Amid the systematic cruelties and alienating conditions which define our factory farm system, Farm Sanctuary stands out as an exemplar of human kindness. Over the past thirty years, Farm Sanctuary — co-founded and led by our guest, Gene Baur — has rescued thousands of farm animals from short, tortured lives in industrial confinement and allowed them to live out their days in comfort. There, these rescued cows, pigs, sheep and more serve as ambassadors, teaching millions of people — from schoolchildren to Hollywood stars — that farm animals are individuals with personalities and emotions and deserve to be treated as more than just widgets on an assembly line. In this episode, we speak with Baur about the origins and evolution of Farm Sanctuary, how animals who have suffered transform when they are treated with gentleness for the first time, and the globe wave of farm animal sanctuaries that his work inspired. From spur-of-the-moment calf rescues with celebrity supporters like Joaquin Phoenix to lawsuits against companies and government agencies, Baur has fought tirelessly to protect farm animals from cruelty and to promote a more compassionate world.
Author Elyssa Friedland discusses her transition from lawyer to novelist and being a creative writer in the modern world.
Hannah and Mark discuss how officers read applications, make notes, confer with colleagues, and prepare to present applicants to the Admissions Committee. Every year officers read more than 35,000 applications cover to cover and collectively make admissions decisions on each one. Admissions Officers Julian and John join as guests to discuss their strategies for reading and ratings files.
When an entire country can’t do social distancing, when thought leaders tell citizens COVID is a hoax, when a healthcare system can’t even handle a day-to-day basics – what does a national response to COVID look like? And how is it possible that countries across much of the world are completely unprepared for this crisis? What international systems are in place to fight global pandemics, and why are they failing now? For answers to these and other questions, join me as I explore the impact of COVID in the Global South with two extraordinary guests.
Benjamin Mason Meier has dedicated his life to thinking and writing about the intersection of public health and global justice. He is an Associate Professor of Global Health Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A prolific scholar, he is the author of Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World (2018), available on Amazon. His forthcoming text will be published in June 2020 by Oxford University Press: “Foundations of Global Health and Human Rights”. You can follow him on Twitter, where he is @benjaminMmeier.
My second guest, Dr. Deqo Mohamed, is an OB-GYN and the founder of the Hagarla Institute, a public health initiative in Somalia. She’s been recognized globally for her work and holds an honorary doctorate from Chatham University. For over a decade, she ran an IDP camp of over 90,000 people outside Mogadishu. Prior to that, she worked with Doctors Without Borders during Somalia’s measles outbreak. Today, she is once again bringing her intelligence, strategic thinking, human compassion, and resourcefulness to help her country brace itself for the ravages of disease – this time, COVID-19. Her Twitter handle is @dwaqaf.
The Big Picture is made possible with the support of Yale Law School’s Gruber Program on Global Justice and Women’s Rights. My producers for this episode were Tasnim Idriss and Ryan McEvoy; Allison Rabkin Golden contributed research. Our theme music was composed by Ravi Krishnaswami at COPILOT Music. For updates on future episodes of the Big Picture, you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.
Hollywood legend Michael Douglas walks Aaron through highlights of his era-defining career. They pay particular attention to Michael’s working relationship with screenwriters, including those behind Wall Street, Fatal Attraction, The American President, and many others.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aarondtracy for show updates.
The repercussions of the international wildlife trade, which is a primary driver of our planet’s biodiversity crisis, have recently hit close to home. With the society-altering impacts of Covid-19, which scientists think originated in wild animals, and the cultural storm around the Netflix hit “Tiger King,” the true cost of the wildlife trade and the U.S.’s role in driving it have become topics of national concern. In this episode, we speak with Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney Zak Smith, who has fought for years to protect at-risk wildlife from exploitation. Smith discusses his work leveraging international, federal, and state and local mechanisms to safeguard some of our planet’s most iconic species — such as vaquitas, giraffes, and elephants — and his vision for a more sustainable, equitable world.
Roughly two-thirds of emerging infectious diseases — including COVID-19 and almost all recent epidemics — originate in the bodies of animals. Microbes have spilled over from animals to humans for time immemorial, but, as our species dominates the biosphere and transforms the frequency and nature of human-animal interactions, the rate at which microbes are jumping the species barrier is rapidly accelerating. In this episode, we speak with investigative journalist Sonia Shah, author of “Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond,” about the history of viral infections and how our treatment of animals and the planet — via the burning of fossil fuels, biodiversity loss, deforestation, factory farming, the wildlife trade, and more — is fueling the eruption and spread of infectious diseases.
Emily Judd interviews Yale Divinity School professor Mary Clark Moschella about how to find one’s life purpose, focus on the positive despite obstacles, and her Yale course that brings together graduate students and incarcerated women.
In an age where almost everything we eat is produced outside of public view, whistleblowers are critical to maintaining the integrity of our food systems. These principled insiders are often the first people to warn the public — often at grave personal cost — when food is unsafe, when workers face inhumane conditions, when food labels mislead consumers, and when animals and the environment are being abused. But who defends these front-line defenders?
Our guest, attorney Amanda Hitt, has been a champion and visionary for protecting and empowering food system whistleblowers for over a decade. As the founder and director of the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign, Hitt’s clients have included USDA food safety inspectors in ultra-high-speed slaughterhouses, contract poultry farmers faced with exploitative contracts and company retaliation, and animal researchers privy to taxpayer-funded waste and cruelty. In addition to litigating whistleblowers’ cases, Hitt and her team work to draw public attention to these whistleblowers’ stories and to turn their revelations into systemic legal reforms. In this episode, Hitt takes us inside the world of animal agriculture industry whistleblowers. We speak with Hitt about her clients’ stories and motivations, the patchwork of laws that provide protections and redress for whistleblowers, the reality behind her video game “Bacon Defender,” and why food animal welfare, public health, and worker rights are inextricably intertwined.
Kaveh Madani is a Henry Hart Rice Senior Fellow at the MacMillan Center. He is an environmental scientist, educator, and activist, who works at the interface of science, policy, and society. He previously served as deputy head of Iran’s Department of Environment and is known for his role in raising public awareness about water and environmental problems there.
Learn more about Kaveh Madani.