Animal Activist Amber Canavan Imprisoned 0

duck cruelty

District Attorney James R. Farrell of Sullivan County, NY was determined to see Amber Canavan in jail. On Tuesday his wish came true when the 29 year-old began a 30-day jail term for trespassing on the property of Hudson Valley Foie Gras. But the real crime behind Farrell’s determined pursuit of Canavan was her video of HVFG’s treatment of its ducks, including the practice of fattening the animals through force feeding.

A worker begins to force the full length of a metal feeding tube down the throat of a goose,  from a promotional video by Hudson Valley Foie Grois.

A worker begins to force the full length of a metal feeding tube down the throat of a duck. Capture from a promotional video by Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

Farrell is not the first prosecutor to come under the spell of the animal industry. In unprecedented incursions on constitutional freedoms, federal officials (EarthDesk 11.2.13) and state officials (EarthDesk 3.8.14) have cracked down on animal activists nationwide.

Farrell’s obsession with Canavan may not end with her imprisonment. His prosecution sets the stage for HVFG’s threat to pursue Canavan with legal action if she continues to criticize the company after she leaves jail.

Emotions’s run high on both sides of the force-feeding debate. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain backs HVFG’s contention there is nothing cruel about the practice. Another supporter of force-feeding offers as proof the following video, which actually does no favor to his cause:

Canavan’s own videos (below) are horrifying to watch. She submitted them to the U.S. Department of Agriculture with an affidavit testifying she “observed sick animals, animals with untreated wounds… and caked in their own feces.”


More about Amber Canavan on July 31.

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“Equal Dignity in the Eyes of the Law” 0

“In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.” ~ The New York Times,  April 26, 2015

“There are times we must pause our more typical environmental concerns, such as climate change, the global water crisis, and the fate of other species, to consider what we humans require of, and owe to, the members of our own species; to reflect upon the adequacy of our social institutions at-large, as the original vision for Earth Day demanded.” ~EarthDesk on the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act, June 27, 2013

AnthonyKennedybw_sm“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage … They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” ~ Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, June 26, 2015
GaylordNelson bw_sm“The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings … a new American ethic … emphasizing human dignity and well-being.” ~ Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970
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Into the World of India 0

Scattering of light from particulate matter and pollution in Bangalore, India.By mproopesh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Scattering of light from particulate matter and pollution in Bangalore, India.  Mproopesh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ed. Note: Kiefer Kofman, Pace ’16, is a political science major studying in India under a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Kiefer led the community energy team in the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic during the spring 2015 semester. Ben Gilman, a loved and respected congressman in the Hudson Valley, served in the House of Representatives from 1973 until his retirement in 2003. During his tenure he chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and was a congressional delegate to the United Nations. He lives in Middletown, NY., in his former district. ~ JC.

Coming from the U.S., India must be seen through a certain lens. But it takes time. India is a far more complex, nuanced, and enigmatic nation than most of us understand. It can be a culture shock.

I am living in Bangalore, more properly Bengaluru, capital of the State of Karnataka. It is one of India’s more modern and economically ascending cities. Still, the nation’s culture, from its deep flaws to its splndiferous diversity, is in abundant evidence here.

Laborers taking a rest in front of a store in Bangalore. Kiefer Kofman.

Laborers taking a rest in front of a store in Bangalore.  Photo Kiefer Kofman.

India is composed of twenty-nine states, each with a vastly different culture, landscape, government and demography. Most have their own regional language. People tend to identify themselves by their region and religion underlies much of the culture. 82% identify themselves as Hindus, while most of the rest of the population are Muslim, Sikh, Jainist, Christian or Buddhist.

To put this in perspective, India’s Islamic population numbers only 15% of the national population of approximately 1.25 billion, yet it is the second largest Islamic population in the world. Further crystalizing the potential for divisions in India, is the caste system, which was a human rights issue even before 19th century British rule, though it is often played down in the 21st century. Given its size and diversity, India more closely resembles a continent of twenty-nine different nations.

India’s economic, political and social issues and disparities are mostly hidden to the outsider.

To understand India, and the experience an American takes from it, these are the nuts and bolts. India presents a fusion of challenges, experiences, and moral tests. The Indian experience becomes that much more illuminating when one can understand this background, and the foundational reasons why complex issues of inequity persist.

For a political science major and public policy wonk like myself, India presents the ideal challenge: a political and judicial system mired in deep corruption, immense economic inequality, religious tension and subjugation. Though it has the seventh largest GDP, it is one of the lowest ranking nations on the Human Development Index —  135th out of 187 .

Bangalore is an excellent hub for a recipient of a Gilman Scholarship to study and conduct political research. It represents the inequality of the nation and its clash between rising globalization and those who have been left behind, economically and culturally. Studying here at Christ University and taking courses on human rights, the issues and challenges facing India begin to organize themselves in much clearer fashion.

India’s economic, political and social issues and disparities are mostly hidden to the outsider. Yet, an acceptance of the status quo seems a natural aspect of Indian society. One of my goals in traveling here is to identify the root factors contributing to these problems that seem uniquely immutable. I believe I am nearing my answer, as I will attempt to outline in more descriptive, on-the-ground blog posts to follow.

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