United’s peacock diverts attention from the real issues

A performance artist tried to bring an emotional support peacock on a United flight and was declined.

This comes, oh, so conveniently, as Delta is defending itself against some very real concerns over its new restrictions against emotional support and service animals.

First, we deal with the peacock. No true animal lover or good animal steward would subject a peacock to a trip through an airport and a trip in an airplane. Peacocks are easily stressed out. And they scream, loudly, inappropriately and often. I have no compunction about saying peacocks belong on a farm, not on an airplane. Also, there’s no room on an airplane for a male peacock to display its gorgeous tail feathers. And that’s the only thing about a male peacock that seems remotely therapeutic.

All this leads to my skepticism about a) whether someone really owns a therapy peacock and b) whether this attempt to get a peacock on board was staged by someone favorable to Delta’s new policies.

If so, this diversion comes at a time when many people are trying to get real answers to legitimate questions like, “Where is my service animal allowed to relieve himself when my flight is delayed for ten hours, as frequently happens, especially on Delta?” The complaints surrounding service and emotional therapy animals centers largely around these animals peeing and pooping amongst the passengers. UPDATE: The good people at ESA Doctors have told me that airports are stepping up to the plate and providing designated areas for service animals.

Meanwhile, Delta has still not responded to a request from the Animals Rights Channel about where, exactly, these animals are allowed to go potty. With no answer to this question, we are forced to deduce that there is no approved place for service animals to relieve themselves on Delta. ESA Doctors tells people not to feed or water their service dogs before getting on a flight. These experts also advise that passengers traveling with animals bring “pee pads,” and somehow get their dog to use these before getting on the plane if the flight is delayed or people at the security checkpoint are going on a power trip.

All this adds up to: Of course, your dog or cat is going to pee or defecate in the cabin because there’s nowhere else to do it. Rather than simply providing this simple accommodation, Delta prefers to engage in an enormous and reputation endangering controversy.

 

Ten things a grouchy baby boomer loves about millennials

These are the things I love about millennials from pretty awesome to most awesome.

10. They put the salt in the wrong shaker.

Salt and pepper shaker makers are still confusing us with one shaker that has one hole and another shaker that has four or five holes. Miss Manners, the putative expert on manners, says that’s the way to do it. It’s worth noting that she was born in 1938, not a boomer, but from the time that set the rules, according to boomers.

Meanwhile, millennials grew up fearing salt. Salt will give you heart disease, high blood pressure, dehydration. Fearful baby boomers taught their kids, the millennials, that salt is a great evil and forgot to teach them how to load the shakers. So, now when I go to a restaurant and try to salt my food, pepper comes out, and I know that millennials have filled the shakers. Bless them for cutting back my sodium intake and using logic and reason rather than bowing to convention–or asking directions.

opportunity-1804472_960_7209. They still love their parents.

This is nothing short of a miracle, as any baby boomer still mad at his parents should know. So what if this new generation lives with mom and dad until they’re twenty-nine?

My first apartment was a cockroach infested, garlic smelling nightmare. My immediate neighbors were all getting high. Why should anyone subject herself to that if she still gets along with her folks?

Meanwhile, baby boomers are busily enabling their adult children to live with them by remodeling basements to be self-sufficient quarters with their own living area, a second kitchen, one or two separate bathrooms, and a separate entrance. You don’t do that if you want your kids to move out, so stop bitching about their lack of independence. Millennials who live at home as grown ups have a much lower carbon footprint. That means they’re making much less of a contribution to climate change than I did at that age.

And let’s be honest. I didn’t move out because I was so into independence. There was just no living with my mother.

8. They defer children and get a dog.

There are so many things to love about this, I don’t know where to start. Dogs, of course, have a carbon footprint, but not by any means a footprint equivalent to a new human being. Experts have assured us that millennials just don’t have the money for children. When did that EVER stop any previous generation from making babies they couldn’t afford? We should all applaud any group of people who realize that making new humans is a huge, daunting, and morally dubious enterprise.

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7. They don’t want their grandparents to be poor.

This little fact blew my mind: Sixty-one percent of millenials want NO cuts to Social Security benefits. Meanwhile, “51% of Millennials believe they will get no benefits from Social Security and 39% predict they will get benefits at reduced levels,” according to research coming out of the Pew Research Center. The majority of millennials, in other words, are willing to keep paying into a system that benefits their grandparents but may never benefit those paying into it from their early twenties. By any metric, that makes this the most compassionate generation ever. Not so narcissistic, after all.

6. They’re hesitant to give everything to their employers.

This manifests a lot of different ways, from the famed Google napping pods to unlimited vacation time to comfort animals in the workplace, elements unheard of in any previous generation. I’m pretty sure millennials invented the word “flextime.” Or if they didn’t, it was someone desperate to employ them.

Millennials, unlike boomers, are quite confident in their ability to find another job, whether they quit or are laid off. That makes them less susceptible to bullying. And employees who can’t be bullied make a better workplace for all of us. A few boomer researchers have grudgingly admitted that millennials have improved the workplace for all of us by making unheard of demands and also assuming certain rights like the right to check your smartphone or log into Facebook at your work computer.

Watch that scene in “The Good Wife” where Diane tells a young colleague that she has been chosen for mentoring. The first words out of the girl’s mouth are “Is this going to add to my work hours?” And then she launches into a monologue about how she doesn’t want to sacrifice yet another boyfriend to work. We, the viewers, are invited to see this from Diane’s point of view and sigh “Millennials!” But let’s take a look at it from another point of view. Who decided that work is more important than a good relationship?

When you get sick, who is going to take care of you? Your boss, or your husband? When you develop symptoms of liver failure, who is going to roust you out of bed and take you to the hospital and not let you curl up in a corner and die? Okay, maybe this is my story, but my point is: Millennials are right to prioritize life partners, and even their dogs, over their jobs. Millennials gave us work/life balance. Let’s all be grateful.

5. They gave us President Barack Obama.

And then they re-elected him. Obama did many good things that never really made a media sensation (like cracking down on predatory lending). Shhhh! Don’t tell Trump!

4. Most millennials voted for Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein or Hillary Clinton.

In other words, they recognized that we had three good candidates in the recent race for United States president. Some people argue that a vote for Jill Stein was ultimately a vote for Donald Trump. But whose fault is it that we have a stale, boring two-party system that forces us to choose between two candidates we don’t trust? Whose fault is it that we don’t have a thriving Green Party as they do in Europe? Pretty sure that’s my generation’s fault.

hummer3. They didn’t invent the Hummer.

Somebody thought it was a good idea to invent a civilian car that looks and acts like a military vehicle. And people bought it. They went grocery shopping and picked up their children from school in something like an army tank. This, I am sad to say, was my generation. Millennials, by contrast, have driven the market for electric cars and hybrid vehicles. Since irresponsible transportation methodologies have made the largest contribution to climate change, one is tempted to say that millennials are saving the world without even really making an effort.

2. They ride bicycles and push for bike lanes.

Every time I see a new bicycle lane crop up, I thank a millennial. Millennials see bikes as a mode of transportation, not just as a sport that has nothing to do with your day-to-day life. Northwestern University credits millennials with driving the movement to make Chicago the most bike friendly city in the U.S. Millennials also drove cities to put in shared bike programs. You know, those rows of bikes that you can rent for an hour or a day. Millennials have figured out that bikes are often a lot faster than public transportation AND cars, if you live in a city like Chicago where traffic is at a near constant gridlock.

1. Tiny houses.

Fire up Netflix, and there’s a good chance you can find a documentary about a millennial or two building or buying a tiny house. The classic tiny house, 110 square feet on the bottom with a sleeping loft above, can save you money on your house purchase, save you money on taxes, save you money on insurance, and save you money on utilities. These houses have been adopted by people who don’t want to be slaves to a mortgage. Cancer survivors, who want every minute of their remaining lives to count, have been known to move into tiny houses so they don’t have to work eight hours a day. In my town, Louisville, KY, you can sell a house that is only 600 square feet–fast–if it is up-to-date and energy efficient.

Not everyone is cut out to live in 200 square feet. But the tiny house movement has made everyone see the beauties of a smaller, more efficient living space. This lovely option has been brought to you by the millennial generation. Let’s have a round of applause.

 

Fiddling while Rome burns

Animal rights activists are wasting time protesting circuses instead of protecting endangered species

By Lynn Hamilton

Many well meaning animal rights groups devote considerable resources every year to protesting circuses.

As someone who has, somewhat reservedly, participated in one of these protests, I have a few observations.

Circus protests are pointlessly divisive

Circus protests pit animal welfare advocates against too many relatively innocent members of the community.

Your neighbors and friends are going to the circus. They are taking their children to the circus because parents are desperate to give their children some kind of visual stimulation that is bearable for everyone.

When I protested the circus in Hilton Head, several drivers, on the way to the show, stopped to ask us what we were doing. They were friends of the protesters.

More worryingly, other people who might have supported us, if we had protested fish nets that trap turtles, saw us and mentally put a dividing line between us.

We get judged for inconsistency

It puts us in the ridiculous position of being judged by people who have no moral compass. People slow drove past us and counted our leather shoes.

Mine were fake leather, but that does nothing to prevent this kind of thing.

Admittedly, there will always be judgment from people who live unexamined, selfish lives. But to set ourselves up for that, in such a dubious effort, seems ill considered.

Most importantly, circuses that exploit animals are dying out naturally

Circuses who use animals are already getting phased out. The Ringling Brothers will soon give its last show. They can’t make a profit anymore.

Who wants to see captive elephants lumbering around out of their habitat when you can go to Cirque Du Soleil? Extreme ballet (which is basically what Cirque Du Soleil is doing) will trump captive wild animals every time.

And animal advocates are still wasting their time hammering a dying industry while frogs species are going extinct, dozens at a time.

We support the Wildlife Selfie Code

Lynn Hamilton and Joel Worth, publishers of the Animal Rights Channel, have signed the Wildlife Selfie Code and we encourage others to do so. You can sign the selfie pledge here: https://www.worldanimalprotection.us.org/wildlife-selfie-code

By taking the pledge, you promise not to take a selfie if the animal is being restrained or is being held captive. It seems that this pledge is necessary because many monkeys in Asia are basically being held captive for the purpose of tourist entertainment. They are often tied down between selfies. Obviously you don’t want to encourage an industry like this.

The code also constrains people from picking up or hugging wild animals. We don’t want to send the message that it’s okay to pick up turtles or hug baby wolves, no matter how much they might look like puppies. Doing so endangers their development as wild animals. Worse, we are likely to transmit bacteria that will make them sick or dead.

Wild animals should also not be fed. A fed animal is a dead animal because feeding animals erases their natural fear of people. Bears and wild cats who lose their fear of people are likely to be shot. Don’t offer a dolphin a fish in order to get it to smile for the camera.

When is it okay to take a selfie? Only when the animal is free to run away from you. Learn to use the zoom function on your smart phone or, better yet, learn to take real pictures with a camera.

Guest post: Indonesia’s plastic trash mountains are killing coral reefs

A study published on Thursday found that an estimated 11.1 billion pieces of ocean plastic trash are lodged in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, increasing corals’ susceptibility to potentially deadly diseases by as much as 89 percent. Scientists examined 124,884 corals at 159 reefs from Thailand to Australia, finding plastic bottles, bags, fishing line and even Nike shoes wedged among colorful corals. The region is home to 55.5 percent of the world’s coral reefs, which harbor a quarter of marine species and provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people.

“Plastics are a triple whammy for coral infections,” said Drew Harvell, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University who conducted reef surveys in Indonesia for the study published in Science.

First, plastic debris can cut open corals’ delicate skin, exposing them to infection. Second, ocean plastic trash is often colonized by bacteria that can directly introduce disease to corals. And third, plastic can shade corals, blocking light and creating conditions that allow certain pathogens to thrive.

Plastic debris entangled on corals. (Dr. Kathryn Berry)

“These diseases are pretty damaging to corals,” Harvell said. “Once a coral has one of these diseases, it can kill the whole colony, and once an infection starts on one coral colony, it can build up steam and spread to other ones.”

“I think it’s a huge new impact to show that these plastics are so dirty that they can be creating wounds and infectious disease,” she added.

The researchers predict the amount of plastic caught on coral reefs will spike 40 percent by 2025 to 15.7 billion pieces.

The findings come as coral reefs are under unprecedented stress from climate change. Rising ocean temperatures have triggered back-to-back coral bleaching events in which the algae that live in corals and provide them with nutrition and their color, become toxic. The corals expel the algae and turn bone white. Deprived of nutrition, corals can die unless ocean temperatures cool and the algae return. A groundbreaking study published January 4 concluded that coral bleaching – a phenomenon virtually unknown before 1980 – is now accelerating at a rate that will not give reefs enough time to recover before the next heat wave hits.

“We don’t have the data to say whether infected corals would be more susceptible to bleaching, but it seems likely,” said Harvell. Also unknown is the extent that bleaching would make corals more vulnerable to pathogens transmitted by contaminated plastic.

Coral scientists are confident of the link between plastic contamination and coral disease, thanks to the study’s extensive surveys of reefs between 2011 and 2014. Researchers, led by Joleah Lamb, a postdoc in Harvell’s lab, laid down transects at each reef, covering an area that ranged from 645 to 1,290 square feet (60 to 120 square meters). The scientists examined every coral colony more than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, noting the presence of plastic and disease.

“The real strength of the dataset is that it shows the correlation of coral health with plastic,” Harvell said. “I think we can be pretty definitive that plastics are contributing to the coral dying. It was not uncommon to find dead coral underneath plastic.”

Compared to plastic-free corals, the scientists found significantly higher rates of three debilitating diseases when corals come into contact with plastic: Skeletal eroding band disease (24 percent greater likelihood), white syndromes (17 percent increased likelihood) and black band disease (5 percent higher likelihood).

Coral scientist Drew Harvell surveys fishing nets lodged on a reef. (David Brown)

Study coauthor Courtney Couch, a coral reef researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Honolulu, said the scientists did not determine which types of plastic might be more harmful than others. “Our surveys showed that 71 percent of the plastic debris surveyed was associated with textiles, household goods, packaging and consumable items, while the remaining 29 percent was discarded fishing gear,” she said in an email.

One of the more worrisome discoveries was that plastic trash was eight times more likely to affect reefs with greater structural complexity, such as corals with branches that easily snag bags and other debris. Those corals also provide habitat for fish, meaning plastic-induced coral disease could affect coastal fisheries.

But the risk of disease varied dramatically across the Asia-Pacific region, which the study noted is home to 73 percent of the human population that lives within 30 miles (50km) of a coast.

In Indonesia, the researchers observed 25.6 pieces of plastic entangled on reefs per 100 square meters compared to 0.4 items on areas of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Indonesia is one of the top five ocean plastic polluters – along with China, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a 2017 report from the Ocean Conservancy.

We need to start caring about plastics recycling again

Sure, recycling plastic is boring. But now we have a new reason to care about it. A new report says that eighty-nine percent of Indonesia’s coral reefs are struggling with disease. Diseases like skeletal eroding band disease that literally kill the budding coral that forms the reef’s spine.

And these diseases are not some mystery that science will have to investigate for ten years. It’s that plastic bottle that someone threw off a boat, times a million boats, times six bottles.

Australia is doing a pretty good job of containing its boat trash. Its coral reefs are under a manageable degree of stress. But coral reefs in Indonesia are dying. According to a recent study coming out of the Netherlands, “Indonesia produced 3.2 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, with around 1.29 million tons of that ending up in the ocean.”

Indonesia’s failure to manage its plastic waste is now an international problem. This problem is not an easy fix. It’s obvious that at least three things need to happen:

  1. Entrepreneurs need to invent new end products that can be recycled out of waste plastic and produced with a minimum of machinery and pollution. These end products need to stimulate Indonesia’s economy and provide gainful employment at the local level.
  2. Indonesia’s government needs to do a better job of sealing off the pathways that lead from the garbage mountain to the ocean.
  3. Private industry in Indonesia needs to step up to the plate and package products in biodegradable materials.

Cloning: Primates yes; humans no

The big news today is that science has managed to clone monkeys. PETA’s stand is that cloning is a huge waste of resources and represents too much suffering on the way to getting it right.

However, cloning does, theoretically, have the potential to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

Put another way, it’s possible that, by cloning endangered animals, we may be able to save a few species, once we have solved the problems of climate change that are driving animals extinct in the masses.

Today’s news headlines hint that human cloning is but a few short experimental steps away. Here at AnimalRightsChannel, we want to make an unequivocal statement: Nothing could be more immoral than cloning humans, and science should not ever attempt it.

For one thing, humans have no trouble reproducing themselves and often do so by accident. For another, our species threatens every other species on the planet. We invented climate change. Other animals are guiltless of that problem. Humans, not animals, invented air and water pollution. Humans, not animals, invented mono-cropping which threatens the world’s food supply.

So let’s not clone ourselves. Agreed?