Very severe animal cruelty at Mahard Egg Farms in the US

Last evening, I saw a video and photos that I found shocking. It concerns severe animal cruelty that occurs near Sulphur in Oklahoma. The farm is part of Mahard Egg Farms who appear to be headquartered in Texas. I searched LinkedIn and found nine accounts associated with the company, including that of its CFO, Kaitlin Mahard.

I believe that severe animal cruelty can be considered “violent crimes” which would mean that LinkedIn should remove the accounts associated with Mahard Egg Farms. The LinkedIn Professional Community Policies state that “those who engage in violent crimes are not welcome and not permitted on the Services”.

In 2011, Mahard Egg Farm, Inc., indeed a Texas corporation, was told to pay a $1.9 million penalty to settle claims that the company violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its egg production facilities in Texas and Oklahoma, according to the EPA:
https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/mahard-egg-farm-inc-clean-water-act-settlement

The latter apparently resulted in this:
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-09/documents/mahardegg-cd.pdf

That document includes the following:

C. MORTALITY MANAGEMENT
18. Defendant shall comply with the Mortality Management Requirements in Appendix D at the Vernon-Chillicothe Facility, the Springhill Facility, the Prosper Facility, the Boogie Hill Facility, the Nebo Ranch, and the Ravia Facility, unless such facility is not growing poultry.

Appendix D stated:

APPENDIX D:
MORTALITY MANAGEMENT

I. Texas
65.
No later than the Effective Date of this Decree, Mahard shall cease any transfer of
carcasses between Facilities unless a composting plan is in place that is consistent with 30 T.A.C. 332, Subchapter B, and has been approved by EPA and TCEQ.

66.
Mahard shall ensure that all carcass disposal at the Vernon-Chillicothe, Prosper, and
Springhill Facilities is conducted in accordance with TCEQ Regulatory Guidance, RG-326, Handling and Disposal of Carcasses from Poultry Operations (August 2009) and in accordance with 30 T.A.C. § 335.25. Mahard shall collect all carcasses within 24 hours of death and properly disposed of them within three (3) Days of death. Animals must not be disposed of in any liquid manure or process wastewater system. Disposal of diseased animals shall be conducted in accordance with Tex. Agric. Code § 161.004.

II. Oklahoma
67.
Mahard shall comply with the terms and conditions in Mahard’s 4/29/09 Carcass Disposal Plan, as amended and supplemented by the letter from ODAFF, dated May 7, 2009, to Mahard (both attached here as the Appendix D Supplement).

The Kroger chain has meanwhile dropped Mahard’s eggs and I’ve reached out on LinkedIn to it spokeswoman Kristal Howard to thank Kroger and ask her to ensure that Kroger will never be associated with such severe animal cruelty again.

Kroger’s 2018 Sustainability Report includes an animal welfare policy, which states:

“Kroger has a long-standing commitment to responsible business practices, including the humane treatment of animals,” Kroger says in its policy. “We require our suppliers to adopt industry-accepted animal welfare standards that we endorse, and we monitor our suppliers for compliance with these standards. We align with the Food Marketing Institute’s industry-adopted and industry-aligned animal welfare standards for the following animal proteins: beef, pork, chicken, turkey and eggs. For nearly a decade, Kroger has convened our own independent panel of animal science experts to make recommendations on how we can work with the industry to improve animal welfare.”

I’ve also contacted the EPA.

Mansplaining

“I don’t agree with you. What you just told me, well, that’s never happened to me. (And I wasn’t there when you said it happened to you. So it never happened, period.)”

“And anyway, I think you’re crazy. (You’re a woman and everybody knows that women are crazy.) It’s all those hormones. Women are way too emotional. (Always seeing things that aren’t there.)”

“(She’s getting too old for technology, but I am not going to say that in her face. Everybody knows that only large corporations get hacked. She’s just imagining things because she doesn’t know which buttons to press.)”

“(I bet she has a crush on him and he rejected her.)”

And various versions and combinations of the above.

That’s the real mansplaining.

It includes the fact that people who did speak out about the Harvey Weinsteins in the world in the past were dismissed with this type of bullshit arguments.

However, being a male feminist does not mean that you need to take an interest in whether a woman has ever been raped or not. That’s a common misunderstanding. Women’s emancipation is about a little bit more than women no longer getting raped.

 

Why we need to talk about stuff that is hard to talk about

I quickly shot this with my mobile so the quality is not that great and you get to see my saggy wrinkly skin up close. Hey, I am no longer 20 or 30 and that’s perfectly fine!

Here is the article in the Atlantic that I mention in the video:
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/you-really-dont-want-to-know-what-its-like-to-be-a-right-whale-these-days/566009/

Council tax and care leavers

This morning, I received an e-mail from Jacq who is part of the Campaigns team at The Children’s Society. As a result, I contacted my local council. (Council = local government.) Apparently, roughly half of Britain’s council’s are helping so-called “care leavers” with their council tax bills, whether Labour-led, Lib-Dem-led, Green-led or Conservative-led.

My council does not do that yet. It means that the roughly 230 care leavers in Portsmouth are worse off than care leavers in, for example North-Somerset, which has the same number of care leavers.

See: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaign-for-change/a-fairer-start-for-care-leavers

When young people who have been in a care home or in foster care are thrust into society on the basis of their age, they have had almost no financial education, apparently, and little or no preparation for what it means to live on your own.

Particularly council tax bills tend to get them into trouble. I think that makes sense. These so-called care leavers may never have heard of council tax, and they’re not seeing anything tangible in return for paying these bills. It makes sense for young people to ignore them. You pay water bills for water, electricity bills in return for electricity, council tax bills because you use… eh, what?

Since my move to Britain, I have tried to explain council tax to educated adults in other countries a few times and they too are flabbergasted by the idea of “council tax”. In response, I was even told once that I was paying someone else’s taxes, was paying bills I should not have to pay – by someone who’s probably never paid a bill late even once throughout his entire life.

If the concept of council tax is that incomprehensible to educated adults in other countries, it probably makes even less sense to young care leavers.

Unless councils step in to support these care leavers, council tax ruins these young people’s lives before they’ve even had a chance at a life.

(Of course, the real issue includes the lack of support they’ve obviously had while in care. Fixing that is more complicated and more expensive, however.)

 

Vulnerability

Brené Brown’s talk (see previous post) has gotten me thinking a lot, not just within the context of the new eugenics.

I’ll need to read her book on the topic (even though what she is saying has been said by many others before her).

In the past few months, I was reminded rather harshly a few times of the fact that men seem to have a great need for women to be vulnerable. (By this, I mean that they’re uncomfortable around strong women and often try to tear them down verbally – though the other explanation of this sentence is equally valid.)

Not all men, but men who… feel vulnerable and have a hard time dealing with it.

For example with not measuring up to either their own or the world’s ideas of who they are supposed to be, professionally.

Though, of course, the story is often much uglier than that (see not only the first but also particularly the second part what Sallie Krawcheck said on LinkedIn recently).

So, at first sight, the problem with vulnerability can seem to be that it needs to be censored, and also that it needs to be dished out in measures, instead of freely.

If you make yourself appear too vulnerable, it can backfire greatly, because it makes some people focus on your vulnerability to such a degree that they believe that you have no strengths whatsoever (or that you view yourself as worthless).

That may sound like a problem, but it isn’t. As long as you surround yourself with strong people, things will be fine. And if you run into weak people, their response may upset you briefly but that’s fine too, and maybe you’ll inadvertently help them grow.

Strength is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable and admit that you’re vulnerable. Some people, however, tell themselves that strength is the absence of any vulnerabilities. That means that they’ll never be who they want to be. How frustrating that must be.

We’re more than bits of software designed to tun on electronic equipment. Vulnerability makes us beautiful.

You can see this reflected in the valuation of handmade items over mass-produced ones. The process of making something by hand exposes the creator to the possibility that the process might fail. The end product could be seriously flawed, all the time and attention “wasted”. (It won’t be wasted as it will likely have resulted in learning and possibly produced relaxation, and hey, the joy is in the journey, not in the reward.)

We inherently value the risk that the creator takes as much as the wonderful result of the process when it doesn’t fail. We sense the fragility in the end product.

Mass production has been optimized to minimize flaws and products with flaws are removed in a quality control process that we hardly ever think of as consumers.

Consider flawless mass-produced drinking glasses over exquisite hand-blown glass ware.

Some time ago, someone wrote to me “It must be difficult for someone so thoroughly talented/blessed, to not be able to take a compliment without examining it for booby traps?!?!”

And I thought “What the hell is this about?” because I had no idea. (I still haven’t been able to identify the “compliment”.) The message came from someone who appears to have a great need to feel superior to others. I suppose that my willingness to be open about my vulnerabilities over the years must have led to the idea that I don’t believe that I have any talents?

Maybe I should add that the other person is in a country that has a very different culture and style of communication than the one that I have been in for nearly fourteen years now. I surely have assimilated many of the mannerisms that I am surrounded by. That’s only logical.

Okay, so I probably often do come across rather oddly to people in other countries these days, because they expect me to behave the way I used to in the past, the same way they do. That causes a mismatch that is unidentifiable for them and that likely makes them feel slightly uncomfortable. (Look at the Brexit negotiations, for instance at Angela Merkel’s frustration with Theresa May in this context, to see how differently people from my current culture communicate. David Cameron had the same problem, by the way.)

I on the other hand had been thinking he might be taking the mickey because he’d suddenly sent me a puzzling series of messages, in which he partly seemed to be parroting me in in a strange way. I thought that the parroting in itself was already quite odd. It’s something people do when they want to make fun of you, after all.

But then again, come to think of it, parroting may also be something certain men do automatically when dealing with women, probably because they subconsciously want to be liked. Maybe that was the compliment.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown

 

Will designer babies dissolve the glue that binds society?

That is one of the questions I’ve been wondering about, as you’ll know if you read my latest book.

I just watched Brené Brown’s TED Talk about vulnerability again. I first saw it a few years ago. It turns out that her research appears to indicate that yes, the unbridled creation of designer babies would destroy our capacity for connection.

 

#eugenics #designerbabies We really do need to talk about that

In my book “We need to talk about this” I am not trying to convince you of anything (other than that “we need to talk about this”).

I simply believe that it is important to move toward a global consensus on matters like the new eugenics, on how we see future generations and societies.

To reach a global consensus, we’ll all need to adapt. Some of us will have to take a step back while others have to move forward. A few of us can stay right where we are.

It means that you have to examine your own opinion, to see where exactly it comes from, and where necessary, adjust it. This will help you see where other people’s opinions are coming from, also if they’re not at all like your own.

Then you may suddenly discover that their views aren’t actually as different as you initially thought.

 

About dealing with the poleese

Below, you will find a highly entertaining university lecture by a law professor (James Duane) and a police officer about why you should never talk to the police. Ever.

(James Duane won a national debating award when he was still in high school. You can tell.)

Most of us are raised on fairy tales about the police that have little to do with reality. So was I.

Much later in life, when I became more proficient in legal matters, I realized that not only should you never talk to police, you should never let police into your home either, even if you’ve already decided you aren’t going to say a thing.

I’ll tell you why.

(Besides that, as James Duane demonstrates in his lecture, saying nothing is very hard.)

When I was much younger, one of my sisters had a boyfriend who was with the police. When the two visited my home for the first time, I noticed how little reticence he displayed with regard to opening the door to my bedroom and walking straight into it. I realized that it probably came from his policing background.

Would I have been happy for him to have walked in on, say, a display of sex toys or my bloody underpants on the floor because I happened to have gotten my period unexpectedly that day, or even a collection of childhood teddy bears? Probably not!

We value our personal life. Our personal privacy.

Without you being aware of it, police may already have access to all your phone calls and other electronic communications. Everything is recorded and kept these days. So, do they really still need to be able to discover that childhood teddy bear collection in your bedroom too?

You usually are under no obligation whatsoever to open the door to police and if police officers think you have done something very serious, they’ll bust the door down anyway.

This is not about being dishonest or having no respect or about trying to make the lives of police officers as hard as possible. This is about the reality that “life ain’t fair” and that stuff happens. Even when no bad intentions are involved.

Everything that James Duane says is true, and for many reasons. The main reason for how we can get ourselves into a mess is probably that most of us are chatty, perhaps particularly when we’re under some kind of pressure.

So, as Duane explains, you may end up accidentally saying something that has nothing to do with why police wanted to talk with you but that happens to reveal a violation of some obscure law that should have been updated decades ago but wasn’t and that one of the two police officers you’re talking with just happens to know about.

But as Duane also explains, you could for example mention that you weren’t in town on a certain day, not knowing that someone else firmly believes to have seen you that day. That is likely to come across as a lie on your side, even if you aren’t lying at all.

Part of being chatty also seems to be that we sometimes say really dumb things.

I sometimes catch myself saying the stupidest stuff when I am making small talk, or letting stuff rest that other people say. Stuff that isn’t true. Stuff that makes me look bad, or look silly. Nothing serious, usually. Just silly stuff that makes me look dumber than I am.

Such as that when I bought an iPad, I splashed out without thinking. I had a very practical reason for purchasing an iPad and it had to do with my business. But that’s for me to know. I don’t feel inclined to correct another person about an assumption he or she makes when all I am doing is making small talk. I know why I bought that iPad, and that’s enough for me.

But sometimes, I leave stuff unchallenged that I really should have spoken up about and at other times, I find myself automatically saying things like “yeah, me too”. I guess I do it to be sympathetic or because I don’t want to come across as too overpowering or too much of a “smart ass”.

When James Duane did his little quiz, I thought “That’s funny, I didn’t know that they had been dot dot dot but he definitely said dot dot dot” and so I too thought I knew the answer. We say what we say in such instances because we are so eager to get it right, and we know that that answer is the right one. Only, it isn’t. It is the right answer, but to a different question.

Poverty is one of Britain’s biggest challenges

One of the hardest things for me to deal with is the poverty and misery in Britain. These days, that British poverty mindset drags me down on an almost daily basis, this belief and attitude that anything that you consider doing is “daft”, a “waste of time” or “above your station”, this  pervasive conviction that you have to be obedient and patient, that you have no choice.

That is me there, in the middle, emigrating to Florida at the age of 33. I used to believe that emigrating to Florida was something that “other people” did. (I did that after having quit my full-time job in my mid-twenties to go to university.)

That’s what a poverty mindset is about.
Believe you can’t and you can’t.
Believe you can and you can.
The poverty mindset is NOT the cause of poverty, but it can be the result and then it can become a cause of getting trapped in poverty.

It did not used to be like that for me at first in Britain. If it affects me this badly after my years in Britain, you can imagine how it impacts people who have been living here all their lives and may never have set foot in another country.

In my home country too, there used to be this idea “wie als dubbeltje is geboren wordt nooit een kwartje” en “iedereen die met zijn kop boven het maaiveld uitsteekt wordt genadeloos afgehakt”. It is one of the reasons why I didn’t like my home country, this idea that everyone has to stick to a mould and not dare to be different, or excel. It’s not the same, but there are similarities.

Apparently, most Brits don’t like it when someone is very confident and enthusiastic, but confidence and enthusiasm are nothing to be embarrassed about. To the contrary. Maybe confidence and enthusiasm sometimes get confused with snobbery and arrogance?

Continue reading

When your life depends on the government…

“A cross-party group of MPs has criticised the Department for Work and Pensions’ “culture of indifference” after it took six years to correct a major error which left chronically-ill and disabled benefit claimants thousands of pounds out of pocket.

An estimated 70,000 claimants were underpaid by between £5,000 and £20,000 between 2011 and 2016 because the DWP failed to ensure they received the correct amounts when moving them from incapacity benefit on to the employment and support allowance (ESA).”

“As well as losing out on thousands of pounds through underpayments, the DWP’s failure to check claimants’ entitlements meant some were also denied their rights to help with dentistry costs, as well as free school meals and free medical prescriptions.”

“After years of “inertia” it (the Department for Work and Pensions – AS) began to put in place a repayment plan in 2017, and then only after receiving advice that it had a legal responsibility to act.”

Source: Patrick Butler in The Guardian at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/18/disability-claimants-owed-340m-after-dwp-blunder-say-mps

See also this other article by Patrick Butler: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/18/government-will-pay-arrears-thousands-benefit-claimants-backdated-2011

It’s common in Britain to have to take the government to court to get it to do what it is supposed to do. See this post: https://angelinasouren.com/2018/01/31/the-illegality-of-british-government-actions/

Compulsive sexual behavior disorder

Sex addiction is now formally a mental health condition in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) list. It will take until January 2022, however, for this to kick in in healthcare.

Like alcoholism and drug addiction, it can cost people their jobs and it also tends to lead to a lot of lying to cover up what is going on.

 

Diversity. Inclusivity. Non-discrimination. Easy to talk about. Hard to put into practice.

A few years ago, I was contacted by an organization that provides diversity training. Part of its mission was the following:

We seek to be an open, transparent, inclusive non-profit organisation, promoting diversity and equality.
We also firmly believe that individuals should be treated equally regardless of disability, gender, ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation.

I met with its Chairperson, who asked me to take a look at the organization’s Articles.

I did that and found that they were (a slightly adapted version of) older standard Articles, even though the organization was set up more than half a year after the change in the standard Articles (28 April 2013).

Different in the newer version was that it no longer discriminated against mental health versus physical health. The Mental Health Discrimination Act 2013 had something to do with that.

This is the offending sub-clause in the articles up to 28 April 2013:

18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(e) by reason of that person’s mental health, a court makes an order which wholly or partly prevents that person from personally exercising any powers or rights which that person would otherwise have;

Compare it with sub-clause 18d, which is not discriminatory toward mental health relative to physical health:

18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(d) a registered medical practitioner who is treating that person gives a written opinion to the company stating that that person has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a director and may remain so for more than three months;

The newer version reads:

18. A person ceases to be a director as soon as—

(e) [paragraph omitted pursuant to The Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013]

Even though the fact that the sub-clause in question (18e) was rendered invalid by the Mental Health Act because of its discriminatory nature, I felt that the organization should update its Articles.

  • It would reflect the organization’s stated values and objectives.
  • Unless the person was familiar with company law, whoever read that sub-clause might not know that it was invalid.

The organization’s Chair didn’t see the need.

 

How hackers wiped out a restaurant, and a lot more

That particular restaurant got wiped out in a month after having been in business for about two decades. Just for fun. Because hackers didn’t like the restaurant owner. Maybe because the name of the restaurant.

In this video, it’s a hacker who says this. He says that hackers wiped out this business because they didn’t like the owner.

(He also says that there is something really fishy going on with Google’s business listings.)

It probably happens much more often than most people are aware of.

What does it mean to be illegal in Britain?

It means nothing.

There are no illegal humans, for starters. How can it be illegal to be a human being?

IMG_20180629_014929

The phrase “who don’t have the correct documents” is often used in all sort of documentation, such as this PDF by Global Justice Now, but there is no such thing as “having the correct documents” for foreigners and their descendants in Britain.

Also, in the past few years, the British government has changed the definition of “who are here legally” for EU citizens so many times, often retroactively, that I’ve lost count.

Most of the time in recent years, I didn’t know whether I was still here legally or had become an illegal. I have one letter that states that I am here legally but it contains various typos. Would that be accepted? The Home Office’s most recent announcements appear to indicate that I am currently seen again as being here legally and will also be allowed to stay after Brexit.

Thousands of people who had official “leave to remain” – that and the British nationality, I think, are the only “official documents” that in theory mean that you are not an illegal immigrant – have also been detained, deported, threatened with deportation or stopped from entering Britain, as have even a few people with British passports. Way too many EU citizens have too.

Every time I travel back to Britain, I don’t know whether I will be allowed into the country.

(Dutch people living in Holland who tell me that I will be allowed back into Britain – as after all, I am an EU citizen – in doing so only reveal their unfamiliarity with what is going on in Britain.)

The last time I travelled back, the French wanted me to open my suitcase because when they scanned it, they had seen that it contained a hard disk and they wanted to know what it was, make sure that all it was was a hard disk. Fine. No problem. They were, although in something of an urgent hurry, pleasant enough about it. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

The British customs officer, on the other hand, for a second pretended that he wanted to confiscate my passport. This would normally be simply a form of British humour, but he was not smiling and it came across as having been intended in a different way. But then again, British humour can be far from hilarious. So, what should I make of it, this odd gesture from this customs officer? I have no idea. “Nothing” is the most practical response.

Once Brexit has been in existence for three years or so, we may finally be able to prove that we really are here legally. Until then, it is going to remain a hit or miss thing. Whether you are here legally or illegally seems to depend on which person in power you run into, on whether that person hates you or likes you, or likes the current government or not.

But that is immaterial.

There are no legal or illegal humans. Period.

Other than that, I have no solutions.

But here is someone who does: Cleo Wade

How Theresa May’s hostile climate policy divides us

It does not only pitch Brits against foreigners and indigenous Brits against ethnic Brits, the English against the Welsh (who are also occasionally told to go home now when they speak Welsh around English people) and the Scots, it also divides us as migrants and descendants of migrants.

A few days ago, I heard a Caribbean-African British woman dismiss everyone who is brown or black but has no Caribbean-African heritage – which applies to many people in Britain in view of its history – and not realize it at all. It wasn’t her intention at all. She was merely trying to build a strong wall around herself and stand up for herself and the people in her life.

(Nobody protested against it either because we weren’t there to dismiss each other’s feelings and opinions as valueless. We wanted to acknowledge and respect them, honour them, accept them instead of dismiss them.)

The way many people in Britain are being targeted and made to feel vulnerable by the British government makes us want to build high walls around ourselves to protect us. Because that is what you do when your own government milks you and plunges you into poverty, the way it does with millions and millions of indigenous Brits.

It can also be what you do after you have seen friends and relatives being ripped away from their PhDs, their families, their jobs and their businesses and being sent to a country they may never have even been to before, after first having been detained in a concentration facility.

Unlike what many people think, in itself, British intolerance is nothing new, though. It was certainly already in full swing when I arrived in Britain in 2004. Back then, it was still neither condoned nor imposed by the British government.

But vicious targeting of foreigners was already occasionally condoned and encouraged by British police, for instance in the case of, off the top of my head, an Iranian man who was vilified by police as a crazy nut case and later found not to have been a crazy nut case at all and the case of a French translator in Devon.

The mere fact that foreigners have different habits, customs and histories (or have a higher education because education is much more accessible in some other countries) does not make foreigners “crazy”, just like it does not make all Americans “daft” either and just like being British does not make all Brits wear bowler hats and Burberry coats, while swinging umbrellas or walking sticks.

In recent years, the British government has increasingly made intolerance mandatory and has now cranked it up so many notches that many people are scared and angry and emotional and no longer certain of anything in life.

Theresa May created this explosive mixture because the Tories needed something to help them beat, particularly, UKIP in elections. There is no other explanation for it, is there?

If you are British and would like to combat government-imposed hatred – or learn more about it – then here are a few links for you:

  • docsnotcops.co.uk (Health professionals and patients fighting to protect the NHS, its patients and health in Britain in general from the government and its attempts to push foreigners – including the UK’s 3.5 million or so EU citizens – away from healthcare)
  • This video by Bare Life Films:
  • Haringey Welcome, the London Haringey Borough initiative that quickly evolved from openly welcoming Syrian refugees and among other things managed to get its council to abolish the expensive (40,000 a year, I think) Home Office migration employee who was there to make the lives of foreigners as difficult as possible.
  • The hostile environment for immigrants. How Theresa May has created an underclass in the UK. (PDF, Feb 2018, by “Global Justice Now”)
  • As every British voter voted for an MP, not a border guard who rats out foreigners to the Home Office to achieve their detention and deportation, most of you will want your MP to pledge “MPs not border guards” (by “migrants organise” and “Global Justice Now”)
  • And here is some background on that, in an article in The Independent
  • You can also sign this petition: Sajid Javid create a fair and compassionate uk immigration policy
  • The border controls dividing our communities (by Liberty, May 2018)

Thank you.

 

Waarom de Britten ons haten – en wat we eraan kunnen doen

Tuurlijk, “de” Brit bestaat niet. En er zijn ook massa’s Britten die ons helemaal niet haten. Maar Britten die ons wel haten, waar komt dat door? Ik heb het eens op een rijtje gezet.

    • Een rotsvast geloof dat andere EU landen arme lage-lonenlanden zijn waar productie naartoe is verhuisd waardoor Britse fabrieken moesten sluiten. (Men denkt ook dat uit de EU stappen betekent dat die fabrieken terugkeren.)
    • De overtuiging dat EU burgers naar het VK komen omdat ze denken dat ze daar meer kunnen verdienen maar er de lonen laag houden omdat ze voor minder geld werken dan Britten. (Men concludeert dus dat uit de EU stappen tot hogere lonen in het VK gaat leiden.)
    • Het idee dat de meeste EU burgers laag zijn opgeleid en hier banen inpikken die laag opgeleide Britten zouden moeten hebben. (Men concludeert dus dat uit de EU stappen betekent dat er in het VK meer banen vrij komen voor laag opgeleide Britten. In werkelijkheid is het niveau van de Britten zelf niet zo hoog en draaien veel faciliteiten hier op buitenlanders omdat de Britten het zonder die buitenlanders simpelweg niet zouden redden. Een vaak genoemd voorbeeld is de Britse gezondheidszorg. Zonder buitenlanders zou de National Health Service instorten en de uittocht van de nu al door Brexit verdreven buitenlanders heeft de problemen binnen de Britse gezondheidszorg nog veel groter gemaakt.)
    • Het idee dat de Britse gezondheidszorg van een dermate hoog niveau is dat buitenlanders in drommen naar het VK toe stromen omdat ze in het VK niet voor gezondheidszorg hoeven te betalen en dat dit de reden is dat de NHS in grote problemen verkeert. Health tourism. (Het gaat in werkelijkheid om 0.3% van het budget van de NHS. Het bestrijden van dit vermeende enorme misbruik kost veel meer dan het kan opleveren en leidt er soms ook toe dat Britse kankerpatiënten, zwangere vrouwen etc. de deur wordt gewezen. Dat lossen de Britten dan op met crowdfunding.)
    • Het in oktober 2017 en februari 2018 door James O’Shaughnessy (Health Minister) heel geniepig gesuggereerde idee dat buitenlanders in het VK geen belasting betalen. Helaas namen de media deze uitspraken klakkeloos over en gaven ze geen tegengas.
    • Het idee dat het onderwijs in alle andere landen veel slechter is dan in het VK.
    • De overtuiging dat buitenlanders er altijd op uit zijn om je een loer te draaien. (De Brit Richard Lewis, in When Cultures Collide, noemt dit “British insularity”.)
    • De overtuiging dat EU burgers naar het VK komen om hier te luieren en van uitkeringen te genieten. (Dit gaat volkomen voorbij aan het feit dat EU burgers niet meteen aanspraak kunnen maken op uitkeringen; je moet daarvoor al een tijd in het VK hebben gewoond en gewerkt en ook dan kun je minder rechten hebben dan Britten. In werkelijkheid dragen EU burgers bovendien gemiddeld 2 miljard per jaar bij aan het VK, en dat is netto.)
    • Soms ook de overtuiging dat sommige landen in het midden Oosten deel uitmaken van de EU en/of dat buitenlanders vaker terroristen zijn.
    • Omdat Theresa May mensen doet geloven dat dat is wat goede Britten doen. (Donald Trump gaat in de praktijk minder ver dan de Britse regering. Hij respecteert bovendien, voorzover mij bekend, de Amerikaanse wetten en de rechtbanken. De Britse regering doet dat beslist niet en lapt zowel de rechters als de wetten nogal eens aan de laars.)

Politici, de Britse overheid en media liegen hier aantoonbaar over en worden desondanks geloofd. Het is namelijk de emotionele respons die de overtoon speelt, niet de rationele.

Er is veel diepe armoede in het VK, dus veel angst, stress, onmacht en wanhoop.

Er is dus hoop nodig.

Het is voor veel Britten makkelijker om te geloven dat hun ellende door buitenlanders komt dan te accepteren dat hun eigen regering hen voortdurend uitmelkt en een poot uitdraait.

Dat leidt namelijk tot de hoop dat het ooit beter wordt.

Daar ligt dus de oplossing. Hoe voeg je hoop toe op een manier die de haat juist minder maakt? Niet door het rationeel aan te pakken maar door de emoties aan te spreken.

Dat zou bijvoorbeeld kunnen doordat buitenlanders met genoeg geld in de arme wijken Britse steden structureel (een keer per maand?) briefjes geld gaan verspreiden en er publiciteit aan wijden zodat de associatie tussen narigheid en buitenlanders wordt doorbroken.

Er is al iemand geweest die zoiets heeft gedaan, die in een stadsdeel her en der geld had verstopt.

Je zou vliegtuigjes kunnen laten overvliegen met een lange banner (“Holland/The EU/Poland/France/Italy/Spain/Germany/Denmark/… loves you!”) en van waaruit briefjes van 5, 10, 20 en 50 naar beneden dwarrelen.

Je kan ook vanuit het buitenland enveloppen met bijvoorbeeld een briefje van 20 pond erin anoniem gaan sturen aan adressen in arme Britse wijken met daarin bijvoorbeeld ook de tekst “The EU loves you!”.

Voedselpakketjes sturen mag natuurlijk ook.

(Voedsel vanuit vliegtuigjes droppen raad ik niet aan vanwege de eventuele schade.)

Het trieste van het bovenstaande is dat het Britse regeringsbeleid de mythes in realiteit aan het omzetten is. Door rijbewijzen en paspoorten in te nemen, mensen te pas en onpas op te pakken en voor onbepaalde tijd vast te zetten (en na vrijlating identiteitsbewijzen in beslag genomen te houden), het vinden van werk en woonruimte te blokkeren en Britten zeer hoge boetes te geven voor collaboratie met verdacht gemaakte buitenlanders (zoals het verhuren van kamers) en buitenlands gedrag te criminaliseren worden buitenlanders (maar ook soms ethnische Britten evenals Britten die een vreemde achternaam hebben of met een buitenlander zijn getrouwd) de ellende in gedreven.

Tegengas is dus hard nodig.

Hieronder staan wat linkjes naar Engelstalige informatie. Continue reading

Can you stop watching this?

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Humans and other animals

I used to be quite fond of people in general, but I no longer like humans as much as I used to.

Humans have been on the planet only a short while, but no other species has managed to wreak even a fraction of the destruction that humans already have.

Humans also hunt and incarcerate each other, and sometimes kill each other, for no good reason. (Guantánamo, anyone? Migrant detention centres, anyone? 9/11 anyone? )

Humans approve of it when other humans want to build unhealthy concrete, plastic, steel and brick homes yet tend to object when other humans want to build homes made from branches and wood, or earth, or straw bales and adobe, or live in a hole excavated in the ground where they keep their books and the other kind of stuff that we all tend to have.

More and more humans, it looks like, gather and gather and gather, and steal, and build up reserves that would last them many lifetimes. It has a name, I believe. Consumerism.

So-called progress that happens for no more than the sake of the drive for bigger bigger bigger more more more has become the norm. (Third Heathrow runway, anyone?)

Sales for the sake of sales instead of the sake of contributing something worthwhile to the lives of others is still a major driver for many, as is the accumulation of monetary value, often to make up for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

“It’s amazing! I have X euros/dollars/pounds’ worth of merchandise in my shop right now!”

Even a so-called stupid bird brain of a quaker parrot knows that in times of plenty, all that matters is that you have food in your hands – not how much someone else has – and that you should start building up a little stack of reserves for yourself when you notice that food is scarce.

This spunky creature, a quaker parrot called Sioux, was part of my household for 21 years  Her life and death have changed my life forever. She was still a youngster when she was brought to a wild-bird hospital in Florida where I was volunteering at the time. It was against the law to release her, and she was unable to fly, so she needed a home. I adopted her along with quaker parrot Mohawk. As I had noticed that these birds are never on their own in the wild, I wanted to adopt at least two of them, for increased well-being, and housed them together. Myiopsitta monachus.

Quaker parrots don’t round up other birds and their youngsters and put them in cages. They protect them, stand up for them (they stand up even for cats). In the wild, they share their amazing self-built homes that have separate spaces for various activities with other species, sometimes even predators. (Yet they are also highly territorial, protective of their homes.)

But many humans see them as “threats” and spread vile myths about them, mainly because their natural habitat was once limited to South-America.

Probably also because at some level, we humans feel threatened (challenged, made uncomfortable) by the intelligence and strong lively personalities of these birds. They can be highly opinionated.

Something similar goes for our city pigeons.

Birds have been on the planet so incredibly much longer than humans. They are highly aware of their own vulnerability (with to some degree the exception of birds of prey), so much that they will always try to hide it as well as they can. They don’t go around destroying their own habitat, and they tend to live quite peacefully with other species.

Humans are only one species. Homo sapiens.

We humans haven’t really learned a thing yet, have we?

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In defence of men

Isn’t today Father’s Day in the UK? Maybe the post below is a suitable Father’s Day gift.


Women often complain about or ridicule the phenomenon now known as mansplaining.

A typical and highly illustrative example is a man at a cocktail party explaining something to the woman he is talking to when the woman happens to be the world’s number one expert on the topic.

Is this really a feminist issue or could it be something else?

I am a feminist.

I am also Dutch.

Dutch men and women also do a heck of a lot of mansplaining. Dutch culture says that it is everyone’s democratic duty to have an opinion on everything.

The Dutch don’t say “I think that…” or “In my opinion…” and they don’t phrase their opinions in the form of questions either.

They make authoritative-sounding statements because they feel it is their duty to do so.

So I often get corrected and told that such and such is the truth and nothing but the truth. Also when it concerns topics that I have in my professional background and the other person does not!

When I go to the Netherlands, having been away from the country for a long time and having gotten used to a very different communication style puts me in the shoes of the average foreigner who is faced with the very direct and opinionated Dutch.

I too am now taken aback at first, but after a while, I fall into the familiar patterns again.

But it sometimes stays on my mind for a while when Dutch people seemed to be dismissing my professional background.

So then it hit me.

This is the same phenomenon as mansplaining.

It usually has nothing to do with wanting to take the other person down a notch or two, with wanting to convey a lack of professional respect or anything like that.

It is much more often a genuine effort to contribute to the discussion and do one’s very best.

That’s simply what men tend to do. That’s also what Dutch people do.

Emancipated Dutch women do it to me too. Mansplaining.

Of course, the old phenomenon of pissing contests does play a role in mansplaining as well. I am not denying that.

But maybe mainsplaining also happens because humans are really quite willing to help one another.

When someone offers to help you with heavy luggage at a train station, does that mean that the person seriously thinks that you’re not capable of carrying your own luggage or because he or she simply wants to be kind and give you a hand?

That this happens on the basis of outward appearances like apparent age, manner of dress, gender and hair colour (age) can be somewhat discriminatory.

Hey, tired young people wouldn’t mind a hand with their luggage either! And yes, the help often includes the assumption that women are less strong than men.

But these are snap decisions that people make, not decisions made after an hour of debate.

When you see a very young kid fall into the water, you rush. When you see a strong young man dressed in swimming gear fall into the water, you are a little bit less concerned.

That’s probably where it all comes from. Some people may say that this is the reptile part of our brain kicking in.

There is a difference between seeing someone fall into the water and having a conversation with someone, though. No life is potentially in danger during a conversation, so there is time for a quick thought or two before speaking.

Maybe the mansplainer and Dutch person could ask himself or herself “What is the other person’s background? Is it possible that he or she knows a lot more about the topic than I do?” before offering their opinions, which creates room for the option of asking a question instead.

But then, they also might not offer their unfiltered views and hold back what could be a genuine gem.

So, maybe the person on the receiving end of the mansplaining should simply listen and then provide a reply based on a wealth of knowledge.

It could lead to much more fruitful discussions.

This will go into my new book “We’re such animals!”

Stress is bad for your body, but how? Studying piglets may shed light

While I do wonder what is being done to piglets in the name of academic research, the article makes valid points and I want to share it with you. We need to find a way of living that is much more balanced, not only for the planet, but also for ourselves.

-Ange

File 20180611 191965 1g834yf.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Pigs and humans have a lot in common, particularly their digestive tracts.
Krumanop/Shutterstock.com

Adam Moeser, Michigan State University

Stress affects most of us to one degree or another, and that even includes animals. My lab studies early-life stress in pigs and how it impacts their health later in life, specifically in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Pigs, whose GI tracts are extremely similar to those of humans, may be one of the clearest windows we have into researching stress, disease, and new therapies and preventatives – both in livestock and people.

In my study of how stress makes humans and pigs vulnerable to disease, I have seen the profound impact that stress-related chemical substances, such as hormones and peptides, can have on a body’s tissues. I’m hopeful that our research in piglets could eventually lead to treatments for both people and animals designed to mitigate the adverse effects of stress on the GI health.

How stress can save your life

Not all stress is bad. When we perceive a threat, our hypothalamus – one of our most basic parts of the brain – kicks in to protect us by triggering what many recognize as the “fight or flight” response. It is a primal evolutionary response programmed in our brains to help us first survive and then restore us to a normal set point, or what feels like stability.

The stress response is essential to helping escape a dangerous situation, such as an attacking dog.
Dmitri Ma/Shutterstock.com

What actually is happening has to do with something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is at the core of the stress response. During stress, the hypothalamus, a region in the brain, makes and sends out a chemical called corticotrophin-releasing factor, which signals for the pituitary gland to release another chemical, adrenocorticotrophic hormone.

This stimulates the adrenal gland to release adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin and cortisol, two of the most well-known stress hormones, power our bodies to react during the fight or flight response. They can heighten our response time in a fight. They can pump blood to our extremities when we flee. They can boost our immune system to protect against pathogens. That stress response gives us what we need to resolve the situation.

How stress can harm your life

Fortunately for many of us, we don’t have to deal with life-threatening situations on a regular basis. However, we still experience stress. This stress can be chronic, due to a specific situation or overall lifestyle.

But, our stress response is meant for short-term resolvable conflict. So, in a way, the stress response is misplaced in today’s world of enduring stressors. Danger comes when we experience repeated elevations of these stress hormones, or when we are exposed to too much of these stress hormones at a young age. Instead of physical threats, many of us experience psychosocial stress, which triggers a similar stress response but is often not resolvable.

For example, stress in the workplace, such as feeling overworked or undervalued, could be perceived as a threat and in turn activate the stress response. However, in these situations, the survival aspects of the stress response, such as increased heart rate and immune activation, is not effective in resolving this threat.

This results in continued production and higher levels of these stress chemicals in the body. They bind to target receptors in many organs, which can have profound effects on physiology and function.

Stress is particularly damaging to the developing brain.
Mcimage/Shutterstock.com

High levels of stress are also especially harmful when they occur at a young age, when many of the body’s important stress regulatory systems – for example, the brain and nervous systems – are still developing. Exposure to stress in early life can alter the normal development and physiology of many organ systems, resulting in increased sensitivity to stress and lifelong health risks in offspring.

Also, a mother’s stress during pregnancy can be “transmitted” to the fetus, resulting in permanent changes to the stress response system and health in offspring.

This early-life stress can fuel a constant stress response inside the body. This can include inflammation, or increased activity of the immune system, or immune suppression as its new “normal.”

Inflammation and immune suppression are unpredictable and can manifest in many parts of our body, with different consequences. For example, stress and inflammation near blood vessels can cause blood vessels to constrict. This causes elevated blood pressure, which can lead to a slew of other conditions like coronary artery disease and heart attack.

Immune suppression can reduce the body’s ability to heal wounds and make it more susceptible to other pathogens. Inflammation and immune suppression can affect anything, including our mental health. Chronic stress can traffic immune cells into the brain, where they can cause neuroinflammation, which can affect our mood and fuel diseases like depression and anxiety.

Your GI tract and you

The GI tract is our largest interface with the outside world. If you think about it, your GI system is “outside” your body; it experiences many of the pathogens and other foreign entities with which we come into contact. If you unfolded your entire GI system, it would cover a tennis court. The GI system also contains just as many neurons as your spinal cord and houses the largest collection of immune cells in the body. A system of that size is as powerful as it is susceptible.

Chronic stress that affects your GI tract can manifest as abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation and can lead to common diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.

Early-life stress is especially concerning; scientists only now are beginning to understand the long-term consequences. My research demonstrates the impacts of early-life stress on animal health and productivity, as well as human health. In pigs, this stress can result from early weaning and other management practices. In humans, it could be from physical or emotional trauma like abuse or neglect.

What we can learn from piglets

Pigs and humans have similar digestive tracts, making pigs an excellent model for human GI disease. My research team has demonstrated early stress in piglets results in GI symptoms (e.g. diarrhea, GI infections) that are remarkably similar to stress-related GI disorders in people: Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and food allergies are examples.

Through my lab’s research of piglets and early-life stress, we have been able to significantly lower the stress and GI disease that they experience through their life by eliminating individual early-life stressors.

Much of their stress is caused through early weaning, social change due to maternal separation and mixing with unfamiliar pigs. These pigs then experience a higher rate of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases, as well as reduced growth performance and feed efficiency into adulthood.

We also learned that a particular type of immune cell, called the mast cell, becomes highly activated during stress, which in turn causes much of the stress-associated GI disease. By focusing on animal welfare and implementing new management practices to eliminate individual stressors or intervene therapeutically with mast cell blockers, we can lower the overall threshold of stress that the piglets experience.

This basic research could result in future breakthroughs regarding how we combat stress in humans. Maybe with more fundamental research in animal models, we can develop a therapy to help lessen the impact of bad stress on our bodies.

The ConversationIn the meantime, those of us experiencing stress can take action. If you experience a lot of stress on a daily basis, focus on what you can and cannot control, and then apply your energy to the things within your control while taking care of your body by eating properly, getting enough sleep, and maintaining some level of physical activity. Then, learn to cope with the things you cannot control through therapy, meditation and other stress management practices.

Adam Moeser, Matilda R. Wilson Endowed Chair, Associate Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Police officers’ bullets, tasers, arms and bodies often kill people who are ill

Remember my taser reports? And the incidents in which innocent men become unable to breathe because they are being crushed to death? Here is another story that should never have happened.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/28/anatomy-of-a-police-shooting-the-final-hours-of-elijah-holcombe