Billy Sol Estes and Congress are why the USDA is ordering machine guns

The tea-soaked conspiracy crowd has a new rai·son d'être this week: a procurement request from the USDA for machine guns and ammo. As RT.com notes, "The request has captured the attention of many conservative, pro-gun websites...which have raised questions about it." These same gun loving web sites even managed to excite an Oklahoma Congressional member, Representative Jim Bridenstine, who sent a letter to the USDA demanding answers.

It's ironic that sites that support arming every single human being for any reason object to arming federal agents who are enforcing criminal laws. And it's unfortunate that Congressional members are unaware of laws passed by Congress.

Animal Welfare Groups Settle with Feld Entertainment

Last update

I've had a day to get over the shock at the settlement amount.

All of the statements by the animal welfare folk I posted links to make logical sense. And believe it or not, once I got over the shock at the amount of the settlement, I wasn't necessarily against a settlement in the ESA attorney fee battle—though, I believed it was important to continue the fight in the RICO case. What I had expected was a settlement closer to the amount given in the original animal welfare attorney fee reply—about five million.

This amount would have been a loss for the groups, yes, but it wouldn't have been such a PR bonanza for Feld. The larger amount, though...that's going to cut deep, and not just in a monetary sense.

Regardless of what I've said today, I am not mad at the groups. I am profoundly disappointed, which, in some ways, is worse.

Responding to Food Safety News' Editorial on the Vermont GMO Laws

Also published at Food Safety News

In a May 3rd editorial , Food Safety News Editor Dan Flynn wrote a rather scathing editorial about Vermont's new GMO labeling law. Among the criticisms he asked a question:

If there is some skilled member of the bar out there who has done the sort of professional analysis that is normally available, please send it to me. I truly would like to see it. I am certain this bill is a mess; I am just trying to figure out how messed up it is.

Look, Do not Touch

bear cub

Photo credit: Ray Morris, licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

It's Just a Tool

I gather that Mozilla has named some marketing person as interim CEO as they search for a replacement who would be acceptableeffective.

I don't care, really. Mozilla is an organization that provides support for Firefox, a tool I use. I'm using Firefox because it is the browser that irritates me the least at this time. I used Chrome previously, but stopped when yet another unexpected-and-suddenly-appearing design change made it marginally unusable.

I appreciate the hard working souls who work on the browsers and the specifications that form the basis for the technology implemented in the browsers—most of whom don't work for Mozilla, or Google for that matter. Most of them don't get paid for their work, either.

If anyone deserves passionate support, it's the people who labor on the technology that goes into my browser. Anything else is just organizational politics benefiting some corporate entity.

The Crap and Cute Day

My plan to post on Friday what I'm going to be writing about in the coming days has gone to the same place all plans go in the end...into the silent void where we hope no one remembers what we promised.

But I do think Fridays deserve something special. After all, for most people, it's the end of the work week. Friday is a day we associate with drinks with friends, excitement about weekend plans, and relief that you don't have to get up at 5AM to commute to work tomorrow.

Friday is also the day when most of us post something cute. It's the funny video and photo day. The cute story day. It's a day to decompress from the serious stories we've been subjected to all week, and to take a moment to realize that Hey! Life's rough...here's a cute bat video.

Corporate Actions vs. Personal Belief

Gay Pride Parade

Second Update Andrew Sullivan in The Hounding of a Heretic:

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Update: Mozilla caved to pressure. This was not a good decision. It was a cowardly decision.

The Affordable Care Act: Field Tested in Battle Conditions

How can you tell if armor is any good? You field test it. You shoot stuff at it. You shoot a lot of stuff at it.

Think Progress created a one page timeline of GOP attacks on the Affordable Care Act. After looking at the extraordinary degree the GOP went to undermine and/or kill the ACA, I came away with a feeling that this thing must be pretty good—look at how it survived all these attacks.

What's a bit sad about the timeline is knowing that the GOP has spent most of its time the last several years either trying to prevent people like me from having access to affordable health care, or ensuring that women have little or no control over their bodies—or both. Seriously, GOP, my god, don't you have anything else to do?!

Go Vegan!

In comments to a story at Food Safety News, (Report: ‘Bycatch’ Blamed for Nine Dirty Ocean Fisheries Off U.S. Shores), about the distressing amount of bycatch associated with several fisheries, a commenter to the story wrote:

Even if bycatch could be ended, which it won't be, fishing would still remain a horrific agony for the billions of fish who are intentionally caught. Science has shown fish to be sentient: able to suffer terror and pain. All for a food that presents such hazards to human consumers as concentrated mercury, dioxins, PCBs and other toxins, cholesterol, saturated fat, etc.

Elephants Escape Shrine Circus in St. Louis and Damage Cars

I have spent considerable time building a list of negative incidents associated with circus elephants in the United States since 1800. Thanks to Google's newspaper archive, I'm discovering several more to add to what is already a large list.

Of course, sometimes the incidents happen in real time.

Three circus elephants got loose and damaged two cars in the parking lot of the Family Arena on Saturday afternoon before being corralled by trainers, according to the circus’ sponsor.

Dennis Kelley, president of the Moolah Shriners of Eastern Missouri, which has been sponsoring the Moolah Shrine Circus for decades, said the incident happened during a performance about 5 p.m. He said no people were in the parking lot when the elephants somehow escaped from the back of the arena in St. Charles. The elephants roamed an area of the parking lot where only circus and Shriners employees’ cars were parked.

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