service said, “[it] has determined them to be unfit for human food.”

The USDA insists the threat is small.

Westland/Hallmark provides meat to the National School Lunch Program and about 150 school districts have stopped using its products. Now officials are scrambling to prevent the questionable beef from reaching school lunch counters. They estimate about 37 million pounds of the beef has gone to schools.

Westland/Hallmark also provided products to two fast food companies. Both Jack-in-the-Box and In-N-Out said they would not use beef from Westland/Hallmark.

The USDA said it had evidence Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became nonambulatory after passing inspection, which violates health regulations.

Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher contamination risk from E. coli, mad cow disease or salmonella.

So far, no illnesses have been linked to the recalled beef and officials said they believe the majority of it already has been consumed.

Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages. The USDA said it will work with distributors to determine how much meat remains.

Agriculture officials said the massive recall surpasses a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats.

Critical Response

Critics scolded the USDA upon learning of the recall, saying the federal agency should conduct more thorough inspections to ensure tainted beef doesn’t get into the public’s food supply.

“It’s clear that USDA’s system failed and it allowed this company to engage in long-term inhumane practices,” said Carolyn Smith DeWaal, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Animal activists said if it hadn’t been for the Humane Society’s undercover footage, the Westland/Hallmark may have continued produce meat.

The video showed downed cows struggling to get on their feet as operators shoved them into position with forklifts.

Criminal Charges

The recall’s fallout included criminal charges against two former workers Friday.

Five felony counts of animal cruelty and three misdemeanors were filed against a pen manager.

Also, three misdemeanor counts of illegal movement of a nonambulatory animal were filed against another employee who worked under that manager. Both were fired.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

February 18, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, Health, News | , | 2 Comments

Transcripts show chaos after San Francisco Zoo attack

By JORDAN ROBERTSON, Associated Press Writer

Police radio transcripts from the night of a deadly tiger attack revealed a chaotic scene at the San Francisco Zoo as zookeepers struggled to sedate the animal and medics refused to enter until they knew they would be safe.

Zoo employees also initially questioned whether early reports of the Dec. 25 attack were coming from a mentally unstable person, according to an 18-page log of communications from police dispatchers to officers and emergency responders at the scene.

Police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens declined to comment beyond the transcript released late Friday. The police chief has praised officers for their quick action and collaborative work with the zoo staff.

Zoo officials on Saturday did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The tiger that escaped from its enclosure killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., whose throat was slashed while he tried to scare away the animal. Two of Sousa’s friends suffered bite and claw injuries. They were released from the hospital Saturday.

The first report of an attack — a male bleeding from the head — came in at 5:08 p.m.

According to the logs, zoo personnel initially told police that two men reporting the escaped tiger might be mentally disturbed and “making something up,” though one was bleeding from the back of the head.

But by 5:10 p.m., zoo employees reported that a tiger was loose. By 5:13 p.m., the zoo was being evacuated.

For several minutes, medics refused to enter the zoo until it had been secured. Meanwhile, zoo keepers were trying to round up what they initially believed to be multiple tigers on the loose and hit them with tranquilizers.

“Zoo personnel have the tiger in sight and are dealing with it,” reads a 5:17 p.m. note on the transcript.

The transcript does not indicate when police or emergency responders entered, but by 5:20 p.m. medics had located one victim with a large puncture hole to his neck. The tiger was still loose.

As medics attended to the victim, an officer spotted the tiger sitting down before it fled and began attacking another victim, according to the logs.

At 5:27 p.m., less than 20 minutes after the initial reports were made, the officers began firing, killing the 350-pound Siberian tiger.

It was unclear whether letting police and medics into the zoo sooner would have helped the victims or subjected emergency responders to greater danger with a tiger on the loose.

Late Saturday, about 50 people gathered outside the San Jose home of Souza’s grandmother to attend a candlelight vigil. Mourners watched silently as Souza’s father stood in front of two enlarged photos of he and his son together.

“My son Carlos was a very good boy” the elder Souza said, choking back tears. “I can see that he had a lot of friends here. I want you all to remember the good things that he did and carry this with you in your hearts for as long as you can.”

Police said Friday that they had completed their investigation on zoo grounds and that investigators “found absolutely no evidence of an intentional release.”

It has become increasingly clear that the tiger climbed over the wall of its enclosure, which at just under 12 1/2 high was about 4 feet below the recommended minimum for U.S. zoos.

Zoo officials said the zoo, which has been closed since the attack, would reopen Jan. 3. It could face heavy fines from regulators and lose its license. It also could be hit with a huge lawsuit by the victims or their families.

Meanwhile, at the Oakland Zoo, officials have said they plan to raise the height of the walls surrounding their tiger enclosure to avoid any escapes like the one in San Francisco. The current walls range from 13 1/2 to 16 feet.

Associated Press writers Ron Harris in San Jose and Marcus Wohlsen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

December 29, 2007 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, News | Leave a comment

Macaca fuscata monkeys bathe in Jigokudani Hot Spring in Nagano Prefecture, Japan

I thought this was a very cool photo. Click on it to view full size.

November 26, 2007 Posted by | Animals, Fun Stuff | 1 Comment