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HISTORY WILL NOT ABSOLVE FIDEL CASTRO

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Cuba had Castro; we had Kennedy💝   pic:R.T

By Steven R. Maher

In 1953 Fidel Castro stood in the dock of a Cuban court. On July 26, 1953, Castro had led an armed attack on the Moncada Barracks, the second largest army base in Cuba, in an attempt to overthrow the tyrant Fulgencio Batista. Castro and his 135 followers planned to take the 1,000-man garrison by surprise, and use the barracks and captured weaponry as a “Free Territory” to set off a civil war. The attack failed, and approximately sixty of Castro’s followers were brutally murdered.
Castro in court denounced the state of Cuban society, the savagery of Batista’s dictatorship, and concluded with an inspiring battle cry.

“Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me!” Castro cried out.
Thirty years earlier Adolph Hitler had stood in a German dock after he, too, had led a failed revolt.

“You may pronounce us guilty a thousand times over, but the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to tatters the brief of the state prosecutor and the sentence of the court. For she acquits us!” Hitler cried out.

Castro biographer Georgie A. Geyer in “Guerrilla Prince” quoted historian Ward M. Morton: “Both [Hitler and Castro] put the accusers and the regime they represented on trial for cowardice, cruelty, persecution, and base betrayal of the national spirit. Both announced a mission: to realize the true destiny of the fatherland by purging it of all its faults. Both speeches contained many references to blood, death and sacrifice and both ended with almost the same identical phrases.”

It seems Castro had intellectual mentors other than Marx and Lenin.

Bankrupted

Fifty three years later Castro died on November 25, 2016. It is unlikely history will absolve Castro of the terrible legacy he has left Cuba. Today Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship in which the populace at large has access to decent health care and education, but little else. By every other measure, Cuba has been bankrupted.

Such a denouement seemed unlikely in 1953. After serving two years of a fifteen year prison sentence, Castro went to New York and raised money to fund an expedition from Mexico mostly of Cuban exiles (and the group’s doctor, the Argentine Che Guevara.) Castro landed in Cuba with 82 men in November 1956 and was attacked by Batista’s army. His force reduced to fifteen men, Castro went into the Sierra Maestra Mountains at the opposite end of the island from Havana.

What followed was one of the most heroic and romantic stories of the 20th century. With only fifteen men, Castro launched a guerrilla war, attacking isolated army barracks and ambushing army units sent out to capture him. He built up his guerrilla army in the Sierra Maestra, equipping his men with captured weapons. Because his guerrillas often went without shaving gear, they grew long beards and became celebrated as the “Barbudos,” the “bearded ones.” “Our beards and hair belong to the revolution now,” Castro told his followers.

Castro waged his war in the North American media as much as he did in the mountains of Cuba. He often submitted to interviews with media outlets like the New York Times and television stations. Castro sounded like a Hispanic Thomas Jefferson, talking of liberty, the right to free expression, the need for elected representation, the necessity of dissent.

Castro’s guerrillas won battle after battle against overwhelming odds. When Batista sent 10,000 men into the Sierra Maestra to destroy the insurgents, Castro defeated them with only 300 guerillas. Che Guevara successfully attacked Santa Clara in central Cuba with 300 men, a city defended by thousands of soldiers armed with tanks and artillery.

On January 1, 1959 Batista fled Cuba. Castro then rode a tank from the Sierra Maestra down the central highway of Cuba, to be cheered by millions of Cubans along the way. “Havana went out to cheer,” wrote historian Hugh Thomas in his excellent historical tome, “Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom”, when Castro arrived in Havana amidst the applause of a million Cubans. Castro rode to the biggest military base in Cuba and promised not to become a dictator himself.

“We cannot become dictators,” said Castro. “We shall never need to use force, because we have the people, and because the people shall judge, and because the day the people want, I will leave.”

While Castro spoke, someone released several doves. One dove flew to Castro and rested on his shoulder the entire time he spoke. Castro was then 32 years old.

Frozen in time

“To many people the month of January 1959 in Havana was a unique moment of history,” wrote Thomas, “golden in promise, the dawn of a new age; great projects which had already begun; however, in a way that most of them scarcely appreciated, it was also the end of an era.”

This was the image that liberals and leftists kept frozen in their minds as they came to the defense of Castro over the decades to follow – Castro being cheered by millions of Cubans thronging to hear him, the bearded insurgent in the hills who sounded like Thomas Jefferson, the victorious guerrilla standing triumphant with the symbol of peace, a dove, perched on his shoulder as he spoke to thunderous applause.

Within months of arriving in Havana Castro began tightening the screws. There were mass executions of Batista war criminals. Over time newspapers were shut down, opponents shouted down by mobs or imprisoned, and massive numbers of Cubans fled the country. Cubans who talked of liberty, like Castro did at his Moncada trial, found themselves in prison. Cubans who took up arms to fight the new dictatorship, like Castro did, found themselves in front of firing squads. In 1968 Castro, who had taken power as a bearded insurrectionist, ordered “mass shavings of long-haired men and the departure of mini-skirted girls, who were said to have made ‘passionate love in their school girl uniforms’, to forced labor camps in the countryside,” wrote Thomas.

The new tyrant proved the accuracy of the old dictum that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Castro had talked of improving the lives of Cuban peasants. While they went hungry in collective farms, Castro lived opulently in beach front homes, dined on gourmet dinners, and wanted for nothing. The country became his experimental laboratory where Castro failed at genetically improving cows, grew watery strawberries the size of softballs that no one would buy, and set up a “coffee cordon” around Havana that died out, because of bad soil.

Backed wrong side

Castro’s biggest mistake was backing the wrong side in the Cold War. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Russian subsidies went away, Cuba’s standard of living during the “special period” plunged below that of Haiti.
“Lower than Haiti?” asked historian Thomas. “It seems possible.”

History is unlikely to absolve Fidel Castro. In 1959 he was an internationally recognized hero, an almost messiah-like figure to Cubans, and was overwhelmingly popular in the United States. Only 90 miles away from the world’s richest economy, Castro could have built a parliamentary democracy, a strong export economy based on sugar cane converted into ethanol, brought social justice to the Cuban masses, and been remembered as a Latin George Washington. That is likely to be history’s judgment on Fidel Castro: the man who had the world at his feet, and then blew it.

Trump and Hitler

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ICT editor Rosalie’s primary ballot – she voted for Hill! pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

Truth and reality have been the greatest and foremost casualties of this year’s presidential political campaigns, reaching their peak at this week’s Republican convention in Cleveland.

I grew up in a time when the truth was also under attack – my family fled Germany in 1933, just after Hitler was “elected.”

Hitler’s propaganda minister, Goebbels, believed that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it – and he certainly seems to have been correct then, as his belief is alive and well and being practiced. So we hear candidate Donald Trump repeating outrageous claims, at least three times in a row ( a favorite ploy of demagogues and others) and then rapidly going on to other things.

When does distortion, lying and exaggeration cross over into delusion? For me, it does that when the speaker seems actually to BELIEVE what he says – though never sticking by any extreme statements for more than a day.

Listening to Newt Gingrich fan up the flames of our fears, I was reminded of another time, when President Franklin Roosevelt, after the infamous and deadly attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, spoke to us and told us that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself!” The country rallied behind him; we went to work, produced the military weapons needed in a great hurry – Rosie the Riveter went to work in the factories, and our men went out to defend us: we had been attacked on our own soil!

But now times are different: We have been a party to, and often even instigators of, “regime change” – advocating and practicing torture and establishing and maintaining overseas prisons where inmates daily undergo treatment that violates human rights accords. All those actions seemingly do not disturb the conscience of those who loudly proclaim their “Christian” beliefs. Correct me if I am wrong, but did not “the Prince of Peace” preach love, mercy, turning the other cheek and treating “the least of these,” meaning the sick, the poor, the handicapped and above all the children, well? At the very least, we ought to be following the Golden Rule.

I am watching, in the mad rush to acquire or retain power, who is willing to put aside all standards and beliefs and get on a bandwagon which has in recent years done exactly the opposite in practice that they have proclaimed in words.

What we really need is a voting system where our ballots include not only the names of the would be candidates but also a box that enables the voters to choose NONE OF THE ABOVE – and make everyone go back to the drawing board and find better choices.

Gordon is parked in Yum Yums cuz I want to post now!

The War in Afghanistan, President Obama and Worcester PeaceWorks

By Gordon Davis

President Obama has broken his promise to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

This is not a surprise, but it is sad and it is discouraging. It means that the misery of war in Afghanistan will continue for an indefinite time. Only death, misery and refugees will be the product of the President’s decision.

When the United States went to war with Afghanistan in 2002 it was to avenge the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. George Bush was President when the Taliban was defeated and Al Qaeda went into hiding.

Worcester PeaceWorks was formed immediately after 9-11 by many in the Worcester peace community. Claire and Scott Schaeffer Duffy and Kevin Ksen played major roles. We held rallies in Worcester and went to the huge, anti-war rally in New York City – a worldwide event in which millions of people participated.

Worcester PeaceWorks tried to get the Worcester City Council to pass a resolution against the War in Iraq when several soldiers from Worcester were killed. The City Council would not hear the petition, citing Rule 33 of the Worcester City Charter.

Since then President Obama has killed or captured almost all of Al Qaeda who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks and withdrew troops from Iraq.

Worcester PeaceWorks, for the most part, stopped functioning after President Obama’s election in 2008. The Worcester Catholic Worker movement, including Mike True and the Center for Non Violence, continued to have anti-war demonstrations at Lincoln Square. The Progressive Labor Party would every so often call for an end to “imperialism” – as it did during the beginning of the Civil War in Syria.

President Obama ordered a drawdown of forces from Afghanistan with the hope that a government friendly to the USA would be able to rule Afghanistan after the American troops leave.

This has not happened.

After more than 10 years no government set up by the USA has been strong enough to defeat the Taliban.

This effort at nation building in Afghanistan has proven a failure.

There is no clear American policy there except to protect the suspect American friend, President Hammid Karzai, living in Kabul.

The people of Afghanistan are suffering, as can be seen in the thousands of refugees seeking asylum in the European Union.

Killing people with drones has done more harm than good, especially when so many civilians are killed. There is an insight of another of the irony in one Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Obama, killing another Nobel Peace Prize winner, the International Doctors Without Borders.

It looks like we have lost in Afghanistan, like we did in Vietnam.

It is time we get out and take those who want to leave with us as refugees.

It makes no sense to continue with the misery of war when we cannot win. 

The USA has avenged the 9-11 attacks and punished the perpetrators. It is time to declare “mission accomplished” and stop the killing and misery.  

Unfortunately, many in the Peace community, including Worcester activists, do not want to oppose politicians who are considered to be “progressive” candidates. 

Like the BlackLives Matter activists, the peace activists should compel the candidates to declare their intentions with Afghanistan, Israel and Syria.

Fashion shouldn’t really be ‘to die for’

Editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold.   – R.T.

By Paula Moore

It seems ridiculous to have to point this out, but animals are not just fashion accessories. Yet so often, that seems to be how they are viewed by the industries that make money off their fur or skins.

Rabbits on angora farms in China scream and writhe in pain as workers tear the fur right out of their skin.

Sheep used for wool are left battered and bloody as workers in shearing sheds punch and kick them and cut off wide strips of flesh, causing gaping wounds.

And cows are often skinned alive for leather, kicking and crying out in terror, because slaughter lines move so fast.

It’s tempting to blame such cruelty on consumers’ apparently insatiable demand for “fast fashion,” which forces suppliers to produce the greatest volume of fur and skins in the cheapest way possible.

But as a new PETA eyewitness investigation reveals, even on the other end of the fashion spectrum—the so-called “luxury” market, in which handbags sell for tens of thousands of dollars each—animals are treated as nothing more than commodities, forced to live in filth and senselessly killed.

PETA investigators in Texas and Zimbabwe documented the appalling conditions in which animals are raised and killed for “luxury” bags, belts and watchbands.

In Winnie, Texas, there’s an alligator factory that sends skins to a tannery owned by Hermès, which makes the famous Birkin bags. PETA’s investigator found alligators there kept in fetid water and dank, dark sheds without sunshine, fresh air or even basic medical care. At just a year old, they’re killed and their skins are sent to France and made into “luxury” items such as watchbands.

As PETA’s investigator documented, sometimes the slaughter process was badly botched. Workers  repeatedly shot alligators in the head with a captive-bolt gun and stabbed conscious alligators to try to dislocate their vertebrae—even though a manager had admitted that “reptiles will continue to live” through that.

Some animals were still conscious, kicking and flailing, even minutes after workers tried to kill them.

After they were cut into, the alligators were briefly bled and then dropped into a bin of ice water. But because some alligators had survived the attempts to slaughter them, they may have instead drowned or died of hypothermia in these bins.

In Zimbabwe, at the facility of one of the world’s largest exporters of Nile crocodile skins, tens of thousands of crocodiles are confined to concrete pits from birth to slaughter. They are never given the opportunity to engage in natural behavior, such as digging tunnels, protecting their young or searching for food as they would do in the wild.

They are stunned and then killed by having their necks cut, a wire rammed down their spines and their brains scrambled with a metal rod.

If left alone, not killed for fashion, Nile crocodiles can live to be up to 80 years old. But at this facility, they are slaughtered when they’re only about 3. That’s when their belly skins are the optimal size to be used for handbags.

It takes two to three crocodiles to make just one bag.

Most of us will never buy a $50,000 Birkin bag or even a $2,000 watch. But whenever we choose any fashions made of skins, fur or wool, animals are the ones who pay the price. The only way to ensure that we’re not buying into cruelty is to leave all animal skins out of our wardrobes and choose animal-friendly vegan fashions instead.

Time to retire cruel, archaic monkey experiments!

By Justin Goodman
 
Most people are probably familiar with the infamous experiments conducted by Harry Harlow starting in the 1950s.

Harlow — whom author Laurel Braitman calls “a dark lord of monkey torture” in her new book, Animal Madness — tore newborn monkeys away from their mothers, gave some infants “surrogate mothers” made of wire and wood, and kept other traumatized babies in isolation in tiny metal boxes to cause them irreparable psychological damage.

They rocked incessantly, bit and clutched at themselves and ripped out their own hair. Some even died.
 
You’d be forgiven for thinking that these archaic experiments had already gone the way of transistor radios, Polaroid cameras, the Edsel and other ’50s-era relics, but similar experiments have continued for 30 years—and you’re still paying for them.

That’s what PETA discovered after obtaining more than 500 hours of videos, hundreds of photographs and many internal documents from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a Freedom of Information Act request for which the agency unsuccessfully tried to charge PETA $100,000.
 
Terrorizing baby monkeys is archaic, morally reprehensible and completely irrelevant to our understanding and treatment of human mental illness, and it needs to stop.
 
Every year, dozens of monkeys are intentionally bred to be genetically predisposed to mental illness in the NIH laboratory of psychologist Steven Suomi, a Harlow protégé. Currently, some 200 monkeys of various ages are being used in these cruel and archaic studies.
 
Half of the monkeys born each year are separated from their mothers within hours of birth and never returned.

As in Harlow’s experiments, some are given only a fabric-covered bottle to cling to in place of their mother. They undergo years of terrifying and often painful experiments that are designed to cause them to suffer from severe anxiety, fear, depression and other physical and mental illnesses. A

As they age, some monkeys are forcibly addicted to alcohol, making their symptoms even worse. 
 
NIH videos obtained by PETA reveal that in recent experiments, newborn infants were restrained inside tiny cages and placed in isolation in “startle chambers.”

The experimenters terrified the babies with loud noises, causing them to cry out and try frantically to hide or escape.

In some trials, the experimenters released a realistic-looking electronic snake into the cage with the baby monkeys, who innately fear the reptiles.
 
In other experiments, infants were caged with their mothers, but the mothers were chemically sedated. The terrified babies screamed and cried, climbing onto and frantically shaking their unresponsive mothers.

In one case, experimenters can be heard laughing while a mother struggles to remain awake to comfort her distraught infant.
 
In a pathetic attempt to defend the barbaric project, NIH made the ludicrous statement that the laboratory is “not that different from a human nursery”! 
 
In the past seven years alone, these experiments have received $30 million in taxpayer money, even though they have never led to the development or improvement of treatments for human mental illness.

As far back as 1977, Suomi acknowledged, “Most monkey data that readily generalize to humans have not uncovered new facts about human behavior …” After four more decades of these useless experiments, nothing has changed. In a recent paper, Suomi and his colleagues wrote, “[T]his animal model of maternal separation has never been validated as a measure of drug efficacy in humans. … The only way to know definitively whether [anti-depressant drugs work] in humans would be to study our species.” 
 
Meanwhile, researchers who actually do study our species—conducting sophisticated brain imaging and other human-based research that actually benefits human health—struggle to find funding.
 
Respected researchers, mental health professionals and primate experts including Dr. Jane Goodall have joined PETA to urge NIH to end its maternal deprivation experiments on baby monkeys and modernize its research program.
 
Technology has changed since the 1950s, and so has science. Just as doctors would no longer dream of endorsing cigarettes and parents would no longer buy radioactive science kits for their kids, it’s time for NIH to stop conducting and funding equally indefensible and archaic experiments on monkeys.
 

Were animals the Colorado theater killer’s first victims?

By Alka Chandna

As our nation grieves the massacre at Aurora, Colorado’s Century 16 multiplex, the recurring question in many of our minds is, “How?” How could anyone be so cruel, so violent, so numb to the suffering of others that he could blast away unsuspecting victims in cold blood and not display a hint of remorse?

There is no easy explanation for such senseless violence, and there is never an excuse or justification for it. But a look into alleged shooter James E. Holmes’ history reveals that he was immersed in a field of study—neuroscience—in which violence against helpless sentient beings is deeply ingrained.

Neuroscience departments at universities across the country subject animals to painful, terrifying experiments. In a decades-long series of highly invasive experiments to study visual tracking, monkeys have coils implanted in both eyes; the tops of their skulls cut off so that electrodes can be inserted into their brains; and screws, bolts and plates attached directly to their skulls so that their heads can be bolted into place. The monkeys are then kept constantly thirsty so that they will cooperate for a sip of water. Experimenters call this “developing a work ethic.”

In other experiments, the tops of cats’ skulls are lopped off; solitary squirrel monkeys are locked inside steel cages, addicted to methamphetamines and cocaine, and strapped into restraint chairs and shocked; and baby monkeys are snatched from their mothers so that experimenters can measure the impact that this early-life trauma has on addiction in the monkeys.

In addition to likely being exposed to torturous experiments such as these, according to his résumé, Holmes participated in brain-mapping experiments on songbirds, in which it is likely that holes were drilled into the birds’ heads and electrodes implanted in their brains. Holmes also participated in the dissection of hummingbirds and mice—which desensitizes students to the sanctity of life and which, as research suggests, can foster callousness toward animals and nature.

How can being exposed to such routine cruelty and violence and being told that it’s “normal” do anything but erode a person’s ethics? Most people who cut into the brains of monkeys don’t go on shooting sprees at their local movie theater, but the violence of experiments on animals is so egregious and the suffering that they cause is so extreme, couldn’t exposing an emotionally disturbed person—as Holmes apparently is—to such violence be enough to destroy his or her last ounce of empathy for others? Every person who is forced to dissect, imprison, harm and kill animals in a laboratory must set aside normal feelings of empathy and compassion, which is its own kind of tragedy.

There is no reason to continue subjecting animals—and science students—to this obscene violence. Human clinical and epidemiological studies, human tissue- and cell-based research methods, cadavers, sophisticated high-fidelity human-patient simulators and computational models are more reliable, more precise, less expensive and far more humane than animal experiments.

We may not be able to stop all violent tragedies, but the tools to end senseless violence in laboratories are already at our disposal. We can—and should—use them instead of causing more innocent victims to suffer.

Great stories …

from all over the world! Click away!  – R. T.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17161893

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-phelps-the-deaths-of-marie-colvin-and-anthon-20120224,0,5213188.story

http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/movieawards/oscars/story/2012-02-24/race-in-hollywood/53238028/1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/24/hosni-mubarak-mafia-ending-execution

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17144760

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/17133281

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17157549

Are we supporting violence in God’s name?

By Bruce Friedrich

In his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, Pope Benedict XVI boldly and rightly condemns violence that is carried out in God’s name. Yet even devout Christians try to excuse themselves of their role in the horrific violence that is carried out against some of God’s most vulnerable creatures—the animals we raise and kill for food—by claiming that God has given us permission to do whatever we want to them.

God’s granting to humans “dominion” over animals in Genesis 1:26 is often falsely cited as divine approval for torturing animals for the table. Most theologians recognize that the word translated as “dominion” is more accurately translated as “stewardship” and that the meaning of this text is that humans are supposed to be stewards and guardians, protecting and respecting the beings with whom we share the gift of creation.

But all the questions (or excuses) that are put forth in favor of eating animals don’t address the fundamental fact that eating God’s creatures causes needless violence and suffering and is inextricably linked to their abuse. If you are eating meat, you’re paying others to deny God’s animals their own natures and to abuse them. Even the very few organic and small farms abuse animals in ways that would be illegal if done to dogs or cats.

Pope Benedict XVI stated in an interview that the question of animal treatment is a crucial one for the faithful. By any measure, what happens to farmed animals today is anti-Christian. As His Holiness explained, “Hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds.” Similar abuse occurs in all the farmed-animal industries. This “degrading of living creatures,” explains His Holiness, contradicts “the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.” Father John Dear, a Jesuit Priest from New Mexico, takes our responsibility to animals a step further, stating, “For the simple reasons that all animals are creatures beloved by God and that God created them with a capacity for pain and suffering, we should adopt a vegetarian diet.”

It doesn’t take much reflection to see that the Pope and Father Dear are right: God created humans and other animals out of flesh, blood and bone. We share the same five physiological senses and the ability to feel pain. God designed us this way. God designed pigs to root around in the soil for food and play with one another. God designed chickens to make nests, lay eggs, raise their chicks and establish communities (the “pecking order”).

Yet agribusiness today denies animals the fulfillment of their most fundamental needs. Agricultural scientists “play God” by manipulating animals to grow so quickly that their hearts, lungs and limbs can’t keep up, often causing heart attacks, lung failure or crippling leg deformities within weeks of birth. Chickens are crammed into cages by the hundreds of thousands, each with less space in which to live than a standard sheet of paper. During pregnancy, pigs are stuffed into tiny metal crates so small that they can’t even turn around. Forget rooting in the soil or laying their eggs in nests—these animals can barely move. The one natural thing they do get to experience is agony, and lots of it.

Scripture is full of calls for the faithful to be merciful, and Jesus’ message is one of love and compassion, yet there is nothing loving or compassionate about the industries that produce the farmed animals who are turned into meat. Christians have a choice: When we sit down to eat, we can support misery and violence or we can make choices that support mercy and compassion. The decision should be an easy one for us.


Bruce Friedrich is a vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“Gideon”: one of 26,000 who suffered at the hands of U.S. Global Exotics

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

PETA’s lifesaving campaigns are helping animals of all shapes and sizes — from magnificent elephants to tiny dwarf hamsters. Adorable Gideon is one of the latter. He is one of 26,000 animals who was rescued in December when Texas authorities, acting on evidence gathered during a seven-month PETA undercover investigation, raided U.S. Global Exotics (USGE), a huge international exotic-animal dealer.

While working at USGE, PETA’s investigator documented unimaginable suffering. Obviously ill and injured animals were denied veterinary care, and many animals were confined to bags, boxes, shipping crates, or 2-liter soda bottles for days or even weeks without access to food or water. Hundreds of animals died every day. The hamsters were kept in extremely crowded dungeon-like bins, with as many as 50 of them fighting for survival in each container. Hamsters are solitary animals and are very territorial. They may even resort to cannibalism if they’re caged together Continue reading “Gideon”: one of 26,000 who suffered at the hands of U.S. Global Exotics

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The saddest show on earth

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Elephants have the largest brains of any mammal on the face of the earth. They are creative, altruistic and kind. They use tools to sweep paths and even to draw pictures in the dirt and scratch themselves in inaccessible places, and they communicate subsonically at frequencies so low that humans cannot detect them without sophisticated equipment. Imagine, then, what it must be like for them to be told what to do, courtesy of a bullhook—a rod resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on the end—at every moment of their lives. Yet this is what life is like for elephants used in circuses, who are constantly beaten and kept chained, sometimes for days at a time.

It takes a lot to get circusgoers to see beyond the headdresses and glitter to that metal-tipped bullhook sinking into an elephant’s soft flesh behind her ears and knees. But I hope that PETA’s new undercover investigation of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will help open some eyes.
PETA’s investigator caught Ringling employees digging sharp metal bullhooks into the sensitive skin behind elephants’ knees and under their trunks. Eight employees—including an animal superintendent and a head elephant trainer—used bullhooks and other objects to strike elephants on the head, ears and trunk. Employees whipped elephants and a tiger, including on or near the face. One elephant, Tonka, repeatedly exhibited signs of severe psychological stress but was nevertheless forced to perform night after night. The footage can be seen on our website. Continue reading Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The saddest show on earth