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Well, wouldn't you know it.  Smithfield Farms, and the industrial pork industry in general, is flexing its muscle everywhere it can.  First, pressure from the dead-pig industry led the W.H.O. to cease calling Swine Flu the Swine Flu ("to protect pigs" the headlines read.  Protect them from what?  Getting eaten?  WTF?)   And now they're managing to get the quite possible connection to their filthy swamp of pig shit in Mexico, from where many people believe this virus originated to be labelled a "conspiracy theory", just another wild internet rumor.  

"Swine Flu Source Spawns Wild Theories" claims the headline.

This is a classic PR and propaganda tactic, designed to confuse the truth in people's minds with actual "wild" theories.  It's a very effective way to mislead people into thinking that certain stories are false, an indirect strawman, if you will.

Check this out:

LONDON (Reuters) – Dead pigs in China, evil factory farms in Mexico and an Al Qaeda plot involving Mexican drug cartels are a few wild theories seeking to explain a deadly swine flu outbreak that has killed up to 176 people.

Notice the use of the word "evil".  It's snarky, hyperbolic.  "Oh yeah, those EVIL pig farms in Mexico!  Ha ha!  OOOOh, nasty evil pig shit!"

And right after that equating that "theory", which is very well worth investigating, seeing as how the "pig farm" in question is a festering swamp of pig shit which makes people sick anyway, with a truly nutty theory about drug dealers and Al Queda in Mexico.  

But notice how the very next sentence, if you think about it, actually contradicts the premise of the article:

Nobody knows for sure but scientists say the origins are in fact far less sinister and are likely explained by the ability of viruses to mutate and jump from species to species as animals and people increasingly live closer to each other.

In case you haven't been keeping track of this, here are two really excellent diaries about the disgusting truth of the Smithfield pig farms in Mexico:

Swine Flu and Factory Farms by Ellinorianne and Swine Flu Linked to Smithfield Factory Farms by Mexican Press by FishOutOfWater.   Here's another from MinistryOfTruth.  

So yeah, to say that "as animals and people increasingly live closer to each other" is sort of an understatement.  It's more like pigs and more pigs, millions of them, are piled on top of each other, crawling around in their own excrement, and anybody living nearby is probably gonna get sick as, well, a dog even if they don't catch a mutated form of the flu from this primordial soup.  

As the diaries I list above mention, according to the swine flu timeline put together by a company called Veratect, who evidently map infection disease events for clients like the WHO & CDC:

A municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.

And, as one of the diaries above quotes from this article in The Guardian:

"According to state agents of the Mexican social security institute, the vector of this outbreak are the clouds of flies that come out of the hog barns, and the waste lagoons into which the Mexican-US company spews tons of excrement," reported Mexico City newspaper La Jornada.

So what kind of crap are we being fed from Reuters?  Well, you can bet, judging from the current pathetic state of what passes for "journalism" in this country, they are simply regurgitating a press release sent out by some PR firm which is quite likely in the employ of the meat industry, and quite possibly Smithfield themselves.

This supposed "story" being put on the news sites by Reuters, is unabashedly a piece of disinformation:

Sound science, however, is no match for the Internet and unsubstantiated media reports when it comes to providing a forum for ideas that have forced responses from governments and companies alike.

China's Ministry of Agriculture, for example, on Wednesday denied overseas reports charging that dead pigs found in a south eastern province might be to blame for swine flu, according to an official Xinhua news agency article.

And in Mexico reports in at least two newspapers focused on a factory farm run by a subsidiary of global food giant Smithfield Foods. Some of the rumors mentioned noxious fumes from pig manure and flies -- neither a known vector for flu viruses.

Those reports brought a swift reply from the biggest U.S. hog producer.

"Based on available recent information, Smithfield has no reason to believe that the virus is in any way connected to its operations in Mexico," the company said in a statement.

Oh, well that settles it then!  Smithfield Foods says it had nothing to do with it, so it must be true!  After all, they sent out a "swift reply" and god knows that means the charges are meaningless!  

I'm not saying I KNOW that flies breeding in an enormous lake of pig shit caused the virus to spread to human who lived nearby.  But considering 30 percent of the area’s residents now infected with the virulent flu bug, it sure is worth looking into and it sure as hell is NOT a conspiracy theory.  

I'm actually surprised to see Reuters involved with this, I really figured I'd see the AP associated with this.  It's shameful.  

Here's a picture I found on of a well filled with dead pigs, at the farm in question in Mexico:

The caption reads:

29 april 2009 - La Gloria, Mexico - Dead pigs lie in a state of decomposition in one of the wells that the company Granjas Carroll uses to put the remains of pigs. The waste emits a fetid odour. La Gloria, villlage in the southern Mexican state of Veracruz, where the new strain of swine flu was first detected. Local people have blamed the Flu on the pig waste which is spread into the air and water from nearby industrial pig farms, known as Granjas Carroll and owned by the Virginia-based multinational company Smithfield Foods. A Smithfield spokeswoman says the company has found no clinical signs or symptoms of the flu in its swine herd or its employees in Mexico.

Yeah, a well filled with dead and decomposing pigs poses no health threat whatsoever, and anyone who thinks so is a "conspiracy theorist".  

Originally posted to Inky99 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:30 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tips/pans (24+ / 0-)

    The media in this country is disgusting.  It's almost as bad as Pravda, back in the days of the Soviet Union.  

    William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

    by Inky99 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:31:11 PM PDT

    •  Inky99 (6+ / 0-)

      I like you diaries, in general, but I need to question this one.  First off, I agree with your final statement

      Yeah, a well filled with dead and decomposing pigs poses no health threat whatsoever, and anyone who thinks so is a "conspiracy theorist".

      Factory farms are terrible.  They are inhumane and lead to many public health problems (pollution, disease, etc.)

      All that said, there are many problems with the hog farms as source for this outbreak theory.  Not the least of which is that it is too damn early to tell.  There will need to a ton of scientific sleuthing before we will know, and any article that makes it sound otherwise is misleading.

      The main thing that makes the articles about Smithfield sound dubious is the insect vector.  There is some research that suggests insects, in rare instances, can be the vector for the flu, but it is by no means an accepted fact.  

      Could it be Smithfield? maybe, but based on the science, not so likely.  Should it be investigated, yes (as should many other theories).

      Factory farms are bad.  They need to be shut down.  But I would be very surprised if it turns out that this farm is the source of the pandemic.

      An open mind gets filled with crap.

      by Empty Vessel on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:42:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No firm facts, but (7+ / 0-)

        commercial mega-farms are bad business.  Look at mad cow disease.  When you put animals in places they were never meant to be, when you feed them things they were never meant to eat, when you put people in the mix, it gets ugly.  Mother nature has her way.

      •  Read what I wrote (9+ / 0-)

        I wrote:

        I'm not saying I KNOW that flies breeding in an enormous lake of pig shit caused the virus to spread to human who lived nearby.  

        The point of the diary is not that I know the origin of the virus.  The point is that for corporate America and its media of PR artists to call such a theory a "conspiracy theory" is just plain wrong.

        And insulting.

        And, ultimately, dangerous.

        William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

        by Inky99 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:46:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is (7+ / 0-)

          that the articles you cite present the idea of insect vectors as a normal/unquestioned thing.  Simply put, if the people writing the article don't know that insects are an unlikely vector, they don't know shit about the flu or public health.  It calls into question the value of their analysis.  A mistake that basic (I'm not even a biologist and I knew it [then confirmed on the google]) calls into question everything else they write.  The article is either written by a fool or a liar.

          Once the source is blown, the rest of the thing starts falling to pieces.

          An open mind gets filled with crap.

          by Empty Vessel on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:52:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which article are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

            I can't tell.  The Reuters one, which is the subject of the diary?

            William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

            by Inky99 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:02:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The original article from mexico (4+ / 0-)

              that started the whole theory.  Don't have the link handy, but it is in the first Smithfield diary from a few days ago.

              Basically, all other articles about Smithfield report the info from that original article.  The drumbeat of info is not from new reporting, but rather re-reporting the original, very flawed, article.

              An open mind gets filled with crap.

              by Empty Vessel on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:05:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nobody has tested it (3+ / 0-)

                yet except for Smithfield Foods themselves, who aren't exactly to be trusted on an issue that could cost them billions in lawsuits.  Ya know?  Pretty stupid to write it off as a "conspiracy theory" when nobody's actually tested anything, especially the water -- did you see that photo above of the decomposing pigs stuffed in a well?

                That's sorta of the point of the whole diary.  

                William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

                by Inky99 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:08:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I saw the picture (4+ / 0-)

                  and i have no doubt that Smithfield has contaminated the water in the village, caused hideous diseases, and the rest.  Just probably not flu.  How did the flu get from the well to the people (and recombine with avian flu in the process?).  Water contamination ain't how flu gets transmitted.  

                  Smithfield is evil for lots of reasons, just not this one.

                  An open mind gets filled with crap.

                  by Empty Vessel on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:14:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It didn't have to come from the well, but the pig (13+ / 0-)

                    s themselves.

                    Smithfield's pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens, but many things besides excrement can wind up in the pits: afterbirths, piglets accidentally crushed by their mothers, old batteries, broken bottles of insecticide, antibiotic syringes, stillborn pigs -- anything small enough to fit through the foot-wide pipes that drain the pits. The pipes remain closed until enough sewage accumulates in the pits to create good expulsion pressure; then the pipes are opened and everything bursts out into a large holding pond.


                    The drugs Smithfield administers to its pigs, of course, exit its hog houses in pig shit. Industrial pig waste also contains a host of other toxic substances: ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, phosphorous, nitrates and heavy metals. In addition, the waste nurses more than 100 microbial pathogens that can cause illness in humans, including salmonella, cryptosporidium, streptocolli and girardia. Each gram of hog shit can contain as much as 100 million fecal coliform bacteria.

                    Rolling Stone 2006

                    I am going to stop quoting this article in this thread for fair-use purposes, but it is really an eye opening read. Whether it is the pigs living in cramped over crowded conditions or the way Football fields of toxic pig shit is stored, any number of things could have led to this outbreak. To ignore that entirely is pure folly.

                    and that is exactly what the media is encouraging us to do.

                    That is why I rec'd this diary, and you should too.

                    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

                    by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:23:45 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes, how could the flu travel from a pig lot (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    to a nearby village? And recombine with the avian flu? That's way too far. And it would require chickens to coexist in a rural area in Mexico.

                    That's so silly. Inky - you so crazee.

                    Meanwhile - Smithfield Flu in Washington State and New Zealand.

                    Where's the F**kin' money, Ben?

                    by JerichoJ8 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:24:58 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  When reporters/pols start changing the name (7+ / 0-)

            of the virus at the request of the pork industry, credibility goes out the window.

            Where's the F**kin' money, Ben?

            by JerichoJ8 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:22:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  100% agreed (6+ / 0-)

          The Corporate media can eat pig shit and die.

          On this matter, I am inclined to consider their "concern" professional trolling of the worst sort. It is either designed to deflect from the truth OR to gloss over another problem altogether.

          Bullshit, either way, or, rather, pig shit.

          The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

          by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:04:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  too early to tell, and to write off (7+ / 0-)

        I agree with Inky on the fact that we should explore the possiblity that this could be a cause.

        From Smithfield's point of view, the problem with this lifestyle is immunological. Taken together, the immobility, poisonous air and terror of confinement badly damage the pigs' immune systems. They become susceptible to infection, and in such dense quarters microbes or parasites or fungi, once established in one pig, will rush spritelike through the whole population. Accordingly, factory pigs are infused with a huge range of antibiotics and vaccines, and are doused with insecticides. Without these compounds -- oxytetracycline, draxxin, ceftiofur, tiamulin -- diseases would likely kill them. Thus factory-farm pigs remain in a state of dying until they're slaughtered. When a pig nearly ready to be slaughtered grows ill, workers sometimes shoot it up with as many drugs as necessary to get it to the slaughterhouse under its own power. As long as the pig remains ambulatory, it can be legally killed and sold as meat.

        Rolling Stone 2006

            The issue at hands is whether the horrendous living conditions of these animals is a contributing factor to the health risks humans face.

        If it is not a factor in swine flu, it at least is certainly a factor for human health as a whole.

        You'd think the WHO would give a shit about that.

        The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

        by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:02:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Insects? Who knows. Pig farm? Likely. In the 90's (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, JonBarleycorn, Inky99, Losty

        a flu strain related to this one started in NC pig farms
        Swine Flu Is Related to Virus Born on U.S. Hog Factories in 1998

        This Humane Society article states

        A preliminary analysis of the H1N1 swine flu virus isolated from human cases in California and Texas reveals that six of the eight viral gene segments arose from North American swine flu strains circulating since 1998, when a new strain was first identified on a factory farm in North Carolina.

        This analysis, first released by Columbia University’s Center for Computation Biology, has now been reportedly confirmed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and virologist Ruben Donis, chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Robert Webster, the director of the U.S. Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization, and considered the "godfather of flu research,"[1] is reported as saying "The triple reassortant in pigs [first discovered in the U.S. in 1998] seems to be the precursor."

        The blame seems to be largely in the change in pig farming (and also having chickens on the same farms tended to by the same workers)

        In the 1980s, more than 85% of all North Carolina pig farms had fewer than 100 animals. By the end of the 1990s, operations confining more than 1,000 animals controlled about 99% of the state's pig population.[12] Given that the primary route of swine flu transmission is thought to be the same as human flu—via droplets or aerosols of infected nasal secretions[13]—it's no wonder experts blame overcrowding for the emergence of new flu virus mutants.

      •  That may never happen.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Both the Mexican government and Smithfield have refused outsider access to this operation.

    •  If I were to research this (6+ / 0-)

      I would try to catch Michael Kahn, the author of the Reuters piece, shilling for Berman and Company clients.

      It has a low probability in my estimate which is why I'm somewhat concerned about the language of this diary: "This is a classic PR and propaganda tactic, designed to confuse the truth in people's minds with actual "wild" theories."

      You are, of course, correct. This is a classic PR tactic. And the PR release from Smithfield can be read on PR Newswire here.

      It is obvious Smithfield is in damage mode. I traced them to Berman and Co here for who they've employed in the past for dirty work. That doesn't mean they are using Berman now. But it would be  somewhat likely.

      What I found zero evidence for, and I didn't look very hard, is that Michael Kahn is in on the PR campaign. He cited the obligatory statement by the company. Nothing new there.

      I agree it's bad writing. But I am not at all convinced that Kahn is deliberately propagandizing here.

      In the 5 minutes I spent looking into all this, I scanned a bunch of Kahn stories - which you can scan here. It appears he is Reuters' science writer. There appears to be a separate Michael Kahn who is a financial writer. But Reuters Kahn just covers science and so is not equipped, it would seem, to be dipping his toes into the kind of investigative reporting this story requires. That's no excuse for his blanket dismissal of Smithfield allegations. But it could explain his blundering stupidity here. Or he could be a shill and I just didn't detect it.

      If I had a lot of free time, I would try to catch him towing the PR line in other stories - especially for a PR firm that Smithfield employs like Berman. It wouldn't be that hard. But it would take more time than I have right now.

      I know for a fact that there are reporters who are nothing but extensions of the great public opinion complex in the PR world - you can see them on your television every night. Some work for intelligence too.

      I just see no evidence, based on a quick and highly inconclusive scan of his writing, that Kahn is one of those reporters.

      I don't think this in any way invalidates your calling out this story though. It has all the marks of a PR piece.


      •  Great work, TDV (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Thanks for doing that.

        While I may have implied that the actual writer of the article was involved in deliberate propaganda, what I really meant (although wasn't clear about) was that the media is doing its usual "just copy and paste from the press release" kind of bullshit that they've been doing forever now.  

        I did not bother to go into the research that you did.  I didn't even know where to begin!  

        Most of these types of media stories (usually from the AP) are just laziness and a willingness to swallow whatever the corporate PR types tell them.  

        Which is a big big problem.   Other times, with specfic writers such as Nedra Pickler, they have an obvious agenda.

        Thanks for delving into that.   If the diary was still active, I'd add it.  :)  

        William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

        by Inky99 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 10:38:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Where's your evidence? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, ticket punch, skohayes

    Have any pigs been found to carry this particular virus?

    ROME, April 29 (Reuters) - Egypt's order on Wednesday to cull all the country's pigs is "a real mistake" and another reason why the world needs to rethink using "swine flu" to describe a virus affecting humans, a U.N. agency official said.

    Egypt, where pigs are mainly raised by the country's Christian minority, described the order to slaughter the animals as a precautionary measure in a country hard hit by bird flu. Up to 400,000 pigs could be culled, a cabinet spokesman said.

    Joseph Domenech, the chief veterinary officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, told Reuters his staff were trying to reach Egyptian authorities to correct any confusion about a virus that has killed humans but not been found in pigs.

    "It's a real mistake. There is no reason to do that. It's not a swine influenza, it's a human influenza," said Domenech, adding the FAO had been trying to reach Egyptian officials but has so far been unsuccessful.

    "There is certainly no support from FAO for that decision."

    The new H1N1 flu strain -- a mixture of swine, human and avian flu viruses -- has killed up to 159 people in Mexico and a 23-month-old boy in the United States.

  •  Weren't they banned in NC? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Who tested the pigs for swine flu? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tecampbell, Septima

    A Smithfield spokeswoman says the company found no signs of the flu?

    Who ran the tests?

    What did they do?  Just kill of the herd before anybody could test them or what?

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:41:04 PM PDT

    •  That's what Egypt is doing. Partly to appease (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Muslim majority, partly because it legitimately is pretty awful to have pigs living on the ground floor of a building with 30 people on the 2nd

      Though on the other hand, it's even worse for those people without the pigs.

      Mr. Girgis makes his living through a combination of raising pigs and collecting garbage — two professions that are often tied together in a city where garbage collection can be an informal affair and where poor farmers rely on food scraps to feed their livestock.

      He wakes up every morning around 4 a.m. to collect garbage around the city. When he gets back to Manshiet Nasser, at around 9 a.m., he sorts the trash, putting aside what can be sold at the city’s booming scrap markets and what he can use as pig feed.


      Mr. Girgis lives with his extended family, about 30 people, in the first two floors of a building that leans against a cliff. His 60 small pigs live on the ground floor. They have dark, furry skin, and their squeals can be heard a block away from Mr. Girgis’ home

      "Democratic Luntz is a prized blogger here."

      by DemocraticLuntz on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:44:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  According to Smithfield (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Their pigs are tested monthly for flu (pretty common practice in most herds), and the pigs are not sick, nor have any of the employees gotten sick.
      further testing is ongoing.

  •  Isn't Paula Deen affiliated with this company? (5+ / 0-)

    He's with stupid, I'm with THAT ONE.

    by expatinparis on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:45:09 PM PDT

  •  So why is it called swine flu? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, marina, MinistryOfTruth

    Seriously, is it even known the flu came from pigs?

    This just keeps getting more annoying.

    Upthread, some article says the virus is frigging "mixture" of swine, bird and human flu.


    The whole thing is just sounding like rumors to me.  Except that there really is a very bad flu going around.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:52:01 PM PDT

    •  It is a hybrid of all three (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yet another liberal

      you earned a rec for asking a serios question that has a lot of people confused, and justly so.

      Sometimes a good question is better than an easy answer.

      there really is a very bad flu going around

      honestly, I hope (and think) it is nothing worse than that.

      What pisses me off is the fear mongering going around on this issue.

      Wonder what they are trying to distract us from


      The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

      by MinistryOfTruth on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:07:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That EVIL al-Qaeda, yeah, it's incredible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IndyGirl, MinistryOfTruth

    how they were able to plan and carry out 9-11 from caves in Afghanistan, then release a recombined, 3-species strain of flu virus from inside Mexico, from their caves in Pakistan.  I'm impressed.

    The dead might as well try to speak to the living, as the old to the young - Willa Cather

    by Matrix Dweller on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:19:53 PM PDT

  •  As a vegetarian I'd like to criticize (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    your presentation here, but you'd likely just hide me.

    So, I will say nothing more and leave.

    The business of Nations is never morality. Moral stories live only through people.

    by tecampbell on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:33:30 PM PDT

  •  Jon Stewart said it best - (0+ / 0-)

    It couldn't just be that their animals that lie and roll around in their own feces.

    Where's the F**kin' money, Ben?

    by JerichoJ8 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:20:10 AM PDT

  •  Hey - no cattle companies have found mad cow (5+ / 0-)

    disease or any variants in any of its cattle.

    Oh wait,that's right, that's because they don't look for it. And if they try, the FDA stops them from testing.

    Where's the F**kin' money, Ben?

    by JerichoJ8 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:30:07 AM PDT

  •  I know it's important (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, Inky99, Septima, JerichoJ8

    to determine whether Smithfield Farms maintains a hog factory farm where outbreak began or not. The answer should come soon.

    But whether the outbreak began there or not Smithfield is simply one of the worst polluters on Earth. This isn't hyperbole.

    A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

    by Red Bean on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:33:33 AM PDT

    •  My mom worked at their packing plant when I (6+ / 0-)

      was a kid in Smithfield. I can remember riding in the car, smelling tobacco fields and butcher shop.

      Fuck she was tough.

      Where's the F**kin' money, Ben?

      by JerichoJ8 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:39:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm afraid it is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yellowdog, Septima

      Having read that article a few days ago (which everyone seems to be using as a reference on raising pigs), I cna tell you that there is a lot of hyperbole in that article.
      let me give you an example from that article:

      In another instance, a worker who was repairing a lagoon in Michigan was overcome by the fumes and fell in. His fifteen-year-old nephew dived in to save him but was overcome, the worker's cousin went in to save the teenager but was overcome, the worker's older brother dived in to save them but was overcome, and then the worker's father dived in. They all died in pig shit.

      Here's the real story:

      Michigan. On July 26, 1989, five farm workers in one family died after consecutively entering an outdoor manure pit on a farm. The pit measured 20 feet by 24 feet by 10 feet deep. The victims were a 65-year-old male dairy farmer, his two sons (aged 37 and 28 years), a 15-year-old grandson, and a 63-year-old nephew. The index victim, the 37-year-old son, initially entered the pit by ladder to replace a shear pin on an agitator shaft. While attempting to climb out of the pit, he was overcome and fell to the bottom of the pit. The grandson then entered the pit to attempt rescue. He, too, was overcome and collapsed. One by one, the nephew, the younger son, and the dairy farmer entered the pit in attempts to rescue the others, were overcome by lack of oxygen, and collapsed. A carpet installer working at the farm then entered the pit as a rescuer and was overcome; however, he was rescued by his assistant and subsequently recovered. Finally, the owner of a nearby business arrived with two additional workers and, using a rope, extricated the five victims from the pit.

      Now here we see Rolling Stone equating a manure pit at a dairy farm with a hog lagoon.
      These men didn't die because of toxic waste, but because of lack of oxygen in an underground manure pit.

      •  If you have other evidence to refute (0+ / 0-)

        what's in the article I'd like to hear it. What about the large EPA fine, largest toxic waste spill on record, rivers ruined, massive fish die offs, appalling pollution spread after Hurricane Floyd went through?

        A UN report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.

        by Red Bean on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:24:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The EPA fines were justified (0+ / 0-)

          however, the waste was coming from a packing plant, not a farm.
          The largest toxic waste spill on record?

          Located at the Kingston Fossil coal-fire power plant in Kingston, Tennessee, (the largest coal-burning power-plant in the world) the 40-acre earthen dam that held back a retention pond broke, spilling approximately 525 million gallons of black coal fly ash into the Emory River and the surrounding Roane County countryside, destroying several homes. The ash flowed into the tributaries of the Tennessee River, the water supply for millions of people living downstream.

          As for Hurricane Floyd, hog waste was one element and a lot less toxic than the gasoline and diesel fuel spills, the thousands of gallons of pesticides and herbicides, the heavy metals and other elements that were found in the flood waters. And the fish kill was not massive, but far less than expected:

          Given the vast amount of sediment and sewage flowing through the waterways toward the coast, state officials predicted there would be massive fish kills in North Carolina's Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and that the dependent fish, shrimp, and crab industries-which peak during the last four months of the year-would be wiped out. News reports described an anticipated $19 million loss in 1999 shrimp harvests, so the state's General Assembly appropriated $11.4 million to help offset the damage. But the massive fish kills never happened, and in fact, the shrimp fishery had its best year since the state began keeping such records in 1972.

      •  And how is that so different? (0+ / 0-)

        Pig shit, cow shit.   They died in animal shit.  

        William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

        by Inky99 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 10:57:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, Inky, I think... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, IndyGirl, Inky99, Septima

    your questions are good ones about American journalism.  You might want to try BBC World, they are not perfect, but are not yet subjects of the American PR machine.  That said, what is wrong with boycotting these bastards?  Improve your health and the planet too. Who needs pork?  I am usually eating only fish (wild) or range chicken and I am really much healthier.  I live in an area which was dairy and is now turning to pork production.  Yech.

    My heart goes out to Mexico, which from what I saw in my last visit is either the garbage dump or the pig-sty of the U.S.

    A return to the family farm (yes, with Federal help) would be a vast improvement for everyone.

    I have no real ideas about how to improve the pathetic state of American mainline journalism.

  •  This is a great point (8+ / 0-)

    that I think some have missed. I am so sick of the words "CONSPIRACY THEORY". It wasn't long after 9/11 that I made the observation (after watching many interviews with Dick Cheney)that Osama would never be found, that the event would become a propaganda tool and that it would somehow land us in Iraq. I was repeatedly called a "conspiracy theorist". I have a family member who has been in and out of Iraq since 2004. He was part of a unit that transferred prisoners to Abu Ghraib. I was horrified at the stories I had heard and when I suggested that prisoners (many of whom were simply swept up off the streets for no reason) were being tortured (on another site just like this) I was called a conspiracy theorist.

    Just weeks ago on another site (that starts with HUFF) I was called a conspiracy theorist for suggesting that the Bush Administration was spying on members of congress. Not only that, but the responses to my post included words such as Elvis, The Grassy Knoll and Area 51.

    It has gotten to the point that I am immediately suspicious of anyone who accuses anyone else of being a conspiracy theorist or uses the words "tinfoil" or "Elvis" or any other words like that in a response. Those words are meant to do one thing, stop a discussion in it's tracks without debating the merits of the person's thoughts or beliefs. I am sick and tired of it and for anyone in the media to start using those words discredits them to me.

    Well here is my latest "theory". Keep track of how many times you hear someone on the tv or read someone in a newspaper use "conspiracy" and "online, blogger or internet" together in a sentence or paragraph. It seems to me the MSM would like to plant in the public's mind that any discussion that takes place on the internet can not possibly be based in realty. Well sometimes there are crazy ideas that get floated (like Obama being a secret muslim for example) but sometimes there not. People conspire all the time. People in and out of the Bush administration did conspire to find a way into Iraq. Others conspired for the use of torture. I call it a conspiracy that not one network newscast investigated any of this for 8 years. Go ahead and call me names but I believe some very important people conspired to take down Elliot Spitzer.  As for the swine flu and it's origins, well NOBODY knows yet, so that does make the Reuters headlines quite irresponsible at best. This topic really gets under my skin. I wish someone would do a really good, in-depth diary on this subject and the tools PR firms, the Government and media use to try and shut down or change discussions.  

    •  Or you can link facts as this diarist has done (0+ / 0-)

      CT accusations are there for those that do not want to research.

      "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

      by yuriwho on Fri May 01, 2009 at 01:38:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You must have misread (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, yuriwho, Inky99

        I agree with the diarist and his or her point that the Reuters headline is irresponsible.

        I do not agree with your point however that..."CT accusations are there for those that do not want to research." Many times there is nothing to research. When I first heard about things that were happening at Abu Ghraib (from someone who had actually witnessed horrific violence on prisoners but didn't use the word torture, which is how I saw it) there wasn't exactly a lot of "research" material to go on. So what else could I do. I started talking about what I thought was torture (which it was) and was called a conspiracy theorist for it. It wasn't until the pictures came out and the story broke that it stopped. If those pictures didn't come out people would still be denying that it was happening.

    •  You are perceptive (7+ / 0-)

      as I have been for a very long time. It used to enough to marginalize us by training folks to dismiss challenges to the "official story" with such terms as "Communist!" or "If you hate it here so much, why don't you just move to Russia?"- that one was always presented with much smug self-satisfaction.

      Over time, these lost their sting, probably because with the fall of the USSR, their idiocy became somewhat more obvious. So a re-focusing was imperative to do as you observed, squash that non-approved line of thinking at all costs and being branded a "Conspriacy Nut" was as good as any.

      I'll go a step farther and say the "intelligence" services have done a good deal of planting. I like to point at one, David Ickes, who exposes a lot of truth about the nature of the global plutocracy that exploits us all. But then, he wraps it all up claiming these people are in reality, shape shifting alien reptiles.


      It's a classic technique, tell the truth then poison the well it came from. It's one of many they use quite effectively to shut up people like us. And the beauty of it is, they don't have to do a damn thing, our peers do it all for them.

      A lot of people need to get their heads on straight. They can start with these rather revealing quotes;

      "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media."
      --William Colby, former CIA Director, quoted by Dave Mcgowan, Derailing Democracy

      "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month."
      --CIA operative, discussing the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. Katherine the Great, by Deborah Davis

      "There is quite an incredible spread of relationships.  You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are [Central Intelligence] Agency people at the management level."
      --William B. Bader, former CIA intelligence officer, briefing members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein

      "The Agency's relationship with [The New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials.  [It was] general Times policy ... to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible."
      --The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein

      "Senator William Proxmire has pegged the number of employees of the federal intelligence community at 148,000 ... though Proxmire's number is itself a conservative one.  The "intelligence community" is officially defined as including only those organizations that are members of the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB); a dozen other agencies, charged with both foreign and domestic intelligence chores, are not encompassed by the term....  The number of intelligence workers employed by the federal government is not 148,000, but some undetermined multiple of that number."
      --Jim Hougan, Spooks

      "For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment.  It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government....  I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations."
      --former President Harry Truman, in a letter to the Washington Post, one month after the JFK assassination, December 21, 1963

      The CIA's job #1 is to protect the Plutocracy that in reality owns and runs this hunk of earth called the United States. Even Harry Truman, the man hoodwinked by the execrable Allan Dulles into creating the CIA because he had Truman believing that though he was clearly a right winger, he was foremost a patriot and a decent man. It is perhaps the most grave mistake ever made by Truman, one we have paid for with our freedom and an honest perception of the world around us.

      "Much law, but little justice": Proverb

      by Dave925 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 01:58:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "If you hate it here so much..... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave925, Inky99

        why don't you move to Russia?" An old friend of my husbands used those exact words on my mother when she questioned the first Bush and his actions in Central America. He works in the State Department now, god help us.

        Thanks for the quotes. I have not read those books but I just may do that. Maybe we can get Carl Bernstein to write a diary. Why anyone would continue to read the NYT after they published all the Judy Miller/Iraq propaganda I will never understand.

        •  And when you think of it (0+ / 0-)

          When it comes to 9.11, the only conspiracy theory that's really far out is. . . the Government's.

          But then the "Lone Gunman" scenario (you know the one where the "assassins" all keep notebooks with words and phrases repeated over and over, suffer memory loss- well you know the drill) wouldn't really work out so well, would it?

          I'm surprised they didn't give it a try though, haha.

          That guy's in the "state Department" huh? How fitting since the US financed and ran the C.A. death squads out of the "State Department".

          "Much law, but little justice": Proverb

          by Dave925 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 10:27:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  PS (0+ / 0-)

          Check this out;

          Killing Hope

          "Much law, but little justice": Proverb

          by Dave925 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 10:28:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm beginning to think that every time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the words "conspiracy theory" are used, we are, in fact, understanding something to be true.

      We've been dismissed with this for a long long time and nearly every one of our concerns has proven true in the long run.

      Torture?  five years ago it was "a conspiracy theory", and now its becoming common wisdom.

      Smithfield is a culprit in prior behaviors, and this does seem related to their amoral production practices.
      It seems poised to create a health crisis from the concentrated, unregulated filth it generates.

      I am not eating pork products.  Learning about the sad condition of these animals, the fetid working conditions, and the environmental destruction they've already caused is enough for me.

    •  Thanks for noticing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Sadly, very few people have figured this out.

      The media is my big pet peeve (to put it mildly).   The media feeds us what they want, to control our minds and our outlooks.  They study it.   Advertising and PR and propaganda have become one and the same.

      I mean, right here we're talking about the "branding" of the Republican party and other things.   It's all about branding, manipulation, psychology, etc. etc. etc.

      William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

      by Inky99 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 10:59:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I knew where your head (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        was as soon as I started reading, probably because we share the same pet peeve. I was actually shocked however that so few others picked up on what I thought was the basis of your diary. I get what your saying about all the propaganda and PR as well. That is one of the hardest parts of this new world for me to swallow. There just doesn't seem to be an ounce of authenticity left. So much spin, so many lies, can't seem to find anybody that doesn't have an agenda and just speaks the truth. It has gotten to the point where you don't know what is real and what is false. TorcqueDeville mentioned upthread that he actually researches journalists when they write a piece to track down any PR links. My heart sank a little when I read that. It is a brilliant idea that I can't believe I didn't think of on my own, but we shouldn't have to do that.

        Anyways I am done with the television and most newspapers. Democracy Now is the only American broadcast I can watch with a straight face anymore. There is so much that has happened in Iraq that has not been reported and it makes me furious. Some things would be hard for people to hear but that is exactly why they should. I like coming here because just as I may hear things about Iraq I feel there are others here that know things about other subjects that I don't and I feel like more truth can be gained from eachother than anyone paid to report these days. Thanks for calling Reuters out. That needed to be done.

  •  I believe Smithfield (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is open to lawsuits on this issue. Both civil and criminal.

    "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

    by yuriwho on Fri May 01, 2009 at 01:34:40 AM PDT

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    Here's an article that tries to explain some of the questions raised.

  •  Evil factory farms? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "I will release the virus unless they send me One Million Dollars."

    "The dirty little secret,,,is that every republican politician wants Obama to fail,," rush limbaugh

    by irate on Fri May 01, 2009 at 03:19:27 AM PDT

  •  Something that everyone is missing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It only takes a few days to take nasal swabs from pigs and run PCR tests for flu. It take a little over a week to run the gene sequence to find out if the pigs on the farm are carrying the same flu as the people in the area. Now, if tests from the pigs were positive for the H1N1, we would have heard by now (the first case in Mexico was in February, the 5 year old boy. The first admitted case by Mexican authorities was April 5th).
    Now we hear people here making claims that flies are carrying the disease from animals to people, but flies are not a vector for the flu, which is passed through respiratory secretions, not manure.
    Whatever objections you have to Smithfield, there is simply no evidence that points to the farm being the original source of the disease at this time.

    •  flies are not a vector for the flu virus? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inky99, Jack Dublin

      Scientists are considering flies as one possible vector that may have transmitted the virus from pigs to people. Flies, experts said Tuesday, hover over vast lagoons that hold feces and other waste, byproducts of factory hog farming in Mexico.

      "The possibility that flies were vectors is being investigated now," said Dr. Kristine Smith, a veterinarian with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo. "Whether that actually happened, no one knows yet."

      So go find the people investigating this and tell them that flies can't transmit the flu virus.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Fri May 01, 2009 at 04:03:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Honestly? (0+ / 0-)

        A veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo would not be the best source for information easily available from the CDC and WHO, now would it?
        The most direct vector would be the pigs themselves, not the flies, since flu is not transmitted through feces. It's pretty basic science.

        •  Not it's not basic science (0+ / 0-)

          basic science is you consider all possibilities which you are most definitely NOT doing.

          William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

          by Inky99 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 11:47:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This isn't a new disease (0+ / 0-)

            This is influenza, a common virus among pigs, humans and birds. We've known for decades how it's spread among the three species.
            It may be a new variant of H1N1 with the two new genes, but's it's still a flu virus, which is found in lung tissue, not feces.

    •  You're being so ridiculously narrow-minded (0+ / 0-)

      The virus could have come from the farm in a myriad of ways.  From birds that eat the flies, from organisms in the groundwater, in short from ways we haven't even THOUGHT of.

      For you to suggest it's rigorous scientific procedure to simply rule something out 100%  because Smithfield's usual influenza tests on pigs showed nothing is simply mind-bogglingly narrow-minded of you and is in fact NOT remotely a scientific way of looking at the issue.

      William Casey "We will know that we have succeeded when everything the public believes is false"

      by Inky99 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 11:46:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is NAFTA Flu and media and dKos attack... (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    ticket punch

    dogs can't stand that.

    "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement." President Barack Obama

    by Jack Dublin on Fri May 01, 2009 at 04:36:34 AM PDT

  •  Wonder if Smithfield employs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, Inky99

    Burson Marsteller or BKSH . . .  yeah, a conspiracy theory . . . like torture by the Bush Administration . ...  If it stinks like a rotting pig, if it has a piggish track record in its own nation for violating environmental laws in extreme ways and must be forced to do what is right . . . if it looks to locate in nations with no environmental law, and even poorer citizens.

    Dead pigs in a WELL?  these folks are absolutely without any regard for science or humanity.  Conspiracy theories?  I smell a big firm employed to sanitize a rotting public image.

    •  My thoughts exactly. (0+ / 0-)

      Bet they hired one of those PR firms specializing in damage management.

      Hell, the pork industry association probably hired one to cover all their butts.

      Same people who have been spinning global warming lies are probably now working for the pork producers.

  •  Ugh. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Smithfield must hire the same consultants the oil companies use when they're trying to muddy the global warming waters.

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