Posts filed under ‘Outrages’

Speaking out against hunting seals for profit

This week marked the beginning of Canada’s commercial seal hunt. It’s the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth, and it’s an incredibly painful, enraging issue to track.

As someone who has an immense love of animals and an immense hatred of animal cruelty, I found myself close to tears today as I read the stories and looked at the photos on the Humane Society’s campaign page.

But I’m only looking at photos and videos – I can’t imagine how painful it must be for the Humane Society staffers who are currently in Canada documenting the hunt in order to spread the word and organize protests against it.

Nineteen thousand baby seals have been killed in the span of just 2.5 days – primarily for the sale of seal pelts to fashion markets in Europe. What’s more, fishermen only make a small fraction of their income from this slaughter, and less than 6,000 fishermen participate in the hunt each year. This doesn’t minimize the immense damage done to the seal population, though.

The Humane Society did provide an image of hope, however – a survivor of the first phase of the hunt. And the organization is also providing ways to take action. You can find out more information and how to stop the seal hunt by visiting


March 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

Populist anger at AIG: Has it gone too far?

Just like many Americans, I was enraged when news broke that AIG planned to pay $165 million in bonuses to its executives, some of whom aren’t even with the company anymore. But I read two items in the news today that makes me concerned about whether America’s populist anger toward the insurance giant has, in fact, become too hostile.

The Washington Post published an article this morning describing the palpable fear of employees at the headquarters of AIG Financial Products in Connecticut. And not just over the fear of their company’s future, but fear of their personal safety. Protesters have been staking out in front of AIG employees’ homes. The company has received death threats and calls to blow up the headquarters. An employee had in London had to relocate because a tabloid had printed his address.

Then, this afternoon, Gawker posted a memo from AIG to its employees, detailing security measures all employees should undertake to keep themselves safe.

In many respects, I find these reports even more outrageous than the news about the bonuses. As the Post mentions, most of the employees that instigated the behavior that led to the company’s downfall – like credit derivatives written on mortgage-backed securities – are long gone. Now, the employees who didn’t participate in this behavior are left to clean up the mess. And they’re receiving memos telling them not to wear AIG apparel in public, to walk in groups, and to be escorted whenever inside an AIG facility. (more…)

March 19, 2009 at 10:05 pm 2 comments

So much for government transparency

Watchdog groups and government transparency fans got pretty excited a few weeks ago when they heard that House members promised to put contracts for the $800 billion economic stimulus package online.

But the Washington Independent reports today that, surprise surprise, these contracts aren’t really going to be online. Government contractors opposed making the contracts public, and lawmakers conceded. The final stimulus bill requires only a summary of the contracts to be posted online, and only if the contracts are worth more than $500,000. (more…)

March 12, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

BREAKING: Sesame Street announces layoffs

elmoIt’s official now, folks. We’re finally in a recession. Sesame Workshop (a.k.a. Sesame Street) is laying people off. They’re apparently eliminating 67 of 355 staff positions.

I know, I know. Sesame Street isn’t a real place, you say. It’s a company that has to post a profit and also takes funding from the government and other corporations. Face it: Cookie Monster isn’t real.

I get this. But I can’t help but feel a twinge for something that, as a child, seemed insulated from such things as Ponzi schemes, layoffs, bailouts, tanking stock markets and partisan bickering. Instead, story arcs dealt with Bert’s decision to forego buying paperclips to purchase a soap dish for Ernie, and the death of Mr. Hooper.

Hopefully Sesame Street will weather the economic storm. Imagine having to explain to your child that Elmo is going off the air because the company that produced his show went broke.

On the other hand, perhaps Sesame Street’s writers can start focusing on fiscal responsibility, government accountability and transparency in their future scripts. The U.S. could use a bit more education on these things …

March 12, 2009 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

My dog’s health care is better than mine … is this a cause for concern?

It’s an interesting state of affairs when my dog in Madison, Wisconsin receives better health care than I do.

Given my family’s experience with vets who have no solutions other than to prescribe medications (even Prozac) for my dog’s recurring hot spots, my dad decided to take him to Truesdell Animal Care Hospital.

In short, this place is amazing. All information from my dog’s checkups is posted online, even prescription and diet information. My family also receives follow-up emails from the vet (which, due to my very strong attachment to my dog, my dad forwards along to me).

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m elated that my dog is finally receiving such wonderful care. But I’m also struck with a question (and it’s a big one): If they can do it for dogs, why can’t they do it for me? (more…)

March 11, 2009 at 10:55 pm Leave a comment

Coal ash update: Could’ve been worse

It appears that yesterday’s coal ash spill in Maryland wasn’t bad as it could have been. The DCist, via the Associated Press, reported yesterday evening that the spill hasn’t done much harm.

So it looks like the toxins and discoloration from the spill won’t make it down to the District. A huge disappointment, I know.  But given the EPA’s recent track record of finding signs of water pollution from coal ash, we probably don’t have to wait too long before another incident rolls along.

One phrase from the AP story does sound rather disconcerting, though:

Still, Maryland state regulators were concerned about a potential environmental threat from the sludge, which could contain high concentrations of selenium, sulfate, arsenic, iron or manganese.

The last time I checked, selenium, sulfate, arsenic, iron and manganese aren’t things you’d want to drink, and are a bit too caustic for a Brita filter to handle. But hey, who really wants to drink plain old non-toxic water, anyways?

March 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Care for a few more toxins in your water?

I’ve spent a few days wondering what subject would be most appropriate for Politics and Quirk’s first post. Pandas (I warned you in the “About” section)? Washington, D.C.’ s cupcake-pocalypse? FedEx Kinko’s announcement that they’re offering free resume printing (another pleasant reminder that we’re in a recession)?

Granted, these are all good topics, sure to make it in this blog at some point. But, I feel like I have to draw some attention to the current state of the Potomac River … and my current state of frustration toward anyone who claims that there really is such a thing as “clean” coal. (more…)

March 10, 2009 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment