The PACT Act hopes to ban animal cruelty at the federal level

February 4, 2019 by  
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Even though it has been a federal crime to create and distribute animal torture videos for nearly a decade, the actual act of animal torture has not been banned at the federal level. Now, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) are trying to change that with the re-introduction of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT Act). If passed, the PACT Act would prohibit “intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm,” according to a press release . The law would also make it easier for U.S. attorneys to prosecute the horrible acts, and those convicted would face seven years in prison plus fines. Related: New Jersey first state to ban wild animals in circuses Currently, all 50 states have separate laws against animal cruelty . However, according to CNN , the federal statute would allow authorities to go after criminals who cross state lines or torture animals on federal property. Rep. Buchanan said that animal torture is “abhorrent,” and we should be punishing people who commit this act “to the fullest extent of the law.” Buchanan added that protecting animals from cruelty is one of his top priorities. Rep. Deutch said the legislation is “common sense,” and animal welfare is an important issue for many Americans. He explained that Congress should build on current state and local laws to guarantee animals a level of protection throughout the entire country. According to the press release, there are exceptions included in the law, such as “normal veterinary care, hunting and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal.” Multiple groups have endorsed the legislation, including The National Sheriffs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Humane Society of the United States. In a petition to garner support for the bill, the Humane Society wrote that even though every state has felony penalties for malicious cruelty, we need a federal law to close the gap for when it occurs on federal property or in interstate commerce. + PACT Act Via EcoWatch Images via Kimdewar0 and Timur85

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The PACT Act hopes to ban animal cruelty at the federal level

Green-roofed Hanging Villa is embedded into a lush jungle landscape

February 4, 2019 by  
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Architect Tonny Wirawan Suriajaja of Jakarta-based design firm TWS & Partners has created a spacious family retreat that takes advantage of its verdant and paradise-like valley setting in more ways than one. Tucked into the side of a lush mountain far away from snarling traffic in Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province, Hanging Villa is an urban respite that boasts spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and harnesses solar gain and cross breezes for natural heating and cooling. To integrate the building into the landscape, mainly natural materials and an earthy color palette were used to enhance the surrounding view. Commissioned by a client who values large family gatherings as well as personal space, Hanging Villa includes a mix of large communal areas and separate private spaces. The multi-level building consists of a series of stacked volumes rotated on their corner axes to optimize views in multiple directions. The outdoor spaces — such as the accessible green roof , roof deck and outdoor pool — have also been created to accommodate larger groups and various events. To seamlessly connect the interiors with the exterior spaces, the architects used timber and other natural materials to dress the interiors and also installed full-height glazing throughout. The building has also been strategically oriented to optimize views and access to natural light and natural cross ventilation. Meanwhile, insulating glass and other materials help prevent heat loss without creating indoor humidity. Related: This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Bali’s tropics “The design creates a healthy indoor environment quality by adequate ventilation , which leads to the increase of comfort and health benefits for the occupants,” the firm explained. “The shallow pool function as an element that produces a cool refreshing breeze as the wind flows into the building while benefiting the occupant by reducing the operating cost of using air-conditioner.” + TWS & Partners Via ArchDaily Photography by Fernando Gomulya via TWS & Partners

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Green-roofed Hanging Villa is embedded into a lush jungle landscape

Is a tiny home right for you?

February 4, 2019 by  
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Tiny house living is obviously more affordable compared to living in a traditional home, and it offers mobility and a smaller carbon footprint. The visible drawbacks are lack of storage space and fewer amenities, but there are more pros and cons to tiny house living that you might not have thought of. And what is a good thing today might end up being a negative down the road. Here are some expected — and not so expected — pros and cons to tiny house living that you should know if you are considering joining the tiny house community. Pros Less to clean Of course, less space means fewer things for you to clean in your tiny home . So, you can do everything you need to do in just minutes to make sure your home is clean and organized. Even a deep clean will only take you a couple of hours. Mobility Tiny house living combines the best parts of living in a traditional house with the best of living in a travel trailer or camper. You can have those must-have comforts like a washer and dryer or heat and AC, but you are also able to easily travel at the same time. You can place them on a trailer and go wherever you want, whenever you want — especially when your tiny home is custom built for travel. You can work from home and be on the road at the same time. Money The rate of home ownership in the tiny house community is 78 percent, compared to 65 percent for traditional homeownership. On top of that, 68 percent of tiny homeowners don’t have a mortgage, and that can free up a lot of cash. One out of three tiny house owners have at least $10,000 saved for retirement. Maintenance and utility costs are low, and renting a spot at an RV park or campground is much cheaper than paying rent for an apartment. Another pro is that you can splurge on upgrades in your home since you are building such a small space. Think hardwood or bamboo floors or exotic interior woods. Related: This countertop dishwasher promises to wash your dishes in just 10 minutes Less consumption When you only have about 300 square feet to work with, you are forced to consume less. If you can’t fit things into your cupboards and closets, you will have to buy fewer items when you go to the grocery store — and that means less waste. Also, since you can’t store food, you will buy fresh veggies, fruits, and seafood, which means healthier cooking . Energy efficiency Heating and cooling a small space can be done with a small window unit and propane tanks, or you can opt for solar panels. So, tiny house living automatically means built-in energy efficiency. But depending on where you live, the summer heat might be tough competition for a small window AC unit. No septic system required If you build a tiny home in the city, you can connect to a sewer system to enjoy modern plumbing. Remote tiny houses don’t require a septic system because you can use a composting toilet that will need cleaned about once every six weeks. You could also install a black water tank and plumbing for traditional flushing on a portable home if a composting toilet doesn’t sound like an attractive option. Cons The legal gray areas With tiny house living still being relatively new, you can find yourself in a legal gray area in many parts of the country. Some places might classify you as an RV, so you will need to park your tiny home in an RV park . But some places don’t consider tiny homes RVs, and instead, classify them as a house. And, depending on if you are traveling or looking for a permanent spot, you can end up in a legal black hole or have a lot of red tape to deal with. If you are wanting to build a tiny home in a permanent location, some communities and neighborhoods have building codes that dictate the minimum size of a home, so a tiny home might not be approved. Cleaning more often There might not be a lot to clean, which saves you time. But, the tiniest bit of disorganization can feel like a disaster in 250 square feet. So, you will need to clean your tiny home more often if you want to avoid a constant mess. Related: Potato peels offer a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials Unsustainable packaging Living in a tiny home makes it extremely difficult to buy items in bulk and use sustainable packaging. If you have zero storage space for those items, or if you are parked in a location that doesn’t have easy access to sustainable products, this means you might have to buy more items in unsustainable packaging. Towing challenges If you want to move to a tiny house so you can easily travel, that means that you will need to buy a large truck for towing. This will mean lower gas mileage and the smaller carbon footprint from your tiny house will be offset by the emissions from your big pickup truck. Accessible storage You can design your tiny home to have more storage than most people would expect. The problem is that those areas might not be very easy to reach. You can’t put everything in dressers or on counters. So, if you need to access things that are in those built-in storage spaces, it can be difficult or frustrating. Images via WinnieC , Shutterstock

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Taiwan is first Asian country to ban eating cats and dogs

April 18, 2017 by  
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Even abject carnivores in the West balk at the idea of raising dogs and cats for their meat, but East and Southeast Asian countries, particularly those mired in poverty, do not share those qualms. As incomes, not to mention concerns over animal welfare, continue to grow in those regions, however, the practice is slowly but steadily on the decline . Taiwan is willing to take the next leap: outlawing it altogether. Legislature passed recently will make the island nation the first in Asia to ban dog and cat consumption, according to Newsweek . After Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen signs the amendments, anyone caught eating dog or cat meat will be fined $8,000. Those involved in slaughtering the animals could face two years in jail and a $60,000 fine. Related: Killing dogs and cats for meat is still legal in 44 U.S. states The move dovetails with an earlier law, passed in 2001, that made illegal the sale of meat and fur of pets for so-called “economic purposes.” Tsai herself is a known animal lover. Last year, she adopted three retired guide dogs, who now cohabit a home with Tsai’s two cats, Think Think and A-Tsai. Via Newsweek Photos by Unsplash

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"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

March 23, 2017 by  
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A venerated sea turtle who was fed hundreds of coins by supplicants seeking good fortune is dead . The 25-year-old animal was living in a pond in a town near the Gulf of Thailand in late February when rescuers found her close to drowning from the weight of her cache—about 11 pounds worth. After naming her Omsin, which is Thai for “piggy bank,” a team of veterinary surgeons operated on the turtle for seven hours. By the time they were finished, they had filled a bucket with 915 coins, in currencies both foreign and domestic. Omsin was expected to survive, if not thrive. By all accounts, her rehabilitation at Bangkok’s Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animals Research Center went smoothly. She received laser therapy on her belly incision. A large kiddie pool, coupled with physical therapy for a wonky flipper, helped her ease back into water. Following a liquid diet, Omsin returned to eating solid food. “She is getting stronger,” Nantarika Chansue, a veterinary scientist who tracked Omsin’s progress on Facebook, wrote on March 9. Just as her doctors began planning her release to the wild, Omsin’s condition suddenly deteriorated. They found her intestines in a tangle in the space where the coins once filled. An infection had developed, causing her abdomen to swell up with gas and fluid. Related: Sea turtle is rescued after being dragged onto a beach and beaten for selfies Despite rushing the turtle into intensive care on Sunday night, then emergency surgery on Monday, Omsin lapsed into a comma. On Tuesday, she died, a victim of ignorance and superstition. “At 10:10 a.m., she went with peace,” Nantarika said during a news conference. Visibly weeping, she called Omsin her “friend, teacher and patient.” Nantarika was comforted by just one thought. “She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed,” she said. Via the Washington Post Photos by Unsplash

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"Piggy Bank," a turtle that swallowed 915 coins, has died

Chinese circus ties up endangered tiger so that visitors can take selfies

January 12, 2017 by  
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A horrifying video posted on Chinese video platform iQiyi shows circus trainers brutally binding a tiger to a metal table – all for the sake of selfie photographs. The animal is believed to be an endangered Siberian tiger, and it was cruelly lashed down so that children and adults could sit on its back for photos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4SDV_Xi3To The video’s description says the circus was performing in the Hunan province, and that the tiger was strapped down “to be safe for everyone to take pictures – but the expression of the tiger is very desperate.” When the tiger was finally freed, it bounded up and dashed away from the table. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China Mashable reports that in China the God of Wealth is often portrayed sitting on tigers, and the act is associated with the deity. In the video a small child can be heard saying (as translated by Mashable), “I’m scared, I’m scared,” and one trainer responded, “Isn’t it cool to sit on a tiger? It can keep you away from the devil and earn you promotions and wealth.” Many commenters condemned the actions of the trainers and the parents who gleefully allowed their children to sit on the poor tiger. One iQiyi user said, “What kind of values are these parents teaching their children?” Another user wrote, “You can’t earn much from this, and instead you’ve brought so much pain to the animal, do you think it’s worth it?” Siberian tigers, also called Amur tigers, are found in the Russian Far East, China’s border areas, and possibly in North Korea, according to the World Wildlife Fund . There are only up to 540 of the endangered tigers left in the world. Via Mashable Images via screenshot

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"World’s saddest polar bear" will get temporary reprieve from tiny mall cage

November 14, 2016 by  
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Pizza the polar bear , known as the “world’s saddest polar bear,” will get a temporary reprieve from her cage at the Grandview Mall Aquarium in Guangzhou, China . As the mall makes minor alterations, Pizza will temporarily return to her birthplace, according to the aquarium . But many animal rights organizations say the sorrowful polar bear should not have to live in a mall at all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yuRaNlx0bk “Pizza the polar bear will temporarily leave Guangzhou and return to her birthplace,” The Grandview Mall Aquarium said on their social media account on WeChat . The three-year-old polar bear was born at a zoo in Tianjin, a city in northeastern China, according to The Guardian. The mall did not state when Pizza would return, but in the meantime, their facilities will undergo renovations. The New York Times said Pizza’s enclosure will be doubled as part of the alterations, based on an article in The Guangzhou Daily. Related: “World’s saddest polar bear” offered new home at UK wildlife park Several other animals, including beluga whales, arctic foxes, walruses and a wolf also live at the Grandview Mall Aquarium, and animal rights campaigners say their predicament should not be forgotten. Capital Animal Welfare Association Director Qin Xiaona told The New York Times, “We still want to see the aquarium closed once and for all, to see all the animals moved.” Back in October, three Chinese organizations and Humane Society International (HSI) spoke out about Pizza’s ongoing plight, pointing to videos of the polar bear pacing and swinging her head as confirmation of her declining mental state. The groups said the mall should be shut down. HSI campaigner Peter Li told The Guardian, “No amount of renovation could ever make a shopping mall a suitable place for this animal.” He said it would be cruel and heartless to return Pizza to the Grandview Mall Aquarium. Via The Guardian and The New York Times Images via screenshot

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Chimpanzee smokes a pack of cigarettes a day in North Korean zoo

October 20, 2016 by  
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The Pyongyang Central Zoo in North Korea recently reopened its doors to flocks of curious visitors, however one of the zoo’s attractions has set off alarms overseas. Azalea is a 19-year-old cigarette-smoking chimpanzee who apparently lights up a pack a day . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPLipOhxJKc Azalea the chimpanzee reportedly lights her own cigarettes using a lighter, according to The Guardian . However, the zoo claims she does not inhale. Teaching animals to do tricks is not a new gimmick for the zoo, as there is also a monkey there trained to dunk basketballs. Exotic animals and a dog pavilion are pulling in huge crowds, despite the organization’s sordid past. Related: North Korean construction workers fed crystal meth to accelerate skyscraper project Pyongyang Central Zoo has received criticism for having “ woefully inadequate ” facilities for the animals housed there, and some suggest ties to dog fighting for profit . Animal rights activists will be unimpressed with the zoo’s so-called upgrades, as a leap from animal cruelty to exploitative entertainment isn’t that far of a leap at all. Via The Guardian Images via The Guardian (screenshot)

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Chimpanzee smokes a pack of cigarettes a day in North Korean zoo

LEED Gold Hankook Tire R+D Centre harvests rainwater for cooling in Asias Silicon Valley

October 20, 2016 by  
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Developed to attract the industry’s top talent, the 96,328-square-meter research and development center aspires to be an inspirational place to work and one that encourages collaboration and social interaction. The contemporary glazed building is housed beneath a floating silver roof with long overhangs that shield the interior from unwanted solar gain and gives the structure a mysterious quality. The interior is organized along a top-lit central spine flanked by research spaces and bookended by the entrance on one end and a restaurant on the other. The spatial layout is flexible to allow for future changes and steps up from four to six stories. Related: Foster + Partners breaks ground on Ferring Pharamceuticals’ headquarters in Copenhagen “The key design objectives for, the Hankook Technodome were two-fold – to reinvent the Hankook Tire’s image and to create an integrated working environment for the office and laboratory staff,” says Iwan Jones, Partner at Foster + Partners. “The spatial arrangement encourages visual connectivity and physical interaction. Testing facilities are on display and circulation and meeting spaces are shared to enhance interaction.” The LEED Gold facility captures waste heat and reuses it for heating the adjacent dormitory that accommodates visitors and staff. Harvested rainwater is stored at the lake at the southern entrance and used for cooling. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , © Nigel Young

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LEED Gold Hankook Tire R+D Centre harvests rainwater for cooling in Asias Silicon Valley

Is our coconut demand making slaves of monkeys?

November 2, 2015 by  
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It’s safe to say much of the world is cuckoo for coconuts. From cosmetics to curry, the sweet white meat of this hard-shelled drupe is in high demand. Someone has to get those coconuts down from the high trees they grow upon, and the labor force at work on coconut farms might surprise you. If your coconut products come from a place like Thailand , there’s a good chance that monkeys picked them for you . Coconut farmers in Thailand have been raising and training monkeys to harvest coconuts for hundreds of years. Is it a cruel practice, or are the primates simply a different kind of working farm animal? Read the rest of Is our coconut demand making slaves of monkeys?

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