Tag Archives: Atlanta

Live in Georgia? Kiss some constitutional rights goodbye

Three monkeys see hear and speak no evil SB469

These quintessential lackadaisical citizens see and hear nothing wrong with SB469 and actively keep their mouth shut when they should speak

Senate Bill 469 is an attack on labor, no doubt.  But it is also an attack on our ability to speak, and thus, an infringement on our right to speak.  So, if you’re feeling all warm and cozy in your non-labor-related First Amendment Rights, I’m thinking you may be in avoidance mode.

Because it is an attack on labor, SB469 attacks workers.  Each worker in the state of Georgia.  Even though it exempts from some aspects of its attack the few organized under the Railway Labor Act and all educators, and the fraternal or brotherly orders (the latter two, as long they are behaving themselves), it attacks  us all, organized and represented or not.

This morning, I don’t have the energy to explain why.  I just want to say, if you really need, and want, an explanation for how this works, please ask me directly and we can talk over coffee.  Seriously.  But my writing fingers are wanting to be hiking fingers, or even laundry fingers, this morning.  So.

Suffice it to say, the bill does this in a few ways:

  1. By devoting lots and lots of words to telling workers that they have a right to work in Georgia without being a member of a union.  Really?  We had that right (not a right to work, mind you; just a right to not join a union), you misleading mother crunchers.  So don’t go telling innocents, the ones who don’t understand this legislation, that you have done something for them.  You haven’t.  You just wanted to poke labor in the eye.  Good use of my tax dollars, Senator Balfour and your 33 cronies.  Although maybe all of them didn’t really understand this.  I’ll give them that.  Section 2. 34-6-9(a)
  2. By making employees have to do more than make a decision once that they want to be a member of a union in order to have dues deducted from his or her paycheck.  In fact, as an employee, I must now provide a written notification every year that I want to remain in the union and want my dues deducted to make this happen.  Imagine that if you had to, in writing, authorize your health insurance every year or your coverage would be cancelled.  You get that, don’t you?  Come on.  They know that there are others out there like me, who will forget to turn in the annual written authorization.  I’d forget to get health insurance every year if Open Season didn’t default to continuing the same coverage.  I do believe that I, like most people, would remember if I didn’t like my coverage.  Just as an employee would remember to disavow his or her union if he or she were unhappy.  Come on.  Oh, I said that. Section 3. 34-6-25(a)
  3. By sweetening Number 2 for the employers, by making it unlawful for employers to contract with a union which utilizes this payroll-deduction form of payment without this annual written authorization.  Section 4. 34-6-26(a)
  4. By being a clear kowtow to management (if employers whine about it, they don’t have to post the message that my new bill says they should but don’t have to post). Section 2. 34-6-9(c)&(d)
  5. By expanding criminal prosecution to being able to be convicted of both conspiring to commit trespass and committing criminal trespass.  I’m not a criminal procedure expert, but suffice it to say, they expanded this, in this labor bill, so they’re just trying to whack labor with as much as they can.  And the icing on the cake is that, if convicted of both, the conspiracy is characterized as a misdemeanor of “high and aggravated nature.”  Section 5. 16-7-21(d)(2)

The bottom line for Georgians is:

Don’t organize.  Don’t picket.  Don’t suggest to someone else that they picket.  Don’t carry a sign on the public street lest you interfere with someone’s cocktail party or trunk show.  Your 4th Amendment Rights might be safe here in Georgia.  But the ones you need if your Fourths – or any of the others – start being eroded by your government, that is, your Firsts?  Not so much. 

For more information on this and other rights and how to protect them.

Yerkes demonstrates research without morality

Dr. Frans de Waal, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory University demonstrate research without morality.

The audience demonstrates humanity without morality.

Watch the audience laugh throughout, apparently not understanding that these animals live their lives in captivity just so Dr. de Waal and his colleagues can put together a study where they exercise control over animals, withholding and rewarding with food, for no real benefit.

We did not learn anything from these animals in captivity that we didn’t already know.  Even scientists acknowledge that research on chimpanzees is not necessary.

Dr. de Waal learned how to tell a joke at the expense of animals.

Shame on you.

I don’t believe that I saw Dr. de Waal yawn.

Aquariums teach that dolphin ownership is ok

Going to the Georgia Aquarium and other dolphin-owning aquariums and swim-with parks teaches children that they can buy a dolphin when they get rich.  Out of the mouth of babes.

But first, it teaches them to want to own a dolphin.  I believe that the child in the following video says, “when I get rich, I’m gonna buy a dolphin and keep it at my house.”  And we’re not talking toddler here.

A video taken through the glass into the dolphin tank at The Georgia Aquarium. (Edit 11/6/12 – video no longer available.  I would have taken it down, too.  So I totally understand.)

Children do love them.  We shouldn’t teach them to translate this love into a desire for ownership.  This is a teaching moment for parents.  A moment for parents to choose what to teach.

To teach them to love the dolphins enough

  • to let dolphins have the life they were born to, swimming freely with their families in the ocean, or
  • to force them into a life of enslavement, ripped from true “families”, in a small concrete tub, with a glass through which we can see them while we hold them in captivity.

Which worldview are you teaching your children? Your friends?  Yourself?  Are you accepting a worldview, rooted in the past, a day not so long ago, when we did not know what we know today?  When we didn’t know – back when we started capturing them in greater numbers in the 1950s – that they were as intelligent as they are?  When we didn’t have the information or the sensibilities that we have in 2012.  When we didn’t have the awareness that we have, now, in 2012.

The awareness that our children will, when grown, recognize was long-overdue in 2012.  Long overdue.

Make the right choice today.  Make yourself and children proud of the tomorrow you are building.  Don’t go to the dolphin show.

Ringling Beats Animals

That was a video from nearly a year ago, and on the work to protect elephants goes despite a bullhook ban being made law in Fulton County, Georgia.

On February 15 through 20, 2012, come show Ringling and its team of lawyers that the bullhook ban in Fulton County, Georgia isn’t a mere annoyance; it’s the law.

A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

To those who think that dolphin captivity is a benign enterprise, meet Jiyu, one of its latest casualties.  To those who go to the dolphin show, whether Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, or another, the dolphins you see in the show are the ones who made a successful transition from living in the wild to captivity or the progeny of those who made that transition.

What is central to this transition?  Force-feeding.  Wild dolphins catch and eat live fish.  Once they have been deprived of the ability to feed themselves, they must be motivated by food-deprivation (hunger) followed by force-feeding to accept dead fish as food.

Hand down the throat

Hand down the throat, photo by Martyn Stewart

What does force-feeding of a dolphin look like?  In a nutshell, the first trainers these dolphins will ever see must “break” them to accept a small enclosure.  The trainers, or most appropriately called “breakers”, force their hands down the throats of dolphins pushing dead fish to the point in their throats where the dolphins are unable to spit it out.  Over and over and over, until the dolphin accepts dead fish from the hands of people as their food.

You won’t see that from the trainers at Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium, because the first trainers somewhere else performed that ugly task.  The show trainers may still need to perform force-feeding, but they don’t typically do that in front of you.  They save that for the back-tanks.  After the show.

But what about the dolphins that do not make the transition from a free life to captivity and become a casualty?  Meet Jiyu, who was snatched from the wild, languished, unable to make the transition, unable to accept dead fish as food.

The trainers, realizing that she was a “lost cause” for the show or breeding in captivity, stopped caring for her.  And now she has disappeared from this miserable pen, and is likely in a grocery store, in the human food chain.

I am sorry, Jiyu.  Someday there will be no more dolphin shows or trainers whose  job it is to dominate and force-feed you.  Someday there will be trainers whose job it is to teach your kind to learn how to fish and be returned to the ocean where you deserved to live out your life.

And now, reader, please have a moment of silence to honor the life of Jiyu and the others who have fallen due to the captive dolphin industry.

Thank you to Martyn Stewart for the images of the breaker and Heather Hill for the video of Jiyu.  For more information, see Champions for Cetaceans, My Porpoise Driven Life and Suite 101.

The knee bone of dolphin killing

It is a sad morning around the world today because of

  • 26 men in Taiji, Japan,
  • a network of dolphin brokers,
  • aquarium owners, such as SeaWorld (Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego) or the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta), and their member organizations, for instance, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,
  • trainers and their organization, the International Marine Animals Trainers’ Association,
  • individuals who have made a business of “wildlife”,
  • the customers who attend “the dolphin show,” and
  • a lot of silent men and women.

Even here in Atlanta, where the Georgia Aquarium has “only” one wild-caught dolphin in its possession while the other ten were bred in captivity, the impact comes home to roost.  Why?  Because it is the dolphin show, ultimately, whether with wild-caught or captive-bred dolphins, that creates the market for dolphins that causes the slaughter.  Kinda like, the shin bone being connected to the thigh bone via the knee bone.  While some aquariums may suggest that they are not connected directly, they’re kinda like that thigh bone.  The Taiji hunters: they’re the shin bone.  The knee bone of this operation, the thing that holds it all together, that keeps it moving, that keeps it on its feet, running like gang busters, that is to say,  killing dolphins, is the show.  Without the dolphin show, there would be no slaughter.

In A Fall from Freedom, Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Officer of Sea World Parks & Entertainmet, makes the case that it is the dolphin show that saves the dolphins; that twenty years ago, we were shooting them as a menace.  He states that the show has elevated them to our awareness such that we want to protect them.   Let me repeat.  Chief Zoological Officer.  Not Chief of Marketing.  I could maybe handle that statement from the Chief of Marketing.  It would be his job to say whatever he needed to get us paying dollars for dolphins.  But I expect science from a scientist.

Mr. Andrews, there are over 110 dolphins, including the 8 Risso’s that were killed last night, who have been killed this year alone in just one small cove in Japan.  The love factor isn’t saving them.  It’s killing them.  Intentionally.  Premeditatedly.  By design.  Because of the dolphin show.

So this morning, after 8 more were killed yesterday in Taiji, I am having one of those mornings, where I am deeply saddened by the collective effort to kill dolphins, that is to say, the collective effort of a few who whether they like it or not benefit from dolphin death, and then the silence of the rest.

This morning, I do not want to see a video of a person swimming with even a wild dolphin.  To me, at the risk of offending some of you, it is just the other end of the aquarium spectrum.  The dolphins are free, but we are still intruding.  When the few who are responsible intrude, there are thousands behind who are not responsible.  There are those who will hire the “Sea Worlds” of tour boats of less responsible people.  We will go to them, call it research, call it education, put the money in their pocket, and leave behind them a wake of petroleum and trash.  We will go to the dolphins, and teach them that they can trust us, when they cannot.  Not now.

This morning, the morning after yesterday’s tragedy in Taiji, I am wanting, more than anything, for us to truly respect them.  They are neither our entertainment, nor our therapy, nor a curiosity to be studied, nor a language to learn.

Can we not simply leave them alone?

To stop being part of the silence, for starters, you can attend on April 14 from anywhere there is dolphin captivity and sign a pledge that you won’t go to the dolphin show.

For more information:

  • http://savejapandolphins.org/blog/post/eight-rissos-dolphins-killed
  • http://holisecleveland.wordpress.com/ aka Cyber Whale Warrior
  • http://championsforcetaceans.com/
  • http://savemistythedolphin.blogspot.com/

No difference between dolphins and dogs, Georgia Aquarium?

It is amazing to me that the United States allows people who do not understand the fundamental nature of dolphins to be their caretakers. But that is exactly what is happening right this minute at the world’s largest aquarium. The organization that is entrusted with the lives of “its” eleven dolphins doesn’t see the difference between them and dogs. Or horses.

Now, if you have dogs and horses, you already know that even those two species shouldn’t be lumped. And those two species have been living under the care of humans for over 10,000 years. But let’s get to what the Senior Vice-President of Husbandry (I dare ya not to say “Ew!” when you read the definition of husbandry in the context of the Aquarium’s dolphins. Hey! I didn’t write it!) and Chief Animal Officer, Billy Hurley, at the Georgia Aquarium actually said (listen up beginning at 18 seconds):

Maybe this is gilding the lily, but Mr. Husbandry, I mean, Hurley, also said, in a piece by Access Atlanta, to announce the opening of its dolphin extravaganza:

I look at people playing with their dogs in the park and see the dogs jumping really high in the air to catch a Frisbee and say, ‘That dog is having a lot of fun.’ That’s exactly what you would see in the training of our dolphins; our trainers are playing with them every day.

So, Mr. Hurley thinks that a wild creature living in captivity is having fun. Sayin’.

As is the case with most corporations, they make assertions to sell a product, or rather, to sell an idea which will imprint something on your brain that will then inform your decision to buy that product again and again. So, when the world’s largest aquarium says, with casual authority, that the dolphins could be dogs or horses, it doesn’t really matter, they are counting on that idea – that image of your wagging lap dog or your favorite jumper who likes you but hates your brother (grin) – creating a warm and fuzzy in your brain somewhere. It tells you that dolphins-in-an-aquarium is natural, just like your dog curled up beside you on the sofa while you drink egg nog and listen to premature Christmas carols. Are they ever really premature?

But here are some facts:

Let’s recap that: Dogs always liked table scraps, so they may have sought us out, and live longer with us than in the wild. Horses, same story, except it seems we don’t know much about how or when we domesticated horses. Dolphins are not “domesticated” animals; they are merely wild animals held in captivity, like a lion or an elephant. And how do dolphins fare in the wild-to-captivity transition? Not well. Not well at all. They live longer in the wild. Plain and simple. Ergo, the comparison to dogs and horses is misplaced, Mr. Georgia Aquarium Man.

So, if the Georgia Aquarium almost succeeded in creating that lap dog-dolphin connection in your brain, I’m trusting that you now can begin to see that the comparison is grounded in marketing more than fact. Until the Georgia Aquarium appreciates that a comparison of dolphins to dogs or horses is inappropriate, their ownership of these wild creatures is, likewise, inappropriate.

But to borrow, and modify, an old country expression, that dolphin can’t hunt. Because you won’t let him.

One last thought: while David Kimmel, Georgia Aquarium President and Chief Operating Officer (they don’t get any bigger than that, well, except for Bernie Marcus, CEO and Chairman of the Board) and the rest of us “go about [our] lives,” the Atlanta 11 remain captive in a set of tanks that are morbidly small compared to their natural range and removed from the natural rhythms of the ocean to which the dolphin has been connected for 50 million years.

In an ethical society, these are beings with an inherent right to go about their lives and not be considered someone’s “actor” in an extravaganza, or someone else’s amusement, or even curiosity, or a human-named ambassador for the ocean.

Sign the Pledge: Say No! to the Dolphin Show.

Note to self: Blog for another day is the point that Mr. Hurley also doesn’t see the difference between the dolphins and “other mammals.” Hey, PETA!! I think Mr. Hurley agrees with you! Sounds like you may have a hostile witness.

Mayor Reed – Do you understand unreasonable prior restraint?

The U.S. Constitutuion

No, this won’t be a scholarly dissection of Constitutional Law. The question, Mayor Reed, I am leaving in your capable hands, as my professor of Constitutional Law did with me a few (ahem) years ago.

Professor Rogers, who was engaging with me in what seemed like a very long set of questions and answers, said something that made me feel like crap. Not because he was inappropriate; he was decidedly not. But because he was right.

I don’t recall the questions. I only recall that I got to a place in the inquiry where, rather than considering and giving an answer, any answer, that reflected my analysis and risk being wrong, I took the short route to hot-seat freedom. My response to his thoughtful question was an unthoughtful, “I don’t know.” And my momentary bliss at getting to the end of my personal Socratic hell was blasted to dust when Professor Rogers responded, “I think you do.”

So, to you, Mayor Kasim Reed, I ask the question, have you read the brief in Turturice et al. v. City of Cleveland. It’s not long, but it’s lovely; don’t leave all the fun for your lawyers.

Once you have read it, please distinguish for yourself:

  • that a regulation of a right that is otherwise protected by the U.S. Constitution must, in each instance of enforcement, be evaluated to determine whether it represents an overbroad and unreasonable prior restraint

It is not enough that whoever wrote the regulations that you think you were enforcing may have considered certain public interests at the time that it was written. Let me say that again. Especially because it is a right protected by the United States Constitution, it is not enough that a city consider this question once, at the time of adoption. It must be considered each and every time that the City exercises its inherent enforcement discretion by electing to limit, evict and/or arrest its citizens.

So it now falls to you. What do you think about the decision to evict Occupy Atlanta from Troy Davis Park on October 25, 2011? What public interest was served by evicting and arresting those who were occupying the park? Sanitation? Weren’t the citizens actually cleaning the park daily? Crime? Security? Weren’t the occupying citizens actually ensuring the safety of the occupiers and other citizens? Weren’t the public coffers potentially relieved of regular costs, rather than increasing the need for monies?

  • I believe that the local press has attributed a statement to you that the occupiers were costing the city. It just makes me wonder, in this sidebar, who authorized the “necessary” pressure washing of the park sidewalks on what I recall was Saturday, October 15? You might consider training your staff on unnecessary, even extravagant, use of public monies if it was not your personal decision. And by the way, what public interest is there in flying police helicopters over lawful, pre-curfew assemblage of citizens, sitting cross-legged in a circle on the ground, discussing aspects of their preparation to petition the government?

You have the opportunity to reconcile the U.S. Constitution with your local ordinances, instead of allowing the ordinances to appear to be equal and even superior to the U.S. Constitution. You must answer the question, “Did I do that? Did I reconcile a local ordinance on public spaces with the right of the people peaceably to assemble espoused in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?”

Please do yourself a favor and don’t stop at, “I don’t know” lest Professor Rogers be in the room.

Money, food and spirit – all grounded in sustainability

This weekend at Occupy Atlanta, I learned about a whole new world of stuff that I know nothing about.  That’s the good news, I think.  This mountain of stuff moved from the “I didn’t know that I didn’t know that” into the “I know that I don’t know that” column.  Firmly, strongly, solidly in the “I know that I don’t know that” column.

The stuff:

  • The Fed – oh my gosh.  You should have heard me yesterday tell my neighbor and friend, Chris Busing (who is now running for Council, City of Clarkston, Georgia), that my brain wasn’t big enough to consider this one and that those who do understand it should just handle it.  Today, after a few hours of sleep, I realize that I actually do need to develop at least a half-working knowledge about The Fed and how we can fix it.  You may have noticed that my “The Fed” link was to Wikipedia, but I don’t know enough to recommend another starting point.  To get The Fed’s story about itself, here’s a link to the people, The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, who do The Fed.  When in Their presence, does one genuflect, or merely curtsey?  Geez.  More to learn.

  • How to start building a system that I want by moving my money from Wall Street banks to a credit union or local bank, say, on November 5.
  •  How to really and truly grow my own food and thrive in a community of food growers.  I also realized that I haven’t used any of the compost I’ve been making for the last few years.  All those vegetables that I’ve wasted over the years that have ended up on a pile in the yard – mostly intended for the critters to treat it like Mo’s Midnight Snack Counter, which hasn’t turned out to be quite the hotspot I intended – should be really rich compost by now.  I betcha I’ve got some great worms.

But in the meantime, and throughout all this learning and doing, I am remembering that I need to keep a smile in my mind’s eye.  Here is a link to a technique called The Inner Smile, which allows one to generate a healing energy for the body and mind.  If you do it as described in the link last thing before going to sleep, take a look the next morning at how you feel upon awakening.  And then share.

And I’ll close with the word “sustainability”.  Whatever we do, whatever we design in The Grand Undertaking that Occupy is, it must be, first, last and always, sustainable.  The question that should be asked, before deciding on any outcome, is whether a practice, if carried to its extreme, would be sustainable.  If there are any, “yea, buts,” you have an unsustainable practice.  Don’t do it.  Don’t go there.  When I think of “unsustainability”, almost all of the problems that we have, that I know that I don’t know about, have that in common.  Monsanto’s making seeds that do not allow the plant to reproduce itself and that can infect other plants, rendering them incapable of reproduction, comes to mind.

Oh, wait, I’m smiling.

Let’s do this thing.  Together.  Smiling.

Walk for Farm Animals – Atlanta, or anywhere

From "French Farm Animals"

From "French Farm Animals"

I’m walking next Saturday, October 3, in Farm Sanctuary’s 2009 Walk for Farm Animals. The Atlanta walk will be in:

John Howell Park, 801 Virginia Avenue, N.E.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 10:00 a.m.  To register or check for a location to walk, no matter where you live

I hope you can participate somehow, either by walking or by donating.  If you know a walker, please support them.  If you don’t, but you would like to support the cause, here’s my donation page.  Just click on the link.  Added bonus on my donation page: you get to see one of my dogs, Arnold, and one of my cats, Showme.

The page is owned by Firstgiving, an online donation service and is secured by Verisign.

Please give what you can.

In the meantime, here a video about youth opportunities to learn about humane animal husbandry sponsored by Farm Sanctuary: