liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

On leave

This blogger is temporarily on vacation. I am starting new jobs and classes as of August 31. I expect to be back blogging again by the middle of September.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Today's New Standard had a feature on Monsanto and their application to patent certain pig reproduction techniques. This is scary.

The whole issue is predicated on a cold, scientific insensitivity to intelligent sentient beings, in this case, pigs.

Cristoph Then, a Greenpeace researcher based in Germany, was interviewed by journalist Jeff Shaw for the article. According to Shaw,
The dangers, Then said, are quite concerning. As food production centralizes, consumers could become dependent upon fewer and fewer companies -- raising the risk of dangerous monopolies. In this case, Monsanto -- already a giant in other arenas -- is making a bold move into pork products, on which American consumers spend about $38 billion each year.

We've heard about Monsanto's work in seed monopolies in India and Iraq. This company is out of control. Not only do they want to patent natural breeding processes of plants and animals, they are incautious about the environmental effects and the results of their products' dissemination. Charles Margulis, spokesperson for the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group specializing in food policy, told Shaw,
"We're talking about one of the biggest polluters of the 20th century. This is a company with a 100-year track record of polluting the planet: now they're moving in and trying to control the food supply. This is a very troubling development, and people need to be aware of who is behind it."
Worst of all, their entire effort here, as usual, is proceeding with no ethical considerations about the animals and the mass production of pork. Monsanto is going to have such a vested interest in pork consumption that they will lavish billions on advertising and promotion to expand their market, to the complete disregard of the animals they are profiting from.

As Michael Parenti says in a current piece on ZNet, entitled, Why the Corporate Rich Oppose Environmentalism,
An ever-expanding capitalism and a fragile finite ecology are on a calamitous collision course.

It is not true that the ruling politico-economic interests are in a state of denial about this. Far worse than denial, they have shown utter antagonism toward those who think the planet is more important than corporate profits.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Ranchers Fight Back (on astroturf)

I googled "Matthew Scully," author of Dominion, and got pages and pages of links. On about the fourth page was this editorial, appearing on

The editorial is dismissive of Scully and of George Will who read Dominion and echoed Scully in a column in Newsweek. The author of the editorial says:
Scully and Will fall into the trap of well-meaning people who have not been around animals in a production agriculture setting enough to understand how animal sensitivities differ from ours. Give a cow a windbreak, enough feed and a water source and she can not only survive but thrive in a North Dakota winter... That is a totally different level of sensitivity than humans could exhibit outdoors with no clothes under the same conditions.

Since science has not yet learned how to quantitatively measure sensitivity and pain, we must go by empirical observation. Things like weight gain, increases in size and sufficient nutrition and energy in excess of maintenance for reproduction are signs that an animal’s nutrition and behavior needs are being met -- which includes the proximity of like animals to be comfortable.

Okay, so city-boy doesn't know an asshole from an udder and should mind his own business before he puts his foot in his mouth.

Our editorialist concludes,
these kinds of assumptions are due to a mistake people make of putting themselves – with the mind and emotions only humans possess – into the situation of a pig or a chicken or a cow. That is no more valid in real life than the children’s stories people make up about animals in a human-like world. Production agriculture is going to have to get people to understand that only humans are humans. Animals are living creatures deserving our care and the respect for life up to the level animals deserve. But animals are not humans. It’s something so basic, so obvious, yet something some people just unintentionally ignore or blur – and others exploit and play upon.

We get the point. But our editorialist takes it a step further and pinpoints the real crisis awaiting civilization as a result of do-gooder exploitation:
Animal agriculture in general, and the more intensely confined species in particular, are going to have to figure out how to deal with people claiming the moral right to “reform” production agriculture. What gives Scully and Will the expertise to fix this perceived problem? Like do-gooders sometimes do, they skip over their lack of expertise and grasp of the facts to the moral “imperative” they feel to do something.

The solution is to educate consumers about the differences between people and animals as well as proper farm management.
One of the biggest battles for American agriculture over the next decade will be for the hearts and minds of our customers, as well as their pocketbook. The education of consumers about what food production is really like and what farm and ranch families are like is part of that story. But the difference between animals and humans and what proper management of animals is also a key issue. [sic] Just as most people “eat” a dish first with their eyes and nose, before they actually eat it, so also will we have to work to make sure people’s hearts and minds are with us, so their stomachs will follow.

Ha ha. But the real punch line is that this editorial was produced by Steve Dittmer, the sole author, editor, producer and all-around brains behind AFF, the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation.

The AFF states on their website that their "purpose is to promote free market principles throughout the agricultural food chain."

Under "Staff Bios" we see that Mr. Dittmer is the only staff member, and that his bio was written by "Administrator," which is undoubtedly an alias for Steven Dittmer. "He co-published CALF News magazine for nearly 20 years." His resume is just bursting with credentials as beef industry apologist:
Past experience included beef council CEO, association communications director and small-time rancher.

Was member of Beef Industry Council Advertising Committee that developed the first-ever beef industry national television ad campaign and industry's first Long Range Planning Committee.
What are the odds that AFF is a 501(c)(3) organization with a staff of one, in other words, "astroturf?" It's a platform for spouting the cattleman's call in objection and opposition to the likes of Scully, Will and Farm Sanctuary. It's an organization dedicated to the right of people to make a fortune exploiting animals with no restraints whatsoever.

Charming. No wonder Scully and Will's writings resonate so deeply with us: we live in the society who has applied industrial mass production techniques to the raising of domestic animals.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Petition Congress re Peak Oil

Here is the petition.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

critical mass 7/29

Last week's Villager has a lengthy article on the Critical Mass where this author was arrested for "parading without a permit." Yours truly was not charged with a violation or a crime. After being held in police custody for about three hours, I was released and my bicycle returned. All 33 other detainees were given Desk Appearance Tickets and will be charged with disorderly conduct and parading.

How It Happened

According to Jefferson Siegel, the ride left Union Square when the Free Speech rally ended at around 7:30. It seemed like around 15 minutes into the ride,
At 8 p.m., as a small group approached Seventh Ave. on 14th St., police blocked off the intersection and started placing riders under arrest. ... [One rider] said the group she was riding with was very small and stopped at every red light. “The people who obeyed the law are the ones they arrested,” she said.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Farm Sanctuary

Last night I went to Time's-Up! for the 8:00 movie. It was Peaceable Kingdom, a documentary produced with Farm Sanctuary.
It was a very disturbing and sad expose of the meat industry in the United States and how profit and desensitization have led the industry and the American consumer to inflict extremes of cruelty upon our animals.

I immediately decided to go vegetarian again.

There was a Farm Sanctuary representative there and we were able to ask her questions about the organization afterward.

What disturbs me as much as the violence we permit to be inflicted in our names is how oblivious to it and complacent about it we all are.

We live in a bubble of blissful ignorance about the horror that any creature outside that bubble is made to suffer on our behalf: this is my body, given up for you. Soon, the forces that inflict torture and violence will turn their consumption and destruction upon us, and then eventually upon themselves. They cannot control it. They are possessed.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Environmental Perspective

The BBC posted a summary of Shuttle Commander Collins's radio transmission to the Japanese.
Discovery is currently linked with the International Space Station, orbiting 352km (220 miles) above the Earth.

Commander Eileen Collins described on Thursday how widespread environmental destruction on Earth could be seen from the shuttle.

"Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation," Commander Collins said.

"It's very widespread in some parts of the world. We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used."

In her conversation from space with with Japanese officials in Tokyo, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, she said her view from space emphasised how Earth's atmosphere must be protected too.

"The atmosphere almost looks like an eggshell on an egg, it's so very thin," she said. "We know that we don't have much air - we need to protect what we have."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Diplomatic Bankruptcy

Last Friday was the deadline for the DoD to release the 87 Responsive Darby Photos, depicting extreme abuse of detainees by American captors in Iraq. Instead of complying with a court order to release the photos, however, the Pentagon instead filed a Memorandum of Law and three Affidavits with the Court to try to prevent the release of the photos and video.

According to the ACLU:
Last week, on the deadline of a court order requiring the Defense Department to process and redact 87 photographs and four videos taken at Abu Ghraib, government attorneys filed a last-minute memorandum of law and three affidavits arguing against the release of the materials. The government's papers cite a statutory provision that permits the withholding of records "compiled for law enforcement purposes," that "could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual."
In their report on the situation on their website, the ACLU also states:
"The government's recent actions make a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "The Defense Department has long dragged its heels on coming clean about the systematic and widespread abuse of detainees, but denying the public the right to even hear its legal arguments for withholding information is a new low."
Meanwhile, Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a "Declaration" to accompany the Memorandum of Law. He claims therein that the US Government has never officially released photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The previously-leaked Darby photos were not released by the US government. He insists that for the government to release them would create a violent blowback against the US. Specifically, he says that release of the responsive Darby photos will result in harm to US soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Also, he emphasizes the potency they will have as recruiting propaganda for terrorist groups.
The recent vitriolic reaction to Newsweek's Koran report described above -- even following its retraction -- made it clear that US and allied troops and personnel and civilians in the Middle East will be subject to a likely, serious, and grave risk if the responsive Darby Photos described in paragraphs 21-24 are publicly released. Release of these images will be portrayed as part and parcel of the alleged, continuing effort of the United States to humiliate Muslims and ... riots, violence and attacks by insurgents will result.
If the government releases the photos, it should be over the dead bodies of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz and Myers. But that's the irony of it. By suppressing the photos the Pentagon is negating its own rationale for going to Iraq in the first place. Is potential bodily harm, risk of violence, not a small price to pay for free speech? Of course they will be upset -- but not because of the 1st Amendment. The anti-American sentiment Myers talks about will arise as a result of the unmasking of American hypocrisy and inhumanity.

After all, we told the Iraquis we were doing them a favor by going over there and liberating them. But now we're unable to admit that we don't like them, and that is why we aren't punishing the perpetrators of these crimes: Bush and his Cabinet. But who are we fooling? Everybody already knows what hypocrites we are.

John Bolton

According to the Washington Post,
As recently as last week, Senate Democrats were busily building the case for Bolton's defeat, including getting the State Department to admit publicly that Bolton misinformed the Senate when he did not reveal he had been interviewed by the agency's inspector general about faulty prewar intelligence.
Of course, even in today's article by Jim VandeHei and Colum Lynch, the Post glossed over the ugliest, most rancorous aspects of the Bolton nomination hearings.

He will not apologize for American imperialism or human rights violations in the Middle East, Asia, or South America.

He is not a diplomat. The Bush Administration has taken on the face of the petulent bully, and that is John Bolton. He's Bush's man at the UN.

My guess is that they will try to stabilize the Middle East for now, pitting Shi'ite against Sunni, and look to wratchet up the pressure on Venezuela, here in our own hemisphere where Rice and Bolton think they have home court advantage.

The Pentagon Administration's spokesperson, George Bush, has shown that he can get away with defying court orders. So he doesn't have to answer to anybody, and neither does his cabinet, or his bosses in the armed forces and the petroleum industry.