“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” ~ Gary Snyder
Here you will find all archived articles and posts under the selected category. Thank you for visiting and supporting the movement.
William Butler Yeats
† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
Animals Rights, Human Wrongs and the Limits of the Law
by nancy a heitzeg
For Inesperado ~
On March 19, 2014, Joe Drape and the New York Times published the following article, “PETA Accuses Two Trainers of Cruelty to Horses.” The trainers in question were Steve Asmussen, who is second in career victories and racing’s fifth all time $$ winner,, and his right hand man Scott Blasi. The complaints come as the result of an undercover investigation (with 7 hours of video) at Asmussen’s barns at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and Saratoga Race Course in New York. PETA filed a 285 page complaint with both state agencies and federal authorities charging that Asmussen “forced injured and/or suffering horses to race and train.” Among the infractions documented in the video (PETA quoted and paraphrased below):
In the immediate aftermath, Scott Blasi has been fired by Asmussen Stables, and Asmussen himself was removed as one of the finalists for the Racing Hall of Fame. Zayat Stables (owners of Nehro) has terminated Steve Asmussen and moved all 12 of its horses that were previously in the trainer’s care. 3-year-old Finesse - ridden by Ricardo Santana and trained by Steve Asmussan – collapsed and died of an apparent “cardiac issue” on March 21 after finishing second in a race at Oaklawn. And, the New York State Gaming Commission, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the New Mexico Racing Commissions have launched investigations. Demands increased again for federal oversight of horse-racing and the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2013 (Senate Bill 973 and House Bill 2012). To be sure, more to follow.
For even causal observers of horse-racing, these revelations, however disturbing, were no surprise. Horse-racing is the USA is not the “sport of kings” but rather a marginalized meat-grinder industry which chews up both young and old horses at an alarming rate. It is a loosely regulated association of state “gaming” commissions with little Federal oversight, (and in fact, Federal exemptions to profit from off-track and internet betting). an industry where serial dopers are Eclipse Award winners and mufti-millionaire breeders may neglect and starve their horses. U.S. horse racing is awash in drugs – both legal and otherwise. Lasix, steroids, Clenbuterol, cortisone, lidocaine, mevipacaine, EPO, cobra venom, “milk-shaking”/TCO2, amphetamines and vodka injections are just a partial listing of licit and banned substances used regularly in racing.
Mostly, it is an industry that kills off its’ athletes. Some of the dead are famous like the ill-fated Barbaro, Eight Belles who died in the dirt with two broken ankles after finishing second in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, and Go For Wand, whose breakdown in the 1990 Breeder’s Cup Distaff was one racing’s most gruesome nationally televised moments. Most of the dead are lesser known – some former stakes horses, like Inesperado. that have fallen down through the claiming ranks, others are mere 2 year olds, and many are old geldings raced endlessly long past their prime. The majority of horses die in low level claiming races or during training with little fanfare and perhaps less remorse. They have inelegant names and ignominious ends like Private Details whose breakdown caused a 5 horse pile-up at Aqueduct or Mr. Smee, a five year old gelding who broke a hind leg, went through the rail and drown in the in-field lake at Lone Star Park.
For obvious reasons, there is little transparency here. The industry only recently began to collect and does still not regularly publish national fatality data, but an average of 24 horses suffer fatal breakdowns at tracks across the country every week, – more than 3 Dead per Day — and 10,000 broken-down thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter every year. (Please see the excellent New York Times investigation, Breakdown: Death and Disarray at America’s Race Tracks).
For jaded observers, questions remain as to whether or not this will finally finally finally — how many do you need? – be the wake-up call that leads to federal oversight and long needed horse-racing reforms. But no one is holding their breath. The truth of the matter is this – perhaps the harshest legal consequences to result from the ensuing investigations will be for the Federal violations around use of undocumented workers and falsification of tax records. Even if the accusations of animal cruelty meet the legal bar (and they should), this case will most likely reveal again, that when it comes to animals, there are many limits to the law.
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, Wendell Berry
(h/t Kay Whitlock)
Banned Ted Talk: The Science Delusion, Rupert Sheldrake at Whitechapel
the idea is that each species, each member of a species draws on the collective memory of the species, and tunes in to past members of the species, and in turn contributes to the further development of the species. So in the case of a potato, you’d have a whole background resonance from past species of potatoes, most of which grow wild in the Andes. And then in that particular case, because it’s a cultivated plant, there’s been a development of a whole lot of varieties of potatoes, which are cultivated, and as it so happens potatoes are propagated vegetatively, so they’re clones.
So each clone of potatoes, each variety, each member of the clone will resonate with all previous members of the clone, and that resonance is against a background of resonance with other members of the potato species, and then that’s related to related potato species, wild ones that still grow in the Andes. So, there’s a whole kind of background resonance, but what’s most important is the resonance from the most similar ones, which is the past members of that variety. And this is what makes the potatoes of that variety develop the way they do, following the habits of their kind.
Usually these things are ascribed to genes. Most people assume that inheritance depends on chemical genes and DNA, and say there’s no problem, it’s all just programmed in the DNA. What I’m saying is that that view of biological development is inadequate. The DNA is the same in all the cells of the potato, in the shoots, in the roots, in the leaves, and the flowers. The DNA is exactly the same, yet these organs develop differently. So something more than DNA must be giving rise to the form of the potato, and that is what I call the morphic field, the organizing field.
~ In the Presence of the Past: An Interview with Rupert Sheldrake
Wrong Turn: Biologist Rupert Sheldrake On How Science Lost Its Way
Morphic Resonance: Rupert’s Resonance, Scientific American
On-line Experiments to Change the World
Rupert Sheldrake Interviews