Friday, March 25, 2011

The Worst That Could Happen

Missing in the Japan Catastrophe -- Thinking the Unthinkable
By Tom Engelhardt
Seldom more than thrice annually did any layman or stranger travel the old road that passed the abbey, in spite of the oasis which permitted that abbey’s existence and which would have made the monastery a natural inn for wayfarers if the road were not a road from nowhere, leading nowhere, in terms of the modes of travel in those times.  Perhaps, in earlier ages, the road had been a portion of the shortest route from the Great Salt Lake to Old El Paso; south of the abbey it intersected a similar strip of broken stone that stretched east- and westward.  The crossing was worn by time, but not by Man, of late.
I traveled that “old road” when it was still relatively new and heavily trafficked, and I was already a grown-up.  I also traveled it when I was a teenager -- the version with “broken stone” -- through the blistered backlands of what had once been the American West, coming upon the “sports,” the mutants, “the misborn” who, in those grim lands, sometimes looked upon human stragglers “as a dependable source of venison.”
And if you’re now thoroughly confused, I don’t blame you.  Let me explain. For more, click here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Celebrity resolutions for 2011

Ten celebrities share their 2011 wishes for animals
  • Colbie Caillat with her dog, Plum. The purebred golden retriever was found starving on a street in Taiwan and was adopted by Caillat. Yvonne Bennett/The HSUS
We asked some favorite celebrities to share their resolutions for animals in 2011:
GOTHAM CHOPRA: "We ask people everywhere to express peace, love, and kindness toward all animals through their thinking, feeling, doing, and being. Happy New Year!"
—Gotham, Deepak, Cleo (the family dog!) and the whole Chopra family
COLBIE CAILLAT: "My resolution is to tell all my friends to adopt their next pet, not to buy a puppy from a pet store, and to help stop puppy mills!"
JACKIE EVANCHO: "I hope all kids will resolve to be kind to animals and not do anything to harm them."
JORJA FOX: "My resolution is to support he HSUS’s effort to end dogfighting, and all they’re doing to help at-risk communities."
CAROL LEIFER: "My hope for the new year is that people will only admire fur coats that are on their original owners."
NIGEL BARKER: "My 2011 New Year's resolution is to become fully aware of where all my produce comes from and how it got there, basically being responsible for what food goes on my family's table. And to grow my hair in a show of solidarity for seals!"
HAL SPARKS: "I will introduce at least 20 new people to vegan and vegetarian cuisine in hopes of bringing them closer to a cruelty-free diet. I will continue to encourage everyone to practice Meatless Mondays and... I will also pet 32% more cats this year."
RON BURNS: "We hope people brighten their homes by adopting the many colorful critters waiting in shelters."
TAMAR GELLER: "May those of us who share our lives with dogs train ourselves to see and recognize all the efforts our dogs are making to understand us, connect with us, and make up happy. May we accept them even half as much as they accept us."
—With love, Tamar, Clyde, G-Ma, and Cricket
PATRICK MCDONNELL: "My resolution is to do all I can to help make more people aware that animals are sentient beings. Taking action, even by making small, seemingly insignificant changes, can make a big difference in the lives of animals. It's really about awareness and kindness."
We thank our friends above for sharing their New Year's resolutions and hope you will join us in resolving to make 2011 a great year for animals! Watch highlights from 2010»
Learn more about these celebrity friends of animals:
 Nigel Barker, internationally renowned as a photographer and judge on the show America's Next Top Model, has just authored his first book titled Nigel Barker's Beauty Equation: Revealing a Better and More Beautiful You.
Celebrated for his original and distinctive portraits of dogs and cats, painter and author Ron Burns is also noted for his longtime support of the animal shelter community. Burns shares his studio with his wife and best friend Buff and “furgirls” Loganberry and Emma. Find him online at
Grammy-winning, platinum-selling singer songwriter Colbie Caillat is a spokesperson for The HSUS’s Puppy Mill Campaign. Check out her CDs, “Coco” and “Breakthrough,” and watch for her new CD coming out this spring.
Author Gotham Chopra and his father Deepak recently collaborated on a book titledWalking Wisdom: Three Generations, Two Dogs and the Search for a Happy Life.
Major recording artist Jackie Evancho is currently working on her full length cd for a spring 2011 release date. Find her online at
Jorja Fox, star of the hit TV series CSI, has been a long-time supporter of The HSUS and our End Dogfighting campaign.
Tamar Geller is a best-selling author and life coach for dogs and their people. Her latest book is 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog.
Carol Leifer is a comedian and a comedy writer. Her book of humorous essays is titledWhen You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win.
Patrick McDonnell is the creator and cartoonist of MUTTS™ and author of a number of books. Find more at

Comedian Hal Sparks is the former host of Talk Soup on E! and his recent comedy special, Charmageddon, is available now on DVD.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Choctaw’s charitable gift to the people of Ireland

The Choctaw’s gift to the people of Ireland 

Story from the National Museum of the American Indian (via ICTMN):

On St. Patrick’s Day, the museum would like to call attention to a remarkable gift from the people of the Choctaw Nation to the people of Ireland 164 years ago. We asked Judy Allen, executive director of public relations for the Choctaw Nation, to tell the history of what she describes as “an act that shaped tribal culture.”
The Choctaw people have a history of helping others. Only sixteen years after their long, sad march along the Trail of Tears, the Choctaws learned of people starving to death in Ireland. With great empathy, in 1847 Choctaw individuals made donations totaling $170 — estimated to be the equivalent of more than $5,000 today — to assist the Irish people during the famine. Though they had meager resources, they gave on behalf of others in greater need.
In 1995, Irish President Mary Robinson, later UN Commissioner for Human Rights, visited the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to thank the Choctaws for their generosity toward the Irish, a people with whom she noted their only link was “a common humanity, a common sense of another people suffering as the Choctaw Nation had suffered when being removed from their tribal land.”
President Robinson also acknowledged the many Choctaws who have visited Ireland to take part in commemorating the Famine Walk.
“Earlier in the month I met one of the members of the tribe, the artist Gary Whitedeer,” she said. “He explained to me that taking part in that walk and remembering the past between the Choctaw Nation and Irish people and relinking our peoples is completing the circle. I have used that expression recently at a major conference on world hunger in New York. I spoke of the generosity of the Choctaw people and this idea of completing the circle.”
This charitable attitude resonates still today when crisis situations occur across the world. In 2001, tribal people made a huge contribution to the Firefighters Fund after the Twin Towers attack in New York City and have since made major contributions to Save the Children and the Red Cross in 2004 for tsunami relief, in 2005 for Hurricane Katrina relief, and more recently, for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Good works are not exclusive to humanitarian organizations and funds.
The Choctaw Nation received the United States National Freedom Award in 2008 for the efforts made in support of members of the National Guard and Reserve and their families. There are countless stories of Choctaw individuals who have looked past their own needs to help their neighbors.

The biggest full moon of 2011 - Saturday, March 19

"Supermoon" to light up the sky Saturday

Posted: Mar 18, 2011 4:55 PM by

Thanks to a fluke of orbital mechanics that brings the moon closer to Earth than that it has been in more than 18 years, the biggest full moon of 2011 will occur on Saturday, leading some observers to dub it a "supermoon.
For more, see article at

Sanctuary horses have a deadline to find Montana homes

Sanctuary horses have deadline to find MT homes

Posted: Mar 18, 2011 5:25 PM by Breanna Roy(KPAX News)
Updated: Mar 18, 2011 7:23 PM
HAMILTON - More than 20 horses still need a home after the largest-ever sanctuary failure.
Rescuers and animal care organizations successfully re-homed about 75 percent of the horses and donkeys from the Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue after it shut down. But a few remaining horses will make a new home in Texas if they aren't adopted in the next two and a half weeks.
While caregivers and veterinarians named some of the horses, one horse, an Appaloosa bay mare, is referred to as No. 13. But she could care less, it seems, as long as she has a hand to touch her.
"She's just totally happy I'm standing here petting her, you know, giving her attention," Montana Equine Rescue founder Shannon Alexander said.
The horses have come a long way, not only the distance from the Hot Springs sanctuary to a temporary home at Wilde-r Farm in Hamilton, but each one has had to readjust to new situations and surroundings its entire life.
"A lot of the horses that came from the sanctuary just really didn't know that they could trust a human," Alexander said. "They all belonged to someone and, for whatever reason, the owners felt at the time that it as a good thing to do to take them to the large animal sanctuary. Things just didn't work out like it was anticipated, so they have a new hope for a fresh start."

From horses that are ready to hit the trail to others that would make better pasture mates, the ones that remain unclaimed have a wide variety of possible uses.
"Some people are looking for the weekend riding horse," Alexander said, ‘there's definitely some companion animals as well as horses that need to be trained. They all just need some love and attention. Know that they're cared about."
Something, Alexander assures, they will get at Texas sanctuary Habitat for Horses. And, chances are, even the unnamed Appaloosa will get a name, a home and a permanent person to pet her.
If you're interested in keeping one of those horses in Montana, visit the Montana Horse Sanctuary website.
For more information on adopting a horse, contact Jane Heath of the Montana Horse Sanctuary at (406) 264-5300.

Contact Jerry Finch of Habitat for Horses (409) 682-6621

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

History made as native son wins Iditarod in Alaska

    • (CNN) -- Native son and veteran dog musher John Baker of Kotzebue, Alaska, made history Tuesday by claiming first place in the state's famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
Baker's win marks the first time in the race's 38-year history in which an Alaskan Inupiaq has taken top prize. Baker's win triggered some raw emotional Alaskan pride, with native drums beating loudly at Iditarod's finish line. <see more of story at

John Baker won the Iditorad race. (Photo by Bob Hallinen, Associated Press)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Montana governor exposes 'a crooked enterprise'

Schweitzer administration denies request to disclose drug prices state paid

HELENA - The Schweitzer administration has denied a media request for prescription drug prices paid by the state for government health care programs, citing federal law that requires the information be kept secret.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer, while acknowledging that federal law supersedes state open records laws, blasted the federal law Thursday as a product of a Congress "bought and paid for" by the prescription drug industry.
"Congress has created a system so that even the states, which buy tens of millions of dollars' worth of these drugs, have no idea what we pay on a per-unit basis," he said.
Actually, Schweitzer does know what the state pays - but, before acquiring the information last summer, had to have his chief counsel sign a written agreement not to disclose it publicly.
Schweitzer said the drug industry wants to keep secret the rebates it gives to states buying drugs for public programs, because it doesn't want regular retail customers to know how much more they're paying for drugs.
Schweitzer obtained the rebate information last summer from a state contractor that arranges price rebates for Montana's Medicaid program, which pays medical costs for the poor. He sought the information so he could compare what Montana pays for drugs through Medicaid to the cost of the same drugs in Canada.
The price paid by Montana's Medicaid program, after industry rebates, is much lower than retail customers pay and nearly as low as Canadian prices, the governor said.
About 100,000 Montanans are covered by Medicaid, which paid out nearly $65 million in Montana in fiscal 2010 for prescription drugs.
In December, Lee Newspapers, the Associated Press, Yellowstone Public Radio, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Montana Broadcasters Association asked the Schweitzer administration to release the pricing information.
They said Montana open records law requires the governor, as a public official, to release documents in his possession that list public money paid out or received by the state.
On Wednesday, Schweitzer's chief legal counsel, Anne Brodsky, said federal law bars disclosure of the information requested by the news organizations, and that federal law pre-empts Montana's open records laws.
She also said Magellan Medicaid Services, the Virginia-based contractor that negotiates additional drug rebates for the state Medicaid program, also claimed that the rebate information is a "trade secret" protected from public disclosure.
In a Feb. 11 statement, Douglas Brown, director of rebate contracting for Magellan, said releasing the rebates that Magellan obtains for Montana and other states would let competing companies know the amount.
"If a competitor knew the amounts of MMA's supplemental drug rebate arrangements, such competitor could more readily replicate such arrangements with manufacturers and thus compete with MMA more readily in the marketplace," he wrote.
Congress created the drug-rebate program for Medicaid several years ago, enabling the drug industry to pay rebates to states to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for Medicaid. At the same time, it passed the law keeping that rebate amount secret.
Contractors like Magellan also can negotiate a further "supplemental" rebate for states - amounts that also are held secret by the companies.
On Wednesday, the state provided Lee Newspapers with spreadsheets that list the pre-rebate price that Medicaid paid for each drug - but the spreadsheets left blank the information on the rebates and supplemental rebates.
Schweitzer said he "threw a fit" when he found out he couldn't have the information without signing a promise not to disclose it publicly, and that it "sounds like a crooked enterprise."