To honor the lobsters who suffered and died when a truck carrying them overturned on Route 1 in Brunswick last Wednesday, PETA sent a letter today asking the Maine Department of Transportation for permission to place a 5-foot tombstone memorial near the crash site urging passersby to “Try Vegan.”

“Countless sensitive crustaceans experienced an agonizing death when this truck rolled over and their bodies came crashing down onto the highway,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA hopes to pay tribute to these individuals who didn’t want to die with a memorial urging people to help prevent future suffering by keeping lobsters and all other animals off their plates.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—notes that lobsters are intelligent individuals who use complex signals to establish social relationships and can take long-distance seasonal journeys, often traveling up to 100 miles in a year. Chefs typically place live lobsters into pots of boiling water while they’re still conscious—a cruel practice that has recently been banned in Switzerland—and a PETA investigation of Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster revealed that live lobsters were impaled, torn apart, and decapitated, even as their legs continued to move.






California Democrats call for boycott : Stop eating In-N-Out

California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman is calling for a boycott of In-N-Out Burger after the Irvine-based fast food chain this week donated a$25,000 to help Republicans this November.

“Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party,” Bauman wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to #BoycottInNOut — let Trump and his cronies support these creeps…perhaps animal style!”

The burger chain started in Southern California decades ago by a Christian family, whose granddaughter Lynsi Snyder still owns the company. It proudly displays its religious views — There’s a Bible verse on some packaging — and has in recent years contributed to Republicans and pro-business causes.

In addition to its $25,000 this week, it donated $30,000 to the GOP in 2017 and $30,000 to the in 2016. It has also contributed to the California pro-business political action committee, “Californians for Jobs & A Strong Economy,” which helps elect moderate Democrats. Most recently, it gave the PAC $80,000 in 2017.

But the popular fast food restaurant is facing a wave of backlash in deep-blue California following this week’s contribution, especially on social media.

“Wow, so we all need to stop eating In-N-Out like yesterday,” one person wrote following a tweet of the contribution Monday by a Sacramento Bee reporter.

“This is going to be the hardest breakup I’ll ever have to go through,” another person wrote, followed by another tweet reading “This is the best California publicity Shake Shack could ever ask for.”

But some social media users who identified as conservatives and Republicans cheered the contribution, including the spokesman for Republican John Cox, running for California governor.

“Time to go buy a double double animal style,” Matt Shupe wrote on Twitter.

Another Twitter user wrote “Wait, does this mean California liberals (basically most of the state) won’t eat In-N-Out anymore? Shorter lines?!”







Mom investigated for letting 8-year-old walk dog around the block

Just after returning home from a walk around the block with her dog, Marshmallow, an 8-year-old Wilmette girl expected a visit from a playmate. Instead, police officers arrived at the family’s door.

An anonymous caller had contacted police after seeing the girl walking the dog alone, said her mother, Corey Widen. While police never pursued charges, the seemingly common activity launched an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigation to see if Widen was neglecting her children, she said.

“For something like this to happen to me, there’s something really wrong,” said Widen, 48, who agreed to let her 8-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son get the Maltese puppy last year as long as everyone took turns walking her. Widen, who asked that her daughter’s name not be used, said the girl’s walk around the block – most of which Widen says she can see out her windows – is the only time her home-schooled daughter is unsupervised. “The funny thing is … I’m a joke with my friends because my kids are around me all the time.”

Widen’s story is not unique. Mothers in the Chicago area and across the country have found themselves at the center of investigations by police or child welfare officials after their children were spotted alone but unharmed – playing in parks or left for minutes in a car parked outside a store – activities that could pass for typical or harmless but now are perceived by some as unacceptable.

When Chicago author Kim Brooks decided to leave her then-4-year-old son in the car for a few minutes on a cool day to run an errand, she was shocked when a stranger called police to report it.

“I didn’t really understand why it was happening,” she said. “I certainly felt ashamed. Not because I thought … I did something horrible, but because whenever you are called out for behavior, especially when it has to do with mothering, (it’s shameful).”

Brooks, who was visiting her parents in her Virginia hometown when the incident occurred about six years ago, eventually completed community service and parenting classes in exchange for prosecutors there agreeing not to pursue misdemeanor charges, she said.

The 40-year-old Edgewater mother wrote about her experience in a new book, “Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear.” She said she has heard from other mothers who have had similar experiences – all reported by someone who thought their children were in danger when they weren’t actually at risk.

Even if mothers are eventually cleared by police or child welfare officials – which Widen says happened in her case – the families are unnecessarily put through invasive and stressful investigations that are a waste of time and resources, experts say, adding that the problem stems from vague laws that often ensnare well-meaning parents who are trying to give their children freedom or responsibility..

And the expectation that mothers should keep a constant eye on their children, even when there’s little to no real risk, is one that does not often extend to fathers, said Barbara Risman, sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“This shaming mechanism underlies the cultural logic that women should spend all their time making sure their children are never alone,” Risman said. “The opposite is true of dads. No one presumes fathers have a moral responsibility to take care of (their children). When they do, they get praise and positive reinforcement.”

The judgment placed on moms who give their children more freedom is not logical, Risman added. “We create street myths about dangers, and then everyone fears that it will happen to their child. And then we overcompensate. Children are not allowed the freedom really to become themselves.”

Brooks said this leads to subjective reporting to police based on what someone perceives as wrong, often based on a fear of what could happen, not what actually is happening. And “in the last generation or two, we’ve had a radical revision of what is (accepted as) safe for children.”

But those charged with investigating child abuse and neglect cases say it’s important to thoroughly check out all allegations, and it’s hard to create a system that doesn’t have at least some level of subjectivity.

“We want to investigate … because you just don’t know,” said DCFS spokesman Neil Skene. “You also don’t want to say (to the public), ‘Don’t call us unless it’s serious.’ There are all these other cases where we say, ‘if only someone had called us.'”

Like in many states, the law in Illinois is vague. It defines a neglected minor as a child younger than 14 left “without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare of that minor.”

But DCFS investigations are separate from criminal ones; even if police decide a parent has not broken the law, there could still be child welfare repercussions.

DCFS last year revised some of its rules pertaining to inadequate supervision cases, now offering clearer definitions. As part of a settlement this year in a class action lawsuit brought by parents who say they were wrongfully cited for neglect under the previous rules, some parents may now request a review and possibly get their citations withdrawn, Skene said. That’s important because if DCFS has made a finding of neglect, there are consequences included being barred from certain job or volunteer opportunities.

The Chicago-based Family Defense Center, which defends parents and advocates for reforms in DCFS policies, has defended mothers who have been reported for leaving their children alone for even a quick walk to take out the trash, said Executive Director Rachel O’Konis Ruttenberg. “They might not all eventually have a finding made against them … but it’s traumatic.”

The revised rules have made things “a little more fair now,” said Sara Gilloon, the center’s director of legal services, but “nobody can stop someone from calling police” or DCFS.

That’s what happened to Natasha Felix, a Chicago single mother. A passer-by’s call to a DCFS hotline sparked a two-year battle that eventually ended with the Illinois Appellate Court throwing out a child neglect citation. The caller in 2013 saw Felix’s three children, ages 5 to 11, and their 9-year-old cousin playing in a park, unaware that Felix had been checking on them from the window of her Ukrainian Village apartment every 10 minutes.

Similarly, in December 2007, Tinley Park mother Ellen “Treffly” Coyne was arrested after she briefly left her sleeping toddler in a parked car outside a Crestwood store so Coyne and her other children could drop change into a Salvation Army kettle. The charges were dropped a few months later.

After similar stories of responsible parents charged with neglect for letting their children go to playgrounds alone, Utah legislators last May voted to protect certain parenting freedoms by revising that state’s child neglect law. The first-of-its-kind, so-called “free-range parenting law” now specifically lists certain parenting rights, like allowing children to play at the park unsupervised, walk to and from school alone, and sit unattended in a parked car – all under certain conditions.

When Wilmette police arrived at Corey Widen’s door on Aug. 2, they inquired about the age of her daughter and how long she had been gone on her walk, Widen said. After hearing Widen’s answers, police determined she had done nothing wrong, Deputy Chief Pat Collins said.

The anonymous caller then contacted DCFS, Collins said. DCFS would not comment on the investigation.

Widen said the incident has caused her entire family stress after DCFS investigators visited her home, and talked to her children, other family members and their pediatrician. After about two weeks and several interviews, investigators told Widen’s attorney last week that they did not find evidence of neglect, Widen said.

“Everyone needs to allow the parent to do what is best for their family,” she said. “No one will dictate my parenting choices.”







House Passes Bill To Allow ‘Concealed Carry’ Across State Lines

The House approved a bill on Wednesday that would ease legal restrictions for carrying concealed firearms across state lines – a move pushed by the National Rifle Association that comes just weeks after mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas.

On a mostly party-line vote, the measure easily passed, 231-198, although 14 Republicans voted no. Six Democrats voted for the so-called reciprocity measure, which would allow a gun owner with the proper permit in any state to carry a concealed firearm to another state where it is also legal.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to encounter a much tougher battle.

In the House version, GOP lawmakers added a measure aimed at strengthening tracking in the national background-check database of legal and mental health records that might prevent some gun purchases. Just last month it was revealed that Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., legally purchase firearms used in the attack despite a record of domestic assault in the Air Force that should have disqualified him.

However, as The New York Times reports: “… the background check measure was not enough to win over most Democrats, nor did it persuade law enforcement officials in some of the largest cities, including New York, who say the legislation would force locales with strict gun laws to bow to places with few or no gun restrictions.”

The bill angered many Democrats who argued that following mass shootings that have killed 80 people, the times called for stricter, not looser gun measures.

Connecticut Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Esty — who represents Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six teachers and staff were killed in a 2012 mass shooting – said the bill would undermine states’ rights, “hamstring law enforcement and allow dangerous criminals to walk around with hidden guns anywhere and at any time. It’s unspeakable that this is Congress’ response to the worst gun tragedies in American history,” according to The Associated Press.

The NRA’s executive director, Chris Cox, is quoted in the Times as saying Thursday’s vote is a “watershed” for Second Amendment rights and that the bill would ensure “all law-abiding citizens in our great country can protect themselves in the manner they see fit without accidentally running afoul of the law.”