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March 14, 2012

Oakland's homeless now squatting on abandoned boats

I saw this firsthand a few weeks ago. I took my son out to one of our new-ish harbor parks here in Oakland. They get great Yelp reviews, are supposed to be full of fun stuff and brand new equipment, and have water views. Awesome, right? But the playground was absolutely covered with cigarette butts. The grassy areas were thoroughly seeded with broken glass. All the restrooms were out of order and smashed up. And every drinking fountain had a sketchy gentlemen bathing himself in it. As the economy sinks, homeless people move onto abandoned boats – Oakland North : North Oakland News, Food, Art and Events
Over the last two years, Brown has noticed more and more people walking away from their vessels, unable to pay the slip rent to keep them docked at the marina. As the number of these ownerless boats have increased, so too have the number of homeless people who have realized how easily they can replace living beneath an underpass with living on the water. They illegally anchor out in the estuary—the boating community uses the terms “off-anchor” or “on-the-hook” to describe boats that are anchored out in the water, rather than at a dock. According to state laws, only two categories of people are allowed to live out on the water, and even then only under very specific circumstances. If granted permission by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission—the agency that regulates water sanitation in the Bay Area—harbors are allowed to host a few “live-aboards” to enhance the security of the marina, but they cannot make up more than ten percent of the marina’s population. The only others permitted to live at marinas are world travelers who need a place to dock their boats temporarily. Both these groups of people must live docked at the marina, not anchored out in the middle of the water. But off-anchors aren’t following these rules, and dock managers say they’re causing other problems for the marina community. As the number of homeless and illegal boat dwellers has increased, they say, so has a chronic wave of thefts that has kept marinas on both sides of the Oakland estuary under siege. Meanwhile, they complain, the illegal estuary dwellers are causing a host of environmental problems by disposing of sewage in the water or abandoning their boats, which can leach toxic substances as they disintegrate.

March 13, 2012

Why does PETA euthanize nearly 99% of the animals it adopts?

PETA's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad History of Killing Animals - James McWilliams - Health - The Atlantic
In 2011, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) behaved in a regrettably consistent manner: it euthanized the overwhelming majority (PDF) of dogs and cats that it accepted into its shelters. Out of 760 dogs impounded, they killed 713, arranged for 19 to be adopted, and farmed out 36 to other shelters (not necessarily "no kill" ones). As for cats, they impounded 1,211, euthanized 1,198, transferred eight, and found homes for a grand total of five. PETA also took in 58 other companion animals -- including rabbits. It killed 54 of them. These figures don't reflect well on an organization dedicated to the cause of animal rights. Even acknowledging that PETA sterilized over 10,500 dogs and cats and returned them to their owners, it doesn't change the fact that its adoption rate in 2011 was 2.5 percent for dogs and 0.4 for cats. Even acknowleding that PETA never turns an animal away -- "the sick, the scarred and broken, the elderly, the aggressive and unsocialized..." -- doesn't change the fact that Virginia animal shelters as a whole had a much lower kill rate of 44 percent. And even acknowledging that PETA is often the first to rescue pets when heat waves and hurricanes hit, that doesn't change the fact that, at one of its shelters, it kills 84 percent of supposedly "unadoptable" animals within 24 hours of their arrival.