In Yulin, Guangxi, China, thousands of dogs are being tortured and killed to be sold as food at the world’s largest dog meat festival, taking place this week. The annual event has received widespread criticism in recent years but has been difficult to shut down.
One of the reasons the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival continues is cultural relativism. After all, Westerners eat cows, which are sacred in Indian culture. In the United States, for example, cows and other livestock are subject to inhumane conditions that shock and terrify the animals, just like the dogs who suffer in China and in other countries throughout Asia. However, the torture inflicted on dogs at festivals like these is intentional and believed to bring quality to the resulting flesh due to the release of the animals’ stress hormones.
“In some Asian cultures, torture against animals is believed by those who inflict it to produce medicinal qualities in the meat because the torture stresses the dog out, prompting its body to produce adrenaline. Often, the dogs are tortured in front of other caged ones, intentionally, to further stress the caged dogs before they are tortured, killed, and ultimately eaten. “
Marc Ching is an activist who dedicated his life to ending practices like these after learning that countless dogs are brutally tortured before slaughter. Ching discussed his experiences with Anti-Media last year after he returned from the 2016 Yulin festival:

“Anything you can think of, they’re doing. Smashing feet with hammers and just letting them suffer. I’ve seen them poke out eyeballs and cut their ears off — mass mutilation, just hanging them, cutting their heads off with machetes.”

Ching, who runs a holistic pet supply store called the PetStaurant in Sherman Oaks, California, began traveling to Yulin when he heard of the conditions there. He has seen dogs (and cats) burned alive, boiled, and beaten with bats. Now he travels to countries like China, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia to dissuade those inflicting the torture to change their ways.
As we reported after interviewing him extensively at his Petstaurant:
“Though Ching started by directly purchasing dogs, he shifted strategies amid concerns that doing so provided incentive to slaughterhouse owners to keep torturing and killing the dogs. If people can get paid for torturing animals, some animal rights groups reason, they will continue to do it.
“Ching now attempts to negotiate openly and directly with the slaughterhouse owners by paying them to change their practices rather than purchasing the dogs outright.”
In one instance, he convinced a Cambodian dog slaughterer to start a noodle restaurant, instead, offering to fund six months of the man’s new venture in order to prevent the torture and death that would have occurred otherwise.
Indeed, Ching told us he was able to convince six of twelve slaughterhouses at the Yulin festival last year, rescuing 1,000 dogs in the process. Many of the dogs were transferred to shelters around the world, some of them ultimately making their way to Los Angeles.
He has been live streaming from Yulin this week — the annual festival officially begins Tuesday —  and reporting his experiences to his nearly 167,000 Facebook followers. Much of his strategy has been to intercept trucks attempting to enter Yulin.
On June 18, he and his team were able to rescue a horde of animals who were being clubbed and skinned alive. Ching said 40 cages had been opened, adding that the animals were transported to a quarantined area. “The transport just arrived at our shelter in Changsha,” he wrote. “These dogs are in critical condition, and need support in order to stay alive.” At least four were discovered to have microchips — proof they were pets. He has previously reported finding animals with collars, further evidence the dogs are stolen and previously had homes.
A day before, they conducted a similar operation despite difficult circumstances. Some of the dogs were already dead. Two had microchips.
“The intercept was intense and frustrating,” he recounted. “A situation met immediately with aggression – Chinese activists trying the take the load before they reached the edge of Yulin.
“In the end the stand-off broke, with activist numbers overpowering the driver. All the dogs have been loaded onto our transport and are safe. On route to our shelter in Changsha.”
Though he has had success, authorities tend to side with the traders and slaughterhouse owners. On Monday, he posted about what happened when he and his team blocked a different truck carrying dogs and cats to the festival:
“The situation is tense. Police are working with the traders, and against us in regards to helping the animals, and successfully taking over the truck…Police and traders blocked our way, and let the truck drive off with the dogs and cats screaming for liberation.”
Due to the widespread publicity Yulin has received — and according to Ching, false reporting — many have been led to believe the practice was banned, or at least curtailed. Because of that, he has lamented, there is far less awareness regarding the ongoing festival than there has been in previous years. In a Facebook post, he reported that one trader said demand for dogs this year is four times what it was last year. While recording undercover at one slaughterhouse this week, he noted that at least 2,000 dogs have already been killed.
Though the situation seems dire, and deeply-ingrained culture often seems impossible to permeate, Ching says he wouldn’t be able to do the work he does without the help of local activists. He has stressed how vital they are to changing perceptions and challenging long-held views about the validity of these practices.
As he told us last year:

“They [critics of these countries] don’t realize…that [those who support the torture] represent a small population of the country… Dog eating in China and Korea and some places is still pretty popular. But there’s a growing ideology that’s totally against these things — totally. Without the help of the locals, the rescue is impossible.”

Ching and his team, along with local activists, have already rescued hundreds of animals on this trip alone, and the festival has only begun. To help fund Ching’s rescue and care of severely injured and traumatized animals, donate here.

(ANTIMEDIA)  — “Saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.”
That comment was made by famed whistleblower Edward Snowden during a recent interview on the Ron Paul Liberty Report. In his conversation with Dr. Paul and Daniel McAdams, published Tuesday, an articulate Snowden discusses the true meaning of freedom, the nature of the deep state, and even his upbringing as a child of a government family.
“I’d like to know a little bit, what do you do all day long?” a genuinely curious Dr. Paul asks as his opening question. After talking about the insanity that erupted — both in the political spectrum and his personal life — following the revelations he made back in 2013, Snowden says he’s now become a hot commodity for groups championing causes.
“They want me to sort of front for these issues of privacy and civil liberties and protection of people’s rights,” Snowden replies. “And I want to do what I can, but I’m not a politician. I’m an engineer.”
The whistleblower goes on to talk about how he’s now, at long last, finally able to devote time to more practical applications. For him, this means focusing on the area that holds the key to finding a balance between rights and laws in the digital age — technology.
“How technically is this even happening?” Snowden poses, digging straight to the heart of the issue of mass surveillance. “How is it that so many governments are spying on so many people? Because even if we pass the best legal reforms in the world in the United States, that doesn’t do anything against China, or Russia, or Germany, or France or Brazil or any other country in the world.”
Continuing, Snowden says that future generations’ rights and protections will be dependent on the current generation’s ability to adapt to a constantly shifting environment:
“We need to find new means, new mechanisms, for enforcing these rights in the new times. And I think that’s going to be primarily through science and technology.”
When Dr. Paul asks the former NSA contractor about his political affiliation, Snowden responds that he doesn’t associate himself with any faction and that as individuals, we’re more than tribes and labels. Proceeding, Snowden points to how technology has given humanity a means to have a global conversation on issues:
“I think the Internet produces a lot of people who look at these issues differently, in a less tribal way, because you hear more viewpoints. You hear from many more people. And the more people in a conversation, I think the more informed it often is.”
When co-host Daniel McAdams asks Snowden to comment on the idea of security vs. surveillance, the whistleblower again cuts straight to the core of the debate and speaks on the perception of freedom itself.
“What is liberty?” asks Snowden, and then points out that ten questions on the street would result in ten different answers. After stating his view that liberty is the “freedom of self” and the “freedom from permission,” Snowden goes on to say that true liberty is rooted in personal privacy:
“Privacy isn’t about something to hide, privacy is about something to protect. It’s about the ability to be you, to have a thought for yourself, to have a thing for yourself, to have some difference, to have some idea that’s new and untested and untried that you can sort of sharpen amongst those that you trust, and then introduce into the world, into that contest of ideas.”
Next, Dr. Paul asks his guest to comment on the topic of the deep state, which Snowden proceeds to describe as a “mass of government that survives beyond administration” that is “not responding to the politics of the people.” Snowden says this organism lives “across parties” and “across administrations.”
Continuing, Snowden equates the running of state policy to a game, one that favors those who get “better and better” at understanding the evolving rules:
“And eventually, the people who are the greatest experts at understanding and using these rules, the best bureaucrats, are not sitting in the White House, they’re not sitting in the Congress. Because those guys come and go as the years pass, and they win elections, and they lose elections, and it’s the people that sit there for 30 years or more, in these agencies, with their hand on the lever the whole time. And that’s what the deep state is.”
Snowden further states that party affiliation matters little with regard to this behind-the-scenes force and that any political faction in power will eventually “get to the point of saying yes when enough pressure is brought to bear.”
When Daniel McAdams next asks him about whether or not he thinks an agency such as the NSA should even exist, Snowden remarks on the irony of asking him that question — given that he’s a “product of the system” with familial ties to the United States government going back decades.
But the whistleblower presses forward following a question from Dr. Paul on whether or not he thinks any gains have been made from his 2013 revelations, stating that solutions come not from individuals alone, but from many of them who “lay down a single brick upon which others can build.”
Continuing in this vein, Snowden says progress in battling government violations of personal liberty is made in inches and should be accomplished organically:
“Step by step, working together, sharing our views, connecting our values, we can create spaces, more bricks, that when laid together create a defense of rights that can be relied upon, in even historic moments when law cannot be.”
In his final question to Snowden, Dr. Paul asks whether the former government contractor’s decision to sound the alarm was arrived at suddenly or through a gradual process. In response, Snowden links his own decision to the average human being, noting that everyone has a point at which nothing more can be tolerated:
“We all have a level, right, of this kind of cognitive dissonance that we can accept. A level of injustice, of inhumanity, of incivility that we can accept in the daily world, that we can sort of internalize and suppress. And then we have one step more.”

Want to gaze at distant galaxies but don’t have a strong enough telescope? Then don’t worry, because we’ve got the perfect solution. All you need to do is to buy yourself some Night Sky Petunias, because as you can see, their petals look like they’re hiding secret little universes inside of them.
Scientifically known as Petunia cultivars, Night Sky Petunias are a deep purple flower that’s characterized by the unique patterns on their petals. Much like their name suggests, these mesmerizing plants bloom to reveal a stunning plethora of white stars resembling distant clusters of galaxies. Their otherworldly patterns are the result of a variance between night and day temperatures, so if you’re growing your own then you should keep them warm in the day (around 100° F) and cool at night (about 50°F) in order to yield the most spectacular results. Want to grow a little personal galaxy in the comfort of your very own home? Then head on over to Amazon and pick up a pack of Night Sky Petunia seeds.
More info: Amazon (h/t: mymodernmet)

Back in 2011, photographer Antoine Repessé stopped throwing away his recyclable trash to make a point. Four years later he started turning that point into a powerful photo series he called '#365 Unpacked', which challenges us to rethink our role as consumers.
During the 4 year period, the Lille-based artist has accumulated over 70 cubic metres of trash: 1,600 milk bottles, 4,800 toilet rolls, and 800 kg (~1,750 lb) of newspapers, all of which he then separated for an even stronger visual impact: "I wanted to give an aesthetic dimension to my work,” he explains. “The choice of sorting the garbage gives a graphic effect. I tried to produce a perfect picture which evokes something disturbing.”
With his series, Antoine tackles the main obstacle for kickstarting the big changes in waste management or global warming – it’s how invisible these problems are in our day-to-day lives: “We’re often told about the quantity of waste we produce, but I think the impact of a picture can be more powerful than a ton of words,” remarks Repessé. “I hope my project can inspire change,” - and so do we.

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