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Saturday, May 25, 2002

Let Us Eat Dog or Die!

VIENNA (Reuters) - French actress-turned-animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot said on Saturday she had been sent thousands of death threats for criticising the South Korean practice of eating dog.

Bardot angered some South Koreans last year when she said she planned to distribute protest pictures depicting the torture of dogs before the upcoming 2002 World Cup soccer finals, which begin in Korea and Japan later this month.

"I have received 7,000 death threats...they are furious with me for my criticism and have said, 'this is our traditional culture," Bardot told a news conference.

Dogmeat-eating, popular in Korea and among Chinese communities, has emerged as a knotty issue for image-conscious South Korea, co-hosting the World Cup finals with Japan.

But Bardot, who was in Austria to receive an award for her animal rights activism, made it clear she would not be silenced.

"Eating dogs is not culture, it's grotesque. Culture is composing music like Mozart or building buildings like you see here in Vienna," she said.

Some dogs are specially bred in South Korea to be eaten, notably in "poshintang", literally "body preservation stew," which advocates say is good for health and is considered a delicacy by some. Only 16 per cent of dogs in South Korea are bred as pets.

Posted by Richard
5/25/2002 08:41:27 PM | PermaLink

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Free Trade and the Idea of a Local Economy

As George Bush wins the right from congress to pursue global trade agreements on the world market, we need to remember the power of community. Not the far-right community of propaganda and life adjustment, but rather the natural community of neighbors, local markets, and sustainable practices.

A nice Wendell Berry post from the Luddite Ned Blog on this idea is here.

Here's a blog by Rebecca Blood on supporting a community farm and its value.

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 10:35:25 PM | PermaLink

This Monkey is in Love

A female monkey fondly cuddles a puppy at a shop in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, May 9, 2002. The pet monkey, bought from an animal trader, "adopted" the puppy recently and spends many happy hours hugging it. Hunting and selling of monkeys are prohibited under Bangladesh laws but they are seldom enforced.

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 05:38:41 PM | PermaLink

Now We Can Murder Twice as Fast, Without the Torture of De-feathering!

Scientists at Agriculture department of the Hebrew University in Rehovot have genetically engineered a chicken that has no feathers. The naked chicken as it has been dubbed is also a low calorie bird because the lack of feathers means the chicken has less fat.

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 05:31:10 PM | PermaLink

Just Saying "No" to Kyoto

First the US, now Alberta, then watch for other big industrial states and provinces to begin to topple like dominoes. AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN -- the Kyoto protocol is barely even a significant emissions treaty! amounts, more or less, to nothing more than a tiny slap on the wrist...and not even this can ratified and implemented! It's no wonder then that the 1992 Earth Summit was a failure at anything more than articulating the theory of how to avert global disaster. Who will stand up to these impudent states and corporations and make them implement common sense? It must be the people -- we must change our consumption habits and we must protest: immediately.
CALGARY - Alberta, which pumps the lion's share of Canada's oil and gas, will refuse to implement the Kyoto treaty on global warming and may take the federal government to court to fight its case if Ottawa ratifies the pact, a senior minister said yesterday.

Reinforcing Alberta's staunch opposition to the treaty and perhaps further cutting the odds that Ottawa will sign it, Alberta environment minister Lorne Taylor said the province will not cooperate if Ottawa ratifies the Kyoto pact.

"We clearly will not implement the Kyoto agreement as it applies to Alberta," Taylor told a conference call. "Now, we recognize the federal government has every right to sign international agreements, but it's very clear who owns the resource. The people of Alberta own the resources of Alberta."

As center of Canada's oil and gas industry, Alberta has long said meeting targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the international accord will hurt its industries harder than those elsewhere in the country and suck billions of dollars from its economy.

But federal and provincial counterparts on Tuesday kiboshed Taylor's "made-in-Alberta" alternative to Kyoto at a meeting in Prince Edward Island, and Taylor pulled Alberta out of its co-chair position on a federal-provincial body responsible for climate change issues.

Ottawa was not prepared to examine any proposals for cutting emissions other than its own, he complained.

Federal Environment Minister David Anderson last week released four proposals aimed at getting Canada to the point where it can meet its Kyoto commitment to cut emissions greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane - blamed for climate change - to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2010.

Taylor released his own less stringent plan at Tuesday's meeting, calling for a 50-percent cut in "emissions intensity," or emissions per unit of gross domestic product, by 2020.

The approach relies heavily on investing in new technology and improving energy efficiency as opposed to legislated caps, along the lines of a plan announced by the United States after it abandoned the Kyoto protocol last year.

Canada is already under fire from the European Union, which wants the country to sign up for Kyoto without changes it is pushing for, like winning credits for clean energy it exports to the United States.


Taylor's threat of court action has a precedent in the 1980s, when Alberta argued successfully that Ottawa had no right to tax energy exports to the United States because the province had jurisdiction over the resources.

"I'm not sure if we'll have to go forward to a Supreme Court challenge - I hope not," Taylor said. "I hope that we will be able to negotiate with the federal government as they go forward and develop a plan that is both acceptable to Alberta and acceptable to the federal government."

He said the Alberta would keep pushing its plan to cut emissions, even though he said it "is no longer a national climate change process - it is a federal climate change process."

Taylor also denied Alberta was isolated on the issue, saying other provinces supported his proposals or were contemplating their own.

Story by Jeffrey Jones

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 05:15:03 PM | PermaLink

Taking the Burger King "Whaler" to a Whole New Level

SHIMONOSEKI - Boiled blubber, grilled steaks, thinly sliced tongue - no matter how it's dished up, whale is a taste sensation all its own.

Japanese pride themselves on the fact that they use every part of the whale, though environmentalists would prefer they watched the giant marine mammals rather than ate them.

Blubber is boiled until it turns crinkly and chewy, then dressed with tart sauces of chopped pickled plum or smooth, creamy ones of miso bean paste and a touch of sweet cooking wine.

Red meat is grilled and served as steaks, or cut into chunks, lightly battered, and fried. It has a dark gamey taste somewhat like beef, but richer.

The tongue is sliced wafer thin and may be grilled, while fattier bits are made into whale bacon that, not surprisingly, tastes quite a bit like bacon.

"Whale is good because it's got a rather refreshing taste," a Japanese official said.

Whale has appeared on the menu at several receptions during the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission being held in this former whaling centre, sliced thinly and served raw as "Whale Carpaccio" or in more traditional stews.

Japan government pamphlets laud the health benefits of whale, citing its high protein levels - which made it a crucial food source for the country following its defeat in World War Two.

But with prices high and supplies low following Japan's adoption of a 1986 IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, it has become a pricey gourmet food.

With Japan's diet growing more western, whale chefs have gone to great pains to tempt the palates of young people more comfortable in McDonald's fast-food outlets than a traditional restaurant.

There is, of course, the whaleburger, invented by a Shimonoseki entrepreneur.

A recent whale cooking contest held in the city yielded recipes as diverse as whale spaghetti and Chinese-style stir-fry whale.

"I like whale," said taxi driver Eisaku Terakawa. "But it's too expensive. I really wish I could eat more."
----Reuters News Service

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 05:02:07 PM | PermaLink

On the Lighter Side...

I just found out that the legendary Ramblin' Jack Elliott's Birthday party is on August 3 up in Big Sur, Ca. (heaven on earth) and, now that I have my tickets and lodging set - I'm sharin' the news!

The party is at the Henry Miller Memorial Library (right next to the coast under the most beautiful redwoods you've ever seen).


Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door (if there are any left).
Just contact Magnus at the library - (831) 667-2574 or email

"The Henry Miller Library is located in Big Sur, California, USA. Three hours drive south from San Francisco. From LA the total drive time is about 6 1/2 hours.

When you're traveling up or down Highway 1 through Big Sur, stop by the Library. You will find us a quarter mile south of Nepenthe restaurant, (a quarter mile north of Deetjen's, Big Sur Inn) in a redwood grove on the mountain side of the road. It is easy – just drive, enjoy the incredible vistas, you will not miss us..."

“We'll have food and drink served, seating is on the lawn so bring a lawn chair or a blanket.
Looking forward to seeing you.

Please let all your friends know - we want this to be the best party ever for Jack!!!"

Need a campsite or lodging info? has all the info. anyone could need.

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 11:15:02 AM | PermaLink

UNEP GEO-3 Report

Click here to read the new UNEP Geo-3 report.

It is broken down by chapter, each being a .pdf file requiring the free Adobe Acrobat (available at the webpage).

Posted by Richard
5/23/2002 08:08:37 AM | PermaLink

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

World Faces Critical Choices on Environment

By Jeremy Lovell, Reuters

LONDON — The world is at an environmental crossroads, where the choice between greed and humanity will decide the fate of millions of people for decades to come, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said on Wednesday.

"Fundamental changes are possible and required," UNEP executive director Klaus Toepfer told a news conference, presenting the third Global Environment Outlook report. "It would be a disaster to sit back and ignore the picture painted."

The GEO-3 report, designed to kick world leaders into action ahead of the Johannesburg Earth summit in late August, sees a bleak outlook for the future unless radical action is taken now. "The choices made today are critical for the forests, oceans, rivers, mountains, wildlife, and other life support systems upon which current and future generations depend," it said.

The report painted four possible scenarios ranging from the greed-driven "markets first" future to the caring and sharing "sustainability first" approach.

Under the first, 3 percent of the Earth's surface would disappear under concrete by 2032, more than half the population would live with drought, 70 percent of the remaining land and animals would be under threat, and 16 billion tons of carbon dioxide would be belched into the air each year from fossil fuels.

Under the latter scenario, cities and highways would eat up less land, drought would be kept at bay by better water management, the pressure on land and animals would stabilize, and global carbon dioxide emissions would stabilize at just half the greed-policy route.


In the decade since the first world Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro, 58 species of fish, 1 mammal, and 1 bird species have become extinct, and a remaining quarter of the world's mammals and 1 in 8 of its birds are on the critical list. Life-giving forests are being ripped apart, fertile land is disappearing under concrete or into the sea, and waterways are drying up or dying of pollution. Dire poverty, hunger, and sickness are rampant across the planet, and the globalization of trade is carrying with it pollution on a global scale.

The world's seas, already under attack from litter and poisons, are also being plundered by humans to the extent that nearly one-third of the world's stock of fish is now ranked as depleted, overexploited, or recovering, the report said.

But Toepfer, a former German environment minister, stressed that while the picture was bleak, it was not beyond redemption. "This is an eye opener. The figures are not a nightmare prognosis for the sake of making a nightmare prognosis," he said, calling on the World Summit on Sustainable Development — dubbed the second world Earth summit — to take urgent steps.

"Decisive action can achieve positive results. Our motto for Johannesburg is planet, people, prosperity," he said, urging the meeting to set clear, achievable, and effective targets to tackle poverty and deprivation without destroying the environment. "We need a concrete action plan ... concrete projects ... and above all, a clear political declaration," Toepfer said. "That is the most important of all.

"We now have hundreds of declarations, agreements, guidelines, and legally binding treaties. Let us now find the political courage and the innovative financing needed to implement these deals," he added.

Posted by Richard
5/22/2002 11:15:24 PM | PermaLink

Propaganda, Patriotism & Global Mass-Extinction

Here is a copy of an essay of mine entitled: Making Holes, Not Wholes: Patriotic War Propaganda in Relation to Global Mass-Extinction.

Following September 11, 2001, the American government and corporate media have promoted “novelty” as a topos by which citizens should understand current events: America’s New War arises to meet the challenge of a political situation in which “things will never be the same.” This paper examines this claim of historical discontinuity through the application of both Douglas Kellner’s critical approach of “diagnostic media critique” and Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s “propaganda model,” and thereby finds that the American corporate media’s representation of the war legitimates specific national interests through the lack of proper context. Drawing upon Herbert Marcuse’s notion of war as an inhuman activity that seeks to annihilate the very context that would allow for human understanding to emerge, an analysis is undertaken that reveals that the ideology behind America’s New War is itself anti-contextual, and so, inhuman. Countering this ideology, a theory of human practice, as necessarily embedded in a process of socio-political contextualization, is promoted. Further, it is noted that this quality of “embeddedness” means that the process of contextualization is itself an “ecological” practice. Therefore, to complete the paper’s diagnostic critique, America’s New War is contextualized by the current global ecological crisis, referred to by Richard Leakey as the “Sixth Extinction.” The war, it is found, is typical of a capitalist ideology that not only fails to accurately report the ongoing ecological catastrophe, but is in fact its primary cause. Finally, the role of the Internet, as a globalizing-contextualizing media, is examined and promoted as a possible sphere for housing the future of progressive politics.

Posted by Richard
5/22/2002 10:40:01 PM | PermaLink

Vegan Blog Stands for Eco-Justice

While this particular blog was developed specifically to fill the gap in the blogging community regarding animal rights and ecology issues, my recent discussion with "drublood" around the Barkley post has made me realize that we need (from time to time) to remind people here that a Vegan Blog can only be meaningful if its information is considered in relation to and allied with the fight against all other forms of societal oppression. Eco-justice, from the first, has always been about realizing that a healthy human ecology involves an end to racism, sexism, classism, and all the other dominating norms handed down to us from a white, male, christian eurocentric history of capitalism.


The environmental justice movement appeared spontaneously in different places during the 1980s. In their book, FROM THE GROUND UP, authors Luke Cole and Sheila Foster compare the movement to a series of streams coming together to form a river.[1] They see the movement encompassing civil rights and environmental racism; the anti-toxics (environmental health) movement; native American struggles for land, sovereignty and cultural survival; the labor movement for a safer workplace; a group of academics who began researching the disproportionate contamination of certain communities based on race and class; and a few traditional legal/scientific environmentalists. (See also REHN #744.)

In this issue, I want to broach a taboo subject: the matter of race within the environmental justice movement. I want to do this because I believe race is creating misunderstandings, which can prevent us from working together effectively.

In some peoples' minds "environmental justice" is still only about environmental racism but I personally believe the fight for justice is not ONLY about race -- as central as racism is in this world, especially within the U.S. I believe environmental justice is about domination, exploitation and injustice of many kinds, wearing many different faces. If we maintain the narrow definition, that environmental justice=environmental racism, then the movement may turn its back on a large number of allies and potential allies, greatly diminishing the likelihood of gaining political power in the larger society.

I have to acknowledge a valid concern that, if "environmental justice" includes white people, then white people will tend to dominate the movement and they will receive most of the available funding, which is meager at best.

The funding picture is indeed dismal. As Daniel Faber has shown, annual philanthropic giving in the U.S. totals about $22 billion; of this, 5.4% or $1.23 billion goes to "environment" including animal welfare and wildlife; of this $1.23 billion, only $49 million (or 4%) goes to "environmental justice" using the broad definition of the movement.[2, pgs. 32-33.] The other 96% goes to the traditional legal/scientific environmental movement and the animal protection organizations. To get the $49 million into perspective, we note that the five core groups of the legal/scientific environmental movement (National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, and Natural Resources Defense Council) have combined annual budgets of $325 million (from all sources of income combined, not just philanthropy).[3] When we identify the highest-paid individual in each of these five organizations and add up their annual pay, it totals $1.4 million, or 2.8% of the $49 million that is available to all of the environmental justice groups in the country. In other words, the legal/scientific environmental groups are receiving substantial funding while the environmental justice movement is left to fight over what amounts to scraps that may fall from the philanthropic table. Given the path-breaking accomplishments of the environmental justice movement, which I will discuss in detail next issue, this imbalance of funding is nothing short of scandalous.

So lack of resources is probably the greatest source of racial tension within the movement. But there is something else, closely-related, that creates racial tension and mistrust within the movement as well, mainly because it is so rarely discussed or even recognized by white people: white privilege.

One white writer, Peggy McIntosh at Wellesley College, has published her personal reflections on white privilege in her college work. She says, "...As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage."[4]

She goes on, "...I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was 'meant' to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks."

In her academic job, Ms. McIntosh had been examining male privilege. She says, "...After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are justly seen as oppressive, even when we don't see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence." Here are the first 25 items she listed:

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area that I can afford and in which I would want to live.

3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

6. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

8. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

9. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods that fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.

10. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

11. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

12. I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.

13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

16. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color, who constitute the worlds' majority, without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

18. I can be sure that if I ask to talk to "the person in charge" I will be facing a person of my race.

19. If a traffic cop pulls me over, or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.

20. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race.

21. I can go home from most meetings or organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in rather than isolated, out of place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

22. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.

23. I can choose public accommodations without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my race will not work against me.

25. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.[4]

Ms. McIntosh draws a conclusion that seems to me crucially important. She says, "I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one's life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own."

She goes on, "...In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color....

"Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the United States think that racism doesn't affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see 'whiteness' as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

"...In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage that rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex, and ethnic identity than on other factors. Still, all of the oppressions are interlocking....

"One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as a member of the dominant groups one is taught not to see. In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth....

"To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subjects taboo....

"It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already," Ms. McIntosh says.[4]
--Peter Montague
[1] Luke W. Cole and Sheila R. Foster, FROM THE GROUND UP (New York: New York University Press, 2001; ISBN 0-8147-1537-0).

[2] Daniel R. Faber and Deborah McCarthy, GREEN OF ANOTHER COLOR (Boston, Mass.: Northeastern University, 2001), pg. 2. Available at:

[3] Pay (salary, benefits & expense account) as reported in November, 2001; see Organizational budgets are available at

[4] Quoted from Peggy McIntosh, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1990). Available at and and and and and .

Posted by Richard
5/22/2002 12:14:18 PM | PermaLink

Germany to Grant Animal Rights

The lower house of parliament in Germany, the Bundestag, has adopted a bill that would for the first time enshrine animal rights in the constitution.

The bill, passed by a huge majority after more than a decade of debate, includes animals in a clause obliging the state to respect and protect the dignity of humans.

The addendum is expected to lead to new legislation limiting the testing on animals of products like cosmetics and mild pain relievers, Consumer Affairs and Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast of the Green Party said.

The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, is likely to approve the bill when it considers it next month, thus making Germany the first country in Europe to give constitutional rights to animals.

German law already defines the conditions under which animals can be held in captivity.

Correspondents say the federal constitutional court will now have to weigh the rights of animals against other rights, such as the rights to carry out research or practice religion.

Ms Kuenast described the change as "ground-breaking", but said it would not diminish human rights.

"People remain the most important", she said.

Vets' organisations welcomed the vote, but the Society for Health and Research called the change Black Friday, and said it would lead to legal insecurity in research and education.

Damaging ruling

If adopted, the changed article in the constitution (or Basic Law) will read: "The state takes responsibility for protecting the natural foundations of life and animals in the interest of future generations."

Conservative opposition parties have for years fought efforts by environmentalists to introduce the amendment, saying it would tie Germany's hands in scientific research and lead to a brain drain.

But a widely criticised ruling by the constitutional court in January, authorising the traditional Islamic slaughter of animals without use of anaesthetic, lent new momentum to the animal rights movement.

The court had ruled that religious freedoms were explicitly protected under the Basic Law while animal rights were not.

All parties also recognise the need to rebuild confidence in the food and agriculture industry following a series of crises, from BSE to foot-and-mouth disease, says the BBC's Rob Broomby.

Better conditions for animals are seen as part of that agenda.

Posted by Richard
5/22/2002 09:01:46 AM | PermaLink

Why the Earth Summit is a G8 Feel-Good Joke Deserving of a Large Protest

This is in contra-response (more of a dialectical both/and than a rebuke) to Dr. Menlo's American Samizdat 5/20 posting: "Why The Earth Summit Matters". The good doctor's heart is certainly in the right place but before we jump on the Earth Summit bandwagon, we should take a moment to remind ourselves of what has been accomplished since 1992 -- where Northern consumption habits and Southern population algorithims were both demonstrated to be out of control? Very, very little: in fact, in terms of ecological devestation the last decade has been far worse then those previous. Here is a longish article (with solid information) -- from an email activist network, so I must post it all and not link...apologies:

Many groups from around the world say NO to their earlier planned participation at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg later this year.

Feature by John Bamau
14. May 2002
(first published in WTN, reprinting and translated publishing free, if
author and source are cited)

The mainstream Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and especially those ones, who cover for the United Nations as "representing the people", gear up for the Development Summit. Some like the Global Youth Forum are even paid by the United Nations (UN) to do so and others are paid to (moderately please!) "protest". The world wonders what actually is going on, since more and more voices are heard, which call the Global Summit of this decade a non-starter.

The UN-selected groups as well as some continent-hopping professional protesters will most likely still go and sit or fight with participating governments at this summit in South Africa, but many hundreds if not already thousands of civil society organizations and individuals have terminated their plans and stepped off the road to Johannesburg. The number of resisters is growing every day. A total flop of the whole conference is immanent and after the rather failed preparation conference more likely than ever.

"Let these major forces, these players and shakers do it to each other, but for us people there are more important things to be done on the ground!" says Maria Delgado from Peru and Prof. Tsuma Hamisi in Kenya adds: "Even if I would be paid to participate, I will not go, because I do not want to be part of another scam just fooling the world - Rio was enough. In those days in Rio we still thought that concerned people of this world could make a change through such a conference with the so called "world leaders", but today we know that positive change only is brought by peoples' hard and determined work on the ground."

"Look at the deforestation issue in Kenya", he explains, "also our President was present in Rio in '92 and pledged to do everything for the benefit of the environment. Ten years later many more thousand hectares of forests have been cleared in our country and are destroyed with governmental consent. It is only now in the last months that the people were able to effectively stop the destruction by joining together and becoming active themselves, by suing the government and its accomplices in big business and by remaining steadfast. It is us, the people, who achieved just last week a court order halting the Kenyan Government's plans to excise some 70,000 hectares of forests, including forest areas which are the homeland of the aboriginal Ogiek people. We work hard to stop the Government to misuse the forest land as their chips in the upcoming election-roulette."

"Nobody will assist us anyway to travel to Jo'burg", says someone from UK, who names himself only "Bud" and who is with EarthFirst!, the more radical environmental group. "We ourselves surely will not be assisted to participate and we don't want to be supported neither by Governments or the streamlined and "fine" accredited NGOs, nor by the political mob, who is paid to just disturb the show and thereby provide for the necessary "threat" to gear up funding for the "security-forces". EarthFirst! is independent and we have a clear view and a clear agenda concerning the protection of the natural environment. Therefore, instead of wasting thousands of Dollars for air polluting travels by plane and for staying in one of those shaggy, but expensive places of an urban ghetto, we save our money and spirit for real, positive and pro-active work on the front lines of nature destruction. We don't want to be part of a conference for which moneys are stolen from the people in order to host an event, which only serves to cover the global deals and misdeads of the military-industrial complex and their bootlicking governments."

"We are sad", is the view of Aisha Saidi from Bangladesh, "because we worked so hard to make a significant contribution at the World Summit 2002 especially for the betterment of underprivileged women in development, but we realize now that we will not have the slightest chance to get even heard at the summit, whose agenda and time-tables have been structured in a way that any synergetic interaction of concerned citizens, groups or indigenous peoples is impossible. Everything is pre-set for a big show by the global rulers and nothing is left for the people to decide and implement. We therefore cancelled our bookings and continue working on our issues at home."

"I see much clearer now" says Sem Anvat, a local leader from West Papua. "When I was invited by an international NGO to participate together with them at that conference in South Africa, I was excited to be able to let the world know about the struggle of my people against the mining and timber industries, against the greed of the churches and against a colonial government. But then I learned which role I was supposed to play to get the ticket - and now I say: "Sorry, but that is nothing for me, because I do not want to lie to myself and others! I will stay where I am and continue our true and honest fight without being influenced and pacified by such meaningless favours."

"Such summits are the top of today's pseudo-democracy, which can be pictured by eight hungry wolves and one sheep sitting around a fireplace while voting "democratically" what they will have for dinner!", says Kersten Kiefer with a sad smile in Germany. Dr. Kiefer, who holds a PhD in psychology and works within a virtual university programme together with scholars and students in developing countries, continues: "The safeguarding of interests prior to and within such processes and the total majority of the taker-societies - together with their stirrup holders in the so called third world - is always secured long before any such event happens and is paid for. I received the invitation to the summit, but I have given up since long to participate in such megalomaniac conferences, where you are invited to serve as mere props or scapegoat, while only the players in the background really have their fun." And she wonders: "Who actually knows or is aware of the "World Scientists' Warning To Humanity", issued 10 years ago, just after Rio, by the vast majority of the living laureates of the Nobel Prize in the sciences as well as by more than 1500 leading scientists from all continents? It can be found easily on the internet, it's still standing there and is still valid. But today's actual reality is already worst than then and the prospects for the future of humanity and its natural environment have become much more bleak."

"The summit will just be another public relations gimmick by and for those who continued to collect our knowledge and vision over the last thirty years since Stockholm [the first global summit] in order to produce them as their own bright ideas and to feed them back to us, while secretly putting the strategic countermeasures in place against those of our demands, which don't fit into their money oriented concepts", Claude Dechamps, an obviously frustrated board member of a community based organization in the south of France wrote in her latest newsletter." And: "The UN, who even flies now selected "slum-dwellers" from the fifferent slums of the world to Nairobi to pose at the ongoing UN Global Cities conference has lost any credibility. It's high time that the people withhold that part of their taxes, which their governments dish out to the UN for staging such shows".

In a similar way a member of the San people in Botswana - a people who just have been driven out again from their ancestral homeland of tenthousand years, which is part of the Kalahari ecosystem - expresses himself in an interview: "Here [in Botswana] we have a government, which even dares to steal our waterpumps to get rid of us, and over there in South Africa, where they actually hunted and killed us as vermin until 1920, they have now even taken our language [Khoisan] and our pictures to mark their state symbol [The new SA state seal - the Coat of Arms]. This is to cover up that they continue to harrass, to persecute and to oppress us, while they will never give back to us our lands and our freedom. Nature anyway is destroyed there - and soon will be here. Global Summit - what is it? - will it give back to us our land and our dignity?"

"Who will benefit from the summit?", asks Patricia Hutton in an e-mail from Canada and she continues: "I don't believe that anything good will come out from a conference, organized, financed and steered by a cartel of nation governments, which can not even agree to do something effectively against the manmade changes of the world climate. Mrs. Hutton, who worked over 15 years with a non-churchbased medical charity in South-America, believes: "The poor people in the suburbs of Johannesburg might get some bred crumbs from the table of dining and wining "leaders", but their own way out of poverty will remain blocked or at least unsecured and they will have to destroy their last own natural resources, because their livelihood has been destroyed and their resource base has been exploited by others." "Can the summit answer questions like this one:", she closes and asks: "What is the world community during the summit effectively going to discusss, to agree and to do in order to for example stop the Sudanese Government in Khartoum from driving ten-thousands of people from their rural homes, because the Government wants to continue to dish the land out for oil-exploitation to Canada, the US, Russia and Europe - in order to get the petro-dollars and to buy arms? As long such problems can and will not be tackled and can not be solved by such a conference, it is at its best an academic excercise, but one for which we should neither spend money nor time. Even postponing the conference is no solution!"

So far there was only one voice who claimed to be happy to participate in August. An employee of one of the financially strongest conservation organizations from the US stated: "Well, it's my job - I am paid to be present and to lobby for our tasks. We actually preserve the last wilderness areas by buying them. I am fully occupied to enlarge our successful operations. I am looking forward to meet influential likeminded people and to spent some interesting time in South Africa, where we want to invest more."

That's what it is most likely all about: The so called stakeholders from the front pages of the media want to continue to be the fat "steak-holders"!, as one cartoonist termed it. But the time seems to be near, when again the deprived "stick-holders" team up and provide some serious lessons to those who divide the earth among themselves only and to those, whose NGOs stand for: Nothing Goes On!

At the end of the last millennium the sentence "Imagine tomorrow war would be declared - but nobody would engage himself!" - used to be an epigram, sprayed among other graffiti along the Berlin Wall and elsewhere. Today: "Imagine tomorrow there is a global conference - but nobody joins it!", seems to become the slogan for the World Summit on Development 2002. Some of the "Nobodies" - such they are at least in the view of more than 6 billion people - might still meet each other in Johannesburg, but the global bandwagon has left the people behind again. What wonder that quiet many of the - presumed wiser - heads of state themselves are reluctant to confirm their participation, even after Klaus Toepfer, the UNEP boss, wrote personal letters to some, who are considered to be important - like the German Chancellor Schröder - and urged them to come.

Still UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reiterates his Mantra of WEHAB (Water and sanitation, Energy, Health, Agriculture, Biodiversity) as the five areas where solutions are long overdue to be found. But only the officials, who still pat on each others back, and those, who directly are busy to make money with the conference event, or those who got the expensive tickets for the preparation conference in Bali, an island still unfree and occupied by Indonesia and its military, continue to proclaim that the Global Summit will make the world a better place. For them maybe yes, but if for the billions of impoverished people is not only another question - it is at least already out of that specific question, which is answered daily by the natural world itself: It just disappears!

Nature and Humanity disappear with lightning speed, while "global leaders" continue to meet and meet and meet and - if at all - today only gather in extremely policed states.

Posted by Richard
5/22/2002 08:33:36 AM | PermaLink

Getting Barked at Over Barkley Post

I have actually received less criticism than anticipated over this last post concerning Barkley. But just to clear the record and fend off any potential criticisms concerning what the post was about and why, I now append a recent email exchange with a Blog commentator, drublood:

drublood said: Oh, come on! Let's not legitimize racism to further our cause here. What the heck is your point? I mean, there are plenty of obnoxious people out there who like to bait vegetarians with outrageous statements about hamburgers. Are you gaining anything by giving credence to Jimmy the Greek's blatantly racist remarks?

My comment back:
Hey drublood,
Thanks for the comment. I was surprised, actually, that my posting (clearly incendiary) didn't spark more of a fire -- yours is the first to have gotten even a little heated! But no, of course we're not looking to legitimize racism, or valorize the Greek...racism is part and parcel of any serious vision of eco-justice in the 21st century b/c so much environmental damage and inequality occurs at the level of racism.

For the record, I really don't think I was giving credence to racism or Jimmy the Greek -- just the opposite. JtG was correctly rebuked and fired for using his very public forum to speculate about the black body in that manner, John Rocker got off easier (but considering his career since), apparently he also has been paying a heavy fine.

My point was simply that Sir Charles: 1) did much more than bait w/ a hamburger, and that his speech from the standpoint of animal rights was really no different than a JtG or Rocker (but the cause has less political clout and so it is allowed to pass as "good primetime fun", and 2) Charles was reacting politically against real pressure being put on the NBA to change from leather to pleather balls like the WNBA and NCAA have done. Why have the other two organizations switched? Because there is no advantage whatsoever to using the leather ball, actually it is the other way around -- unless you consider killing cows an advantage. Thus, Barkley is not just having "good fun" but is actually an articulation for the NBA position and is damaging to the fight to get them to switch (in as much as he is a leading spokesman for the NBA). Hence, my point that pressure should also be put on TBS and Barkley to demonstrate to the NBA that the logic that PETA are simply a bunch of idiots who deserve to get "run over like dogs with (Barkley's) truck" is not supported at the level of an organized fan base.

You may or may not agree, I suppose. But I don't think I'm lending credence to the Greek, am I?

Posted by Richard
5/22/2002 08:28:33 AM | PermaLink