Oregon’s first probable case of swine flu was identified late Wednesday following testing by the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. The probable case was in a Multnomah County adult female who consulted her physician after experiencing flu-like symptoms, according to Dr. Mel Kohn, head of the Oregon Public Health Department. The woman, who was not hospitalized and is recovering normally, had contact with someone who had recently traveled to Mexico and been exposed to the swine flu there, he said.
The specimen from this case was sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further characterization, with final results of testing expected in several days. “It is very likely that this test will be confirmed by the final step of laboratory testing,” Kohn said. “So we are not waiting – we are treating this as a case of swine flu.” “Our first priorities are to provide information to people to help them protect themselves and to slow the spread of this new strain of flu virus,” said Dr. Gary Oxman, health officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. State and local health departments continue to operate at high alert.
The state public health lab continues to receive new cultures from health care providers. So far the other cases have tested negative for flu’ but Dr. Kohn said it is likely that there will be additional cases in the future. “We have expected to see a case in Oregon and the public health system is responding well,” Dr. Kohn said. “Oregon’s state and local public health officials are working together and with federal officials to slow spread of the disease and to continue to protect the public. The complete press release is posted to the Secure HAN under Alert Details.
Event Status: Actual
Jurisdictional Level: State
Sent By: CDC HAN
Organization: OR Dept of Human Services
[For those new to UMX, The Weekly Immigration Wire is my weekly (paid) article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites (see end of post).]
It’s no shock that those long-opposed to All Things Immigrant are using the Swine Flu outbreak—which has mostly affected Mexicans at this point—to ratchet anti-immigrant rhetoric up to an irresponsible level. It’s disappointing though, especially because the last few weeks saw more rational dialogue emerging in media coverage. This week’s Wire examines the voices talking about immigration both in the media and on the ground, from those recycling age-old “eliminationist” rhetoric to those who put their own bodies on the line to fight for inclusive justice.
In AlterNet, Joshua Holland uses history to contextualize virulent statements hurled by anti-immigrant pundits like Michael Savage. Holland deftly debunks numerous anti-immigrant, right-wing myths using a historical lens: By tying the source of contagion to immigrants, today’s pundits are echoing age old patterns that “contributed to a series of pogroms in which thousands were burned alive” in 14th Century Europe. Just what are today’s pundits saying? Savage asks “Could this be a terrorist attack through Mexico?” Michelle Malkin, Bill O’ Reilly and Neil Boortz agree: “[W]hat better way to sneak a virus into this country than give it to Mexicans?” shrieks Boortz.
While Colorado lawmakers aren’t using such frantic hyperbole, they are doing nothing to dispel the state’s reputation as heavy-handed when it comes to immigration enforcement. On Monday, the Democratic-controlled state legislature introduced a non-binding Joint Memorial that requests the use of DNA technology and expanded local police powers to “identify, arrest, and detain” immigrants. If granted, the request would allow the state to use “biometric identification—like DNA tracking—and federal databases to create in enforcement dragnet,” according to Erin Rosa of The Colorado Independent. Rosa also reports on scary developments in enforcement technology that attempt to mend the gap between the federal government’s lack of reform and the needs of each state.
Not all harsh enforcement measures result from a lack of federal legislation. A Republican-led Congress passed a law in 1996 restricting the ability of immigrants to challenge the legality of their deportation,” as Rochelle Bobroff and Harper Jean Tobin report for New America Media. The measure is pointedly cruel: It allows courts to proceed with deportation even if an asylum-seeker will be endangered upon their explication. Though there is a provision that the courts can use to rule otherwise, this law represents yet another policy that needs to be revisited when the White House negotiates humane and effective reform.
Writing for AlterNet, Frank Sharry reports on the divide deepening between moderate Democrats, who are “ready to tackle common sense reform” and Republican “hardliners.” “While Democrats seem to be making headway,” Sharry writes, “The Republican Party continues to be dogged by Minutemen hard-liners who oppose practical solutions.”
The political gap is growing, as other groups draw together. RaceWire’s Michelle Chen reports on the Black Immigration Network, “the first national network concerned about immigration issues and racial equity issues surrounding both African Americans and immigrants of African descent.” This Network is important because it bridges historical tensions between the two communities. And as Chen makes clear, there are people who exploit such divides to their own benefit.
The effects of the Iraq war, while a much quieter subject in today’s news cycle, are still playing out. AlterNet’s Nina Berman tells the tragic story of Iraqi refugees who are struggling in the poor U.S. economy and lack adequate help to get ahead. Omar Ibrahim is one such refugee who came to Texas in 2008. He is still jobless and family back in Iraq doesn’t quite understand. “They know that America is a dream,” Ibrahim says, “but it is a bad dream.”
Finally, in an inspiring show of activism, Public News Service’s Mary Kuhlman reports on two nuns who engages in civil disobedience at a Chicago ICE detention facility to draw attention to the fight for human (immigrant) rights. Obama’s 100th day marked their “tipping point,” after more than two years of prayer vigils. They needed to try something different. The nuns’ agenda? Making it possible for detained immigrants to see religious workers. Immigrants, many of them asylum seekers, are isolated even from their families. In this particular case, the women’s actions paid off.
At play today in our immigration debate are warring philosophies of who a “people” are and what we owe each other for simply belonging to the same human family. On one side, frothing, fearful punditry stoke division and hostility. And on the other, fearless and brave activists champion for our better natures. It is no small battle.
HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW WORK by Shepard Fairey? You know, he’s the cat what did the famous and iconic Obama HOPE poster. I guess the high of being Everyone’s Favorite Poster Guy has worn off and someone’s looking for another hit! I don’t mean to knock Señor Shepard unduly. So let me dust the powder off my wig and proceed to tell you coolly what bothers me personally about this image. I’ll start with what I like.
Striking color palette. Smart to avoid bright whites and go with vanilla/creme/offwhite background. Interesting choice of turquoise. I like that. Nice lines and style. Warmth in the eyes and in the tones of the “immigrant girl.” Strong central image, rays accentuate positive energy. I consider it a tip of the sombrero that Fairey’s hat text copies the choice of font I used here.
What don’t I like?
Trying too hard to be “ICONIC.” Fitting too many elements. Flowers, T shirt, Hat text, Fist…too crowded. And in all of that, no family. It is tradition in México/Latin America as well as in so many immigrant families to be centered around the family. That is so much of what the fight is about here. And she is all alone. And happy to be alone!?
Put the fist up. Look at this humble person. She won’t even meet your eyes. Put the fist up. It feels awkward to have her with a fist halfway raised, turned toward her own body, and looking off camera. This seems to me someone trying to tame the scary image of Latin American protest traditions and make it palatable to the masses of US political junkies, with whom S. Fairey is trying to score points.
Finally, the part that really bothers me. We Are Human?? Really? I don’t know. As I said on a list ayer, I know that immigrants are in the fight for Human Rights…but I didn’t think the “human” part was really in doubt!
What I also said on that list—and you may sniff this leaking through my comments that point toward a chasm in cultural connection—is that the Latin@ comunidad has a very rich and powerful history of political art, not only protest. So I look forward to seeing what gente create. Someone on this “brown” list I’m on said “I hope this becomes the icon for immigration reform!” I am sure that Shepard Fairey hopes this as well. I do not.
To me, this image is what happens when an outsider-looking-in accidentally projects their own alien view on an Other, even meaning well.
The bottom line is that the Whiteness Problempresents in various ways, even when attempting beneficence. And co-opting another culture and speaking for them is a common. I am not here to tell Mister Fairey he cannot express himself. There is always room for more art and nobody’s going to stop Fairey, anyway. He is a very well known artist and involved in a number of good causes. He has even defended himself in the past against somewhat similar criticisms:
It’s not like I’m just jumping on some cool rebel cause for the sake of exploiting it for profit. People like to talk shit, but it’s usually to justify their own apathy. I don’t want to demean anyone’s struggles through casual appropriation of something powerful; that’s not my intention.”
Intention…I seem to recall a few discussions online centered around this concept.
Personally, I think the intention was simply cash and fame, or more of it. But maybe I’m being too…sensitive.
UPDATE: I’d love to preface this with a request for anyone reading who thinks their own readers might benefit from or enjoy having this info, please link to it or tweet it (premade tweets after post), thanks!
OVER AND OVER we hear about The Hispanic Vote™ and The Latino/a Vote® and it is a real thing we are talking about in all of this. Our people—nuestra gente—have long been a force in this land, be it under the golden sun harvesting the corn that has for thousands of years fed our antepasados (ancestors) or away from the sun and working hard in US places of business or doing so much to build strong familias together, as las mujeres—the women—among us are known for historically. We are a beautiful and long enduring people, and responsible for so much creation here that sustains us today: Art, Literature, Food, Clothing, Song.
And yet, our voices have yet to be utilized and enjoined in a way that can efficiently organize around the issues that affect our communities. Don’t mistake what I say: the Latina/o (or “Hispanic”) community is famous for its ability to organize on the local level, and we are proud of this. And that is why it is time to continue to tie this ability and history together and bring it to an even higher level.
It’s true that while so much joins us, we do come from many different backgrounds and hold varying views on the issues that affect us. We will not always agree, nor should we. What we can agree on, though, is that we should have a way to centralize and engage the politics that affect us on so many levels.
I am involved in launching a site, Presente.Org, that is determined to achieve this very goal. Please stop over and check it out. If what I have written above interests you, please sign up.
• One note: On my own blog I do tend to speak more to Mexican@s and Latin Americans, because that’s the point at my place. But Presente.org has a much wider focus as “Latinos” and “Hispanics” can come from a wide range of origins. As far as some of my words above, not all of us have come from farming families, or the hot climates! Though many traditions and struggles do overlap. I just wanted to make clear that while I am involved in the organizing of this effort, there is a variance between my readership and presente.org’s intended audience.
And here is Presente.Org’s formal intro:
On May 1st, thousands of us will take to the streets to demand an end to immigration policies that marginalize and dehumanize millions of our people. Our presence will be historic and important, but we must not stop there. Latinos have long been a driving force behind the economy of the United States, but we have yet to speak with a unified political voice that forces our government to do right by all of us. We can—and starting today, with your help, we will.
That’s why we’re launching Presente.org. Our goal is to create a broad-based online community of Latinos and our allies strong enough to make the United States honor its promises and protect our people. We’re starting with immigration, but we won’t stop there—we’ll provide you with ongoing opportunities to make change on the issues that most affect our communities.
The only thing we need now is you. Our power is in our voices and our numbers. It starts by affirming a simple pledge: to stand up and speak out for the interests of Latino communities. Please join us, and just as important, invite your friends and family to do the same:
President Obama has pledged to push for immigration reform, and other politicians are also with us. For the first time in a generation, we have a real chance to drastically change our country’s immigration policy, impacting the lives of millions of friends, family members, and coworkers. But we can’t rely on politicians to pass real and just reforms. There are strong forces who stand against us, and they’ve made it clear that they will fight true reform at every step of the way.
We know that real change will only happen if everyday people speak with a strong, unified voice. That’s what Presente.org seeks to make possible. On immigration and beyond, we’ll use the Internet and national media to hold our leaders accountable, making our political presence accurately reflect our importance to this country. Click here to stand up and be counted, and show the world how large our movement really is:
The Presente.org team
To direct people to Presente.org Please TWEET: Stand and be counted, Latinas, Latinos, Hispanos, Gente, Amigos and Amigas! Join http://presente.org today. #latino #hispanic #immigration
Or TWEET: Stand and be counted. Empower the Hispanic/Latin@ Community. Join http://presente.org today. #latino #hispanic #immigration
To direct people to this post
TWEET: The Unapologetic Mexican: Presenting ¡PRESENTE! http://tinyurl.com/cw6fyp #immigration #latinas #latinos #hispanic
Para dirigir personas a Presente.org Por favor
TWEETEA: Ponte de pie y seas contado, Latinas, Latinos, Hispanos, Gente, Amigos y Amigas! Unete Hoy! http://presente.org #latino #hispano #inmigración #migrantes
O TWEETEA: Ponte de pie y seas contado. Apodera a la comunidad Hispana/Latin@. Unete Hoy! http://presente.org #latino #hispano #inmigración #migrantes
Para dirigir personas a este post,
TWEETEA: El Unapologetic Mexican: Presentando a ¡PRESENTE! http://tinyurl.com/cw6fyp #latino #hispano #inmigración #migrantes
El 1 de mayo miles de nosotros tomaremos las calles para exigir el fin de las políticas de inmigración que han marginado a millones de los nuestros. Nuestra presencia será histórica e importante, pero no debemos detenernos ahí. Los latinos somos una fuerza importante para la economía de los Estados Unidos; sin embargo, aún es necesario que nos hagamos escuchar con una voz política unida que obligué a nuestro gobierno a hacer lo correcto en favor de todos nosotros. Lo podemos hacer – y desde hoy, con tu ayuda, lo haremos.
Es por ello que estamos lanzando Presente.org. Nuestro objetivo es crear una comunidad amplia de latinos y aliados de nuestras causas en el internet; una comunidad que tenga la fuerza suficiente para lograr que este pais honre sus promesas y proteja a nuestra gente. Estamos comenzando con la inmigración, pero no nos detendremos ahí –nosotros les proveeremos oportunidades para lograr cambios en los asuntos que mas afectan a nuestras comunidades.
Tú eres lo único que necesitamos en este momento. Todo comienza con la afirmación de un simple compromiso: ponernos de pie y hacernos oír por los intereses de las comunidades Latinas. Por favor, únete a nosotros, e invita a tus amigos y familiares a hacer lo mismo.
El presidente Obama ha prometido apoyar la reforma migratoria, y otros políticos también están con nosotros. Por primera vez, nos encontramos frente a la real oportunidad de lograr un cambio drástico en la política de inmigración de nuestro país, produciendo un gran impacto en las vidas de millones de amigos, familiares y compañeros de trabajo. Sin embargo, no podemos confiar en los políticos para que aprueben reformas justas y reales. Existen fuerzas poderosas que se levantan en nuestra contra.
Sabemos que el verdadero cambio solo ocurrirá cuando la gente se haga escuchar cada día con una voz fuerte y unida. Eso es precisamente lo que Presente.org busca lograr. Usaremos el Internet para hacer a nuestros líderes responsables en el campo de la inmigración y más allá; de esta manera, haremos de nuestra presencia política un reflejo exacto de nuestra importancia para el país. Haz clic en el vínculo de abajo para ponerte de pie y mostrarle al mundo cuan grande nuestro movimiento realmente es:
The moment that the news of the “Swine Flu” or “North American Influenza” hit the wires, it was easy to predict what the anti-immigrant faction would have to say about it. People like Michael Savage, Neil Boortz,Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan, and groups like CIS, FAIR, and NumbersUSA are so locked into their views that their voices are unnecessary in a dialogue that actually preferences truth—which by nature requires flexibility and bravery. The stances of those who most vocally oppose immigration today are so predictable that one could paint a face on a septic-tainted soccer ball and paste up word balloons and rest well, knowing that The Nativist Lobby point of view on any immigration-related topic will end in “deport them all” and “seal the borders” if not “round them up” and other tiredideas. …
Oregon Swine Flu Media Briefing
from Public Health Officials
Public Health officials from the state of Oregon, Portland metropolitan area and Southwest Washington held a news briefing yesterday, Sunday April 26, at the Portland State Office Building at 800 Northeast Oregon Street first floor conference room. Media and the public were invited and also could join via teleconference at 2:00 p.m. pacific, Sunday April 26, 2009 to discuss the latest information on the swine flu outbreak, local readiness to respond should the situation elevate and what people can do to keep themselves and others safe.
From: [Name redacted] Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 2:59 PM To: DL:PHO-House Supervisors; [Names redacted]
Cc: [Names redacted]
Subject: FW: TODAY at 2:00 p.m.: Swine Flu Media Briefing from Public Health Officials [id: 205838] Importance: High
I attended this teleconference regarding the swine flu and the takeaway points are as follows:
Strain in Mexico is causing more severe illness/deaths–we don’t know all the factors associated with the strain
Concern is that if swine flu does become more prevalent, it could evolve into a “new strain” resulting in a more serious outbreak/pandemic
Antivirals and masks from National Stockpile are on the way to Oregon–will not be distributed unless there is a need
Both Oregon and Washington feel well prepared to respond to such an emergency and are monitoring closely/surveillance with HealthCare providers that they normally work with during regular flu symptoms (no increase in respiratory illnesses have been reported as of yet)
Continue to practice respiratory etiquette/hygiene in EDs, Urgent Care, etc…
Same common sense approach should be taken to prevent spread of any flu
MASK YOUR PATIENTS
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (or sleeve) when you cough or sneeze. Toss tissue in waste receptacle immediately after use.
Avoid covering nose/mouth with hand when coughing/sneezing since hand hygiene may not be readily available
Wash your hands often with soap and water (especially after you cough or sneeze). Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
March 5:00 PM from Union Square, NYC
Assemble Broadway and 15th
Defend Workers’ Right to Fight Back
Legalization for all! No limits on the right to strike and organize
Workers can’t fight layoffs, cutbacks and wage cuts if they fear deportation and detention and if laws block their rights to form unions and to strike.
Make the Rich Pay: Decent Jobs For ALL
Tax the rich and corporations to pay for a massive direct government jobs program—expanding housing, education, health services.
Budget cuts, concessions by workers, layoffs all deepen the crisis by cutting demand for goods and services. No budget cuts! Instead we need to create jobs and expand demand by taking money from the rich, who created the crisis.
Democratic Control of Finance
Permanent government ownership and control of all banks and other financial institutions– run by democratically-elected boards.
Trillions for bank bailouts just gives money to the same bankers whose policies are gutting the economy.WE need to control the financial system, not leave it in the hands of a pack of billionaires. The people must vote on where we put our own tax dollars.
How can we win these demands?
The same way people in the last Great Depression won Social Security, unemployment compensation, huge government jobs programs like WPA—by mass demonstrations, by General Strikes like those in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Toledo, by sit-down strikes (plant occupations) and by organizing everyone—fellow workers, neighbors, and friends. “Make the Rich Pay” Coalition
Legalización para todos! Sin Limites en el derecho de organizar y hacer huelgas
Obreros no pueden resistir los despidos, ajustes y cortes de salarios si temen deportación y si las leyes bloquean sus derechos de formar sindicatos y hacer huelgas.
Exigir que los Ricos Paguen por Trabajos para Todos
Impuestos para las Corporaciones y Los Ricos, para financiar un programa masivo. De obras publicas – expandiendo vivienda, educación, y salud
Cortes del presupuesto gubernativo, concesiones de los obreros, y despidos, todos profundizan la crisis, cortando demanda por bienes y servicios. No más cortes del presupuesto gubernativo. En vez de cortes necesitamos crear puestos de trabajos y expandir demanda, tomando eldinero de los ricos, quienes crearon la crisis.
Control Democrático de Finanzas
Propiedad permanente gubernativo y control de los bancos y otras instituciones financieras–dirigidos por consejos elegidos democráticamente
Billones y Trillones de Dólares Para Salvar a Los Bancos, solamente devuelve dinero a los Banqueros Corruptos cuyas políticas están destruyendo la economía. Necesitamos controlar el sistema financiero, no dejarlo en las manos de una banda de millonarios. El Pueblos debe decidir en que se utilizan los impuestos que pagamos. Esto seria Democracia!!!
Como podamos ganar estas demandas?
De la misma manera que el pueblo en la última gran Depresión gano seguridad social, seguro por los desempleados, y grandes programas de obras públicas como el WPA—Por medio de grandes manifestaciones, por medio de huelgas generales como las de San Francisco, Minneapolis y Toledo, Por medio de ocupaciones de fabricas. Y organizando a todos—obreros, estudiantes, vecinos, y amigos.
La Coalición de Exigir que los Ricos Paguen, NY-NJ Redde Respuesta Rapida, NJ May 1 Coalicióninfo@njmay1.org
What part of this makes your ears perk up the most? They lay out, pretty calmly, a number of different scenarios that if they come to pass would still be a bit frightening. You can see they are working hard to maintain a sense of control and competency but for some reason it leaves me pretty uneasy.
THE SWINE FLU is ripping its way around the globe and when the talk isn’t going toward a deep suspicion of the government and her past sins/omissions, or whether or not to stock up on masks, or who engineered this virus and for what nefarious ends, it is finding its wayto discussing CAFOs, or Contained Agricultural Feeding Operations.
The title of this post attempts a joke—as if working in such a place is a real danger to one’s life. It’s not. Not to a human life, that is. Not right away, at least. Especially if you stay away from the septic lagoons.
As much as I love to tell you stories, I’ve searched both El Grito and El Machete and found I’ve not told this story yet. Incidentally, a person would search “Chicken Farm,” not “CAFO” because I’ve not used the acronym until today. Nobody in that town called them “CAFOs”; we called the one nestled down deep in the thick woods of an area that falls between Divine Corners, South Fallsburg, and Loch Sheldrake The Chicken Farm and that’s about it. You don’t see it on any of your trips around any of those towns. Even when you do take that backest of back-roads you have to look for the Farm, and then you see it—or I should say them—through a clearing in the trees.
Them, because Mountain Pride Dairy Farm (as it is properly named) was made of a number of “coops.” And when I say “coop” I don’t mean the kind that you’d see on the Houghtalings’ farm. Those were nice little houses, and the chickens seemed happy and I’m sure they laid happy eggs. No, by “coop” I don’t mean a quaint or cute lil shack with a buncha chickens moseying around and pecking at eggshell fragments.
Its at this point that I’ll warn you not to read further if you don’t want to think too much more about the meat you eat or the situation in general. This won’t be gratuitous one bit, but it doesn’t need to be. Because the way we have created and maintain these systems are not pretty. That’s sort of the point of my writing this post and telling this one in full.
Isn't this cute? This is NOT a CAFO.
The coops at Mountain Pride were each 1/5 of a mile long. On the outside they were painted a light green. Each coop contained 80,000 chickens and had 5 aisles or so in each one and in each aisle had cages stacked upon each other. They loomed over me, higher than I stood at 16 years old (though I was a pretty short 16 year old) so I had to reach up to get into the top coops. That’s how old I was when I got that job, to oversee the handful of coops at Mountain Pride. I had just moved into my second apartment.
It’s easy enough to tell you that I walked up and down the aisles all day and walked to and from each coop, detangling conveyor belts, clearing the coops of any dead chickens, and otherwise making sure the flow of eggs to the Front Room didn’t get hindered. But it hardly communicates what the experience was like.
This story very clearly isn’t about me. But let me refer to my identity and situation long enough to orient you.
Even as a person who was raised vegetarian until his mid teens, I am not against eating meat in principle. Some who make the argument against CAFOs attach the idea that we should not eat meat. I think CAFOs are a crime. But I do not hold that this means our eating meat is wrong…only the way we are going about it now. That is both unsustainable and morally wrong, to may way of thinking.
Life sustains itself on life. On all levels. When I was a science major, I spent time thinking about this and how many behaviors in fact, are replicated on all levels of scale, and from culture to culture. There is no refuting that this behavior is part and parcel of nature’s systems. And why would it be wrong to eat other animals? I can’t think of a reason. Remember: I was raised vegetarian. I’m not professing an ignorance or lack of opposing argument. I’m just telling you where I’ve arrived after having those arguments with myself and observing life for 40 years. (Maybe in another year I’ll be in another place and if so, count on me saying so!) And for me the issue is not about eating another mammal or an organism that has feathers or fur. The issue is that same issue that is now devouring much of the Earth’s health in other ways. The issue is mindlessness, greed, and disrespect for that which sustains your own life force. And the balance therein.
If you are going to consume another being in order to further your own life energy, you must acknowledge at all moments the sacrifice being made, the gain you enjoy, the reverence that life force deserves. The way we house and neglect and abuse our animals on a large scale is what is wrong, to my way of thinking. And not just morally wrong. It is…unhealthy. And perhaps the Swine Flu is a reminder, in part, of how wrong that neglect is and what can go wrong when you try to shortchange the reverence and respect part of the equation.
However, I do not take this argument into the personal and specific because I know that sometimes you do what you gotta do and paying for a cheap chicken dinner is what is going to enable you and yours to eat at that moment. (I do still eat meat, though not indiscriminately.) The point is, this is a problem that needs to be addressed at the top level and your going hungry at the moment won’t change things for those chickens or the meat-eating public.
When I got the job at the Chicken Farm, I was 16 years old. I was not living at home. I had quit high school. And I was living with another person in an apartment in a small town a few miles away. I was in a tough spot and needed to come up with rent, and there you have it, if you ask yourself in the following passages why I kept the job past the first day—or why anyone would. The people who generally take jobs like this one have restricted options for one reason or another. At least I can’t imagine wanting that job.
In the Front Room of the Farm is assembly. Conveyor belts shuttling eggs to workers who box them. Within that room is a smaller “Egg Room,” which is dark and wherein you “hold a candle to” the egg to see if there are cracks or breakage, or perhaps something else that would make the egg unusable—such as a misshapen shell, or guts dried to the egg itself. I’ll get to how that happens soon.
In that room, too, are (ocassionally) Health Inspectors. But the Inspectors are announced, and there is the general pre-Inspector shuffle wherein anything that would prove undesirable is hidden or removed or changed. I, too, know about this dance as I became a Public Health Inspector for that same state of New York, but about a decade later. And yet, the farm as-is clearly provides no challenge to the laws. These things are part and parcel of our agricultural system today.
Stepping from that big, open, Front Room into the Coops immediately provided a change of atmosphere. A dimmer, ranker, noisier, lonelier one.
The Coops were my domain. They were not filled with people, but instead with chickens. And one other person: me. They are filled with a literal cacaphony of sound, a tumbling, battered, always scrambling, overlapping, clattering, clashing of animal vocalization and shuffling and clawing on cages. They are thick with the suffocating stench of urine and chickenshit, for under the floor are massive vats of it filled by the chickens simply defecating and urinating through the “floor” of their coops’ wiry bottoms, and into the openings in the floor beneath them. These rectangular openings in the floor stretched the length of the aisles, of course.
Again, walking end to end of one coop took you 1/5th of a mile. Walking back to the other end via the next aisle over took you another 1/5 mile. So walking the entirety of one coop was about a mile. And I oversaw a few coops. And walked them all day/evening. When I found eggs stuck and piled up somewhere, I fixed them, When the belt got flipped over, I fixed it. When I found a chicken dead in its coop (which happens all day because of the heat and the conditions and the number of chickens), I reached in and pulled it out and dropped it on the floor there. When the chicken was dead from pushing out an egg so big it ripped out its intestines, I had to pull all that out of the coop. I had gloves on, and sometimes it dries around the wire and it gets tough to do. Especially with all the chickens in the vicinity screaming at you and flapping about.
I’ve been trying to tell this factually first. To lay out the area, the sound, the smell, the duties. But already it is morphing into the real story, which is the emotional experience of it. After all, when you add all the conditions together, you dont have a list of those conditions. Instead, like a recipe, you change the entirety with each new ingredient. Until by the end of it, you have another reality entirely.
I say the chickens were “screaming” and it sounds kind of funny. It wasn’t funny. And I’m not sure even how metaphorical it is. Working alone in a place like this, well. It’s actually easy to begin to go a little mad. All alone with your thoughts and an ever-tumbling, mashed up garbage box of barky sounds stabbing at your ears in Dolby Surround and for 8 hour stretches. You begin to get angry. To feel hounded by the noise. Maybe you are angry that you have to keep the job. Maybe the relentless rain of sonic aggravation symbolizes the difficulties falling upon you and your path, a hail of instances from which you cannot duck and that make it necessary for you to show up each day at such a place. Whatever it is, you begin to resent the fact that you cannot get away from the horrible sound. You begin to assign intention to the Chickens’ cackling. Pacing up and down day after day, you wonder who is the caged one. The wash of noises, tones, clacks, chatters and screeches begin to take shapes, borrowing from the containers in your mind. You hear strains of talking in the ocean of noise. You hear strains of songs. You can’t tune it out. It weaves into your head as relentlessly as the stink soaks into your clothes.
Ah, yes. The smell. Then there’s the smell.
I wrote earlier that you could barely see the Chicken Farm regardless of what road you drove upon. So why did everyone know it by name? Because you could smell it for miles away. It was really only over the small mountain (forested hill?) in back of my parents’ cornfields. And even those cornfields were sprayed at times with chicken “manure.” Ugh. It’s really one of the worst smells I’ve found. Especially wafting on such vast sheets of air that tend to lift off a cornfield and sail around.
But it’s also an entirely different smell than that you’ll experience inside The Coops, where the waste is concentrated and found in hundreds of gallons at a time, if not more. Even with seven foot-tall fans built into the exterior wall of the coops, the smell inside is so strong that first it is experienced as a shock to the nose and throat; a momentary physical assault. Then, it quickly becomes a powerful, ammonia-like miasma, and soon (it’s not long before your olfactory nerves are taken out) it winds down into a pervasive, foul stink that cannot be separated from any other thing or fabric or object in the room. Finally, you can hardly smell it at all—until you walk out into open air and begin, again to be able to separate smells. At which point you realize that you won’t have a friend in the world until you get home and shower for almost an hour and hide your clothes in a sealed box in the laundry room.
The septic lagoons were surreal, the whole place was. And after this job, I veered away from eating chicken. After the Farm job, I wouldn’t have it, couldn’t see it on my plate. And yes, I’ve lapsed since. And tasted that awareness in each hastily swallowed mouthful. The place never left me…but now it’s come to life with this latest crisis in the food supply.
To be honest, I’m not sure that if you removed the dead body collection part of the job I would have recoiled so much, then. Although there is plenty there to inspire such a reaction, and not just the septic part of it. Just the sight of how very strange and forced and gross that situation is for those animals makes an impact. But I was younger, and what really affected me more than anything else was that part of the job. It was gross, it was creepy, and it turned my stomach. The crunching when you had to rip them away from the cage. The soft, heavy thud on the floor and then another and another. And at the end of the night, I’d make rounds up and down aisles, bagging them all and leaving the bag full of chicken bodies at the end of each aisle for the night person. The warm, rotted rush of air that blew out the top of the bag when you sealed it. Holding your breath. One time I stepped on a dead chicken and it squawked from the lungful pushed up through the head. And I just about had a heart attack.
Now that I think of it, I bet those chickens died from pushing out massive eggs because they were being fed something to encourage larger eggs. This was no “organic” “free range” farm (not that you can trust those phrases, either.) Just your run-of-the-mill CAFO.
Anyway. After all the corpse stuff, I couldn’t bear to eat chicken anymore. Yes, these were egg-laying chickens, not chickens anyone would ever eat. But I could now recognize all pieces of the bird from my work. On my plate, saw them as deadparts. All gussied up with gravy, maybe. A zombie form of the animals I used to tear out of cages, come back to remind me of their unfair demise.
Nor do the beige or white and smooth, clean egg surfaces tell the story of the dark rooms that they must first pass through to reach our tables. A simple, quiet, smooth egg that was born in a dim, stinking, intestine-encrusted, excrement-laden, egg factory packed wall-to-wall with the cawing static of discontent.
Clearly, the Swine Flu has not a little to do with the types of conditions we expect we can cram our animals into. The CAFO is a terrible thing. It’s a silent bargain that we accept as part of the cost of having so much food wherever and however we want it. I read recently someone on Twitter talking about the hypocrisy when US citizens deplore animal cruelty in other nations. Due to the fact that these people are often seen ignoring the case of the CAFO right here in our own nation. And I have to say there is a valid point to be made there. (And it’s not that these people ought not make the case for animals in other lands!)
Will the Swine Flu be a wake-up call for the government, finally? That a different system is needed? That our current output and mass production rates are an illusion built on dangerous processes? A Wall Street Meltdown of the agricultural system that teaches us we cannot sustain ourselves with a structure that lacks integrity and tries to compensate with superficial means/appearances/marketing? I wonder. Judging from how the government addressed the banksters, I hesitate to offer an optimistic statement on this.
You think we’d learn. It’s that same problem again. The mindlessness, greed, and disrespect for our world and what sustains us.
IT SUDDENLY OCCURRED TO ME, on one of my thoughtfests…I was given a very liberal set of beliefs at a young age, and when, through living, many incidents confirmed some of those beliefs, the beliefs became more or less cemented in my mind.
As I live, I try to adjust my mindset and my ideas and my beliefs. Continually. To stay flexible. To not go blind to myself.
This flexibility, we could call, by definition, a “Liberal mindset.” However, while that was my desire and self-identification for the most part, what I’ve found in actuality is that unless I am aware and working against it, I tend to hold very tight to many of my ideas—not wanting to change them. This desire not to change one’s ideas could be called, by definition, a “conservative approach.”
So in essence, I found that I had a Liberal belief system (if not Radically so), but was adopting a conservative way of organizing and using those beliefs.
Conservatives will find it much harder to adopt the converse—a liberal approach to thinking. Embedded in their belief system itself is the reticence to move forward with new ideas. This is Conservatism, a tendency to reject change and revere tradition, often for no more reason that it is an older thing. We see today’s GOP heaving Cheyne-Stokes breaths because their philosophies are stuck for the most part in the past. And the world has moved past that era and seen that whatever may work, it is not the traditional ideas of the Republican party. This may kill of their party unless they can adopt a more liberal approach to using their Conservative ideas. Which seems a paradox, so we may soon see the natural death of a party that was built upon a paradox that by necessity would disable the very ideology once enough time passed.
Liberals will find it hard to admit that they are conservative in their approach. For one thing, the notion that not all elements of a Liberal’s mind are liberally arranged and organized is…somewhat offensive to a Liberal. Again, it goes against the very idea of being Liberal. Aside from my own experiences in challenging these ideas and some who hold them, I’ve watched the overall body of online blogalogue closely since 2006 with an eye toward change in one or a few areas.
But I say it is just as much a feat (and just as necessary) for Liberals to be liberal in their thinking as it is for Conservatives. However, it is not a failing of Conservatism to refuse this challenge. On the other hand, it is a failing of Liberalism if a liberal becomes too wed to their thoughts, the arrangement of same, and their approach to changing that arrangement.
Stephen Colbert famously said that “Reality has a Liberal bias.” We know what the joke was about, and moreover, it is funny because it is literally true as well as being a cutting political insight. When you remember what “liberal” actually means. Life is always upsetting our carefully arranged plans, ideas, and beliefs. Those of us who can move with these changes stay fresh, honest, relevant. Those of us who refuse what life is showing us—even when a new revelation requires the loss of a treasured idea—become rigid, calcified, and irrelevant. Regardless of whether or not we call ourselves “Radical,” “Conservative,” or “Liberal.”
THE MESSAGES we are taught—the ones that tell us how to be “men”, and how to be women”, who is Appealing, who is Weird, who to emulate, who to hate—they are dangerous directives and they become tragic, when good humans have to lose their lives behind such misguided norms. And they do so, and every day, and often, invisibly.
The heinous murder of Angie Zapata provides us with one of those moments of shock that might be used to bring change and awareness. Angie was a transgendered woman who was murdered in cold blood by a “man” who felt so threatened by her self-acceptance that he had to eradicate it from the very Earth. He could not do that, of course, so he put away her body. And now society has put him away behind bars for life.
This is encouraging. But it won’t bring Angie Zapata back to the people who miss her so dearly:
As at odds as I’ve been with the gender typing/roles/expectations of heterosexual males in the US, I don’t know what living Angie’s life was like. But I don’t need to, to join in the fight for equal rights and treatment for transgendered—or any other type of persons. I just have to want for (people like) her what I want for myself. And I do.
I do know what it is like to be thought a freak; to hide what I am to make others like me more; to fail at that. I know what it’s like to feel that my truth is at odds with what most people think is Right, and I know how lonely that can be. And I know what it’s like to have violence come for you. I am grateful that I have my life today. And I promise to Angie that I will use some of it to do what I can in this fight.
Because more importantly, I do know what it’s like to fear what is not familiar to me and to my way of evaluating normalcy. I’ve made others feel less-than in my life before, behind this recoiling. I also know that we can overcome those immediate reflexes when we find them. We have an unfortunate tendency to focus on superficial differences. The tint of skin, the kink of hair, the shape of eyes, the shape of body, the sound of speech, the name of sex. But we don’t grow bigger or stronger by dividing ourselves that way…we just make ourself more alone. With less friends and support around us.
While my fight is often about raza, and those oppressed under the hands of racism, it is of course bigger than that, and always has been. It is definitely big enough to include Angie Zapata and those who share her story—be they Zapatas or Smiths.
IT LOOKS LIKE Mexican law is about to undergo a huge shift.
In what experts say is nothing short of a revolution, Mexico is gradually abandoning its centuries-old Napoleonic system of closed-door, written inquisitions — largely a legacy of Spanish colonial rule — that had long been criticized as rife with corruption, opaque decisions, abuse of defendants and red tape that bogged down cases for years.
In the US, the idea is that we are innocent until proven guilty. Of course many of us are aware it doesn’t exactly always work this way , especially with the way more and more police use Tasers to lash back against anything that so much as bruises their own self-esteem (Amnesty International lists 351 deaths this year from use of the “non-lethal” weapons the majority of which are fired before a trial can determine one’s guilt!) But for the most part, this is how it is supposed to work. Not so in Mexico. Though the idea is this is going to change. Plea bargains, probation, trials open to the public, and greater use of forensics will now become a part of the legal process.
I can only imagine this is a very positive step, and a long time coming. While Spain and her language and architecture y la sangre still runs strong and always will, through the veins of Mexico and much of her children, I think we can all do without Inquisition-flavored behavior (ahem).
I PROMISED YOU a film review yesterday and you can now find it here, at the XOLAGRAFIK Theater.
The still below is an image from that same film, Made in L.A. (Hecho en Los Angeles). I’d love it if you could check out that trailer and review before you read the press release below, which asks for your help in a little organizing that is going on between The Media Consortium and the makers of this film to spread the word about the film for the May Day screenings that are planned.
Full disclosure: I blog for the Media Consortium on Thursdays and I, too, was Made in L.A..
The Media Consortium and the Emmy-winning documentary Made in L.A. have an exciting new partnership in the form of a very cool new widget with up to the minute news on immigration and grassroots events.
For those that haven’t heard about Made in L.A. , the movie tells the story of three Latina immigrants finding their way in the U.S. It’s a very personal, human story that puts a face on the immigrant experience and draws parallels between today’s immigrants and those whose families came to the U.S. generations ago. We just kicked-off a grassroots community screening campaign in honor of May Day using the film’s content and web videos as tools to educate and build support for humane immigration reform. You can check-out these efforts here:http://www.madeinla.com/mayday – and Rep Luis Gutierrez’ recommendation of the film here.
The Immigration Wire (immigration.newsladder.net) is a one-stop shop for the best independent reporting about immigration rights and policy reform. We believe that the more people have access to strong, independent reporting, the more we can positively impact the public and political dialogue. This project is highly beneficial to organizations looking to inform, engage and activate their constituencies.
Using the stories posted to Immigration.Newsladder.net, we’ve created a series of new media tools to help get the word out about this critical issue, listed below. Contact Erin Polgreen, email@example.com to learn how you can become a part of this dynamic project.
Blogs: Every Thursday, The Media Consortium publishes a free, open source blog reviewing the week’s top news about immigration. It’s a great way to help inform and engage your audience! These blogs are free for anyone to repost on their own sites–we’ll even email them to you fully coded, so that all you have to do is copy/paste. Click here for samples: http://www.themediaconsortium.org/author/nezua/
Twitter: Follow ImmigrationLadr on Twitter to get the latest headlines as they are submitted to the Immigration Wire.
If you are interested in hosting an immigration widget on your site, I’ve included the HTML coding below.
May Day is the perfect time to provide your audience with more information about immigration reform and to think about sharing . All you have to do is copy/paste the below HTML wherever you’d like to place the widget on your site. This widget is a great way to push independent reporting to new audiences–and by hosting it, you are also supporting the work of your fellow Media Consortium members. You can also click here to see the widget and get coding to place it in a blog or on a Facebook page. Please contact Erin Polgreen,firstname.lastname@example.org, with any tech-related questions.
If you have questions about the film, want to host an event or talk to me or the filmmakers, just let me know.
THERE IS A COALITION asking the undocumented to “boycott” the census, even though doing so is clearly not in the community’s best interest.
Local Latino politicians, pastors and activists are denouncing the efforts of a national group of ministers calling for illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 census until Congress passes immigration reform.
The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders say they launched the movement to protect the undocumented population, which they said accounts for about 30 percent of the members of their churches.
“If the 12 million of our brothers and sisters are good enough to be counted, then they are good enough to be legalized,” said the Rev. Miguel Rivera, president of the coalition.
It’s rhetoric. And it’s true. But in no way does admitting the truth of this phrase negate the truth that if “our brothers and sisters are good enough to be counted” well, then—they should be counted!
The group contends that information gathered during the census — used to calculate federal funding and assign congressional representation – would likely be used against the undocumented community. He said it would highlight areas with large Latino concentrations, which could be used for such actions as immigration sweeps.
However, some Orange County Latino movers and shakers condemned the movement, saying that while Rivera and his group may have good intentions, the effort will only hurt the very population they seek to help.
“I’m absolutely elated that there are pastors more radical than me but I think the target is misplaced,” said Nativo Lopez, executive director of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, an immigrant rights organization.
I don’t mind if you call me Cynical or even Overly Suspicious. “Paranoid” doesn’t work when you consider the history of oppression and lies leveled against mi gente over time by mainstream US News and Literature sources. But I think this idea was born somewhere to the Right of me. (Not saying that all who are voicing this idea are GOP, I said born.) I bet anything this began as some clever idea by a GOP paster (or friend, etc) who is seizing on the honored tradition of BOYCOTT amongst Latin@s as well as trying to tap into an already latent fear that is tying ICE raids to the Census people’s approach in some minds. I think its sneaky, and completely wrongheaded. And honestly, it’s unfair of us to assume these people aren’t intelligent enough to know why avoiding the census is a bad idea—not just for history’s sake, and not just for Latino US people’s sake, but for the sake of Truth. Remember that thing?
Lopez said the national group should instead encourage the undocumented to participate and be counted. If not, he warned that immigrant communities will not get their fair share or resources and representation, which is based on population data.
“Just for the very reason that a sizable percentage of our population hides in the shadows,” he said. “Their goal is politically counterproductive. It would be disastrous for us to do that.”
If nothing else, we need to ask ourselves who really benefits from the undercounting of Latinos and immigrants? Right. We know who has been shriekingabout the census. And lately…they are quiet? But who else is talking? This “coalition.” Yeah.
Oye, if some in this coalition mean well and are in this same struggle, then I salute them. But I also advise you disregard them if you are undocumented, and if you are Mexican@. I say stand and be counted, gente. As wealwayshave.
I KNOW THE TRADITION en el viernes (on Friday) is generally to offer music or light fare and I pretty much enjoy following that one. I plan to hit you later with a small film review/recommend. But what caught my eye this morning was this sudden “startling and rare” outbreak of Swine Flu that has been found in Texas and California as well as México. That’s not my phrase, “startling and rare,” I found it here.
A startling and rare outbreak of swine flu has left more than 60 people dead in Mexico with another 800 suspected cases of infection, reported the World Health Organization on Friday.
“To date there have been some 800 suspected cases with flu-like illness, with 57 deaths in the Mexico City area,” explained Fadela Chaib, spokeswoman for the UN health agency. She added that swine flu is rarely transmitted to humans and that this relatively large outbreak is an unusual exception. …
This news comes as health officials in the U.S. are already examining several new cases of a novel swine flu virus that appears to have combined genetic elements of swine, bird and human flu viruses. In all, seven patients in California and Texas have been identified as being infected with the virus, though medical experts remain baffled as to the virus’ origin.
The two cases in Texas have left researchers particularly mystified. Though the young boy from San Diego County reported flying to Texas earlier this month to visit family, he claims to have stayed in the Dallas area – some 270 miles north of San Antonio.
Health officials in China do say that the “whole health system is on high alert” for bird flu due to birds migrating south, but this warning doesn’t seem to be related to the Swine flu breakout in México and the Southwest US as of yet.
On the HISTORICAL/CULTURAL/MEDIA TIP
The article Swine Flu Outbreak Extended To Mexico, linked first on this page, makes clear that the US was already looking into cases within our own currently designated borders. And yet, of course we have articles that will frame this as more of one or another kind of Mexicanicky “spillover,” with titles like Swine flu kills 60 in Mexico, moves to US. This sentiment, this type of reporting, this age-old embedded imagery I fear. I fear for people and I call them “my people” (tho some take offense at the agenda of “special interest groups”) not because if you are not Latina/o or Mexicano/a you are less than that, but because some of us must always think of nuestragente (our people) or nobody will. So I make it my business to do this, still. [And I don’t lay those links down to stir up old pots, because the more of us working together, the better. But they are good examples of what I mean, they are real life, and they deal with this very issue.]
Since those who would demean Mexico and Mexicans and other brown nations have historically used language about disease and infection (I read the vile Pat Buchanan’s book State of Emergency and he goes so far as to incite panic about who is working in fast food joints just dripping with malaria and such), I fear for this.
If there is a sudden outbreak of disease and virus being found in Mexico and also in US “border communities” we simply need to find out why, why it is so mysteriously appearing now, there, and how to stop it from spreading.
This most recent version of swine flu was first identified in two children in Imperial and San Diego County in southern California earlier this week. Officials say the virus may have already existed for a while or may be entirely new. They added that it was discovered thanks to improved testing facilities and expanded disease surveillance; one at a Navy clinic and the other at a specialized clinic that monitors border communities. …
So far, the majority of the Mexican cases reported have been in healthy young individuals without prior medical history.