Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is J. C. Penney Co. selling dog fur? Weekend News Roundup

AP writer, David Koenig's article on animal rights groups questioning retail giant J. C. Penney Co. appeared in Saturday's Gwinnett Daily Post. Groups such as the American Humane Society and PETA are looking into tips that they have received from J. C. Penney Co. employees. According to the tipsters, the company is coats with dog fur collars made in China - of course, it has to be China. What's worse is that they claim to have been told by their bosses to use markers to write in that the fur is from "raccoons." This story has been around for a few weeks, but has now resurfaced because of Penney's determination to sell these coats.

Penney disputes these claims saying that the animals from China that are killed to make these coats are actually "Asiatic raccoon" despite their canine lineage. They also point out the Federal Trade Commission approves of selling asiatic raccoon fur. Despite this explanation, Penney actually felt the need to pull these coats off the racks before Christmas because of pressure from animal rights groups and complaints from animal lovers. According to Koenig's article, the coats are back on the racks under the "St. John's Bay" label and have been reduced dramatically in price.

China, who would like to hide its poor record on animal rights (amongst other things), will be hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. I would urge people that are thinking about visiting that nation and spending money there to look into what's actually going on there behind those bright, sparkly, multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art sports venues being built. While the people of China are valuable members of the world community and have been known to be great contributors to civilization throughout history, the government of the People's Republic of China is not nearly so praise-worthy when it comes to human rights, animal rights, and the environment.

The AJC had several items that caught my eye today. They are continuing its "Hidden Shame" series on the terrible neglect and abuse cases that are all too common at Georgia's mental health facilites. I can't lay the entire blame at the feet of Gov. Sonny Perdue. But I do believe that his drastic cuts in state funding to these facilities since 2003 have probably worsened the problems faced by the facilities themselves, the employees who are under a great deal of stress, and most importantly the patients.

Also in the AJC, Richard Halicks features the new book by Chris Hedges, "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." Halicks also has a great Q&A with Hedges. Hedges isn't afraid to point out that Christian fundamentalists are every bit as dangerous as other religious fundamentalists. He uses examples of extremism from Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Benny Hinn, and James Dobson who he says promotes the "theology of despair," an idea that rings true to me.

Hedges contends that while many of us laugh at someone like Hinn who claims that Christ will one day appear on his tv show and raise the dead, millions of us do not. He's taken seriously by many who are then encouraged to register to vote and then try and vote in right wing extremists that would like to govern this country, not as a democracy or republic, but from a hardline theocratic point of view.

For those of us who were raised as a Christian, we should not be afraid to read Hedges' book, which does not seem anti-Christianity at all. Hedges himself is the product of a Presyterian minister, and studied for theological degrees at Ivy League schools. He merely points out the dangers of mainstream Christian personalities that fly under the radar of scrutiny. Meanwhile, they give people who actually live by the tennants of Christianity a bad name.

Halicks articles are good reads. I will be adding Hedges' book to my reading list.

And lastly, I recognized the name of a very good Albany attorney with a social conscience who I had the pleasure of working with once a few years ago, James Finkelstein. I notice his letters to the editor in both the AJC and the Albany Herald from time to time. James makes a lot of great points in his letter protesting Bush's idiotic decision to send more troops to Iraq. And I very much appreciate his suggestion that Bush start by sending his and Dick Cheney's daughters first.


Steve said...

Finklestein was a good candidate- He called the Iraq War correctly all the way back in 2004, though i am sorry to say I didnt vote for him in the primaries. We had some good people in there (one of the least of which was Majette) and we got clobbered any way.

The book on the far right- I saw the author on Olbermann svereal months ago and had actually forgotten about it. If you read it give us a review.

possum said...

Halicks is one of the bright lights at the AJC. That's a scary, scary book he wrote about. Georgia will be the Religious Right's proving ground, don't you think?

Button Gwinnett said...

Steve, when I read about this book, I actually thought about you. I knew this would catch your eye, just as it caught mine. Hedges really seems to highlight how charismatic figures use religion to control people - usually through fear. We've seen this type of thing before with the David Koresh types. But we're usually not allowed to think about leaders like Falwell or Haggard in this context because it strikes too close to home as far as our own upbringing goes. Remember, never question, only use your faith and follow..... Like you, I'm very eager to question.

Possum, I suspect, as you do, that while more and more of the U.S. is seeing through the religious right, Georgia is still something of a safe haven. Unfortanately, their shrinking sphere of influence will only reinforce their apocolyptic scare messages from the pulpit on Sundays. I can hear someone like Pat Robertson saying something like, "God's chosen few are being revealed."