The Countdown 2019.10.18

Children watch as army tanks are transported on trucks in the outskirts of the town of Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at he border of Syria, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, heading a delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, arrived in Turkey on Thursday, a day after Trump dismissed the very crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Via AP: Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. FIGHTING IN KURDISH-HELD SYRIAN TOWN PERSISTS

AP journalists witness continued fighting in a northeast Syrian town at the center of the fight between Turkey and Kurdish forces, despite a U.S.-brokered cease-fire that went into effect hours earlier.

2. ‘A GREAT DAY FOR CIVILIZATION’

Trump hails a cease-fire deal with Turkey, but its effect was largely to mitigate a grave foreign policy crisis of his own creation.

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces that the G7 will be held at Trump National Doral, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

3. WHITE HOUSE SHIFTS POSITION ON UKRAINE

Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff, acknowledges that Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Ukraine was linked to his demand that Kyiv investigate the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

4. JOHNSON SEEKS SUPPORT FOR BREXIT DEAL

After winning support of EU leaders for his divorce deal, the prime minister is back in London to try to secure backing from the fractious British Parliament.

5. DEEP-SEA EXPEDITION FOR ‘WAR GRAVES’

Explorers are scouring for sunken World War II ships in debris fields in the Pacific, an area where one of the most decisive battles of the time took place.

6. WHY HONG KONG TOURISTS SEE SILVER LINING

Some intrepid visitors are coming specifically to see the protests and are reveling in deep discounts and unusually short lines at tourist hotspots.

7. POLICE GET COOLING OFF PERIOD BEFORE QUESTIONED IN SHOOTINGS

After an officer fatally shoots someone, they are given days or even weeks before they have to answer for it, angering community activists and others seeking reforms.

8. TRUDEAU FIGHTING FOR POLITICAL SURVIVAL

Once a rock star on the global stage, the Canadian prime minister could lose office in national elections next week.

9. TROPICAL STORM LIKELY ALONG GULF COAST

Forecasters issue a tropical storm warning for southeastern Louisiana as well as the northern Gulf Coast from the Alabama-Mississippi line to Yankeetown, Florida.

Houston Astros’ George Springer (4) celebrates with Martin Maldonado, right, and Carlos Correa after hitting a three-run home run against the New York Yankees during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball’s American League Championship Series, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

10. HOUSTON ON VERGE OF FALL CLASSIC

George Springer and Carlos Correa each hit three-run homers and the Astros beat the Yankees 8-3 to close in on a second World Series visit in three years.

Diestel Turkey Ranch Launches Campaign to “Refresh Brand” After Whistleblower Footage of Injured Birds Puts Their Name in Mud.

“Thoughtfully raised” turkeys inside a Jamestown, CA Diestel facility

After a 2015 Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) investigation of Diestel Turkey Ranch based in Sonora, CA (covered in the Washington Post, Slate and the Wall Street Journal) revealed what activists say is a very different reality from the idyllic animal welfare marketing of the lauded supplier, the group filed suit against Diestel for violations of California’s False Advertising Law in 2017. That lawsuit goes to trial beginning today, and is expected to conclude Thursday or Friday.

Investigators say they discovered that turkeys marketed as “range grown,” “thoughtfully raised,” and “enhanced outdoor access” were in fact living indoors in massive industrial sheds — never going outside. Many animals at the facility were diseased, dead and dying (FULL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT). They say Whole Foods’ advertising of Diestel turkey came from a non-commercial “Step 5+” “showcase” farm. Documentation obtained through discovery reveals that fewer than 1% of Diestel turkeys were raised in the Step 5 or 5+ conditions Diestel prominently advertised.

DxE’s suit demands that Diestel cease their misleading marketing. Activists say the outcome could set a powerful precedent for ordinary people to hold corporations to account.

DxE says the Diestel situation is one poignant example of a broader issue. Increasingly-conscientious consumers demand a high degree of animal welfare. But companies such as Amazon/ Whole Foods are unwilling to bear the cost to actually implement such measures, they simply must cut corners if they want to sell conscious animal products at all. Their business model is reliant on a legal system which systematically elevates corporate interests over individuals, and it’s only by virtue of ordinary people undertaking extraordinary actions (often with extraordinary risk and/or cost) that things can be made right.

“Diestel and Whole Foods are distorting consumer perceptions,” said Kitty Jones, one of the investigators of the Diestel facility. “Consumers and animals both pay the price for that fraud.”

Aside from the Diestel case, multiple investigations challenging the Whole Foods’ animal welfare claims have resulted in aggressive legal action not against the company but against the whistleblowers. Most recently, Whole Foods filed for a statewide restraining order, banning DxE activists from protesting at all CA stores, following San Francisco demonstrations at Whole Foods and Amazon locations last month, which resulted in 37 arrests.

“We believe ordinary Americans feel compassion for animals. That’s why they are willing to pay a premium for what they think is ‘humane’ meat,” said Diestel investigator Priya Sawhney. “But the truth is the birds at Diestel’s farms suffer tremendously.”