The Killing Fields of South Africa: Eco-Wars, Species Apartheid, and Total Liberation [1]

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Dr. Steven Best
11/04/08

“Animals are those unfortunate slaves and victims of the most brutal part of mankind.” John Stuart Mill

In South Africa, the elephant has emerged at the center of heated political debates and culture wars, as the government and national park system maneuvers to return to the practice of “culling”—a hideous euphemism for mass murder of elephants.[2] Culling advocates—including government officials, park service bureaucrats, ecologists, “conservationists,” large environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, farmers, and villagers—argue that elephants have had deleterious effects on habitat and biodiversity and their herds need to be “managed” and reduced. Farmers and villagers complain that elephants are breaking reserve fences, destroying their crops, competing with their livestock for food, endangering physical safety and sometimes attacking and killing humans. The consensus among these parties is that biodiversity, ecological balance, and human interests trump the lives and interests of elephants, and that the most efficient solution to the “elephant problem” is the final solution of culling thousands of lives.

Opponents of culling include animal activists in South Africa and the world at large, ecologists, and thousands of Western tourists fond of elephants and the desire to see them in their natural habitat. In addition to the moral argument that elephants have intrinsic value and the right to exist—quite independent of their utility for humans—critics dismiss the claim that elephants threaten habitats and biodiversity. They emphasize that numerous alternatives to controlling elephant populations other than gunning them down exist, such as contraceptives and creating corridors between parks to allow more even population distribution. Against hunters and villagers alike, many culling opponents argue that elephants are worth much more alive than dead, and that elephants and humans alike win by developing the potential of ecotourism. The ethically and scientifically correct policies are not being adopted, critics argue, because government and “conservationists” are allied with the gaming, hunting, and ivory industries, and all favor a “quick fix” over a real solution. Animal advocates worry that the resumption of culling will reopen the global trade of ivory and argue that the ivory industry is driving this policy change.

This essay supports the rights of elephants to live and thrive in suitable natural environments and opposes all justifications for culling elephants and exploiting African wildlife in general.[3] My purview is much broader than elephants, hunting, and the ivory trade, however, as I see the human-elephant “conflict” as a microcosm of the global social and ecological crisis that involves phenomena such as transnational corporate power, state totalitarianism, militarism, chronic conflict and warfare, terrorism, global warming, species extinction, air and water pollution, and resource scarcity. The approach of the South African government and people toward the “elephant problem” has global significance and is an indicator of whether or not humankind as a whole can steer itself away from immanent disaster and learn to harmonize its existence with the natural world.

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‘Sticking it to the Man,’ 21st Century style… By Jason Miller

By Jason Miller
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE
Oct 28, 2008

Paul Watson interviewed by Jason Miller

“Well, as usual, you people have everything all upside down and turned around and back to front.”

–Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon 2

As a species of beings that reflexively and unequivocally identifies itself as “superior,” we human animals have taken self-deception to a level of inimitable brilliance. And we Americans who have self-servingly cast ourselves in the role of moral beacon to the world (while engaging in industrialized wholesale violence against humans, animals, and the Earth on a breath-taking scale) are the living embodiments of the word hypocrisy.

Need proof of the systemic rot eroding the very cores of our souls? Look no further than the meteoric rise of the grossly under-qualified, hyper-ambitious, morally retarded narcissist who still has a realistic chance to be one heart-beat away from ostensibly ruling the most powerful nation in the world. Palinesque tendencies to “drill, drill, drill,” exploit obscene technological advantages to “cull predatory species,” employ our “justice” system to accelerate the extinction of yet another species (to advance the interests of Big Oil no less), and perpetuate the murderous “sport” of hunting with the intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt justifications of “necessity” and “cultural tradition” serve to shred our ridiculously thin façade of humanity and reveal the truly barbarous nature of Western “civilization” and the “American Way of Life.”

While the speciesism and capitalist obsessions with property, growth, and profit that contaminate nearly all aspects of our cultural and social modes of being are not unique to Western industrialized nations or the US, we wield the most power in the world, and hence inflict the most pain on other species. And while our economic and technological advantages endow us with the potential to shift the paradigm and significantly reduce the unnecessary suffering our non-human animal brethren experience as a result of reification, greed, and exploitation, we choose to fight tooth and nail to preserve our “right” to dominate, torture, and slaughter for profit and pleasure, while portraying those who dare to take direct action against our murderous system as ‘eco-terrorists.’

Frightening and dangerous as it may be, let’s get inside the head of a leading member of the radical environmental defense and animal liberation movements, which the FBI continues to target as America’s “number one domestic terror threat.”

Here is the back and forth between Captain Paul Watson (animal defender extraordinaire, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and courageous practitioner of extensional self defense on behalf of marine animals) and Jason Miller (associate editor of Cyrano’s Journal Online and founding editor of Thomas Paine’s Corner):

Jason Miller: You were reportedly expelled from Greanpeace in 1975 for your refusal to embrace their dogmatic adherence to non-violence. What were the events prior to and during your expulsion?

Captain Paul Watson: I was not in fact expelled from Greenpeace. I was voted off the Board of Directors because Patrick Moore had just replaced Robert Hunter as President. The excuse he used was that I had broken the law by grabbing a sealer’s club and throwing it in the water thus stealing and destroying his “property”. I then resigned from Greenpeace however the proof that Greenpeace was not opposed to my methods can be found in two pieces of evidence. (1) After I hunted down and rammed the pirate whaler Sierra, Greenpeace published my story as their headline article in the Greenpeace Chronicles. And (2) I was one of the 8 signatories for the formation of Greenpeace International in October 1979. My main reason for leaving Greenpeace was because I was tired of protesting and seeing whales and seals die. I established the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society not as a protest organization but as an interventionist organization to specifically target illegal operations. We remain non-violent. Since I founded Sea Shepherd in 1977, we have never injured a single person, we have never been convicted of a felony crime and we have never been sued. That’s a better record than Greenpeace has.

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The Enemy at our Doorstep—and what to do about it By David Irving

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

Graphic photos at the original source.

By David Irving
10/22/08

We live with an inescapable dilemma. With each passing year we become more vulnerable to heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Animal researchers believe that the solution lies somewhere within the boundaries of their profession just waiting to be discovered. The media follows their lead jumping on every little report they put out telling us about the latest “exciting” research project that surely gets us closer to a cure for these killer diseases. But animal researchers have been saying this for as long as anyone can remember. Moreover, the public is growing ever more disenchanted with their research for a variety of reasons. One reason is that animal research is unreliable. The metabolism of animals is and will always be completely different than that of human beings. Tylenol, for example, kills cats. Countless, flawed drugs that passed animal tests have caused health problems for human beings, one of the most notorious being the infamous Thalidomide that caused babies to be born with deformities. Other examples include Methoxyflurane, an anesthesia that caused kidney malfunction; Flosint, an arthritis medication that proved fatal to humans; Opren, a cough medication that killed 61 people; Zelmid, an antidepressant that caused severe neurological problems for humans; and Practolol, a drug for emergency cardiac arrhythmias, which killed 23 people and blinded 78 others. Yet medical researchers continue to experiment upon animals knowing that this research often leads to dangerous applications and can at best provide only inconclusive theories since it cannot directly translate to human beings.

Animal research is also a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too, permissive, corrupt profession that largely ignores one of the most obvious causes of cancer, heart disease, and stroke – diet. Animal researchers thereby lull the public into the mistaken belief that it can continue the bad habits that are chiefly responsible for spawning these diseases under the misperception that animal researchers are busy in their laboratories finding cures that will protect it. This creates a somnambulant public ready to be bilked out of billions of tax dollars. As Linus Pauling wrote in regard to cancer, “most cancer research is largely a fraud.” Even those few researchers who are motivated by humanitarian impulses perpetuate this fraudulent enterprise by refusing to denounce the fake research in which their fraud-minded colleagues are engaged. This money could go to far more creative medical research that does not rely on animals and would lead to more meaningful results than animal research has ever produced since it would be aimed at the actual causes of these diseases.

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Palin’s Wolf-Killing Program Results in 14 Wolf Pup Deaths

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

Watch the Video — Then Tell Others

When you promote a grotesque program like Governor Sarah Palin’s Alaska wolf slaughter, you can expect gruesome results.

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Who are the REAL eco-terrorists? By Sunil Potnis

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

Many graphic photos at the original source.

By Sunil Potnis
10/8/08

Author’s Note: This article is intended for pointing out the atrocities of those involved. It does not mean I disrespect good people who have rich tradition and cultural values that promote equality and respect for every form of life.

I am convinced that we humans are worse terrorists to the animal world than those humans who are terrorizing other humans. For many years suicide bombings, other forms of asymmetrical warfare, and state terrorism (euphemized as ‘conventional warfare’) have been ripping our hearts out and slaughtering millions upon millions of people, but over that same period humans have murdered billions upon billions of non-human animals. Yet few think of the terrorism and havoc we have unleashed on the animal world. We weep and go to war when the World Trade Center is bombed, but what should members of the animal world do when their entire species is getting wiped out? What should dogs and cats do when their family members are skinned alive? Where will seals go when every year in Canada over 200,000 of them are killed (and half of them are two week old pups)? Fortunately there are some kind-hearted humans who have dedicated their lives to fighting against the real eco-terrorism meted out by animal exploiters and murderers.

I have been writing my heart and guts out for the last few years that China is one the biggest culprits for its cold blooded murdering of animals. The more the money flows into China, the more they abuse animals. We should make a serious attempt to stop buying anything that is “Made in China”. I don’t use anything that is made in that country. I just cannot accept that kind of disrespect for life. I have not (and never will) traveled to China and most Asian countries (i.e. Korea, Japan, and Thailand). I have never flown by an Asian airline like Singapore or Korean. Canada is another egregious animal murderer. I have relatives there yet I refuse to visit and boycott Canadian products because of that nation’s barbaric seal clubbing.

I am sure many of us would be appalled and repulsed if we saw these cold blooded murders happening in front of our eyes. We may have heard and seen this brutality against animals on television or the Internet, but many simply choose to look away. Why? Often due to apathy and indifference about the plight of the animals. Our attitude numbs our senses and lets us ignore all this savagery. Where is our compassion?

Remember that predatory exploiters don’t discriminate and when all the animal are eradicated, these eco-terrorists will be after us humans! But it will be too late then. So if you don’t want to get stomped, skinned, clubbed, electrocuted, or boiled alive, speak up and act on behalf of our animal brethren.

Take a look at the shocking photos and videos at these sites:

1) http://www.tomregan-animalrights.com/gallery.html

2) http://www.harpseals.org/ (Seal Hunting in Canada)

3) http://www.furkills.org/

4) http://animalsaviors.org/

5) http://www.all-creatures.org/artphoto.html

AN ANIMAL’S WORST NIGHTMARE

1. China’s dogs amd cats are boiled, stabbed, drowned, bludgeoned, strangled, poisoned, hanged, and electrocuted…experiencing unbearable pain as their legs are routinely broken while trussed up and hung in local markets for human consumption, or skinned alive and cast off like garbage– for the despicable fur trade.

2. Dogs [both owned and stray] are relentlessly hunted down by ‘police authorized’ roving mobs and savagely beaten to death by the hundreds of thousands–in the name of ‘rabies’ control.

3. Bears, suffer a lifetime of excruciating pain as they are surgically mutilated and milked each day for their gall bile. Their paws taken as delicacies for the Chinese restaurant trade or ground into powdered ‘medicines’. The use of bear parts supplying the traditional Chinese medicine trade and exotic meat market is the major reason why bear species are declining around the world. Endangered species of bears are rapidly becoming extinct.

4. Rhino, both Black and White, are butchered for their horns and are now highly endangered.

5. Over 70-100 million sharks PER YEAR are ‘finned’ and their carcasses dumped into the sea– to accommodate China’s growing taste for shark fin soup.

6. 20 million turtles are devoured in China EACH YEAR. Slaughtered alive and fully conscious, their heads are decapitated and crushed. Even after a turtle’s head is detached from its body, if not crushed sufficiently to destroy the brain, it can survive up to ONE HOUR in agonizing torment. Two thirds of the world’s turtles are now threatened with extinction.

7. TONS of elephant tusks are carved into ivory trinkets–their feet are hacked off for stools and coffee table legs.

8. Animals are used as ‘dried’ ingredients in traditional Chinese medicines and killed by the billion–tiger parts, crocodile bile, deer musk, sea horses, lizards, sea cucumbers, powdered antlers, dog penis, pangolin (scaly anteaters), only to name a few on a seemingly unending list. ALL are considered no more than ‘products’ to be abused and murdered in the most monstrous ways possible, even if it means permanently wiping many of these species from the face of the planet in order to fulfill often frivolous, antiquated and selfish needs.

9. China plays a role in the largest mass butchery of marine mammals on Earth, the annual Canadian seal slaughter [which has taken over 1.25 million innocent lives in the last 3 years, alone]. This abomination happens in part so that dried seal penises can be turned into aphrodisiacs to “theoretically” increase the libidos of elderly men engaging in sex with Asian girls as young as 7 years old.

10. Live domestic pets, as well as cows and chickens, are fed to lions and tigers for the “entertainment” of visitors at Chinese zoos. Zoo officials encourage guests to buy domestic animals on the premises and feed them to the carnivores through special vending flaps fitted onto tourist buses, allowing individuals to throw chickens and other FULLY Conscious animals to the waiting predators.

CHINA’S GROWING WEALTH MEANS AN EVER-EXPANDING COLLECTION OF EXOTIC WILDLIFE ON THE MENU!

A. A Chinese chef describes how to cook pangolin [endangered scaly anteater]: “We keep them alive in cages until the customer makes an order. Then we hammer them unconscious, cut their throats and drain the blood. It is a slow death. We then boil them to remove the scales…cut the meat into small pieces and use it to make braised meat and soup. Usually the customers take the blood home with them afterwards.” [The blood is thought to have medicinal value.]

B. Live monkey brains are considered a delicacy: A “gourmet” can buy monkeys in the marketplace and send them to inns for cooking. The cooks first stuff the monkeys into tiny cages and force them to drink rice wine until they’re intoxicated. They are then pulled from the cage and bound by their limbs (preventing movement.) Their skulls are hacked open with a sharp knife to reveal easily visible, pulsing blood vessels. The white brains are then scooped out and served as soon as possible; eaten when still warm with seasonings. Monkey brains become pungent if they are not fresh…if the skull was opened too long ago. Thus it is best to open the skull and eat at once, while brain cells are LIVING and blood vessels throbbing.

C. It is not unusual in many areas of China, to see live deer in pens or crocodiles in tanks at restaurants. Buying and eating rare animals is a common way of SHOWING OFF. In southern China, rare meat is known as ye Wei (wild taste), and people believe eating exotic animals can endow them with bravery, long life or sexual prowess. The Cantonese brag that they will eat ANYTHING that moves!

D. China’s insatiable frenzy for non-human body parts is expanding, consuming and decimating everything in its wake. This ancient society of 1.3 billion people, many of whom appear to have no compassionate connection toward sentient beings, whatsoever, MUST BE STOPPED! WITHHOLDING MONEY IS THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY WE CAN FORCE POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE! Individuals engaged in animal abuse will NOT be immediately swayed by moral pressure, or legislation. Swift, significant change can come through economic losses to those who victimize! ALL of China’s exports must be targeted for boycott!

TAKE ACTION!

A) Get your community involved–ask friends, relatives, co-workers and groups to take the BOYCOTT CHINA PLEDGE and sign the petition linked HERE!

Tell STORE OWNERS AND MANAGERS of small businesses that stock Chinese products that you will no longer patronize their stores UNTIL they carry NON-CHINESE alternatives! They WILL listen–they need your money to survive! Remember change comes from the BOTTOM UP, not the top down! Target the small retailers FIRST, and soon Wal-Mart and others will take notice and follow!

B) Compile receipts from NON-CHINESE items purchased and send copies to your country’s Chinese Ambassador with a “Revenue Lost” boycott letter. The goal is to have millions of these receipts/boycott letters pouring in, EVERY SINGLE DAY, to all 165 Chinese embassies worldwide! An excellent ongoing project for school, community, civic and church groups!

C) MAKE COPIES of this petition page and hand them out as flyers everywhere you go!

D) Spread the word by posting this petition on websites, blogs and AR mailing lists!

HELPFUL LINKS: CHINESE EMBASSIES:

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/embassy_list.htm

ALTERNATIVES TO CHINESE GOODS:

http://edinburghfurfreecity.co.uk/boycottchina/index.php

Do it for the protection of our endangered wildlife and for the millions of domestic and companion animals being tortured and killed as you read these words.

On behalf of the billions of voiceless souls desperately in need of your help to save them, thank you!

Fulfilling a Destiny: Indulgence, Indulgence, Our Future for Indulgence

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Haralambie Athes
9/21/08

Using the word “strange” to describe the contemporary world is already overrated. Supposedly, we all live in a cultural environment where anyone is allowed to speak his/ her mind, has the right to protect property and individual freedom, and, above all, has the right to a future. And not only a future for him/her, but for the next generations. This is what nowadays is called “sustainable development”, and it is a highly praised concept in almost all fields of environmental research, as well as in the business area. Yet, one minor detail seems to have been lost along the way. The vast majority of the human population is too inept to think for themselves, let alone acting. Drowned in the everyday media propaganda, millions of individuals undergo the same routine existence every single hour, every single week, summing up a sad way of “fulfilling a destiny”.

Celebrating a meaningless way of life, based on consumerism and endless (and usually hopeless) attempts to rise up to the demands of society, lost in a sea of clichés and mottos, they try so hard to build a future that they forget an essential aspect of the whole matter: their inability to get out of their petty space-time-money continuum (meaningless movements meant to carry them “from rags to riches”, to adequately fit into the perversely designed image of success described by contemporary propaganda). What people ultimately forget is this whole “theater” of becoming someone and climbing up the ladder of social (read financial) success has one basic need, beyond all human-constructed rules, needs and strategies: it needs a stage.

As unbelievable as it would seem based on the humanist and anthropocentric views which coordinate people’s existence, we still need a proper place to make whatever dreams come true, a spacious environment for being able to pursue our ideals. Shockingly, the human heaven still needs the earthly ground, even though this basic fact is overviewed on a daily basis by obtuse, simple-minded, TV-addicted crowds, who seemingly have one primary goal, one final purpose: to consume as much as possible. In fact, the whole contemporary economic culture is based on a media-induced need to consume as much as possible, regardless of what we are leaving behind. That is, billions of tons of garbage, and a natural environment that starts to look like a wasteland.

While making every effort to make sure their children will have a “good life” (the degree to which life is good being calculated with a rather simplistic formula, generally involving money and nothing else), they actually deny their children and their grand-children the simple right of living a decent life, in a functional natural environmental. The arrogant detachment from nature has led to an ever-broadening disaster all across the planet, and things are changing for the worse with each passing second. Our relationship to the natural world (including animals) has never been so twisted, and its effects will soon become too potent to be mended by our highly praised science.

[…]

» Fulfilling a Destiny: Indulgence, Indulgence, Our Future for Indulgence.

Portrait of an Animal Researcher By David Irving

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

photos at the original source

By David Irving
9/13/08

When people think of an animal researcher the image of a well trained, highly skilled scientist surrounded by test tubes and flasks and wearing an immaculately clean, white coat often comes to mind. Looking up from a microscope he, or she, strokes a plump, white rat and converses about the latest medical discoveries being made with the help of animals. This is America’s favorite image of an animal researcher. But just how accurate is it?

The fact that most people are unaware that medical research represents only the tip of the iceberg of this diverse industry called animal research that stretches from coast to coast and border to border, indicates just how skillfully the benign image of the humanitarian scientist has been disseminated. But animal research requires the production and use of 22 million animals a year in the United States and 100 million world wide, conservatively speaking, most of which are killed after being experimented upon. Most of this research has nothing to do with finding a cure for cancer, stroke, heart disease, or other debilitating, life-threatening conditions. In fact, most animal research is done to satisfy various commercial requirements or to test concepts in the manufacture of industrial and personal use products like cosmetics and fluoride toothpastes.

The more the public gets a closer look behind the closed doors of animal research facilities, the more the senselessness of their work becomes apparent. We know that birth defect experiments on animals cannot be applied to humans, so why are they done? We know that better pre-natal care and helping women to quit smoking can reduce infant mortality by over 35%, so why does ineffective nicotine testing on animals continue? We know that chemical and agricultural product testing on animals is irrelevant to any health applications for humans and could be done using non-animal methods, which is the preferred procedure for testing these products in Canada and Europe, so why are we pursuing it? We know that computer technology already exists capable of putting an end to animal testing for drugs, so what is the necessity of testing for drugs? We know that heart attacks can be prevented through diet and exercise, so why are we butchering animals in tests for heart disease? Certainly there is no need for secretive military testing on animals except to satisfy military paranoia.

The wheels on the huge gravy train funded by the tax dollars of the citizenry that the animal research industry has been riding for decades are beginning to creak. The medical establishment itself hides behind its own image without the courage to acknowledge the corruption in the fake applications for fake medical animal research projects to the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. These agencies squander billions of tax dollars in funding this fakery that has only pseudo-applications for human beings with few benefits, as described below. Linus Pauling zeroed in on the corruption when he wrote “Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud, and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them.”

Animal medical research is done mostly in conjunction with university research laboratories or medical facilities. There we find the researchers who are the standard-bearers for the animal research industry, the ones wearing those neat, white coats. But let there be no mistake. Even this group narrows to an even smaller minority when it dares to proclaim they are “legitimate” researchers. That is because the overwhelming majority of medical animal research is not legitimate. It is curiosity research in a ‘publish or perish’ kind of atmosphere where the researchers must design something unusual to capture NIH or other government agency funding. These agencies approve research projects on the bizarre premise that the more bizarre an experiment is the more scientific it must be.

Whoever doubts the above allegation needs only to take into account experiments in which chimpanzees have been locked in old refrigerators filled with cocaine smoke (New York University), cats have had their brains severed from their spinal cords after which anesthesia was discontinued while they were locked in frames and experimented upon for hours (Rockefeller University), cats have been forced to vomit 97 times in the space of three and one-half minutes (Rockefeller University), and primates have been subjected to a continuous three hour-long studio-generated sound that was10 decibels louder than a shotgun blast (New York University). The designer of that experiment, Lynn Kiorpes, has been drilling holes in baby monkeys heads for fourteen years while collecting $1.5 million dollars from the NIH for studying artificially created abnormalities. The babies are either killed and dissected instantly or are subjected to years of continuing experimentation. She works in secrecy behind the hallowed doors of New York University, one of the most notorious protectors of institutional animal abuse in the nation, which itself has been charged with more than 400 violations of the Animal Welfare Act and has been fined $450,000, the largest fine ever leveled by the USDA.

The thirst by government agencies to fund unnecessary, cruel experiments on animals seems unquenchable, and our esteemed university medical facilities continue to lap up public tax dollars with little sign that they are embarrassed by their display of greed as they walk hand in hand with animal abusers up to the cashier’s window. At the Oregon Health and Science University, researcher Eliot Spindel has been paid $7.6 million tax dollars by the NIH since 1992 (and will continue receiving funding until 2012) to literally rip baby monkeys from their mothers’ breasts to study nicotine effects on infant monkeys. Sometimes the babies are taken through cesarean section, while other times the mothers are allowed to keep them for several weeks before they are torn away, driving the mothers nearly insane. Losing their babies causes tremendous suffering to these primates who are operated on five times during their forced pregnancies to implant nicotine pumps in their backs.

In 2005 the Justice Department awarded a University of Wisconsin professor, John Webster, $500,000 to electrocute pigs with Taser guns to try to determine if stun guns are safe, a cruel project that could be done using follow-up medical studies of Taser victims instead—as many previous studies have.

In 2003 at Columbia University, a whistleblower exposed experiments in which mother baboons and their babies in-utero were operated on repeatedly to measure the flow of nicotine through the umbilical chord; baboons had one eye removed in senseless experiments to induce strokes before being abandoned in cages without care or painkillers; and monkeys had metal pipes implanted in their craniums driving them into a frenzy in irrelevant menstrual stress studies. The suffering these animals endured ended only when they died from the effects of the experiments or when they were killed by their researchers.

The foregoing list barely scratches the surface of the unbelievably sickening, bizarre, sadistic research which medical animal researchers in their clean white coats engage and which is routinely rubber stamped by the NIH and other government funding agencies, thus robbing the public blind.

Because of public “unease” more and more animal research scientists have begun to ask if their research is worth the few results, negative publicity, and community contempt. By now animal rights organizations and whistle-blowers have brought cruel animal research projects to light so often that university and medical research facilities are forced to defend their animal policies to the public. Columbia University, for example, has set up a Standards of Care website where it asserts that it “recognizes its scientific and ethical duty to treat animals involved in research humanely, and requires that all faculty, staff and students involved in animal research maintain the highest standards of care.” However, the undercover photographic evidence and other reports about the conditions in Columbia’s animal laboratories indicate that Columbia’s efforts to reassure a suspicious public are as much public relations as anything else, as proved by the barbaric stroke, tobacco, and menstrual experiments on baboons described above.

The same can be said of the University of Minnesota which advertises that their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee works to assure that research and other activities involving animals are “justified by their benefits and minimize any pain or suffering.” The university must have forgotten about one of their researchers, Marilyn Carroll, who for twenty-two years (at a cost of nine million dollars to taxpayers) has been using food deprivation to forcibly addict monkeys and rats to drugs including cocaine, PCP, nicotine, heroin, amphetamines and alcohol. Protests by animal rights groups including the ALF and SOAR (Student Organization for Animal Rights) have been raised against Carroll’s lab over the years where primates are subjected to withdrawal so that they suffer seizures, nose bleeding, respiratory problems, skin infections, self-mutilation, incessant rocking, hallucinations, screaming, and depression. Some just give up and curl into a ball in a corner of their cage where they cower in terror. That the practice of torturing innocent animals in an effort to attend to the addictions human beings have created themselves might be considered unethical and unjust, not to mention Mengelian, seems not to have penetrated the consciousness of erudite, highly educated, researchers like Carroll.

The above examples, unfortunately, are par for the course. The University of California San Francisco is the fourth largest recipient of federal research grants, receiving over $420 million from the NIH annually. On a university webpage the text above a photograph of a cute white mouse nestled cozily in the pocket of an empty, purple surgical glove advertises that “the University has established policies on the use of animal subjects to promote their humane care.” The text continues below the photograph in a statement all too similar to those made by Columbia and the University of Minnesota announcing that the university oversees all “research and instruction that involves vertebrate animals, in order to ensure that the highest ethical and animal welfare standards are met.”

In reality, the University of California San Francisco has one of the worst animal care records of all university medical research facilities in the country. It has been in nearly continuous violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which in 2004 filed formal charges against UCSF for 75 Animal Welfare Act violations between 2001 and 2003. These included performing surgery on an ewe and her fetus without providing post-surgical pain relief; leaving monkeys and lambs unmonitored after surgery (which resulted in a lamb frothing at the mouth and gasping for breath); forcing marmoset monkeys to breed continually and give birth while still nursing infants (one marmoset mother gave birth seven times to fourteen babies in just over three years. Six of the babies died and the mother lost 70 percent of her bodyweight over that period); depriving monkeys of water resulting in severe weight loss, performing a craniotomy on a monkey without providing post-operative pain relief, and subjecting at least one monkey to multiple injections of a brain-destroying chemical through the carotid artery. Some of the most egregious violations were done by three of UCSF’s top researchers, all of whom conduct brain experiments on primates and have received major NIH grants.

The foregoing are examples of what the University of California calls the “highest ethical and animal welfare standards.” In July of 2007 the PCRM (Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine) filed a lawsuit against UCSF for its mistreatment of dogs, monkeys and other animals used in experiments.

In spite of the cruelty and hypocrisy associated with university and medical center animal research laboratories, it is still undeniable that a small minority of animal researchers actually do engage in animal research which they believe is for humanitarian purposes. They have made a deliberate, conscious choice that it is moral to put human health concerns above those of animals. It is doubtful, however, that even the most caring researcher would deny that experiments sometimes cause suffering and pain to the animals involved. Dr. Robert Kass, Department Chair, Department of Pharmacology at the Columbia Medical Center, wrote that “we test as humanely and effectively as possible,” indicating that there are times when it is not possible to test humanely or effectively. Even so, this group of researchers do sometimes make discoveries that are applicable to humankind such as reported by Dr. Eric A. Rose, Associate Dean for Translational Research and Chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia University who wrote: “The concept of cardiac catheterization was born here—animal research allowed the idea to become an applicable technique.” Dr. Rose’s defense of cardiac catheterization indicates he is concerned about the morality of animal testing. What Dr. Rose apparently fails to take cognizance of is that this technique might never have been necessary without the meat-based diets responsible for the arterial problems requiring catheterization. It could hardly be more patently unethical to slaughter animals in cruel ways and eat them, acquire a disease in the process of digesting and metabolizing them, and then slaughter and torture more animals to try to find a cure for the disease caused by eating them.

Should the medical establishment be unwilling to take the above argument into consideration, it can only be taken as a refusal to probe in any depth just what is moral and ethical and what is not.

Nevertheless, the sincerity of some medical scientists in attempting to solve medical enigmas is hard to deny. They use animals in their research out of a sense of compassion towards human beings. To them, animals are inferior and deserve compassion only insofar as it does not interfere with their research. Donald M. Silver, author of over 40 books on science for children and teachers who did cancer studies on mice at Sloan-Kettering Hospital in the 1970s, said that when doubts about his work arose, he only had to think about the terminally ill patients in the children’s ward. As recently as two months ago, Doctor John Young, director of comparative medicine at Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in an interview on PBS, proudly pointed to a laboratory prisoner pig as an ideal subject for animal research because its cardiovascular system is similar to that of human beings. However, as proved by Dr. Dean Ornish, a regimen of diet and exercise can cure heart disease. He is the author of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Eat More, Weigh Less and has been featured on all major medical journals and news media including NOVA on PBS. Perhaps Dr. Young doesn’t agree with Dr. Ornish’s methodology. Certainly, he must be aware of it. So why should a pig forfeit it’s life for a human being with heart problems, especially those who developed heart disease by eating pigs or cows in the first place?

Dr. Young did not discuss that researchers at Purdue University have found that a pig’s IQ is comparable to that of a chimpanzee.

He also pointed to terminally ill children as a moral imperative for conducting animal research. Those who agree with him like to pose questions like, “what if it was your own child suffering from cancer?” Certainly most people would hardly deny terminally ill children the best possible chance for survival with the best possible care, or, for that matter, any suffering human being even if it has been derived by experimenting upon animals. This is the direction that the world has taken up to the present. However, those who object to animal research did not invent the medical technology that is used in medicine today, and if they had, the means would be entirely different. Because treatment is the way it is does not justify continuing on the same tired path which Dr. Young advocates which, in the view of many, is so narrowly defined by its reliance on animal research that it prevents the kind of research that could really lead to cures for cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other devastating and deadly conditions.

For example, Dr. Ornish discovered how to cure heart disease without animal research. Dr. Young, with his animal research, has not. Yet Young believes he has the right to continue his cardiac experiments on innocent, highly intelligent creatures in spite of the fact that a cure is available. Let the reader be the judge. What is moral here and what is not?

If animal researchers like Dr. Young, Dr. Kass, and Dr. Rose really are interested in finding cures they might begin by having the courage to denounce the fake research of their colleagues like Eliot Spindel and Lynn Kiorpes for the fraud it is, as Linus Pauling has done, in order to free up hundreds of millions of dollars for serious, alternative investigations that might lead to real progress in the fight against the major diseases. The path that Dr. Young follows in is the same that animal researchers have been following for decades, and the result is always the same. They have just discovered that such and such when applied to rats, or some other species, cures such and such. Meanwhile, the real cure is always just around the corner unless someone like Dr. Ornish comes along and finds it..

The abandonment of animal testing in favor of alternative methodologies has already yielded significant results when it is tried, and several non-animal tests are being used to replace animal testing. This includes embryonic stem cell tests using non-human cells; human skin testing on leftovers from surgical procedures; cell and tissue culture (in vitro) studies used to screen for anti-cancer, anti-AIDS, and other types of drugs as well as for producing and testing pharmaceutical products like vaccines, antibiotics, and therapeutic proteins; comparative studies of human populations leading to the discovery of the root causes of human diseases including demonstrating the mechanism of AIDS transmission and how it could be prevented; and sophisticated scanning technologies (MRI, PET, and CT). Pharmagene Laboratories, based in Royston, England, studies how drugs affect human genes and the proteins they make. They use tools from molecular biology, biochemistry, and analytical pharmacology in combination with human tissues and sophisticated computer technologies in developing drugs so that the supposed need to test on animals is eliminated.

Scientists are certainly capable of discovering and inventing many other alternatives to animal research. While some medical researchers agree that an exhaustive search for alternatives to animal research is the future direction for medical research, the profession in general shows little enthusiasm and drags its feet.

It seems clear that when human beings venture forth in uncharted waters based on an intuitive sense of the possibilities ahead, only profound discovery and adventure lie in wait. That is the history of humankind and it is so fundamental to human existence that humanity can surely rely upon it. When it comes to medical research, what else is there – eternal dependency on a weaker animal species that cannot defend itself against humankind’s cruelty and abuse? Surely we are capable of much, much more. Isn’t it time we left our primitive views behind and began reaching for a higher destiny?

Our future must include widening our circle of compassion to include all species which cohabit the planet. In the process, we will be creating a vital, new template to apply to societal relations between nations that can end warfare between them. We will have been led there by our compassion for animals. And the partnership between human beings and animals that has been wrested away by the infamous practice of animal research will have been restored.

David Irving is a Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude graduate of Columbia University, class of 1980, School of General Studies. He subsequently obtained his Masters in Music Composition at Columbia and founded the new music organization Phoenix in New York City.

No Wolf Whistles for Sarah Palin’s Compassion by Walter Brasch

Excerpt posted on Current

by Walter Brasch
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.walterbrasch.com
Sept 7, 2008

Defibrillator usage increased last week after John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate and only a heartbeat from the presidency. But, shortly after most Republicans were shocked back to life they circled the wagons to declare she was the perfect choice. Apparently, the cure also included a dose of psychotropic drugs as well.

The pundits and commentators rallied beside Palin, even lying about how great her ghost-written acceptance speech was, apparently in the mistaken belief that they are being fair and balanced. Since Palin is the topic of everyone’s greatest love or deepest enmity, I won’t be writing about her life and most of her positions.

I won’t write about her lack of experience–or her outrageous statements that she has more experience than Barack Obama, and her delusion that she deserves any of Hillary Clinton’s 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.

Although I would like to say something about her vicious attacks on community organizers, persons who sacrifice so much to help those with so little, I won’t. That’s for others to talk about.

The fact she’s running on a ticket headed by a man who opposes lobbyist influence, yet had her inauguration as governor sponsored by an oil company–well, I won’t even bring that up. And, of course, I won’t say anything about her excessive use of pork barrel funds that McCain also opposes. And, I see no reason to point out that McCain’s first two choices of Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge were somehow vetoed by the Republican leadership.

Continue reading

From “Dominion” to Domination: The Duplicity and Complicity of Matthew Scully

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Dr. Steve Best, Ph.D.
(lots of photos at original source)
9/6/08

In 2002, arch-conservative Matthew Scully wrote a book called, Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy, that was universally and uncritically acclaimed by the animal advocacy movement. Because this movement is overwhelmingly single-issue in its focus, and in most cases doesn’t care about a person’s views or politics except how they relate to animals, no one had a problem with the fact that Scully was a senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He wrote some of the key fear-peddling diatribes that got Bush elected and he was recently re-enlisted to help Bush sell the Iraq war “surge” to the American people.

As someone who is concerned about a person’s overall political standpoint, and who would not embrace a Leftist who is a speciesist anymore than an animal rights person or vegan who is a racist, I had some serious problems with Scully and the fawning adulation of his book by virtually the entire animal advocacy movement. Many people, such as Karen Dawn (the founder of DawnWatch.com), saw it as a key sign of progress that the conservatives were embracing the animal cause (in welfarist form), and thus concluded that animal advocacy could be introduced to an entire new audience of people–some very rich, powerful, and influential ones at that.

No one mentioned that Scully had blood all over his hands by sycophantically serving Bush-Cheney (providing the “eloquence” they lacked) and the neo-con invasion and occupation of Iraq – all at the cost of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi lives, over 4,000 US troop deaths, countless US troop casualties and destroyed lives, and over three trillion dollars.[i] And all based on lies and blatant deceit by Bush and his henchmen, all of whom – were there any justice in this country or backbone in the Democrats – would have been impeached and jailed for crimes of the highest order.

Nor could I understand the praise over Scully’s book. Really, Dominion is two books: the first sections are indeed well-crafted and hard-hitting critiques of factory farming and hunting. But the bulk of the book was just nauseating, amateurish, antiquated medieval/early modern natural law theory which tried to justify the critique of animal cruelty in cosmic laws, rational imperatives–as if the issue of animal welfare or rights were not controversial and could not be seen in endless ways by diverse groups of people. It had a very uncomfortable authoritarian tone to it: here are the moral laws of the universe; here is moral truth. And he urged the same naïve Socratic belief that contaminates the thinking of the pacifists who dominate the animal advocacy movement – the idea that if we can only reason with people, show them this “Truth,” they will no longer abuse animals. As if there were no violence and cruelty in the human heart, no desire to dominate the weak, no lust for profit off slavery of any group.

And consider the subtitle: notice that he is calling for MERCY (to the slaves) not LIBERATION (of the slaves). And we needed a burdensome arsenal of arcane metaphysics, philosophical, and legal theory to reach this conclusion? A few rights/abolitionist voices tried to expose the severe limitations of this overwrought speciesist and welfarist tome, but they were drowned out by the roar of the multitudes celebrating the movement’s “revolutionary” breakthrough into new social sectors — so “new,” in fact, that there were now more white, elite, and “privileged” people in the animal advocacy/vegan movements than before.

To whatever degree he cares about animals, Scully’s real constituency are rich, white, Republicans and — having written speeches for Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 — he had already become a shining star in the firmament of right-wing ideologues and corporate fat cats, each of whom need the best PR and BS teams they could assemble. And thanks to the fawning adulation of the likes of Karen Dawn, Scully overnight became the new darling of the animal movement. When not making the rounds of Congress or aerial warfare conventions, Scully continued to write speeches for Bush and anyone on the Right with the right fee. And, as it turned out, as so many of us were bracing ourselves for the nauseating Republican National Convention in early September 08, not wanting to hear another disingenuous word from “straight-talking” McCain but curious to hear about unknown Alaskan female governor whom he shrewdly chose to win Hillary’s armies of disaffected, we learned — at this crisis moment and critical juncture for the Far Right — that Matthew Scully stepped in to write the kind of speech the McCain team thought necessary to disguise their malignant and predatory policies in terms of populism and family values. Right-wing soldier that he is, Scully stayed up the entire night before the speech and gave the magic words to which Sara Palin only had to give life in order to sell this sordid spectacle and sham to the US public and bring us another 4 more years of Bush—or probably much, much worse.

The moment was tense. The stakes were high. An unknown — a woman! — was walking onto the stage to accept her party’s nomination for Vice President. But could she prove herself at the podium? Thanks to Scully’s adroit words and Palin’s androgynous mix of feminine soft talk and macho militarism, the chronically anxious Right erupted into a roar of elation as they felt they had, with the addition of Palin, finally found the ticket they wanted — one entirely devoted to militarism and privatization, increasing their already obscene levels of wealth and waging a full-blown culture war against abortion, sex education in the schools, the ban on prayers in pubic places, and so on.

Well, as the right-wing pundits droned on all next day, Palin/Scully “blew it out of the water.” Even Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Biden said she was going to be “a tough debater” and had “a very skillfully written …speech.” And one awestruck fan gushed, “Palin sounded at times like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.”

Congratulations, Scully, you did it! You galvanized and unified the most reactionary forces of the country that want to finish the job — on the Constitution, liberties, privacy, human rights at home and abroad, the United Nations, international justice, restrictions on trade, unions, animal protections and the environment — that Bush brought to such a high level in eight years. There is nothing innocent about what Scully does: he is a hack, a propagandist, a demagogue, a mouthpiece for nihilistic ideologies that are anything but “pro-life.” To the degree that Bush, Cheney, McCain, and Palin are truly menacing forces — who threaten not only neighboring nation states but the entire planet itself, Scully is their Paul Joseph Goebbels: a total ideologue, a skilled orator (on paper), and a devotee to the party line.

Whereas Obama is known to have fairly progressive views on animals, Palin is an aggressive supporter of hunting and herself an avid hunter. She goes so far as to champion aerial hunting of wolves and threatened to sue the EPA if they listed the polar bear as an endangered species.[ii] Beyond her regressive views on animals, she has helped mobilize the base of the far Right in a way McCain could not do himself because she is such an extreme conservative.  According to MoveOn.Org:

**Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task.” She’s even admitted she hasn’t thought about the war much—just last year she was quoted saying, “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

**Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party. Six months ago, Palin told members of the group—who advocate for a vote on secession from the union—to “keep up the good work” and “wished the party luck on what she called its ‘inspiring convention.’”

**Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. She hasn’t made clear whether she thinks evolution is a fact.

**Palin doesn’t believe that humans contribute to global warming. Speaking about climate change, she said, “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being manmade.”

**Palin has close ties to Big Oil. Her inauguration was even sponsored by BP.

**Palin is extremely anti-choice. She doesn’t even support abortion in the case of rape or incest.

**Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She’s said she will only support abstinence-only approaches.

**As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them—shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, “news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.” [iii]

Unfortunately, thanks to Scully, Palin’s “homespun” speech (professionally crafted by a DC-insider), was a smash at the RNC, and she “hit it out of the ballpark” as nearly every conservative pundit said the following day. And so we have Scully — who wrote a book critical of hunting – to thank not only for supporting a psychopath whose lust for killing animals perhaps rivals that of Ted Nugent, but for reinvigorating a fascist movement that has excellent chances at winning the next election, and taking the US even deeper into the innermost circles of hell, as somehow I suspect that McCain-Palin will be even worse for the US, the world, animals, and the planet than Bush-Cheney.

And yet, still we hear hardly a word from the animal community about what a thug and criminal Scully is and what a traitor he is to the animals, to fellow humans, and to the entire planet. The most pathetic comment I have heard so far is from Karen Dawn, a well-known animal activist and social butterfly who runs the newsletter, Dawnwatch, which comments on media representations of animal issues. Given her social and economic status – the fact that she lives in the affluent area along the California coastline, that she is a regular in the LA party and cocktail scene, that she loves to see and be seen with celebrities – it is not surprising she takes an apolitical view of animal issues, and in fact believes that this movement ought to strive to be a powerful single-issue, DC-based powerhouse like the NRA.

Here is Dawn’s self-serving, cowardly, and deplorable commentary the day after Palin’s speech:

“The news this week is the Republican Convention, and the animal news is the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. Before I write any further on that issue, I need to stress that DawnWatch is entirely non partisan. If you’ve read [her new MTV-style book] Thanking the Monkey you know of my commitment to non-partisan animal activism. It would be unfair to the animals for their advocates to alienate half of the human population. And in Thanking the Monkey, I explain that the somewhat common assumption [which I personally have argued for in detail] that animal advocacy is a left wing issue is false. Democrat voting records are better on animal issues overall, but the exceptions are shining. Republicans John Ensign of Nevada, and Christopher Shays of Connecticut are just two of those current outstanding exceptions. And former Senator Robert Smith of New Hampshire, an ultra right wing conservative, is the only person to date to speak passionately against vivisection on the Senate Floor.

Perhaps most notably, one of the finest books ever written [!] on animal protection is “Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy.” It is by Matthew Scully, who worked as a senior speechwriter for George W Bush, penning the book on his off hours. Scully sees his compassion, or mercy, for animals, and his vegan lifestyle, as perfectly in line with his Catholic conservative values …

In an extraordinary twist of fate, Scully was selected to write Sarah Palin’s speech, which aired last night. Let us hope that in the time Scully and Palin spent together working on the speech, he began to influence her thinking. I hope every Republican on this list will urge her to read his book!”[iv]

“Let us hope that in the time Scully and Palin spent together working on the speech, he began to influence her thinking.” How naïve and deep in denial can this woman be?! Does Dawn think that Scully and Sarah had a reasonable and open chat about the evils of hunting?! That he gently reminded her that animals are not meat machines to shoot down in cold blood, just as he appreciatively received his lucrative paycheck for selling out the planet by helping some of the most dangerous forces in our history in their bid to win an election? I suspect Scully talked far more with Palin about his fee than her bloody proclivities to kill animals.

Dawn is indeed critical of Palin’s zeal for hunting and her abysmal environmental record, but she would rather be an enabler to this carnage than offend her powerful, rich, and influential friends. I do not exaggerate when I draw a line connecting McCain/Palin to Scully and to opportunists like Dawn.

In contrast to Dawn’s vapid view that we can bring all people and parties into the animal cause, another animal advocate (infinitely more authentic and profound than Dawn), Norm Phelps, penned (in a personal email to me) some extremely critical remarks on Scully and the far Right:

“I think the fact that Matthew Scully wrote her convention speech (which was a masterpiece of viciousness) should give us all pause about the notion that conservatives will ever be serious animal advocates. I used to think that AR [animal rights] was a non-political issue and that we should keep it that way in the interests of converting as many people as possible and having the greatest impact on society. I no longer think that. I now believe that the mindset that leads conservatives to pursue policies that are hostile to the well-being of most of humanity (everyone except themselves and those to whom they are close) almost invariably leads them to policies that are hostile to the well-being of most animals (everyone except those to whom they are personally close, such as their companion animals).

“There is nothing that I find more perplexing and discouraging than the blatant speciesism that is rampant in most progressive circles. But in spite of this, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the liberal to progressive end of the political spectrum is where we have to concentrate our efforts and where we will ultimately find our victory. Conservatives can, in many cases, be persuaded to welfarism (properly so called, not as redefined by the so-called “abolitionists”), but not to AR. Scully’s vehement denunciations of AR in Dominion are, I think, an important indicator of this, as is the fact that this man who wrote so eloquently of the suffering of animals could put his gifts in the service of a woman who practices and celebrates all manner of barbaric cruelty to animals. Scully obviously considers the lives and suffering of animals less important than politics as usual.”

Phelps is right to argue that the Left is just as abysmal in its views on animals, and yet draws this distinction:

The speciesism of liberals/progressives contradicts their fundamental values, which creates an opportunity for animal advocates. The speciesism of conservatives reinforces their fundamental values, which creates a solid wall. But I still think it is dangerous for the AR movement, as a movement, to align with other social justice movements until we have succeeded in raising their consciousness about animals to the point that the alliance can be formed on a basis of at least approximate equality. And I think a lot of groundwork needs to be done before we reach that point. I guess where I’m headed is that we need to be taking that groundwork seriously and getting busy at it—which, of course, is what you’ve been doing for some time now.”[v]

While I agree with Phelps that Leftists are Paleolithic in their views on animals and we should not be too ready to tie ourselves to a human rights/social justice platform as it is, and that we do need indeed to educate the Left, I have also disagreed with him (in quite friendly terms) that animal liberation is winnable without human and Earth liberation and a progressive alliance politics that fights against the main threat to the planet today, which is the capitalist grow-or-die economy.[vi]

But while we examine the problems with both the Right and the Left, let us not lose focus on the idiocy, cowardice, and opportunism in our own movement, for there are far too many “animal advocates” who are in fact advocates for something far less noble: money, power, glory, fame, and self—advancement. If it was not obvious with the writing of Dominion six years ago, Scully in particular has since revealed himself to be a sham, fraud, charlatan, prevaricator, hypocrite, and (neo-)con man, an enemy not only to animals, but also a de facto opponent of women, science, secularism, freedom of speech, and the environment.

Like the politicians he serves, Scully talks out of both sides of his mouth at once and serves each and every contradictory cause that advances his own good. No principled or consistent person writes a book against hunting, and then writes a speech for a vicious defender of hunting and avid killer herself. Can any animal advocate among us ever imagine doing this?! This is the moral and logical contradiction that would haunt a Kantian, someone with a conscience, anyone with principles or moral consistency. But it never troubles a utilitarian-opportunist.

In a nation rife with political and historical idiocy, layer upon layer of confusion, and pernicious myths linking capitalism with democracy and justice, the masses are so easily manipulated by the power elite that they can be convinced that the Clintons (who are at best center left on the political spectrum) are communists!

And nor is his work done. The Far Right loved his Palin speech so much that they will surely contract him again. Without hyperbole, I say that Scully is less a “progressive vegan and animal welfarist” than he is a reactionary and a dangerous man. He has been the words, phrases, metaphors, rhetoric, narratives, jokes, and overall a key voice and mouthpiece of the Extreme Right who want to take this country back to pre-Enlightenment, pre-secular medieval serfdom where rights mean only property rights, liberty falls to security and hierarchy, and democracy is a forgotten dream.

To end by reiterating a crucial point: Mathew (Straight-Laced, Compassionate Conservative, Corporate and Family Values Man,) Scully is not just a hypocrite or opportunist. He is a menace to all life, beings, species, and nature. This is not an ad hominem attack, it is simply a fact. Look who he works for and examine what they do. Because of the gigantic powers he brings to life, puffs up, drives forward, and legitimates with the rhetoric of his folksy, small-town populism, he represents gigantic global corporations that destroy families and communities. Because Scully casts the spell and brings out the smoke and mirrors that cover up lies and package a hideous program of destruction as “progress,” and because he gets the job done, time after time, Scully is a significant danger — and I do not exaggerate — to this entire planet.

Scully’s real project is not “dominion.” It is domination–corporate hegemony of the planet and the advancement of the US Empire. To the extent his discursive artistry helps to disarm Congress and to lull Americans back into their complacent and jingoistic sleep, Scully shares responsibility with Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Rice, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, Monsanto, and ConAgra for turning this beautiful planet into a living hell for most of its inhabitants and for leaving behind a wasteland and battlefield that will prove even more difficult (if not impossible) for future generations to survive, as ever more species vanish forever.

Notes:

[i] For data on the ever-mounting numbers of Iraqi civilians and US soldiers killed and injured, see the Iraq Body Count website at: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/. On the soaring costs of the war, see Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, “The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More,” Sunday March 9, 2008, The Washington Post, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/07/AR2008030702846_pf.html.

[ii] On Palin’s regressive record on animals and the environment, see John Dolan, “Party whores: Sarah Palin’s Big, Sleazy Safari,” September 2, 2008, AlterNet, at: http://www.alternet.org/story/97207/sarah_palin%27s_big%2C_sleazy_safari/; “Environmentalists can’t corral Palin: GOP vice presidential candidate nicknamed the ‘killa from Wasilla’, Associated Press, posted September 4, at MSNBC.com, at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26546967/; and ““SARAH PALIN SUPPORTS SHOOTING WOLVES AND BEARS FROM AIRPLANES,” Defenders of Wildlife, at: http://www.defendersactionfund.org/. This page includes a disturbing video link to what this barbaric practice that Palin ardently supports looks like in reality.

[iii] “Who is Sarah Palin,” MoveOn.Org., at: http://pol.moveon.org/emails/palin_announcement.html?rc=homepage.

[iv] Karen Dawn, “Palin provides vital opportunities for animal friendly letters,” September 4, 2008, at:
http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/mail.cgi/archive/dw1000000dawnwat/20080904102648/

[v] Phelps cited with permission in a personal email to me on September 4, 2008.

[vi] Steven Best, “Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the Future of the Left,” The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Volume 2, Issue #3, June 2006; at: http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol2/vol2_no3_Best_rethinking_revolution.htm

Steven Best, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso. He has published numerous books and articles on philosophy, cultural criticism, social theory and animal rights. He has appeared on TV shows like Extra! and is frequently interviewed by national print and radio media including the New York Times and National Public Radio. Best is Cyrano’s Journal Special Editor for Animal Rights, Speciesisim and Human Tyranny over Nature.

***

h/t: Andrew via email

Subject: Comment from a NYTimes reader

Given how mean-spirited Palin’s speech was, particularly her community organizer digs, I thought that this was quite snappy:-)

“Mrs. Palin needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.”

see

Party whores: Sarah Palin’s Big, Sleazy Safari

AIPAC and the Dobson mob

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card

Palin, a bold move or reckless choice? + Palin blackens Russia’s name

Sarah Palin’s Speech at the RNC

Our Killing Culture by Dabra Grant

Going on an Imperial Bender – How the U.S. Garrisons the Planet and Doesn’t Even Notice

Yes, we’re matricidal: Murdering Mother Earth one forest, one species and one atom at a time

Yes, we’re matricidal: Murdering Mother Earth one forest, one species and one atom at a time

By Jason Miller
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE
Sept 4, 2008

I am the earth. You are the earth. The Earth is dying. You and I are murderers.

–Ymber Delecto

What a sorry lot we humans are, particularly those of us immersed in the “American Way of Life.” Killing is indeed our business. And business has never been better.

According to the World Resources Institute, 4 species go extinct every hour “due to tropical deforestation alone.”

More than half the tropical rainforests are gone and at the rate we’re going, we will have reduced chopped, hacked, sawed, dozed, and burned our way to the virtual eradication of the “lungs of the planet” by the year 2030.

Kids, get ready to start suffocating because we’re NOT giving up our meat habit! Patrick Henry was prepared to die for liberty, but we have a nobler agenda: Give us more grazing land or give us death!

Reflecting the spiritually perverse beings we are here in America (don’t be fooled by our carefully polished veneer of civility and humanity—we’re the most savage murderers of all) is the fact that we are considering replacing our “commander-in-chief,” (the most heinous war criminal since Hitler) with a senile war-mongering septuagenarian and his recently anointed reactionary sidekick who never met a non-human animal she wouldn’t slaughter or an ecosystem she wouldn’t decimate in the name of “hunting,” “free enterprise,” or “resource acquisition.”

Or we may occupy the impending vacancy in the White House with a pseudo-progressive who has sworn his allegiance to the genocidal “state” of Israel and to corporate America whilst surrounding himself with a depraved and ruthless entourage, most of whom sold their souls to Wall Street and the military industrial complex years ago.

McCain at the helm? Obama on the throne? Who cares? Either way we party on here in America, oblivious to the devastation and suffering our obscene existence is causing. Our factory farms will continue torturing and slaughtering billions of animals each year to satiate our meat addiction, McDonald’s will keep our arteries clogged and our ascent to obesity intact, Big Pharma will inundate us with soothing and sedating “happy pills” to ensure our guilt-free participation in the murder of the planet, Big Oil will gleefully continue meeting our gluttonous demand for its “black gold,” and the corporate media will keep our wretched and vile hologram intact by constantly re-enforcing rabid nationalism, ahistorical thinking, consumerism, narcissism, alienation, rugged individualism, “free” markets, the virtues of wealth, and the “superiority” of the American Way.

While numerous complex entities and dynamics enable the power elite to maintain their strangle-hold on wealth and power, military might remains their principal means of dominating, extorting, exploiting, stealing, and annihilating with impunity. While we outspend the rest of the world (that’s all other countries combined, mind you) maintaining and expanding the war machine we revere with religious fervor, it is not money alone that gives our lords and masters the capacity to keep the world safe for capitalism and corporate plunder.

Our dirty little secret here in the US is that we built and buttressed our crumbling empire by unleashing a force so potent and so capable of rendering life on Earth extinct that it makes capitalism’s “slow motion” ecocide look like candy-striping. In 1945 we became the first and only country to harness the power of nuclear fission and utilize it as a weapon of mass destruction. Our cold-blooded murder of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians cemented our position as global hegemon.

When the uber-capitalist ruling elite of the US saw a socioeconomic system that was a potential threat to their supremacy, they successfully convinced most of their wage slaves that they were well off under a system of the rich, by the rich and for the rich and that the “communist threat” in Russia must be extinguished. What was their solution? They forced the Russians (who were moving with amazing rapidity to industrialize an agrarian economy which was dwarfed by that of the US) into a pissing contest over who could manufacture the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Their strategy was of course successful. The Soviet Union eventually collapsed. Country-clubbing white men with snow on the roof-top and fog on the brain maintained their “right” to clench their billion dollar net worth statements in one decrepit claw and the deeds and titles of their myriad precious possessions in the other. And the rest of us could breathe easy knowing that the “American Way of Life” was no longer in jeopardy. But at what cost to the Earth and the rest of its inhabitants?

Nuclear non-proliferation is a joke. Treaties, vows, resolutions, good intentions, and promises involving crossing hearts, hoping to die and sticking needles into eyes have resulted in even more nukes brandished by more nations. Meanwhile, we US Americans continue dictating who gets “nuclear privileges” AND we still possess more WMD’s than any other nation. When is another country going to invade us, depose the evil junta in DC, and hold a public lynching like our puppets did in Iraq?

Thankfully sanity (or perhaps just sheer luck) has prevailed and we have been the only nation brutal and stupid enough to employ nuclear weapons. And we have put our nuclear knowledge to constructive use by harnessing the power of the atom to create electricity. Yet when Prometheus brought us the “fire of the Twentieth Century” and told us we could use it for peaceful purposes, he failed to warn us that if this “fire” gets out of control we’re all cooked.

Nuclear power only produces 20% of the electricity consumed in the US, but accounts for a number of staggering problems we simply keep sweeping under the rug for future generations to solve. Forget logic or consideration for our children or for Mother Earth, though. John McCain, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, and a host of other whores to the nuclear power industry hail nuclear energy as a “green” alternative to fossil fuels and clamor for more.

Yes, let’s build more nuclear power plants. After all, given our culture of militarism and death, why not erect as many temples honoring Thanatos as is humanly possible?

Let’s take a closer look at the technology many are ready to embrace as the “remedy for Climate Change.”

Nuclear power is touted as a cheap alternative to coal (and other ways of producing energy). While it is a less expensive means of actually generating electricity once a reactor is online (the operating cost is about half that of a coal-fired plant), there are tremendous fiscal costs associated with building a nuclear facility, removing and storing radioactive waste, and decommissioning a plant once it is retired. (One hasn’t been closed yet but the estimated cost to do so is around $300 million).

And just who’s underwriting these outrageous costs? We the taxpayers! On May 12, 2008, the Wall Street Journal wrote,

“For electricity generation, the EIA concludes that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour, wind $23.37 and ‘clean coal’ $29.81. By contrast, normal coal receives 44 cents, natural gas a mere quarter, hydroelectric about 67 cents and nuclear power $1.59.”

More importantly, the threat nuclear energy poses to the environment is so high that calling it “green” is an absurdity one would think had sprung from the mind of Lewis Carroll.

Since nuclear plants rely on large bodies of water to cool reactors (and avoid a melt-down) and discharge about 70% of the heat they generate (as waste), they are vulnerable to droughts and cause significant thermal pollution in the bodies of water that cool them.

Nuclear power production begins to contaminate the environment with radioactivity before the fuel even arrives at the plant. It takes a tonne of uranium ore to produce 3 kilograms of uranium oxide. While the tailings that are left behind emit small levels of radiation, they do release radon gas and radioactive dust at a rate 10,000 times faster than the unmined ore. This nuclear contamination stays in the environment for 100,000 years and over time reaches such high levels that a Los Alamos Laboratory report concluded that we need to, “to zone the land in uranium mining and milling districts to forbid human habitation.”

Nuclear power facilities produce a steady stream of low-level radioactive waste, including gas, solid and liquid. Gaseous and liquid wastes are “cleaned and diluted,” but are eventually released into the environment. Solid wastes are transported to one of three low-level radiation disposal sites in the US where they continue accumulating and emitting radiation into the environment. Sounds Earth-friendly, doesn’t it?

About once a year 33% of a reactor’s fuel rods are replaced, producing anywhere from 12 to 30 tonnes of high level nuclear waste. The frightening part is that we’ve been using this “green” technology for 40 years now and still haven’t figured out a safe and permanent means of disposing of its extremely dangerous and lethal by-products. Temporary pools or dry cask storage (large steel cylinders that require constant monitoring) onsite at nuclear facilities house most of the spent reactor fuel, which will remain a dire threat to the environment for tens of thousands of years. Nuclear power plants are running out of storage capacity and the “permanent storage solution” at Yucca Mountain, projected to be operational in 2017, is little more than a tentative and distant speck on the horizon. Perhaps we could erect dry casks on some of the sprawling estates that McCain has forgotten he owned….

The Chernobyl Disaster

How remote is the possibility of a nuclear melt-down resulting in a disaster? Let’s ask the thousands of heavily irradiated victims of Chernobyl and those living in the vicinity of the “near miss” at Three Mile Island.

Lest we forget, nuclear reactors are “dual-use” by virtue of the fact that plutonium is one of their by-products and plutonium can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Small wonder our ruling class trembles with fear (hence their belligerence, bullying and macho posturing) at the prospect of Iran (a nation which refuses to genuflect to the American/Israeli Empire) developing nuclear reactors to generate power.

And someone please explain what it is that’s so “green” about a source of electricity that produces waste that people (whom our malevolent and brutal foreign policy has pissed off—there are millions and millions of them) could use to make a “dirty bomb” and then deploy it against us. Granted the potential efficacy of a dirty bomb is subject to debate, but who wants to find out? We already have 104 repositories for bomb-making materials scattered across the United States. Let’s push to add more!

While many anti-nuclear activists focus their efforts on opposing the issuance of licenses to build new nuclear power plants, another approach may prove to be more effective and is in play at this moment. Members of IPSEC, a group of over 70 community groups, have devoted themselves to shutting down the nuclear power plant known as the Indian Point Energy Center. Grassroots and non-profit, the objective of IPSEC groups like Riverkeeper is to replace nukes with a truly safe form of sustainable energy and to preserve the integrity of the environment. If IPSEC is successful in setting a precedent by catalyzing the shuttering of Indian Point, a domino effect could ensue and spell the beginning of the end for the menace of nuclear power.

For a litany of reasons, IPSEC is wholly justified in its appeals to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to deny Entergy Corporation’s bid to renew Indian Point’s license for another 20 years. In fact, if sanity and moral considerations amounted to more than a pair of sickly midgets making desperate and ridiculous attempts to halt the stampeding herd of narcissistic consumers and greedy corporations that are the embodiments of monopoly capitalism, there wouldn’t even be a debate.

Indian Point (pictured above) is situated about 25 miles from New York City, a rather populous area, eh? (93 million people live within a 500 mile radius of this nuclear facility, most of whom would be impacted by a major accident or meltdown at Indian Point).

Indian Point’s two reactors that continue to function were built in 1974 and 1976, which means that they are old, hence prone to cracks, leaks, fissures, wear, deterioration, and the like. It also means that they were built to less stringent safety specifications than newer reactors.

At one time Indian Point had three functional reactors. In an October 2001 article (entitled America’s Terrorist Nuclear Threat to Itself) long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman wrote, “Indeed, Indian Point Unit One was shut because activists warned that its lack of an emergency core cooling system made it an unacceptable risk. The government ultimately agreed.”

In 2006 the NRC fined Entergy Corporation, the owners and operators of Indian Point, $130,000 for problems associated with its system designed to warn nearby residents to evacuate in the event of a nuclear crisis.

Until they finally began moving them to dry casks in January of this year, Indian Point had 1500 tons of spent fuel rods stored in temporary pools. These pools have been leaking tritium and strontium-90 (both highly toxic substances) into the groundwater and the Hudson River since 2005 and are demonstrably vulnerable to sabotage or attack. And as Wasserman elucidates in the previously cited article, these pools (not to mention the reactor cores) are horrific accidents waiting to happen:

“Without continuous monitoring and guaranteed water flow, the thousands of tons of radioactive rods in the cores and the thousands more stored in those fragile pools would rapidly melt into super-hot radioactive balls of lava that would burn into the ground and the water table and, ultimately, the Hudson.”

Indian Point Energy Center manifests nearly all that is inane and insane about humans shattering atomic nuclei and hubristically believing we can play with the fires of hell without getting burned…..

Yet there’s at least a “little” Eichmann in all of us as we faithfully participate in our ecocidal “American Way of Life.” So what do we care about a little radiation here or a few meltdowns there?

Remember, “Killing is [our] business…..and business is good!” Just ask a member of that species that will be extinct in about 15 minutes….

Jason Miller is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor.

For those of you refusing to bow at the altar of Thanatos, click on the links below to find out what you can do to help IPSEC shut down Indian Point:

http://www.remyc.com/rockthereactors/gameplan.html

http://www.ipsecinfo.org/

http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaign_indianpoint.php

http://greennuclearbutterfly.blogspot.com/

http://www.petitiononline.com/cipn2002/petition.html

see

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card

Palin, a bold move or reckless choice? + Palin blackens Russia’s name

Party whores: Sarah Palin’s Big, Sleazy Safari

Scott Horton and Israeli Airstrips in Georgia

Scott Ritter on RNC, Biden and Possibility of Attack on Iran

Going on an Imperial Bender – How the U.S. Garrisons the Planet and Doesn’t Even Notice

Compulsion to kill by John Vaillant (2003)

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

by John Vaillant
Aug 30, 2008
April 2003 Atlantic Monthly

Obsessions

“I was always interested in animals,” says Thomas Venezia, recently the subject of an extensive criminal investigation stemming from his hunting practices. “I always wanted to be near them”

Overkill

Until January of last year, when a federal judge fined him $4,500, confiscated $15,000 worth of his equipment, and banned him from hunting anywhere in the world for five years, Thomas Venezia specialized in bagging waterfowl. Venezia was a hunter and guide in his mid-forties who operated out of Williston, Vermont. A virtuoso with duck calls, decoys, and shotguns, he was able to draw down entire flocks of geese flying a thousand feet overhead. Once the birds were within range, he could kill them with shots that other hunters wouldn’t even attempt, sometimes using spectacular, almost instantaneous pivots of his shotgun to dispatch birds flying toward him, head on. “He’s brilliant,” says Bradley Carleton, an expert hunter who assisted Venezia on several hunting trips. “No question. His focus is extraordinary. I’ve never met anyone who was that obsessed.”

Because of his obsession, for much of the 1990s Venezia was the subject of a wide-ranging investigation involving local police forces and federal agents from the United States and Canada. Events came to a head in September of 2000, at the start of duck-hunting season, when Venezia went to Saskatchewan for a six-day hunting trip with Richard Perry, a client he had previously worked with and whom he considered a friend. In fact Perry was an undercover agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and what he chronicled during those six days in the field reads like a parody of hunting excess. While watching Venezia kill approximately 350 birds, ranging in size from pigeons to a sandhill crane, Perry documented 230 potential hunting violations. The charges against Venezia included using illegal ammunition, shooting from a moving vehicle, killing protected species, and failing to recover downed birds. According to Perry, during the trip Venezia announced that he had the “K chromosome.” “I love to kill,” he said. “I have to kill.”

After the Saskatchewan trip Perry assembled his data and reported them to Canadian authorities, who arrested Venezia at the U.S.-Canadian border in November of 2000, while he was on another trip engineered by Perry. Venezia was held in jail for a week, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and subsequently pleaded guilty to twenty-four hunting violations. The judge presiding over the case found it difficult to contain her disgust and alarm. She fined him $12,000 (in U.S. dollars) and banished him from Canada forever-the first such punishment imposed on a foreign wildlife offender. During his sentencing Venezia struggled to hold back tears.

Venezia returned to Vermont, where he was living with his wife and infant daughter. During his absence his home had been visited by local and federal wildlife enforcement agents-armed with guns and a search warrant-who were investigating his alleged violations in the United States. They confiscated everything remotely related to their investigation, and Venezia suddenly became news. Ronald Maynard, the head of special investigations for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment and Resource Management, summed up many people’s feelings about Venezia when he told the press, “this guy doesn’t deserve to be called a hunter; he’s an affront to every ethic of hunting.”

Venezia ran afoul of the law at a peculiar juncture in the history of our relationship with animals. Ever since Magna Carta granted limited rights to British freemen, Western society has been slouching toward an ever more inclusive definition of human, and now nonhuman, rights. In the past fifty years the change in attitude toward animals has been accelerated by urbanization, which has drawn much of the population away from daily contact with animals (and hunters), and by the environmental movement, which has required us to think and to legislate beyond species just as the civil-rights movement required us to think and legislate beyond ethnicity.

These are challenging times for blood sports. Even trophy hunters are moving toward “green” hunting-shooting game with tranquilizer darts, a practice that lets the targets live to be shot another day. It’s an ethical contortion that would have been laughable even thirty years ago, but a lot has changed in a generation-so much that the British Parliament is currently considering a highly contentious bill that would ban the most iconic blood sport of all, fox hunting with horse and hounds.

It will take much moral evolution before these people—if ever—leave behind their depraved habit of getting their kicks by murdering animals. That such activities are still not only legal, but a respected industry, say much about the true state of our civilization. (CJO Editors)

However, a lot has stayed the same. Today it remains legal to kill any number of creatures, often for the most whimsical of reasons, despite the fact that animal-rights law is becoming a standard course offering in prominent American law schools and even a professional subspecialty. In New England a hunter can hop, stepping-stone fashion, from “nuisance goose” season (September) to goose and duck seasons (generally October to January) to no-limit crow season (March and April) and on to turkey season (May). Any gaps in this hunting calendar can be filled in with quail, chukar partridge, and pigeon, which are legal much of the year. And those are just the birds.

Hunters give meaning to their sport in a wide variety of ways. One hunter I know kills a single elk each fall and eats the meat throughout the following year. I know of another who will shoot as many geese as he can, gather them into a bloody heap, set his infant son on top, and take a picture. A third told me with heartfelt sincerity that “pulling the trigger is transcendental; it’s the desire to become.” These three men have little in common other than their passion for the hunt and the fact that they are U.S. citizens fully abiding by current laws.

Thomas Venezia is far from the beer-swilling redneck stereotype of a hunter that many nonhunters are inclined to conjure up. In the spring of 2001 we met at a gas station outside Burlington, Vermont; he arrived in an immaculate gold pickup. He is tall and athletic-looking, with a strong, handsome jaw and brown hair, slightly rumpled and laced with gray. He wore glasses over a pair of deeply set brown eyes that gave him a look of disarming gravity and sharpness. We had barely finished shaking hands when Venezia’s gaze abruptly shifted skyward. “See those pigeons?” he asked. I turned to see a small flock circling overhead. “Now they’re in range.” A half second passed. “That one’s dead,” he said, nodding toward the lead bird. “So’s that one.” The behavior seemed almost automatic.

Venezia was raised in upstate New York-prime hunting territory, although he was not from a hunting family. “I was always interested in animals,” he told me. “I always wanted to be near them, to push and poke and prod them.” A friend’s father took him trapping when he was ten, and Venezia got hooked. He trapped muskrats, minks, raccoons, and foxes, and he sold pelts by the hundreds. “I couldn’t sleep at night thinking about what was going to be in my traps,” he said. “I read a lot and I subscribed to magazines. And I would go and sit down on the bank of a creek and watch.” Of waterfowl he asked me, “How does this bird identify the bogeyman?” He then answered his own question: “They’re smart, but they’re easily exploited by observing their habits. You don’t try to change Mother Nature. You try to imitate her.”

“Let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace and allow civilization to advance.” – General Philip Sheridan. The buffalo herds were hunted down with abandon and a cruelty that can only be regarded as wanton. Not only was this repugnant activity a form of recreation in which even notables such as Audubon himself participated, but a deliberate policy to starve the plains Indians into submission. (CJO Editors)

Venezia worked hard to support his habit. As a salesman for a company that offers “data capture solutions” (handheld devices used in stores for taking inventory), he had a lot of control over his time. He sometimes conducted business by cell phone from a duck blind. Despite his relentless hunting schedule (”Hunting season never really ends if you’re a serious hunter,” he told me), Venezia made enough to support his family in a comfortable home and to finance his passion handsomely. Before his legal difficulties he owned five boats, including a floating duck blind built on an Army-surplus barge. His basement, according to a fellow hunter, was an extraordinary place. “It was loaded with deer heads,” the hunter told me, “so many that it was like what you’d see in a hunting club where families had been hunting for generations. There were all kinds of guns, and hundreds and hundreds of decoys.” When the federal and state agents searched the basement, they took firearms, computer records, photographs, mounted birds, deer heads, and Venezia’s collection of “jewelry”-in hunters’ parlance the metal bands that scientists attach to the ankles of waterfowl for tracking purposes. Shooting a banded bird is a rare and random occurrence-like winning a kind of avian lottery. As a result the bands are prized by many duck hunters. An avid hunter might collect twenty or thirty over the course of his career; Venezia had more than 300.

In a good year more than 100 million waterfowl migrate across North America (of this number some 20 million will be killed by hunters), and only a tiny percentage of these birds are banded. Robert Rooks, the chief warden for the State of Vermont, explained to me that in order to collect 300 bands “you’d have to shoot thousands of birds.”

Hunting to excess is practically a New World tradition. European settlers, freshly arrived from a continent in which natural resources had been limited for centuries, were awestruck by what they encountered-seemingly endless forests, millions of buffalo, billions of passenger pigeons. In a letter written from Florida in 1831, John J. Audubon, a forefather of the conservation movement, observed, “The birds, generally speaking, appeared wild and few-you must be aware that I call birds few, when I shoot less than one hundred per day.” But by the 1870s many animal populations were in free fall, and hunters were largely to blame. During a trip out west in 1848 Audubon had engaged in the popular sport of buffalo coursing, in which a rider armed with a pistol or a carbine would gallop into a herd of stampeding buffalo and kill them at point-blank range. When the shooting was over, little was taken from the carcasses but the tongues, which were considered a delicacy. Lewis Squires, one of Audubon’s companions on that trip, became so enamored of the sport that he begged to stay on after Audubon continued westward. He then killed so many buffalo that he confessed himself “almost ashamed.”

But Audubon saw the writing on the wall. “Before many years,” he wrote in his Missouri River Journal in 1843, “the Buffalo, like the Great Auk, will have disappeared; surely this should not be permitted.” It would be three decades before Congress passed protective legislation. By then the U.S. buffalo herd had been reduced to fewer than fifty animals. The passenger pigeon was not even that lucky: it was driven to extinction by a combination of habitat loss and market hunting. During a single month in 1878 market hunters took more than a billion birds from one colony in Michigan.

To say that hunters from earlier eras “didn’t know any better” is both naive and revisionist: all successful hunters have an intimate understanding of their environment. American colonists in Rhode Island demonstrated that understanding as early as the 1640s, by passing a law to protect deer. By the 1700s such restrictions were common along the eastern seaboard, although they were rarely enforced. Like cod fishermen today, Americans who hunted game for profit were relentless until their quarry grew so scarce that pursuing it was no longer remunerative. By the mid-1800s deer, beaver, and wild turkey, to name just a few of the most commonly hunted animals, had been all but extirpated from the northeastern United States. Opposition to the slaughter was growing, however. The urban upper class was spawning sportsmen’s clubs organized around the need for restraint-not least because their members had limited opportunities to hunt, and conservation would improve their chances of bagging something. Meanwhile, market hunters were shooting all week long, sometimes with light cannon that could bring down a hundred geese at a time. The clash between the working-class market hunter and the wealthy, politically connected recreational hunter laid the groundwork for the culture of conservation that exists today. It also provides background for understanding the intense hostility that Thomas Venezia engendered in Vermont’s close-knit, highly disciplined waterfowling community.

Venezia was a commercial guide in a state that has no guiding tradition. Unlike its neighbors Maine and New Hampshire, Vermont has no licensing or certification requirements for hunting guides-and although the Missisquoi River delta, in northwestern Vermont, boasts some of the finest waterfowling in New England, Venezia was the only person working there as a professional hunting guide. His talents as a salesman were instrumental in both his success and his downfall as a hunter. Like salesmen, serious hunters are deeply concerned with territory. Ideally, they want at their disposal a large area that is attractive to game and inaccessible to other hunters. Public land doesn’t always fulfill the second criterion, so an ambitious hunter may try to secure exclusive access to private land. Leasing private land for this purpose is standard operating procedure in the American South, but it is a relatively new practice in Vermont, one of the few states in which hunting is still considered a right rather than a privilege: all of the state’s private rural land is open to hunting unless bans have formally been posted. Leasing arrangements for posted land are often under-the-table deals sealed with cash and a handshake, and Venezia approached them with his characteristic zeal. “Tom is a master negotiator, a master bargainer,” Bradley Carleton told me. “He drove the roads and found the fields and got permission like no one you’ve ever known.”

Venezia’s persistence paid off. By the mid-1990s he had secured exclusive rights to large swaths of prime hunting land across Vermont and New York. “Other guides and locals were really upset,” recalls a hunter who assisted Venezia on guiding trips, “because he would move into areas they were already hunting on, or he’d get on land they’d never been able to hunt.”

In the Champlain Valley, which straddles western Vermont and eastern New York, April still qualifies as winter: leafless forests rise like gray stubble over the white hills, and spring feels a long way off. Despite the recent sprouting of McMansions on the farmland around some of the area’s bigger towns, the largest manmade structures on the landscape tend to be barns, and many of them are still owned by families who have been working the land for generations.

One local farmer, Bud Bodette, raises cows on the banks of Hospital Creek, in Addison County, Vermont. He has lived in the area for more than sixty years, and has seen a lot of changes. “I used to be a pothunter,” he told me one spring. “I hunted to put game in the frying pan. But people look down on that now.” Bodette is one of the landowners Venezia paid for hunting rights, and he believes it was Venezia’s leasing arrangements, rather than his hunting practices, that drew the sustained attention of state and federal agents. “Tom stepped on a lot of toes-a lot of important toes,” Bodette told me. “Game wardens competed for this land too, and they have connections. Somebody had to have some clout to have a federal agent on Tom for that long.”

Some of the toes that got stepped on may have belonged to Bill Crenshaw, who has been a state wildlife biologist since 1973. Diligent and soft-spoken, Crenshaw is well respected by wardens and hunters alike. He’s also a duck hunter and a good friend of Bodette’s. For years Bodette had given him permission to hunt a blind on Hospital Creek. In the early 1990s Venezia leased hunting rights to Bodette’s land. He invited Crenshaw to stay on, but only if he agreed to share the leasing cost. Crenshaw declined and was forced to hunt elsewhere. “When you’re a hunter who’s always asked permission and made an effort to have good relations with the landowner,” Crenshaw told me, “it stings to lose a spot you’ve hunted for years.”

Fences are built to keep cows in, not to keep neighbors out. So goes a Vermont adage. But Venezia wasn’t a native Vermonter, and he didn’t behave like one. Loud, brash, and confrontational, he was known for blocking public boat ramps in the dark hours of the morning in order to keep other hunters from getting onto the water before he did. If a hunting party managed to beat him to a coveted spot, Venezia would set up right next to it-a serious breach of hunters’ etiquette.

“Vermont duck hunters, as a group, are very courteous and conscientious,” Crenshaw told me. “I’ve been doing this for twenty-eight years, and I got more complaints from more people about Tom than about anyone I’ve ever known.” The list of grievances included driving in people’s fields, overbagging, even dispersing clients from his hunting blind and stationing them around parts of Missisquoi Bay with flashlights in the predawn, to discourage competition by making it seem that the area was already full of hunters. And it wasn’t unusual for Venezia to shatter the stillness of dawn on the bay with cries like “Lock and load, boys!” or-to the flocking geese-”Come over here and I’ll give you the nasty sting of steel!”

The federal officers I interviewed were careful to say that Venezia was pursued so aggressively because he was breaking the law, but it’s clear that this was only part of the motive. “It’s really about hunter ethics,” Bill Crenshaw told me. “People wanted something done about him.” Robert Rooks explained the case a little differently. “To keep citing him for individual infractions would have been ineffective,” he said. “The goal of this investigation was to shut him down-to stop him from continuously raping the resource.”

This it has done, and more. In losing his hunting license for five years Venezia received the same punishment one gets for accidentally shooting a person in the field. In addition to being fined, put on probation, and required to do a hundred hours of community service, he has been ordered by the court to seek psychological counseling-a first for a federal wildlife offender. Although all of this amounts to stiff punishment, Kim Speckman, the federal agent responsible for assembling the U.S. case against Venezia, believes that for him the hardest part of all was the loss of his “jewelry” collection. “I can guarantee you that the thing that hurt him the most was giving up those bands,” she told me.

Venezia has also suffered another penalty, one that small New England communities have always been good at inflicting: he has become an outcast. “He’s a social pariah in the outdoor community,” Bradley Carleton told me. Mark Farrell, another regular on Missisquoi Bay, concurred. “The shame factor is huge,” he said. Venezia appears to be feeling it keenly. “You can’t imagine the pressure this is putting on me from all different angles,” he told me. “I don’t have any pride now. I wish I could run and hide somewhere. I wish I could disappear.” He seems to be trying: since his sentencing he has divorced his wife and moved away from the area.

But hunting will always be in Venezia’s blood. This became clear to me on the morning we first met, when those pigeons flew overhead. After he drew a bead on them, I asked him what he was seeing. Despite everything he had recently been through, he looked at me and said simply, “Fodder.”

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Agent Wayne Pacelle, the Hypocrisy Society of the United States, & the Thrill Kill Cult

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Dr. Steve Best
8/25/08

In August 2005, when HSUS (hereafter think “H$U$”) Executive Vice President Mike Markarian publicly “applaud[ed]” the FBI for arresting and imprisoning six amazing activists from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), my outrage over this self-serving betrayal of activists and animals alike inspired me to write “The Iron Cage of Bureaucracy,” a fierce critique of HSUS and its chief executive, Wayne Pacelle. I condemned HSUS for its divisive attacks on animal rights militants, its bureaucratic rigidity, its cowardly conformism, and its disturbingly cozy relationships with the animal exploiters they claim to oppose. Continue reading

Help factory-farmed torture victims

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

Hello

I’m taking part in the Walk for Farm Animals 2008 – Kansas City, MO to raise money for Farm Sanctuary – please make a donation by visiting my Firstgiving page: http://www.firstgiving.com/jasonmiller

You can donate online with a credit card. All donations are secure and sent directly to Farm Sanctuary by Firstgiving, who will email you a printable record of your donation.

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Like the Little Satans We Are By Jason Miller

Dissing Cousins: The Dysfunctional Disparity between Vegetarianism and Environmentalism

A Very Inconvenient Truth by Capt. Paul Watson

Squabbling Over the Pigeon Bill: PA Legislature Won’t Be Able to Soar Like Eagles Until It Shoots Down Animal Cruelty

Dissing Cousins: The Dysfunctional Disparity between Vegetarianism and Environmentalism

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Dr. Steve Best
Thomas Paine’s Corner
8/13/08

Currently, it is estimated that in the US “somewhere between two percent and five percent of the nation’s eaters classify themselves as vegetarians, of that number perhaps five percent are strict vegans” (Koerner 2007). Although “vegetarians” renounce animal flesh, they consume animal fluids (milk and milk-derivates such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream) and/or eggs. The vegetarian tribe is divided into “lacto-ovo” vegetarians who eat dairy products and eggs, “lacto-vegetarians” who eat dairy but no eggs, and “ovo-vegetarians” who eat eggs but no dairy. Some describe themselves as “vegetarians” who eat fish (“pescetarians”) or chicken (“pollo-vegetarians”) or both (“pesco-pollo vegetarians”). In truth, these oxymoronic hybridists are carnivores whose pretense to vegetarianism depends on the double fallacy of equating “meat” with “red meat” and conflating sentient beings (e.g., chicken and fish) with nonsentient things (plants).

But vegetarianism itself has been criticized as inadequate and inconsistent by a more radical approach known as “veganism” (pronounced “vee-gun-ism). For every reason vegetarians renounce meat-eating, vegans find it necessary also to repudiate dairy, cheese, eggs, and honey; clothing items such as fur, leather, wool, and silk; and animal-tested products including shampoo, cosmetics, and, drugs. Vegans believe that vegetarians only partially – and therefore inconsistently — break from a health-destroying, violent, and ecocidal system. For, like meat and the livestock industry, dairy and egg products are toxic and disease-promoting; milk cows, birds in battery cages, and veal calves are confined and killed for “lacto-ovo” consumption; and dairy and egg farms pollute the air and water. Thus, vegan pioneer Donald Watson (1910-2005) disparaged vegetarianism as “but a half-way house between flesh eating and a truly humane, civilised diet” (1944). As with vegetarianism there are sub-categories of veganism, including fruitarianism, raw food veganism, and freeganism (a minimal consumption lifestyle).

“Vegetarianism” (which I will use here to include veganism) has a long and rich history as old as Western society itself (see Berry 1998, Iacobbo and Iacobbo 2004, Spencer 2002, Walters and Portmess 1999 and 2001, Spencer 2004, Tristram 2007, and Phelps 2007. As a health-promoting diet and an ethic rooted in compassion for all living beings (ahimsa), vegetarianism emerged over three thousand years ago as a philosophy and practice of the ancient religions: Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. From this matrix, vegetarianism migrated into Western society through the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras (ca 496-552 BCE), whose vegetarianism and animal protectionist ethics spread throughout the ancient world and resurfaced in the seventeenth century (indeed, until 1847, those who abstained from meat were called “Pythagoreans”). At the dawn of modernity, vegetarianism became increasingly influential throughout European society, such that radicals deployed its non-violent and egalitarian outlook as a critical weapon against class rule and Western barbarism and prominent medical figures espoused it as ideal for health and morality as well (Stuart 2007).

Deep Vegetarianism, Radical Holism, and the Omnicidal Juggernaut of Corporate Agriculture

In the turn to the twentieth century, however, the influence of vegetarianism in the US began to wane as the livestock industry became increasingly powerful and meat became an affordable staple for working-class families (Rifkin 1992). Amidst a culture believing that meat promotes strength and vegetarianism encourages weakness, a dramatic revival, growth, and broadening of vegetarianism began in 1971, with the publication of Francis Moore Lappe’s book, Diet for a Small Planet. In this and subsequent books (1977, 1998, 2003), Lappe described a corporate-controlled, industrialized, factory-farmed system of animal agriculture that was inefficient, wasteful, cruel, and destructive to every facet of the environment. The global livestock industry was, as well, a vehicle of Western imperialism that displaced millions of people from the land, destroyed independent farmers, exacerbated poverty and inequality, and aggravated world hunger by diverting resources into producing feed rather than food. To this destructive, unethical, unjust, and unsustainable system of agriculture, Lappe contrasted a vegetarian mode of farming that produced maximum output with minimum input; that promoted health, rights, justice, and democracy; and that was environmentally sound and sustainable.

Lappe’s work — along with Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975), Singer and Jim Mason’s Animal Factories (1990 [1980]), and John Robbins’ Diet for a New America (1998 [1987]) — vividly portrayed the human, animal, and environmental costs of the global meat culture and inspired the vegetarian environmentalism movement. The panoramic outlook advanced here fused issues of health, animal rights, social justice, world hunger, violence, globalization, and environmentalism into a holistic theory unrivalled in depth, comprehensiveness, and awareness of the multidimensional crisis – health, moral, social, and environmental – facing humanity. Since these theorists’ pioneering lead, a number of significant books have documented the central role of the livestock industry in the devastation of the social and natural worlds (see Mason and Singer 1990 [1980], Jacobs 1992, Rifkin 1992, Hill 1996, Robbins 2001, Lyman 2001, and Jacobson 2006). Beginning in the 1990s, vegetarian environmentalists described how the livestock industry was the principle cause of the most serious threat confronting humanity: global warming.

By 2000, growing alarm over the human, animal, and environmental toll of the global meat, dairy, and egg industries percolated into scientific sectors, international government bodies, and – in a bewilderingly slow and hesitant way – some mainstream environmental groups such as the Sierra Club. Throughout 400 startling pages, a landmark 2006 United Nations report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” identified the livestock industry “as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global” (Steinfeld et. al. 2006). The data compiled in this report and countless thousands of corroborating studies leave little room for doubt in identifying the livestock industry as the main planetary threat. The number of farmed animals in the world has quadrupled in the last 50 years, putting an incredible strain on air, land, and sea. Livestock uses 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface (Steinfeld et. al. 2006). Crops grown for animal feed rather than human food consume 87 percent of the nation’s fresh water, 90 percent of the soy crop, 80 percent of its corn, and 50 percent of all grains (Vesterby and Krupa 1997, Pimentel 1997). Compared to a vegetarian diet, meat production demands 7 times more land (Leckie 2007), 8 times more fossil fuel energy (Pimenel 1997), and ten times as many crops (Cornel University Science News, 1997, Robbins 1998 and 2001, Horrigan et. al. 2002). In this grotesquely irrational, inefficient, indirect system of carnivorous consumption, 41 million tons of plant protein for cows returns a paltry 7 million tons of protein for humans (Pimentel 1997).

Not only inefficient and wasteful, the livestock industry is a key cause of air pollution, soil erosion, and desertification, and the main source of water pollution. Agriculture produces two-thirds of the ammonia gases that produce acid rain. US farms generate 130 times as much excrement as the nation’s entire population (Worldwatch Institute 1998). Factory farm effluvia – a toxic brew of manure, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and fertilizers — poison water supplies, decimate fish populations, degrade coral reefs, and have generated over 150 oxygen-starved “dead zones” in the oceans (Larsen 2004).

Moreover, 70 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been slashed and burned to graze cattle and much of the remainder goes to producing feed. In addition to being a principle cause of forest destruction and species extinction, the livestock industry is the primary cause of global warming (Steinfeld et. al. 2006). Meat, dairy, and egg industries emit 18 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, 37 percent of the methane gas (20 times stronger a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide), and 65 percent of nitrous oxide gases (300 times more potent than carbon dioxide). The UN report concluded that the livestock industry produced more greenhouse gases than the world’s transportation systems combined (Steinfeld et. al. 2006).

The Missing Piece to the Puzzle

These alarming facts clearly demonstrate the importance of vegetarianism and animal rights for environmentalism and the urgency of finding the common ground for a triangular alliance. Yet rather than uniting in the war to prevent massive die-offs, catastrophic breakdown, and irreversible climate change, vegetarian and environmental camps divided, torn apart by deep differences in philosophy and lifestyle (see Motavalli 2002, Sapontzis 2004). Both camps break with the domineering and dualistic mindset of anthropocentrism, but whereas vegetarians and animal rights advocates reject its mirror image in speciesism, environmentalists cling to speciesist ethics that privilege human interests and frame animals as resources for human use.

Environmentalists promote the need for a new “ecological consciousness” and “land ethic,” but rarely if ever champion vegetarianism and a new ethic to govern our relation with other species. Whereas vegetarians identify themselves as environmentalists, few environmentalists embrace vegetarianism. At stake are competing views on animal rights, whether or not hunting and meat-eating are ethical and compatible with environmental values, and how to balance the values of individuals and ecosystems.

Thrill Kill Cult

Ethical vegetarians shift the criterion for having rights from rationality to the far broader characteristic of sentience, such that a necessary and sufficient condition of having rights is the capacity to experience pleasure and pain (Singer 1975, Regan 1983). Given the fundamental moral axiom that it is wrong to cause injury, suffering, or death to another individual unless there is a compelling reason to do so, ethical vegetarians argue that — except in very rare cases such as self-defense or “subsistence” hunting — we never have adequate reason to harm animals. This is true not only for exploiting animals for “sport,” “entertainment,” and fur, but also killing them for food.

Many environmentalists opposed to industrial agriculture agree that factory farming is cruel and unethical, but nonetheless assert that animals raised on small “family” farms without intensive confinement and manipulation is acceptable and good. Their justifications for raising animals for slaughter include the argument that animals would not live at all if not bred for food, that they live a satisfying and worthy life on non-industrial farms, that killing and consuming others is a natural fact of life, and that animals exist to serve the interests of human beings. This position turns on a “welfare” rather than “rights” position (see Regan 2004), such that the moral wrong is in causing animals severe or unnecessary suffering (such as on factory farms) rather than exploiting them for human purposes. On the welfare view, slaughtering animals for food is ethical, so long as it is done “humanely” – a concept ethical vegetarians dismiss as Orwellian doublespeak, insisting that there is nothing “humane” about violent killing.

Whereas vegetarians view hunting as unnecessary and therefore unjustifiable killing, environmentalists support hunting as a recreational lifestyle. Indeed, they argue that hunting has positive ecological benefits by stabilizing game populations such as deer that would otherwise overpopulate (Lott 2007, Miniter 2007). Vegetarians respond that hunting in fact is the prime cause of deer overpopulation, and argue that hunters’ predilection to kill large healthy males over weaker individuals and females disrupts ecological and evolutionary dynamics (Pickover 2005). Unlike the animal rights ethic, which defends the rights of sentient individuals as inviolable, environmentalism is a holistic ethic that values ecosystems and species populations over individuals. Whereas many environmentalists champion Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” (1970) as the most comprehensive embrace of the biotic community (Callicott 1993), animal rights philosopher Tom Regan (1983) denounced it as “environmental fascism” that sacrifices the individual to the whole. Others still worked to reconcile these contrasting positions (Jamieson 1997).

While some environmentalists might agree with vegetarians that factory farming is cruel, they support obtaining meat from non-commercial wild sources through “sustainable” hunting and fishing. Moreover, environmentalists argue that small-scale, organic farming is “humane” and beneficial for the environment (Eisenstein 2002, Pollan 2007). Whereas low value land – such as prairie and steppe regions – is unsuited for plants, it can be used to graze cows and sheep and thereby improves land efficiency and productivity (Science Daily 2007, Land 2007). Rebutting vegetarians who boast the ecological virtues of a plant-based diet, environmentalists point out that a frugal organic farmer who consumes modest amounts of meat from his own cows can leave a lighter “ecological footprint” than a vegetarian who drives a Hummer, is a frequent flyer, and buys produce from global rather than local sources.

Such a scenario could indeed be true, but vegetarians respond that they have not taken an innocent life to satisfy their need to eat and they resent the glib and clichéd responses by environmentalists concerning the value of an animal’s life. As the world has yet recognize a global ecological crisis spiraling out of control (Agence-France Presse 2007), vegetarians rightly argue that environmentalists have been slow to grasp the disastrous impact of meat consumption. Vegetarians point out that environmentalists have not explained how their vision of a global network of small farms can satisfy the competitive need for profits (Collin 2003), let alone the surging demand for meat — especially in the world’s most populous nations, China and India – and a burgeoning population projected to double to 12 billion by 2050 (Worldwatch Institute 1998, Steinfeld et. al. 2006, Freston 2007). Moreover, they argue, environmentalists’ uncritical praise for “organic farming” as the alternative to factory farming confuses hype for reality and increasingly is yet another form of mass production and killing of animals (Cienfuegos 2004, Davis 2007, PETA).

Now or Never

In sum, environmentalists’ work on behalf wilderness preservation benefits animals and ecological holism is a necessary broadening of ethics beyond the “sentientism” of ethical vegetarianism. Animal rights campaigns to protect species are crucial for sustaining ecological systems, and vegetarians promote a comprehensive vision for a new world. These are fertile grounds for alliance politics, and yet there are deep if not incommensurable differences over the ethics of meat-eating and hunting, a sentientist ethic opposed to a land ethic, and the value of ecosystems and populations contrasted to the rights of individual animals. While it remains to be seen whether these differences can be negotiated in favor of a strategic alliance, but it is certain that productive working relationships among the vegetarian, animal rights, and environmental communities would give humanity more of a fighting chance to confront the greatest challenge it has ever faced.

Vegetarianism is not a panacea for ever-worsening social and environmental crises, but it is a crucial part of major changes that people — in the developed worlds above all — must make. These include reducing their population numbers and consumption levels and shifting from industrial to local agriculture, from chemically-intensive to organic farming, and from fossil-fuel to alternative energy. Yet the shift from a meat-based to a vegetarian or plant-based diet would benefit not only the environment in every facet, but also endangered species, billions of animals suffering in factory farms and slaughterhouses, farmers displaced from their land, and billions of people suffering from diseases of excess (in the developed world) and of lack (in the undeveloped world).

Moving from a carnocentric diet is especially important in the US, whose citizens consume 260 pounds of meat per year, more than any other nation. The mountain of meat quaffed by glutinous Americans is 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh. Some researchers are optimistic that even small reduction in meat consumption by enough people in the US and other Western nations could have a significant regenerative impact on the earth. Leo Horrigan of the Center for a Livable Future writes: “One personal act that can have a profound impact on these [environmental] issues is reducing meat consumption… Considering [the tonnage Americans consume] even modest reductions in meat consumption … would substantially reduce the burden on our natural resources.”

If true, small changes can have large consequences if enough people accept the responsibility and take the initiative. Vegetarians can considerably lighten their ecological footprint by going vegan; vegans can always waste, consume, and pollute less; and both should be active in social movements rather than being lifestyle environmentalists trying to heal the planet one tofuburger at a time. And if environmentalists are not changing their ideas, lifestyles, policies, platforms, and priorities to address the issues engaged head-on by the vegetarian communities, I cannot think of a more momentous failure in their professed calling to defend the earth.

Dr. Steve Best is Cyrano’s Journal Special Editor for Animal Rights, Speciesisim and Human Tyranny over Nature.

Award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Steven Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 books, over 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.

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A Very Inconvenient Truth by Capt. Paul Watson

Sent to me by Jason Miller

Dandelion Salad

by Capt. Paul Watson
www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE
Aug. 10, 2008

‘You see our meat eating habits are more closely related to the vulture, the jackal or other carrion eaters. This means that we can’t be described as carnivores. We are better described as necrovores or eaters of rotting flesh.’

The meat industry is one of the most destructive ecological industries on the planet. The raising and slaughtering of pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys and chickens not only utilizes vast areas of land and vast quantities of water, but it is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry.

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