Zoos are incompatible with animal welfare

Frankie at the Griffith Park Zoo, LA (Art Rogers:LA TIMES) Feb 27 2015

This photo of Frankie, a chimpanzee at the Griffith Park Zoo in Los Angeles, is from 1953. The caption exposes the light-hearted contempt justifying captive animals in squalid conditions. It said: “New arrivals at Griffith Park Zoo are too upsetting to Frankie, the monkey. Too much noise, he commented, as he lit a cigarette & decided that he’d ignore noisy elephants.” What a chuckle it must have been to see a chimpanzee pose like a hard-boiled hustler out of film noir.

In the days before animal rights & welfare, many were uncomfortable with zoos & their obvious cruelty but there was no activism on the animal’s behalf. This odious photo was considered amusing rather than a call to arms to close the damn things down. Though the Griffith Zoo was closed in 1966, the animals were relocated to a new one. There’s no word on what happened to Frankie.

There is some mythology associated with the Griffith Zoo claiming a curse was placed on the land in 1863 by a young woman left out of her land baron uncle’s will. They say the place has been plagued with wildfires, murder, plagues, & pestilence. But it appears, judging from Frankie, that captive animals got the worst of it.

Many claim zoos are used for conservation & to fight extinction.That makes good PR but there is far more evidence of animal cruelty than conservation.

(Photo by Art Rogers/LA Times)

Zionists want a Lilliputian Holy Roman Empire

What I like best about Zionists is how cogently they press the case for a Lilliputian, Jewish version of the Holy Roman Empire where the state religion was Catholicism. There’s so little one can say to defend an atavism like the amalgam of feudalism & religion. It’s tough enough for moochocrats across Europe to pull off the combo of feudalism with popular democracy. Feudalism used to be incompatible with capitalism too but neoliberalism is changing all that. It’s hard to tell which century we’re living in. You look one way, it’s the catastrophe of modern capitalism; you look the other way, you’re staring at the Middle Ages.

Since cogency is beyond possibility, Zionists, so regrettably for the English language, resort to rants & it must be said they come up with some beasties. My blog is besieged by Zionist nut cases & because I don’t engage with them their rants become quite lyrical with desperation. This is the latest gem:

“Poor Mary. Scribbling away all by her lonesome in some tiny hobble of a rat hole in poor ass Texas. Loathed by most who know her, all she has left to fill her time is penning nasty, hate-filled rants that basically say the same thing over & over again: Wherever there is poverty & injustice around the world, capitalism & the USA are at fault. Kill the beast, kill the beast huh Mary? Piggy would be terrified, I’m sure, of your Ralph-esque unrelenting bitter savagery.But we are not. Most assuredly. You don’t want peace. Your kind want your vision of justice meted out, Auschwitz style.

As if anyone cares. As if anyone is listening. As if Mary isn’t going a little more stark raving mad with every pathetic diatribe. Your “work” is a textbook definition of what wasted energy looks like. Enjoy the howling!”

Let me just say in closing, I have no idea who Piggy & Ralph are & I take great umbrage at the suggestion I live in a rat hole. I let the rats out daily to join the pigs for a stroll around our own little corner of “poor ass Texas.”

US Justice Department couldn’t find injustice if it bit them in the ass

Remember when Attorney General Eric Holder marched into Ferguson after the murder of Michael Brown promising a Justice Department investigation? I pointed out that after nearly three years, they still hadn’t finished their investigation of George Zimmerman for the February 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin & that both investigations were likely to dead end. Don’t call me Nostradamus. You live long enough you know the score on US criminal justice for Blacks, Latinos, women. Hell it’s tough enough to win in small claims court if you’re the litigant with lower social status.

Tuesday, the Justice Department announced it found insufficient evidence to establish that Zimmerman “willfully deprived Martin of his civil rights or killed him because of his race.” No surprise, but what an outrage & travesty of justice that a vigilante can walk away scot-free from murder. Again.

About a week ago, the big talker Holder announced that a decision is imminent on the murder of Michael Brown & that another investigation will be conducted over a pattern of racist discrimination by the Ferguson Police Department if they do not agree to make changes on their own. It’s not clear how he’ll swing it, but they will of course find insufficient evidence against the cop, Darren Wilson. The maneuver here is how to clear Wilson & at the same time impugn the police department. And then find a way to get the department off the hook. Tricky, but they’ll pull it off.

2014 Oxford study says being poor is unpleasant

A 2014 Oxford University study concluded that half the world’s poor are so deprived they should be classified as “destitute.” The study was done in the poorest countries so if they include the US & Europe, that figure will increase just like poverty has.

Of course the study hinges on what defines “destitution” & thus it parses the facets of deprivation–what they call the “multidimensional” features, like access to food, health care, education, sanitation, housing. Well at least they didn’t use the World Bank standard of US $1 a day as a measure. Though one can imagine they’re looking at the exact same people.

The study claims that generally the situation has improved for the poor due to poverty reduction programs & economic growth. Oh really? Could they name some of those poverty programs & describe what they’ve accomplished? And can they parse again (since they’re so good at it) to tell us who’s deriving the benefits of economic growth? Are a lot of people earning more than $2 a day now (although it takes a lot more than that just to eat anywhere in the world)? Do they have a pot to piss in now rather than have to take a whiz outside?

But what about all those millions of child workers? The millions of desperate immigrants? The over 2 billion homeless & slum dwellers? Are things looking up for them too? Or are they the “destitute” ones?

The report identified the countries where the progress in “reducing destitution” is being registered: Ethiopia, Niger, Ghana, Bolivia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nepal, Haiti, Bangladesh, & Zambia. Could they review that multidimensional thing for us again because we can’t tell if it’s cognitive dissonance on the part of Oxford or us that makes that assertion seem burlesque. And grotesque.

We don’t want to start class warfare over a study we can use as ammunition against neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, but maybe rich people shouldn’t be the ones to do the parsing. Especially if they think the difference between poverty & destitution is a piss pot rather than an al fresco whiz.

Private prisons are hell holes for undocumented immigrants

Willacy prison (Al Jazeera) Feb 25 2015

Last Saturday, local TV stations were filled with excited reports about a prison “riot” in Raymondville, Texas about 40 miles from the US-Mexican border. The newscasts were presented from the point of view of law enforcement since local & state police were there along with the FBI & Drug Enforcement Agency. Images were of prisoners in the yard shaking down fences & the only explanation offered was inmates were discontent with medical care.

It wasn’t mentioned in the reports, but the tented facility gave it away as a prison for undocumented immigrants, some arrested for alleged drug crimes but most for repeatedly crossing the border after deportation. Immigration infractions used to be treated legally as civil misdemeanors but are now criminalized & account for 87% of the massive increase of Latinos in the federal prison system.

One of the things driving criminalization of immigration is the development of a second-class private prison industry & the cash nexus between US immigration officials, municipalities where the prisons are built, & the corporations that profit from a large prison population. Officials who play ball with the corporations & feed prisoners into the system rather than deport them can move from government jobs paying a couple hundred thousand bucks a year to one in the private prison system paying over a million. But they don’t just feed long-term prisoners into the system; they turn a blind eye to egregious, monstrous human rights crimes in the prisons.

There have been years of condemnations of these private prisons all over the US–especially those warehousing undocumented immigrants. Conditions are barbaric. The Raymondville facility is nicknamed “Ritmo” because of its affinities with Guantanamo torture center. An ACLU investigation reported overcrowding, filth, roaches & vermin, stinking filthy, backed-up toilets, raw sewage in dormitories from toilet overflow, racist verbal abuse, physical abuse, including excessive solitary confinement, & deaths from lack of medical care. There is no medical staff on site to handle routine injuries & maladies, accidents, infections & diseases contracted from the filth & sewage, or emergency treatment. There is almost a complete absence of due process & prisoners can look forward to years of this kind of barbaric treatment.

The big concern for immigration, municipal, law, & prison officials was public exposure of these atrocities that could cut off the money machine from treating undocumented immigrants like beasts. The media is fully aware of this criminality & chose to turn its back on human beings suffering the unbearable. They dummied up, neglecting to even mention conditions or that the prisoners were undocumented immigrants so that public outrage would be blunted in a border region with thousands of undocumented & considerable political affinity with them.

The US prison system is one of the most bloated in the world & it is no accident that a huge percentage of them are Black & Latino, including undocumented immigrants & Black & Latino kids framed up for minor offenses. As austerity cutbacks & unemployment bear down harder on those populations, rebellion is going to become more organized, less compromised with the Democratic Party, & will pose a considerable threat to the status quo. People can stop looking for the savior from among privileged white men. This is the population that will produce those leaders because these are the people who know the full weight of racist & misogynist oppression.

L.D. Barkley was a 21-year-old spokesperson for mostly Black prisoners during the 1971 uprising against the same conditions at Attica prison in New York State. He wrote: “We are men! We are not beasts & we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace—that means each & every one of us here—has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization & disregard for the lives of the prisoners here & throughout the United States….What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.”

When New York State troopers retook the prison, they sought Barkley out & took him out by shooting him in the back. But his powerful words should ring out as our anthem to stand against the racism, inhumanity, & degradation of US immigration policy & profiteering at the expense of other human beings.

Our fullest solidarity with the prisoners at Ritmo who have now been moved & dispersed. Many of them are being subjected to torture for this uprising. Our regrets we are not yet strong enough to stay the hand of racist hatred & anti-immigration policy. But your protest was not in vain because now the barbarism stands exposed.

(Photo of Raymondville prison from Al Jazeera)