Worldlog week 28 – 2014

7 juli 2014

Last week it was the last week before the recess and we managed to achieve some wonderful successes. First of all, the use of electrical shocks on tied cows will be banned. I already addressed this subject in my previous Worldlog. The permanent tying of cattle and the use of electrical shocks to force the animal not to relieve itself in its resting area does not suit a civilised country. Every year, 93,000 milk cows and 66,000 calves are permanently tied.

And secondly, Goose Pulling, a Dutch Carnival tradition, where the heads of killed geese are pulled off, has been banned since last week. After years of urging, private individuals may, by law, no longer kill geese. With this, an end has come to the barbaric popular entertainment Goose Pulling. Yes!

Up until now, every year, goose pulling was organised in the Dutch village of Grevenbicht. During this Carnival game, men riding on a horseback try to pull off the head from the body of a dead goose while they gallop under the animal, which is hung by its legs. The horseman who pulls off the head of the goose has won. Geese are killed especially for this cruel entertainment.

We want to get rid of any entertainment and folklore that infringes the integrity and the welfare of animals. That is the reason why my colleague Esther Ouwehand called for a motion to end all animal-unfriendly traditions. But unfortunately it was rejected. Politics is seemingly unable to abolish such cruel traditions. We will keep doing our best!

Our new MEP Anja Hazekamp immediately made the news this week. She refused to accept a welcome gift with foie gras, which MEPs were offered on their first visit to Strasbourg this week. Go Anja!

The foie gras parcel offered to the MEPs was a gift from the lobbying organisation ‘Campaign for the European Democracy’, which wants to maintain Strasbourg as meeting place of the European Parliament. This gift was by chance sponsored by the Municipality of Strasbourg, Air France KLM and the Strasbourg catering industry…

Anja said: “The production of fat goose and duck liver is accompanied by serious cruelty to animals. The birds are force-fed a few times a day, which is extremely stressful and painful. That is why force-feeding is prohibited in most European countries. We find it objectionable that a city wishes to promote itself by trampling on animals. We already objected to the monthly travelling to and from Strasbourg and this foie gras parcel did certainly not help.”

I have also asked parliamentary questions on a Facebook experiment that tried manipulating the moods and emotions of users. Facebook tested on 689,000 Facebook users if it could manipulate their moods and emotions by altering newsfeeds. We want the privacy of Facebook users, among which are many minors, to be protected and social media services should ask for explicit permission from users if they intend to perform such experiments.

Social media and search engines are gaining more and more influence on our behaviour and the public opinion. It is permitted to influence, but a clear line should be drawn and providers must be open about steering behaviour.

Apart from our objections to the Facebook experiment, we also want to express our concerns about the privacy of Facebook users. It appears that Facebook passes on telephone numbers and addresses of users to bailiffs, banks, judicial authorities and advertising agencies; no matter if profiles are public or protected. For many users it is hard to understand what Facebook does with their information, not even after they have read the terms. It must change!

Something to start the week with: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Meat But Were Afraid To Ask

Until soon! Marianne