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21 posts from April 2011

April 29, 2011

Breaking News: More than 130 Neglected Arabian Horses Rescued

Arabian horses are known as a beautiful, gentle breed, well-loved for their stamina and skill in shows. They are often pictured as the iconic image of a horse running in a field with her tail held high.

But sadly, this sought-after breed is not immune from the neglect and cruelty we’ve seen afflict far too many horses. Today, our Animal Rescue Team and equine experts are in eastern Maryland saving more than 130 Polish Arabian horses suffering from severe neglect.

Arabian horse rescued from neglect in Maryland
Mike Buscher
One of the underweight horses rescued today.

Our equine cruelty specialist, Stacy Segal, reports that Canterbury Farms was at one time a well-respected operation that imported horses from Poland and bred them for sale. However, the conditions have apparently deteriorated, and many of the animals on the property are in appalling shape.

After being alerted to this neglect by local residents, Queen Anne’s County law enforcement called in The HSUS, Day’s End Farm Horse Rescue, and the ASPCA to assist. We worked with these groups to put together a large-scale rescue operation in just a few days.

Today we found many emaciated horses lacking adequate food and suffering from serious parasite infestations and overgrown hooves. The living quarters for the horses were also unsafe, with fallen-down fences and stalls filled with rocks and accumulated manure.

We found a number of foals and young horses on the 200-acre farm, showing that breeding has been ongoing. One horse, who should have had a long life ahead of her at the age of 6, was dangerously underweight and plagued with parasites. While removing the horses from the property, rescuers discovered this suffering mare hidden under a tent. A veterinarian determined she was too far gone to be saved, and humanely euthanized her.

Though stories like this one are tragic, there are better days ahead for so many horses because of today’s rescue. Day’s End Farm will care for some of the horses at their facility in Lisbon, Md., and we’re arranging for the other horses to be boarded at area farms, where we’ll help fund their veterinary care and rehabilitation.

We're glad to be working with Day’s End and ASPCA in this effort, and we're grateful to the law enforcement officials and concerned citizens who set this rescue into motion. After legal proceedings determine the custody of these animals, we hope they can be adopted into good homes.

April 28, 2011

Talk Back: Helping Pit Bulls and Purebreds

This week, calls to remove a mobile phone app that simulates dogfighting are garnering headlines about this barbaric industry, which chews up tens of thousands of dogs a year.

Many of you were happy to read the adoption story I shared last week from the pit bull rescue group Casa Del Toro, who found a new home for several of the dogs The HSUS rescued from a large suspected fighting operation in Ohio.

Here are some of your thoughts about Abby the pit bull’s story:

I was so touched by this beautiful article—it brought tears to my eyes! I had a beautiful red nose American Staffordshire when I lived in LA a number of years ago—he was the sweetest dog you would ever meet! He was thrown out of a car by people who wanted to use him as a fighter! I was fortunate enough to adopt him—I think of him so often—I get so angry when I hear people disparage the pits and the staffs for being attack dogs—they are not! —Rosalie

Casa Del Toro in Indianapolis is a FABULOUS organization, and they have some fabulous bullies. I love all of them. Please, if you can, support their work with a contribution. —Karen

Though not yet known as a major dog welfare issue, like puppy mills or dogfighting, reckless breeding creates genetic and hereditary problems for purebred dogs. HSUS’s Purebred Paradox conference is in progress today, with veterinarians, scientists, animal protection groups, and others discussing the best way to address this crisis.

Chocolate Labrador retriever
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

Responsible breeders are motivated by the welfare and health of their dogs, but that's not so for others who try to adhere to a static conformation standard at the expense of the animals. The latter parties produce suffering and shortened life spans for countless dogs, not to mention heartache for their families.

Short-faced breeds like bulldogs and pugs are prone to breathing problems; Great Danes and other large dogs to joint problems; and dogs like boxers and shar-peis to skin and eye problems. Labrador retrievers, the most popular American purebred, are predisposed to about 50 inherited conditions.

Continue reading "Talk Back: Helping Pit Bulls and Purebreds" »

April 27, 2011

Missouri Governor Signs Bill to Undo Prop B, amid Big Ag’s Efforts to Deter Animal Protection

Earlier this afternoon, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed SB 113 to repeal Prop B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act approved by voters in November 2010. The governor made a deal with the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and some non-government parties, to support a separate bill (SB 161) to partially restore a few provisions of Prop B. He’s terming the enactment of both bills to be a compromise, and says he’s going to put more money into enforcement of the law.

Dogs at a licensed puppy mill in Missouri in 2010
Dogs at a licensed puppy mill in Missouri, one of the
"Dirty Dozen" facilities compiled by The HSUS.

In a blog last week, I examined this compromise and showed how it dramatically weakens Prop B. But more broadly, the attack in the state legislature on Prop B has been a shameful example of politics at its worst, with a narrow majority of lawmakers and now the governor subverting a vote of the people that occurred just a few months ago. Politicians refused for decades to deal with the puppy mill problem, and now after voters decided they had enough with the state’s inaction and passed a ballot initiative, the politicians in the state have decided they know better than the people.

Of course, Missouri’s puppy mill industry has always advocated for de facto de-regulation. But that bunch didn’t have the power to subvert a vote of the people. It was Missouri’s agriculture industry that provided the muscle to overturn Prop B–the same agriculture lobby that some years ago worked to pass state legislation to establish criminal penalties for documenting what occurs on factory farms.

That idea has now spread, as I’ve written recently about efforts by lawmakers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida to push sweeping measures to make it a crime to take pictures of farm animals and dogs on puppy mills. It’s aimed at HSUS and other animal protection groups that have done groundbreaking investigations that exposed cruelty, both legal and illegal.

Today, New York Times columnist Mark Bittman has a devastating column calling out agribusiness, in the wake of a deeply disturbing Mercy for Animals investigation in Texas that showed farm workers trying to kill cows with pick-axes and hammers. It’s a must-read.

The editorial board of the Times also opined against these bills, as have newspapers throughout the country and in Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.

Nearly every major improvement in the welfare of agricultural animals, as well as some notable improvements in food safety, has come about because someone exposed the conditions in which they live and die. Factory farming confines animals in highly crowded, unnatural and often unsanitary conditions. We need to know more about what goes on behind those closed doors, not less. —Editorial, New York Times, April 26, 2011

Continue reading "Missouri Governor Signs Bill to Undo Prop B, amid Big Ag’s Efforts to Deter Animal Protection" »

April 26, 2011

A Horse and Her Foal Miraculously Saved from Slaughter

Until we helped to shut them down in 2007, three U.S.-based, foreign-owned slaughter plants killed tens of thousands of American horses on American soil for export as a high-end meat product in Europe and Asia. The killer buyers have been resourceful ever since, and they've now shifted their killing of American horses to plants over the borders in Canada and Mexico, where the slaughter continues.

By all accounts, these are generally healthy animals—not the old, injured, or infirm as some like to claim. They are former racing horses, pets, and horses from all walks of life who were discarded by people who did not fulfill their responsibilities to these animals. People used them, and then shunted them aside.

Rescued foal named Moonstruck with Desiree Walling
Moonstruck the foal greets Desiree Walling.

Last year, there was a tragic illustration of how dangerous even international ground transport can be for these creatures. HSUS's Julie Hauserman related the story of a killer buyer driving toward Mexico with dozens of horses—in a trailer designed for cattle—who crashed the vehicle when he reportedly fell asleep behind the wheel in Oklahoma. Good Samaritans helped move the surviving horses off the highway, but more than a dozen animals died as a result of the trailer overturning.

When Cynthia Armstrong, our Oklahoma state director, learned about the crash and found out that the 17 remaining horses were slated to make another trip to the Mexican slaughterhouse, she and members of Blaze's Tribute Equine Rescue worked successfully to obtain their release.

Two generous HSUS donors provided funds to pay for veterinary care and to transport the animals to Blaze's Tribute in Jones, Oklahoma.

Desiree Walling with Blaze's Tribute said, "When I heard about the accident, I just knew these horses had to be saved. They had been through so much." The rescue group agreed to foster all the horses until they were ready for adoption.

Blaze’s Tribute cared for the horses and discovered that one of them, a bay mare named Catori, had been pregnant when she was rescued.

After months of waiting and special care, Catori gave birth a few weeks ago on the spring equinox, under the dramatic "supermoon,"  when the moon was full and unusually close to the Earth. The healthy foal was aptly named “Moonstruck.”

Armstrong says, "He's a symbol of hope and rebirth and the survival of all of these have this baby was an uplifting moment for all of us involved in the rescue."

Catori and Moonstruck are available for adoption, and in the meantime they are enjoying each other's company in peace on Walling's pastures. Ten of the other survivors have found good homes, thanks to Blaze's Tribute, and you can read more about the adoptable horses on their website.

In The Bond, I deconstruct the false claims of the horse-slaughter industry and their allies in agribusiness, and I also recount the story of two other survivors from this predatory industry—Mari Mariah and Josie Sahara—who were marched onto the slaughterhouse floor and then marched back out after a court order shut down operations at the plant. They’re now living the good life at our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.

The battle to save these iconic animals from the worst of fates continues. You’ll be hearing more from me about it in the months ahead—especially when your volunteer efforts and phone calls can make a difference in securing more enlightened policies for the sake of America’s horses.

April 25, 2011

Chorus of Outrage over Dogfighting Smartphone Application

Michael Vick was immersed in dogfighting for two decades, until his federal arrest and then conviction in 2007. Now, since his prison term ended, he’s volunteered with HSUS to speak to youth in urban communities throughout the country about the evils of dogfighting, in order to warn young men and kids away from the barbaric enterprise. Today, he’s joined our call to request that Android Market end its promotion of a new dogfighting application.

“I’ve come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street,” Vick said in a statement released by The HSUS today. “Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it’s important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app.”

A scarred pit bull rescued from fighting
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
The HSUS runs outreach programs and works
with law enforcement to tackle dogfighting.

The Internet is rife with outrage over a mobile app called "Dog Wars," which simulates the experience of raising dogs to fight and setting them against one another. It’s a stupid concept, really, and it’s puzzling at some level that anyone smart enough to develop an app in the first place would imagine that he or she could promote this one without provoking widespread anger. Perhaps they want to provoke, as a means of cashing in. 

This game gives detailed instructions concerning the selection of dogs, food, a feeding schedule, and items to properly condition dogs for fighting. These are virtually identical to the conditioning methods our anti-dogfighting team typically finds when working with law enforcement to raid these criminal operations.

During the last several decades, The HSUS has spearheaded the national effort to criminalize animal fighting and to see that laws against this barbaric practice are enforced. We have upgraded nearly all of the laws against animal fighting at the state and federal levels, worked with law enforcement on hundreds of criminal cases, trained thousands of law enforcement officials on investigating such crimes, and developed tip lines and rewards programs to deter and to arrest people involved in dogfighting.

Like a lot of cruelties, however, dogfighting seems at times ineradicable, with lawless people staging fights between dogs for money and the thrill of the bloodletting. That’s why, even with the general soundness of the laws, we must continue to press the battle and to work to root out animal fighting wherever we see it.

We also must work to make dogfighting as unappealing as possible to the people at risk of getting involved in the activity, challenging those who celebrate it and making it socially radioactive, since at base it is a despicable and degrading spectacle.

We must exhibit a zero-tolerance policy for this branding of dogfighting as a socially acceptable enterprise, a sort of cyber training ground for the activity. To that end, HSUS will raise these same concerns with Google, the owner of Android Market, and other stakeholders that may not have realized that some small person has developed and is distributing this Dog Wars app.

The developer of Dog Wars is hyping the game as something you’ll never see in the iPhone app store. That’s probably true, and there’s a reason for it. Cruelty is never “just a game,” and there’s no case to be made for an app that promotes one of the most widely criminalized forms of mistreatment of animals.

April 22, 2011

Rescued Pit Bull Brings Love to Her New Family

Last year when law enforcement discovered 200 dogs from a suspected fighting operation in southeast Ohio, the Jefferson County Humane Society called in HSUS’s anti-dogfighting team. We helped secure the surrender of the dogs and cared for them for more than two months with the help of so many dedicated volunteers.

Abby the pit bull with her family's grandfather
Photo courtesy of the family
Abby with her family's grandfather

Most of these dogs had been chained up outside and some had untreated medical conditions. We had each dog individually evaluated and worked to place many of them with our Emergency Services Placement Partners across the country. It's now HSUS policy to recommend that every single dog seized from the horrors of dogfighting be given an individual evaluation so that these abused creatures might have a second chance with rescue groups and adoptive families.

I wrote a few months ago about one of these rescued pit bulls, Ferdinand, who’s now in a foster home thanks to the Pittsburgh group Hello Bully. I just received another very touching story about a mother dog from the “Ohio 200,” who recently found a permanent home through Casa Del Toro Pit Bull Rescue in Indianapolis.

Casa Del Toro director Laurie Adams sent this news:

Abby, a mother dog we pulled into rescue from the Ohio 200, came to us with seven puppies. A jovial soul, Abby’s forever home still awaited her long after her puppies were adopted. Her transition from life on a chain outside to one of living indoors was the only thing that held her back from finding a new home.

The day finally came that Abby went into her foster home with one of our volunteers, Holly. Knowing that the foster parents had recently suffered a very tough loss of their long-time canine family member, we knew this would be hard for them, but nothing prepared us for what would happen next.

The family brought Abby to meet Holly's grandfather, who at the time was in hospice care. When they met, it was as if they created their own little world together. It was a well-needed event for the family, to see Grandpa smile and light up when Abby came into the room.

As the days went on and the visits grew, Grandpa would have them mark on the calendar when Abby would come back for the next visit. She had become his companion, his singing buddy, his friend. He needed her and she needed him.

When the family would walk into the room and say hello, he would look beyond them and ask, "Where's my dog?”

What was spoken between their hearts was something so special and so beautiful, that it will remain in the lives of everyone they touched, forever.

Sadly, not long afterward Holly’s grandfather passed away. The foster family has since officially adopted Abby. We learned later from the family that Grandpa had said that he had wanted to adopt Abby himself, but knew that he couldn't. The reality is there's no piece of paper we could ever produce that would define adoption...They had already signed that contract with their hearts the moment they met.

Their bond is a stark reminder of the incredible bond between human and animal. This was no ordinary friendship. This was a true bond, one of true healing.

If I ever doubted the depth and healing power that an animal can bring to our lives and ours to theirs, all doubt was removed after this.

P.S. You can find out more about the other Ohio 200 dogs still available for adoption through rescue groups.

April 21, 2011

Perhaps the Biggest Dog Welfare Issue of All

For those of us who care about dogs, there is nothing more violent than dogfighting. We know of the misery, especially for the breeding females, produced by the puppy mill industry. We know that euthanasia in shelters is a tragedy we can prevent if we find the will and the creativity to solve the problem.

But perhaps the biggest dog welfare issue in America is the reckless breeding of purebred dogs, which produces an incredible laundry list of inherited disorders, congenital health problems, and welfare concerns for the animals. In The Bond, I take this issue head-on, calling out the American Kennel Club and other breed registry groups for their mania in valuing the exterior appearance of the animals rather than the underlying health and wellness of the dogs. (I also document their consistent opposition to legislation to crack down on puppy mills and to establish humane care standards for dogs.)

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Kathy Milani/The HSUS

On April 28-29, at its inaugural conference, “The Purebred Paradox,” the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy (HSISP) will tackle the subject of purebred dog health and welfare with the help of a distinguished group of scientists, veterinarians, and others with outstanding expertise in the field of canine genetics and health.

The HSISP conference, co-sponsored with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, will focus on the health and welfare problems stemming from poor breeding practices. Inherited diseases, disorders, and body malformations produce shortened life spans, chronic pain, and a diminished quality of life for dogs—and they land the animals, if their owners have the resources, in the hospital for multiple veterinary procedures and for the convalescence required.

Just two weeks ago, Delta followed the lead of many other airlines in not allowing bulldogs to be shipped in cargo, because the dogs simply cannot breathe well with their flattened noses and faces and they are susceptible to death on flights. I love bulldogs, and have known many of these wonderful animals through the years, but they are only the most extreme example of how breeding for certain physical characteristics leaves the animals in a weakened and compromised health circumstance every day, throughout their lives.

Until very recently, the AKC and its British counterpart, the Kennel Club, have had no health and welfare standards in their judging contests, just conformation standards for the breeds. Likewise, there were no restrictions on the practice of breeding together closely related dogs. Under pressure from the RSPCA and other animal-welfare groups, the U.K.-based Kennel Club has taken some good steps toward reform in the last two years, and the AKC needs to do the same. The AKC has been beholden to large-scale commercial breeders that pay license fees for registration, but that conflict must not stop this organization from doing the right thing for dogs. 

In recent years, the AKC has made some meaningful financial investment into research into canine health issues tied to breeding. But this is a dog welfare crisis of the highest order, and now we must see not only the application of this research, but also common-sense principles and an end to unacceptable conformation standards. The AKC has to begin to sync up its rhetoric about caring for dogs with its actions. 

Every dog lover should be on the same page on this issue, and no one—least of all those in the world of the dog fancy—should settle for anything less than the highest health standards for the animals we love so much.

April 20, 2011

Help Rabbits by Leaving Them Out of the Easter Basket

Easter is a time of special significance for Christians, but it's also a time when shelter workers and rescues must bear the burden of having to deal with the annual influx of abandoned and relinquished pet rabbits, usually the result of impulse acquisitions. Predictably though, the new owners often realize they're in for more in the way of animal care than they bargained for. Though rabbits can be wonderful company and lots of fun, they are demanding, and you've got to make sure you have the time and energy and resources to attend to their special needs.

Rabbit aficionado Adam Goldfarb, the director of HSUS’s Pets at Risk program, explains why bunnies don’t belong in your Easter basket, though they can be great companions if you decide you’re ready to adopt:

I know from experience that rabbits can be wonderful pets—they’re smart, silly, and far more complex than most people realize. And with proper care, they can live to be more than 10 years old.

But the tragedy is that many people still think that rabbits are good “starter pets” for children, or a cute Easter gift, when in fact they often don’t do well with small children and require special food and care. Just like any pet, bringing a rabbit into your family is a serious, long-term commitment.

Domestic rabbits are an entirely different species from wild rabbits and can weigh from as little as 2 pounds to well over 20 pounds. Their ears might be up, down, or in-between, and their coats can be spotted, striped, or patterned in a variety of colors.

Just like dogs and cats, every rabbit is an individual with his or her own personality. Some are wild acrobats who enjoy running, jumping, and playing; others are more sedate and are content to relax in their favorite spot. Though most rabbits don’t enjoy being picked up and handled, they do tend to enjoy having their head rubbed gently.

Pet rabbit named Topper
Goldfarb's rabbit Topper

Many rabbits today live as indoor pets. Though they have a large cage or pen as their base of operations, they also enjoy having a lot of time to run free through the home. Rabbit-proofing your home is a must, but once that’s done, rabbits love to explore new spaces. Some may even hop up on the couch to join you while you read a book or watch TV.

In addition to space to hop around, rabbits need chew toys and a healthy diet with plenty of timothy hay and dark, leafy green vegetables.

Before you run out to get your very own cuddle bunny, it’s important to understand the rabbit psyche. Rabbits are social creatures, so consider adopting a bonded pair or trio. Also, they are prey animals and have a different worldview than their canine and feline friends. They can be easily stressed by loud noises or car rides, and stress can have a major impact on their health.

If you’re thinking about adding a rabbit to your family, do research ahead of time. You can learn a lot about rabbit care through books and websites. Also, contact your local animal shelter and rabbit rescues to meet some rabbits and talk with experts.

If you’re seriously considering a fuzzy, long-eared friend, contact your local shelter or rescue about adopting. There are thousands of homeless rabbits waiting for good homes at animal shelters and rabbit rescue groups.

April 19, 2011

Missouri Deal Would Leave Dogs Out in the Cold

With some fanfare, a “compromise” in Missouri was announced between some traditional political adversaries on Prop B yesterday. Since the November election, the coalition of animal protection organizations that pushed for the passage of this anti-puppy mill measure wanted to see the will of the people respected. But knowing the composition of the state legislature, and the hostility of the Republican leadership in both chambers to Prop B, we knew that we’d have to entertain compromise on some elements of the agreement, in order to protect the measure for the long term and to obviate the need for a second public vote on the issue.

The opponents of Prop B didn’t want to compromise on its core elements, and they charged ahead with a bill to repeal it (SB 113, which passed both chambers).

Dogs in cages at a Missouri puppy mill
Dogs in wire cages at a Missouri puppy mill in 2010

Yesterday the situation turned fairly dramatically, with an announcement that two respected Missouri animal welfare groups had reached an accord with the trade associations for the puppy mill industry and the agriculture industry. The HSUS, the ASPCA, and Best Friends Animal Society don’t believe that the arrangement reached yesterday adequately protects Prop B.

A compromise, in this context, would have entailed some movement from both sides but ensured that Prop B remains largely intact. But this deal does fundamental damage to Prop B:


  • Prop B established a limit on the number of breeding dogs at 50, and that provision is gone. There’s not even a requirement that if you have 500 or 1,000 dogs you have to have enough staff on hand to care for the dogs. 
  • Prop B called for breeding females to have a rest every third heat cycle. The new measure allows dogs to be bred every heat cycle for their entire lives.
  • Prop B required an outdoor exercise area at least twice the size of a dog's indoor enclosure, so that dogs would not spend their whole life crammed in cages. This new measure requires an "outdoor run" but does not mandate any particular size, and allows the state Department of Agriculture to waive this vague mandate in regulations.
  • Prop B required veterinary care for illness or injury, but the new measure allows such care to be withheld anytime a breeder decides on his or her own that a condition is not "serious."
  • Prop B called for no stacking of cages, but the new measure allows it, as long as there is an impervious barrier between the cages. Cage stacking is a recipe for the type of overcrowding that defines the worst puppy mills.
  • Prop B stipulated no wire flooring, but the new provision allows for wire flooring as long as it’s encased. Coated wire flooring still harms dogs' paws and is unacceptable.

The new language weakens the space requirements in Prop B, and it’s extremely vague and unclear. What’s more, breeders will have five years to come into compliance with it, and that’s inordinately long in this context.

We strongly support more robust funding for enforcement of commercial dog breeding operations, as the governor proposed last week. But there’s no reason to calve off large portions of Prop B in order to have adequate enforcement. It’s a false choice, and it smacks of political extortion: agree to these changes, or we’ll defund enforcement.

HSUS believes that compromise is an important part of the political process. All along, we’ve been open to real compromise. But we insist on getting something meaningful in the process for animals, and we also believe in respecting the free and fair election on this subject that occurred less than six months ago. Missouri voters heard from both sides, read the clear ballot language about the provisions of Prop B, and made their judgment. In this case, this compromise falls far short of Prop B in protecting breeding dogs from unnecessary suffering, and it’s not worthy of support.

April 18, 2011

On the Air: Ellen Lends Her Voice to Help Animals

Ellen DeGeneres is much more than a great talk show host and a comedian. She’s a socially aware person, and she’s an advocate for animals. Today, I was pleased to be a guest on her show about my new book, The Bond. She’s one of my favorite people, and she is helping to make such a difference.

Wayne Pacelle on the Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Ellen DeGeneres Show

We spoke about the landmark Prop 2 campaign in California, and she had a mighty role in it, helping raise awareness and funds for the campaign to phase out the extreme confinement of certain farm animals. On the show, we also discussed the outrageous effort in Missouri by state lawmakers to undo Prop B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act. Both she and I implored her viewers to contact Gov. Jay Nixon (573-751-3222) to urge him to veto SB 113.

Last night, we had another standing-room only crowd in New Canaan, Conn., for my book tour. Tonight, I’m in Portland, Maine, at the University of Maine. And tomorrow, I’m in Cambridge, Mass., on the Harvard campus. I head to the Philadelphia Public Library on Wednesday night, and then to the flagship Barnes & Noble at Union Square in Manhattan on Thursday. 

You can read about future tour dates by going to

P.S. If you can’t didn’t catch Ellen today, you can watch the video here or listen to a few other interviews I’ve conducted on my tour: with NPR’s Scott Simon, KQED’s Michael Krasny, and KCRW’s Warren Olney.