The End of Meat Is Here

Is any panic more primitive than the one prompted by the thought of empty grocery store shelves? Is any relief more primitive than the one provided by comfort food?

Most everyone has been doing more cooking these days, more documenting of the cooking, and more thinking about food in general. The combination of meat shortages and President Trump’s decision to order slaughterhouses open despite the protestations of endangered workers has inspired many Americans to consider just how essential meat is.

Is it more essential than the lives of the working poor who labor to produce it? It seems so. An astonishing six out of 10 counties that the White House itself identified as coronavirus hot spots are home to the very slaughterhouses the president ordered open.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., the Smithfield pork plant, which produces some 5 percent of the country’s pork, is one of the largest hot spots in the nation. A Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, had 730 cases of the coronavirus — nearly 60 percent of its employees. At another Tyson plant, in Waterloo, Iowa, there were 1,031 reported cases among about 2,800 workers.

Sick workers mean plant shutdowns, which has led to a backlog of animals. Some farmers are injecting pregnant sows to cause abortions. Others are forced to euthanize their animals, often by gassing or shooting them. It’s gotten bad enough that Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has asked the Trump administration to provide mental health resources to hog farmers.

Despite this grisly reality — and the widely reported effects of the factory-farm industry on America’s lands, communities, animals and human health long before this pandemic hit — only around half of Americans say they are trying to reduce their meat consumption. Meat is embedded in our culture and personal histories in ways that matter too much, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the ballpark hot dog. Meat comes with uniquely wonderful smells and tastes, with satisfactions that can almost feel like home itself. And what, if not the feeling of home, is essential?

And yet, an increasing number of people sense the inevitability of impending change.

Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming. According to The Economist, a quarter of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 say they are vegetarians or vegans, which is perhaps one reason sales of plant-based “meats” have skyrocketed, with Impossible and Beyond Burgers available everywhere from Whole Foods to White Castle.

Our hand has been reaching for the doorknob for the last few years. Covid-19 has kicked open the door.

At the very least it has forced us to look. When it comes to a subject as inconvenient as meat, it is tempting to pretend unambiguous science is advocacy, to find solace in exceptions that could never be scaled and to speak about our world as if it were theoretical.

Some of the most thoughtful people I know find ways not to give the problems of animal agriculture any thought, just as I find ways to avoid thinking about climate change and income inequality, not to mention the paradoxes in my own eating life. One of the unexpected side effects of these months of sheltering in place is that it’s hard not to think about the things that are essential to who we are.

We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism. Whether they become Whoppers or boutique grass-fed steaks, cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.”

Americans overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say that the United States should have remained in the Paris climate accord. We don’t need new information, and we don’t need new values. We only need to walk through the open door.

We cannot claim to care about the humane treatment of animals while continuing to eat meat regularly. The farming system we rely on is woven through with misery. Modern chickens have been so genetically modified that their very bodies have become prisons of pain even if we open their cages. Turkeys are bred to be so obese that they are incapable of reproducing without artificial insemination. Mother cows have their calves ripped from them before weaning, resulting in acute distress we can hear in their wails and empirically measure through the cortisol in their bodies.

No label or certification can avoid these kinds of cruelty. We don’t need any animal rights activist waving a finger at us. We don’t need to be convinced of anything we don’t already know. We need to listen to ourselves. We cannot protect against pandemics while continuing to eat meat regularly. Much attention has been paid to wet markets, but factory farms, specifically poultry farms, are a more important breeding ground for pandemics. Further, the C.D.C. reports that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic — the result of our broken relationship with animals.

It goes without saying that we want to be safe. We know how to make ourselves safer. But wanting and knowing are not enough.

These are not my or anyone’s opinions, despite a tendency to publish this information in opinion sections. And the answers to the most common responses raised by any serious questioning of animal agriculture aren’t opinions.

Don’t we need animal protein? No.

We can live longer, healthier lives without it. Most American adults eat roughly twice the recommended intake of protein — including vegetarians, who consume 70 percent more than they need. People who eat diets high in animal protein are more likely to die of heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure. Of course, meat, like cake, can be part of a healthy diet. But no sound nutritionist would recommend eating cake too often.

If we let the factory-farm system collapse, won’t farmers suffer? No.

The corporations that speak in their name while exploiting them will. There are fewer American farmers today than there were during the Civil War, despite America’s population being nearly 11 times greater. This is not an accident, but a business model. The ultimate dream of the animal-agriculture industrial complex is for “farms” to be fully automated. Transitioning toward plant-based foods and sustainable farming practices would create many more jobs than it would end.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask a farmer if he or she would be happy to see the end of factory farming.

Isn’t a movement away from meat elitist? No.

A 2015 study found that a vegetarian diet is $750 a year cheaper than a meat-based diet. People of color disproportionately self-identify as vegetarian and disproportionately are victims of factory farming’s brutality. The slaughterhouse employees currently being put at risk to satisfy our taste for meat are overwhelmingly brown and black. Suggesting that a cheaper, healthier, less exploitative way of farming is elitist is in fact a piece of industry propaganda.


Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America?i

The president lays himself at Vladimir Putin’s feet.


The last time President Trump claimed that “both sides” were responsible for bad behavior, it didn’t go well. That was nearly a year ago, after a march of neo-Nazis descended into violence and a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing a woman.

On Monday, Mr. Trump again engaged in immoral equivalence, this time during a gobsmacking news conference after his meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A reporter referred to last week’s indictments of 12 Russian military officials for a coordinated cyberattack on the 2016 election and asked Mr. Trump if he held Russia responsible. “I hold both countries responsible,” Mr. Trump said. Even in a presidency replete with self-defeating moments for the United States, Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, which were broadcast live around the world, stand out.

The spectacle was hard to fathom: Mr. Trump, standing just inches from an autocratic thug who steals territory and has his adversaries murdered, undermined the unanimous conclusion of his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 election with the goal of helping Mr. Trump win.

“My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said at one point, speaking of his director of national intelligence. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” (In a statement on Monday afternoon, Mr. Coats reiterated that, in fact, it was.)

Mr. Trump called the special counsel’s Russia investigation “a disaster for our country” and then performed a selection of his greatest solo hits: “Zero Collusion,” “Where Is the D.N.C.’s Server?” and finally the old chestnut, “I Won the Electoral College by a Lot.”

Even top Republicans felt moved to speak up.

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” Paul Ryan, the House speaker, said. “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”


ESPN Is Terrified of Jemele Hill’s Honesty on Racism

EYESI’ve watched the N.F.L. on ESPN for more than 20 years in part because I grew up with the kind of father who pretty much refused to talk to me until I showed interest in the game. One Sunday when I was 12, I parked myself on the couch next to him, and because we were watching Brett Favre, I asked him what an interception was. “When you throw it to the other team,” Dad said. That quarterback would go on to set the N.F.L. record for passing interceptions.

On Monday, ESPN issued a two-week suspension to Jemele Hill, a tough, opinionated black woman who anchors “SportsCenter,” because she violated the network’s social-media guidelines. The night before, the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, had said that if any of his players were “disrespectful” of the flag, they wouldn’t play. Hill noted on Twitter that this puts his black players in a bind: “If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”

Then she remarked that Cowboys fans could boycott the team’s sponsors if they were dissatisfied with Jones’s position, instead of relying on Cowboys players to protest. Hill clarified that she wasn’t calling for Cowboys fans to boycott the N.F.L., but rather that “an unfair burden” has been put on players. (This wasn’t the first time controversy had arisen about one of Hill’s tweets; last month, she called President Trump a white supremacist.)ESPN’s decision to suspend Hill, whom it pays to express her opinions, suggests that the network might be scared of boycotts and that the Cowboys’ sponsors, as well as the network’s own, are more important than supporting the idea that black people might be people.

Let’s be clear: The N.F.L. players who refuse to stand for the anthem aren’t protesting the flag or the anthem; they’re objecting to the obscenely high number of unarmed black people brutalized and killed by police officers in the United States. When Jerry Jones says that players can’t be “disrespectful,” what he’s really saying is that black people are not supposed to complain that we are routinely killed by the police, even when unarmed. We are supposed to embrace the idea that our lives should not be valued, because floating the opinion that maybe we shouldn’t be killed for no reason might offend advertisers.

It’s also hard to reconcile ESPN’s decision to suspend Jemele Hill for not quite calling for a boycott with the outspokenness that ESPN prizes in anchors who are not black women, who say things much more offensive and only get a slap on the wrist.

Suspending Jemele Hill is the sort of desperate move ESPN undoubtedly hopes might attract more viewers, much like the network’s sudden decision not to allow an Asian-American broadcaster named Robert Lee to call a college-football game last August. ESPN’s subscriber base dropped to 87 million households in September from a high of 100.1 million in 2011, and the network has laid off more than 100 people this year in addition to 300 workers in October 2015.

Latin America’s media battlefields – Listening Post – Al Jazeera English

realtalklogoOne continent, multiple media battlefields. This year, some of our most compelling stories have come from Latin America. During the Mexican presidential elections, the country’s media giant Televisa stood accused of colluding with the man who is now president of the Republic, Enrique Pena Nieto and his party. Meanwhile, the media death toll continued to rise in the country’s bloody drugs war. In central America, journalists continued to face the dangers of reporting impunity in a region scarred by the legacy of civil war. Otto Perez Molina, Guatemala’s former army chief and new president pledged to protect journalists and freedom of expression – but will he succeed? And the mother of all media stories: the battle between media conglomerates and democratically elected left-wing presidents around the continent. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa was one of those leaders: press freedom pariah for some, press freedom fighter for others. This year he took the country’s media to court for trying to incite a coup to overthrow him – and he offered WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. As the year comes to an end, we have put together a special edition with three very different stories. In Argentina, the legal showdown between the government and the country’s most powerful media group Clarin. In 2009, the Kirchner government pushed through a media reform law that was as contentious as it was comprehensive. The law is designed to break up media conglomerates. Media reform has been on the cards since the end of the dictatorship and her supporters say the reform is long overdue. Critics say the target of the legislation is just Clarin and that freedom of expression and the president’s credibility is on the line. This is one of Argentina’s most contentious struggles over power and public influence in years and its only just heating up. In Mexico, journalists are some of the first in the firing line in a drugs war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. This year alone, at least 27 journalists have been killed; media outlets have been bombed and even those who thought social media might be a safer way to report have died in the attempt to fill the information vacuum. In this part of the show, we team up with Al Jazeera’s documentary programme Witness to bring you the story of a photographer Ernesto Martinez working in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa. Filmed by Rick Rowley and John Gibler, the report follows Martinez for two days and reveals the risks some journalists are prepared to take to report what has become one of the world’s deadliest beats. CONTINUE READING


Morning News Headlines 01.01.13

Excess-profits tax on contractors during wartime is long overdue
FINE PRINT | For the new year, a radical national security idea that should have happened years ago.
(, The Washington Post)
Hillary Clinton’s blood clot in her skull, doctors say.
The secretary of State did not sustain a stroke or neurological damage, her spokesman said late Monday.
( by David Brown and Anne Gearan , The Washington Post)
Exercise DVDs for the new year offer ways to lose weight and get fit
Also: AARP magazine suggests tips for caregivers coping with their stressed lives.
(, The Washington Post)
How to recover from surgery faster
Wise patients know what to expect in the hospital, use painkillers wisely and plan for after-discharge care.
( by Consumers Union of United States , The Washington Post)
An antibiotic didn’t help get rid of a lower respiratory tract infection
Study of 2,000 adults finds that amoxicillin didn’t work any better than a placebo.
(, The Washington Post)
More National: Breaking National News & Headlines – Washington Post

Prince William motorcycle officer dies in collision
Officer Chris Yung, 35, was killed in Manassas while responding to a call.
( by Jeremy Borden , The Washington Post)

WWI-era Navy mine ‘rendered safe’
Authorities detonate an unexploded Navy mine dating to World War I found in St. Mary’s County.
( by Martin Weil , The Washington Post)
Metro police announcement is white noise to some riders
The Metro Transit Police chief’s voice accompanies countless Metro rides, but are riders listening?
( by Mark Berman , The Washington Post)
Homicides decrease in Washington region
The District recorded 88 killings in 2012, down from 108 in 2011.
( by Allison Klein , The Washington Post)
Odd bills back on agenda for Va. lawmakers
Legislative proposals often reflect constituents’ concerns back home
( by Errin Haines , The Washington Post)
More Post Local: Washington, DC Area News, Traffic, Weather, Sports & More – The Washington Post

Helping VA rehabilitate those with multiple wounds of war
Micaela Cornis-Pop oversees more than 110 rehabilitation facilities around the country, helping the VA stay at the forefront of developments in treating traumatic brain injury and other medical issues facing injured veterans.
( by The Partnership for Public Service , The Washington Post)
After a ‘cliff’ deal, what next?
The accord would set the stage for more discord between Obama and congressional Republicans.
( by Rosalind S. Helderman , The Washington Post)
It’s Biden, McConnell to the rescue once again
Vice president, Senate minority leader struck late deals in 2010 tax-cut fight, 2011 debt-ceiling crisis.
( by David A. Fahrenthold and Ed O’Keefe , The Washington Post)
Odd bills back on agenda for Va. lawmakers
Legislative proposals often reflect constituents’ concerns back home
( by Errin Haines , The Washington Post)
New abortion clinic regulations approved by McDonnell
Clinics say strict building codes could put them out of business
( by Laura Vozzella , The Washington Post)
More Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More – The Washington Post

Mom worries successful daughter’s boyfriend may be a freeloader
How can Mom come to terms with this relationship?
(, The Washington Post)

‘Watch Night’ services commemorate a turning point for African Americans
On 150th anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation, Fort Washington church rings in new year.
( by Lonnae O’Neal Parker , The Washington Post)
Storm names: Public service or just a lot of hot air?
The Weather Channel defends its practice of naming storms
( by Paul Farhi , The Washington Post)
Mark your calendars, or not: 2013’s weirdest holidays
Some unusual observances in the coming year include National Yo-Yo Day and Get a Different Name Day.
(, The Washington Post)
On ‘Downton Abbey,’ aspic matters
Extensive research goes into the fare shown in the kitchen and on the table in the hit PBS series.
( by Becky Krystal , The Washington Post)
More Style: Culture, Arts, Ideas & More – The Washington Post

Senate approves deal to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’
Bipartisan measure passes 89-8 in rare New Year’s morning vote.
( by Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane , The Washington Post)
Tax increase coming for many Americans
With end of payroll tax holiday, 2013 bill will rise regardless of “fiscal cliff” resolution.
( by Zachary A. Goldfarb , The Washington Post)
White House likes what it sees in possible deal and chance to win battle.
Proposal could raise taxes $600 billion over 10 years, impose few cuts and open door to more gains.
(, The Washington Post)
Amazon apologizes for Christmas Eve outage affecting Netflix
A disruption in Amazon’s cloud-computing services hindered Netflix customers from watching movies.
( by Danielle Kucera Bloomberg News , Bloomberg)
Chavez Suffers Complications After Fourth Cancer Operation
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez suffered a new setback in his battle against cancer, forcing his vice president and chosen successor to stay on in Cuba as the president struggles to recover from a respiratory infection.
( by Jose Orozco, Corina Pons and Charlie Devereux Bloomberg News , Bloomberg)
More Business News, Financial News, Business Headlines & Analysis – The Washington Post

TV and radio listings: January 1
(, The Washington Post)
For Morris, it’s too good to be believed
COLUMN | Redskins rookie Alfred Morris puts his signature on finale to a Hollywood-script regular season.
(, The Washington Post)
Shanahan might get new offer
Redskins are seriously considering negotiating a contract extension this offseason with their head coach.
( by Mark Maske , The Washington Post)
Hamilton has D.C. pipeline at Stanford
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton had deep Washington roots, and uses them to give Stanford an edge.
( by Chelsea Janes , The Washington Post)
Wizards get closer to full strength
John Wall and Trevor Ariza return to the practice court, although neither participate in full-contact drills.
( by Michael Lee , The Washington Post)
More Sports: Sports News, Scores, Analysis, Schedules & More – The Washington Post

Tech trends to watch in 2013
What consumer trends will we see in the next year?
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)
Five security resolutions for 2013
Protect yourself before you wreck yourself.
( by Meghan Kelly | ,
Year in Review: Technology
A look at what major tech companies did in 2012.
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post)
Why 2012 was the year we started to care about tech policy
If 2012 has taught us anything, it’s that the average, often faceless Internet user’s voice can make a difference like never before.
( by Tom Cheredar | ,
More Technology News – The Washington Post

N. Korea’s Kim says he wants peace with South
Supreme leader calls for détente, but with conditions South Korea’s new president will find difficult to accept.
( by Chico Harlan , The Washington Post)
Excess-profits tax on contractors during wartime is long overdue
FINE PRINT | For the new year, a radical national security idea that should have happened years ago.
(, The Washington Post)
Weeks after truce with Hamas, Israel lets more building materials into Gaza
Limited amount of gravel heads to private construction projects, but Gazans say it’s still not enough.
( by Joel Greenberg , The Washington Post)
Pakistan releases eight Taliban prisoners
Islamabad said it hopes the release will facilitate the peace process in neighboring Afghanistan.
( by Shaiq Hussain , The Washington Post)
Muted New Year’s celebrations in India after gang-rape victim’s death
Many Indians decided not to celebrate the advent of 2013 out of respect for the 23-year-old victim.
( by Rama Lakshmi , The Washington Post)
More World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting – The Washington Post

The new year
‘Fear itself’: FDR’s words are even more true today.
(, The Washington Post)
Stop the gun madness
The new year is a time for action.
(, The Washington Post)
An F for effort
Tuition aid shields colleges from hard budgetary choices.
(, The Washington Post)
Republicans adrift
In more ways than one, the party is out to sea.
(, The Washington Post)
Vanden Heuvel: It’s past time to fix the economy
Stop trying to figure out how best to hurt it.
(, The Washington Post)
More Opinions: Washington Post Opinion, Editorial, Op Ed, Politics Editorials – The Washington Post

The List: Discuss what’s in and what’s out
Dan Zak and Monica Hesse discuss The List – Style’s guide to what’s in and what’s out.
(, vForum)
Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web
Web Hostess Monica Hesse sifts the Internet so you don’t have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.
(, vForum)
Ask Boswell: The Washington Redskins
Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered reader questions about the Redskins, the Capitals, the Nationals, baseball, the NFL and more.
(, vForum) 

Palestinian Civilian Death Toll Climbs in Gaza

The Palestinian civilian death toll mounted Monday as Israeli aircraft struck densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip in a campaign to quell militant rocket fire menacing nearly half of Israel’s population. An overnight airstrike on two houses belonging to an extended clan in Gaza City killed two children and two adults, and injured 42 people, said Gaza heath official Ashraf al-Kidra. Shortly after, Israeli aircraft bombarded the remains of the former national security compound in Gaza City. Flying shrapnel killed one child and wounded others living nearby, al-Kidra said. Five farmers were killed in two separate strikes, al-Kidra said, including three who had been identified earlier by Hamas security officials as Islamic Jihad fighters. Civilian casualties began to shoot up on Sunday, after Israel said it was stepping up attacks on the homes of suspected Hamas activists. After that warning, an Israeli missile flatted a two-story house in a residential area of Gaza City, killing at least 11 civilians, most of them women and children. It remained unclear who the target of that missile attack was. However, the new tactic ushered in a new and risky phase of the operation, given the likelihood of civilian casualties in the crowded territory of 1.6 millionPalestinians. The rising civilian toll was also likely to intensify pressure on Israel to end the fighting. Hundreds of civilian casualties in an Israeli offensive in Gaza four years ago led to fierce international condemnation of Israel. In all, 87 Palestinians, including 50 civilians, have been killed in the six-day onslaught and 720 have been wounded.

Read it at The Huffington Post.