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Saturday, June 08, 2002

The Anti-Democratic Democrats: Toward the Democra(zy) of a One-Party System

As we come upon our state electoral season and the political jockeying begins, I'd like to make one broad and brief statement to my comrades on the Left (especially the large mass of you hovering near the center, where the banks are bigger and the parties are more bubbly):

I'm already beginning to hear from so-called "Democrats" that they won't even contemplate the Greens (or any other third party) because their sights are set on one goal only: the eradication of this present right-wing nightmare. Standing behind this logic are at least two faulty assumptions:
1) The Nader card lost the hand: the idea that Bush is president simply because Ralph Nader stole the necessary votes from Al Gore.
--- This is false for numerous reasons: a) Gore had the necessary votes anyway, b) Nader had nothing to do with buying the Supreme Court justices, and c) Nader's real power was pretty much in evidence during the MA debates, wherein he tried to sneak into the auditorium with a loaned ticket and even then was thrown-out and barred (an act which both parties have now (laughingly) apologized).
2) The Daschle-Lieberman-Clinton-Gore-etc. Party represents a real alternative to Bush-Cheney: the idea that the Democratic party is the "party of F.D.R. and the people" against big business and militarism.
--- But this is a joke: everyone knows that (at the very least) recent Democratic party politics has been completely in bed with big-corporate party politics, has been involved in the increased use of military might, and has not been shy about shelving many of the "real" issues in the name of "protecting" them. Of course, there ARE differences between the parties...but now, especially after 9/11, with the Democratic party's sickening show of "unity" with the Bush administration and its goals, we shouldn't be blind to the propaganda that comes out of the DNP whenever its candidates are up for office. If anything, more recent Democratic party politics are starting to sound weirdly similar to the worst kind of right-wing politics: the DNP is now the party of increased international and domestic "security" -- 9/11 wouldn't have happened if we had just "taken more steps to be secure."

So how are the Greens (or anyone else for that matter) responsible for a corporate, military state? If the Democratic party is really the people's party it shouldn't shy away from the one thing it represents -- people, and the diversity of their opinions and needs. Articles like this piece deriding the Greens for challenging Paul Wellstone (from the New Republic) are not hokey pieces, but rather represent a real threat to progressive politics. Paul Wellstone is a "green democrat" for sure, but does that mean that other parties should not form to press him to go further? Does it mean that people should no longer organize except to pick from "the lesser of two evils?" Or, rather, should the major parties be constantly pressed from numerous angles, as the people organize from the grass roots levels, and forced to implode these grass roots positions into the larger party rhetoric.

The idea that voting Green is unacceptable in the coming years because it jeopardizes the Democratic party is muddled. When the Democratics have become little more than a vanguard party for their own sense of democracy, they no longer represent the people in any meaningful fashion and there is not even a two-party system. There is one party that sometimes takes the form of Clinton, and at other times of Bush. Each is the face of anti-democratic patriarchy and neither did (or has done) much to provide welfare for the people's of the planet they were chosen to represent.

Will the Greens make significant gains in the next elections -- I hope so, and probably not. But the issue is not simply seats in capitol buildings, but rather how far the true Left is willing to go to form a powerful democratic alliance politics. If people would stop cow-towing to the establishment and wake up to the notion that parties can/must be formed from below that represent their real interests, then without even radicalizing the "two-party" system, we could have a Democratic party of which the Left could be proud. Until such a shift occurs in the mass-mind of Dems everywhere, mainstream votes only reproduce the "crazy" in Democra(zy) by leaving the very thing the party is to represent -- the Demos, the people -- out.

Posted by Richard
6/08/2002 09:15:37 AM | PermaLink

The Lack of Leadership Continues: Nothing from Nothing comes Nothing as we Head to Johannesburg

Bali, Indonesia, June 8, 2002 (ENS) - Ministerial level negotiations on the political declaration for the World Summit on Sustainable Development have failed to yield an agreement, particularly on issues relating to trade and finance. The remaining unresolved text will be forwarded to Johannesburg to be dealt with at the Summit which opens August 26.

WWF, the international conservation organization, expressed disappointment with the outcome of this last preparatory meeting. "Conflict and disinterest has been apparent as different nations and blocs pursue their own narrow interests at the expense of the poor and the planet's future," the group said. [...]

"This meeting could have been a step to a better world but, instead, the governments showed neither leadership nor vision," said Kim Carstensen, head of the WWF Delegation to Prepcom IV. "In particular the United States, Australia and Canada have employed systems of horse trading and corridor deals," he said.

Greenpeace International political director Remi Parmentier said, “The shameful hypocrisy of the rich countries have brought this unfortunate episode to a close, but all of the key issues are still in play for Johannesburg. It’s not too late for governments to take their responsibilities seriously and agree a meaningful action plan in Johannesburg. They must seize the next 80 days."



Effigy of the U.S., Canada and Australia called the "Axis of Environmental Evil" was the focus of a protest demonstration on the beach Thursday. (Photo courtesy ENB)

Posted by Richard
6/08/2002 08:37:45 AM | PermaLink

More on Animal Rights

Canada: One step closer to stronger animal cruelty laws

In Canada, Cruelty to animals is a Criminal Code offense punishable by a $2,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment. A judge can also impose a two-year ban on ownership. The cruelty offenses have not changed significantly since 1892. A new bill has made it to the senate, Bill C-15B, which would amend the Criminal Code so those charged with animal cruelty would face a maximum sentence of five years, an unlimited fine and a possible lifetime ban on ownership of animals.
--------------------------------
These are long overdue increases in the measures of "protections" given to animals in Canada -- but these are not yet rights...this Bill does not acknowledge or grant animals subjectivity (something, I might add, almost every pet owner implicitly does in naming, scolding, and rewarding their pets). A major (attainable) step forward in the coming years, I believe, will be the recognition by the State of the rights (and the right to be found guilty) of global populations of women, the deeply impoverished and enslaved, animals, children, and the indiginous populations. This is the direction that global government has been heading in for centuries and now as we radically transform the function and look of the State (through globalization), a window has been opened in which major evolutions can be achieved in the State's power to grant rights at the legislative/juridical level to groups that have long suffered for the lack of them.

But we must learn from recent history! This should not occur as a delayed hierarchy -- first gender, then race, then class, etc. Rather, if we are to truly globalize along anything other than the most deeply inequitable and dictatorial lines, then it is time finally to grant broad recognition to the "wretched of the Earth." Only through such recognition can anything even resembling a global dialogue and collective project be envisioned...otherwise, I am afraid, globalization is little more than a terrible euphemism for imperial colonization and mass-oppression.

Here's a helpful review by Erik Marcus of Steven Wise's new book about why animals deserve legal rights now, Drawing the Line.

Posted by Richard
6/08/2002 08:22:23 AM | PermaLink

 
Friday, June 07, 2002

What the Government Did Not Want You to See: Greenpeace's Maps of Chemical Terrorism Risks

Is the U.S. Chemical Industry Our Weakest Link Against Terrorist Attacks?
by Rick Hind
Legislative Director, Greenpeace Toxics Campaign

The magnitude of a terrorist attack on U.S. chemical facilities could easily exceed the loss of life suffered on September 11th. It is now time to address the vulnerability of this industry. Recent events underscore the immediacy of this threat including a series of nation-wide security alerts by the FBI and a 72-hour moratorium by the railroad industry on carrying chemicals such as chlorine in October, 2001.

Even President Bush was at risk. On September 11, when Air Force One landed in Louisiana, the President joined more than a million Louisiana residents who live every day in a region that is blanketed by chemical "kill zones." These kill zones surround more than 100 petro-chemical facilities located along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. A 1999 federal government study of the U.S. chemical industry found security against terrorists to be "fair to poor."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 120 chemical facilities in the U.S. each threaten a million or more nearby residents. The Surgeon General of the U.S. Army identified chemical plants as second only to bio-terrorism in terrorist threats in the US. Similarly, a 2002 Brookings Institute report ranked chemical facilities third in the number of fatalities that could occur from a terrorist attack. And the 2001 Argonne National Laboratory study, "the failure to identify and evaluate opportunities to reduce the risks from these types of relatively rare accidents could ultimately lead to thousands of fatalities, injuries, and evacuations." [Read More -- includes maps documenting the specific threats to US cities and regions, policy analysis, and a wealth of related information on this subject.]
-------------
This a follow up to my 5/30/2002 post that linked to Ann Davis's article in the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 08:52:05 AM | PermaLink

Beastly Behavior? A Law Professor Says It's Time to Extend Basic Rights to the Animal Kingdom

I remind you that Germany is already in the process of beginning exactly this process...
--------------------------------------
Steven Wise leans to the lectern. "I don't see a difference between a chimpanzee," he states unequivocally, "and my 4 1/2-year-old son."

At Politics and Prose bookstore this warm Friday evening last month, it's a coffeehouse-activist audience of about 40 that's versed in animal rights rhetoric. They came to hear Wise make his controversial case for extending legal rights to some animals, the argument he lays out in his new book, "Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights."

Pallid, wearing a dark suit and a loosened tie, Wise looks Establishment. He is not a tree hugger, he is a lawyer. He's a professional at drawing hard lines. Now he is the latest luminary of an animal rights movement better known for starlets posing naked to protest furs than for lawyers arguing science. Some think the case he's taking nationwide may become one of the groundbreaking civil rights battles of the next generation.

In lawyerly fashion, Wise has buttressed his case with science's latest discoveries about animal cognition and behavior, most of it universally accepted, some controversial. If some species of "nonhuman animals" can be shown to be smarter, more aware, more humanlike than previously recognized, they arguably deserve legal rights, he says.

"Certain species are capable of complex emotions, can communicate using language, and have a sense of self," says Wise, "all characteristics that once defined humanity." [Read More]


Chantek, an orangutan at Zoo Atlanta who can sign about 25 words, showed self-recognition at the same age a human would and labels his emotions, his trainers say. (Rich Addicks - Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


Washington Post
Wednesday, June 5, 2002; Page C01

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 07:45:02 AM | PermaLink

Dog Food's Secret Ingredients: Euthanasia Poison and Rendered Pets

SEATTLE - It's not listed on the bag, but there is something that could be in your pet's food that you should know about. A new study reveals that the same poison used to euthanize animals is in many top-selling pet foods.

One thing we've learned is that dog food isn't a very pleasant subject. Many brands use rendered animal parts – the stuff that we humans don't eat. And, after years of testing, the Food and Drug Administration has uncovered another common ingredient that may be coming from those rendered parts – trace amounts of a poison called pentobarbital.

Digging into the food bowl is probably your dog's favorite time of day and in pet-crazy America, a $10-billion-a-year pet food industry gives owners all types of choices.

But KING 5 has obtained a just-released FDA study that says many of the biggest brands contain trace amounts of pentobarbital – amounts so small the FDA insists they're harmless.

Not all veterinarians are so sure.

"It is something we use to euthanize animals. The toxicity can build up in a small animal and cause serious problems," said veterinarian Jay King.

"I’m totally shocked. I’m appalled," said dog owner Sue Foor.

It was a predictable reaction from dog owners at Seattle's Green Lake – a popular spot to trot the dog.

The FDA study randomly selected from the most popular brands. Among the results of four samples of Ken-L Ration tested, all showed traces of pentabarbitol; of seven samples of Heinz, three showed traces of the drug, and of 24 tests on Purina products, three showed trace amounts of pentobarbital.

The FDA began its study several years ago after repeated questions raised by veterinarians wondering why it took more pentibarbital to euthanize pets at the pound.

The animals seemed to be building a resistance to the drug.

So, how is pentobarbital getting into dog food?

The FDA says it likely comes from disabled and diseased farm animals. After they're put down with pentobarbital, the carcasses are often sent to rendering plants where the meat is processed and sold to dog food makers.

The pet food companies we've named refused to be interviewed, referring questions to an industry representative called The Pet Food Institute.

It says, "Consumers purchasing dog food made by pet food institute members can feel confident they are feeding their pet a safe and nutritious food."

Some vets say even if the pentobarbital is not harmful, it has no place in dog food.

"None of us want to think that our animals are eating these foods with these chemicals in them, even as a small or trace amount," said veterinarian Dr. Teresa Garden.

The Pet Food Institute says some manufacturers have just required rendering plants to test for pentobarbital and guarantee that it's not present before they buy.

Although just released, these tests were conducted nearly two years ago. The FDA can't say whether the same brands on the shelf today have pentobarbital in them. For that information, you will need to call your dog food company's consumer information line. Some of them are taking extra steps now to keep pentobarbital out.

Reported by Chris Ingalls, KING 5 News (www.king5.com) on 5/3/2002

------------------------------------------------------------------------
I've taken the liberty of making these reports available in HTML:
Dog Food Samples Used in CVM Pentobarbital Surveys and Analytical Results
Dog Food Survey Results

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 06:56:37 AM | PermaLink

PETA Alerts (Act Now or Forever Lose Your Peace)

Stop Bloody Bullfights in Russia!
Last year, bullfighter Lydia Artamonova's attempts to organize a bullfight in Moscow failed, thanks to the efforts of animal protection organizations. This August, Artamonova plans to hold a bullfight in Jaroslavl, 200 miles away from Moscow. Please help stop the spread of bullfighting to other countries. http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=458

California Animal Shelter Leaves Animals to Suffer
Dying animals are left to suffer, untreated, dead animals are left to rot in cages with live ones, and animals are deprived of basic necessities like food and water at the Calexico animal shelter in California.
http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=457

Museum Places Primates in Peril
Chicago's Field Museum has requested a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to import 95 species of mouse lemurs and 57 fat-tailed lemurs removed from wild populations in Madagascar for scientific research.
http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=460

Help Liberate Laboratory Dogs
Nine dogs used in Weatherford College's veterinary assistant program are crammed inside kennels and let out only to have students practice numerous, repeated procedures on them.
http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=465

Connecticut Residents: Dogs Urgently Need Your Help
Governor Rowland has vetoed a bill that would prohibit chaining, tethering, or caging a dog for more than 15 continuous hours and would require guardians to provide dogs with at least two hours free from chaining or confinement daily.
http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=461

Urge the U.S. Government to Offer Alternatives to Dairy Products in the School Lunch Program
The Special Nutrition Program is now taking comments about adding soy and rice drinks as alternatives to milk in the public school food programs. http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=466

New York Residents: Insist That Companion Animals Be Treated As More Than Property Under the Law!
Important animal-friendly legislation, sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick and Sen. Frank Padavan, is sitting in the Judiciary committees of both the New York Assembly and the New York Senate. Currently, the state of New York considers companion animals to be personal property.
http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=464

Help Wisconsin Animals
The Rock County Humane Society in Beloit, Wisconsin, needs your help to rescue numerous horses, 10 pygmy goats, and a dog from a local farm where the animals are suffering and dying as a result of neglectful and inhumane conditions. http://www.peta.org/alert/automation/AlertItem.asp?id=463

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 06:34:22 AM | PermaLink

Let the Government Know: Fund Alternatives to Dairy!

Dear Educators and Parents of Schoolchildren:
The Special Nutrition Program, part of the Food and Nutrition Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is now taking comments about adding soy and rice drinks as alternatives to milk to the food programs in our nation’s public schools. Currently, funding is not readily available for these alternatives and schools are only required to provide them to students with medical conditions that require such an option.

With enough support from the public-- especially from students, parents, and educators -- the Special Nutrition Program will draft a legislative proposal asking Congress to amend the Child Nutrition Acts to make available alternatives to milk in school cafeterias. Please call and write, and ask all your friends and family to do the same, in support of the addition of soy and rice drinks to the food programs in our public schools.

Peter Murano, Associate Deputy Administrator
Special Nutrition Program
USDA Food and Nutrition Service
3101 Park Center Dr.
Rm. 510
Alexandria, VA 22302
Tel.: 703-305-2052
Fax: 703-305-2782

For additional information on making school lunch programs more vegan-friendly, contact the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) at http://www.pcrm.org and ask about “The Gold Plan” and “The Rite Bite Nutritional Curriculum.” These programs even include institutional-sized menus for use in schools.
For more information about living dairy-free, check out GoVeg.com and DumpDairy.com.

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 06:33:51 AM | PermaLink

U.N.: Nearly 1/5 of the World's Population Lack Safe Drinking Water, 1/3 Lack Adequate Sanitation

I remind you of yesterday's posting on Nestle's practices of unethically marketing unsafe breast milk alternatives to mothers in Third World regions, and their new plan to aggresively target Central and South America. Regions without safe drinking water, however, should not be turned into markets for "baby formula" and the like. This is a cruel and inhumane policy on the part of this corporate giant...with that said, the following numbers should only be read as shocking and staggering. If the Earth Summit II could really address these issues (and do nothing else), this would be (despite only beginning to tackle the issues facing us) a major victory for the globe.
Can it happen? Three will get you ten, for starters...
----------------------------------------------------------------

Bali, Indonesia -- Of the myriad issues on the table for a U.N. summit in August that aims to cut world poverty and save the environment, few are as critical as getting safe drinking water to the 1.1 billion people who go without it.

The European Union has warned the world was in a global water crisis and made the issue a priority for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and also at final preparatory talks here on Indonesia's resort island of Bali.

Some delegates have said success -- or failure -- on water programs could be a roadmarker for the summit as a whole. The United Nations says at least 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation. More than 3 million people die every year from water-related diseases, the body says. [Read more]

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 06:30:32 AM | PermaLink

Wilderness and Domesticity: Secret Correlations in American Environmental Culture

by Alain Suberchicot arob@se

Much like the metaphysical culture that separates seeming from being, religious culture in its American version has tended to downgrade wilderness, and to view those dark recesses beyond the confines of civilization as God-forsaken and corrupt. The new environmental culture that emerged in the wake of Transcendentalism has altered this world-view in ways that instilled a favorable vision of nature and the natural into American minds, and made wilderness both viable and familiar, while the settlers advanced Westward, and the process that would lead to the closing of the Frontier accelerated. (...)

Thoreau's Journal ... approaches those moments of inscrutability where the self conceals from view amid environmental awareness that makes the wild familiar. Man is a being run through by unknown forces. The reassuring values that enabled to discriminate between the tameness of man and the impetuous drives at work elsewhere do not stand the test of Thoreau's confessional urge. Thoreau redefines values and alters the culture of the environment that has been passed on to him. Man is sick and wild while nature oftentimes is pure and spontaneously tutored. Domesticity and wilderness no longer divide our world-view into an area of danger and one locus of positive assuaging forces inhabited by woman or man and which she has tamed. Thoreau's Journal thus records ideological transition, now firmly inscribed within America's culture of the environment. The wild nature of humankind is one stage in the cultural process aiming at upgrading America's assessment of the ecosystem, for which a favorable appreciation has long been withheld. Though still touched by a cultural tradition of Puritanism that looked down on the wild as an instance of absolute Otherness, nature is at last free to trust in her own forces.... (more)
-----------------------------
This was too good to let pass by without a repost -- via Mark at wood s lot

Posted by Richard
6/07/2002 12:06:09 AM | PermaLink

 
Thursday, June 06, 2002

Nestle's Quick to Plunder, Slow to Respond Meaningfully to its Many Critics

Nestle Power
To help with the plunder they have amassed a huge amount of political and social influence - for example in 1999 Nestle USA spent over $1.5 million on political lobbying. Nestle are also part of the European Round Table, the business forum derided my many including the environmentalist George Monbiot; "The European Round Table is no ordinary lobby group. It has little need to call on governments, for governments call on the round table." Further political clout emerged when Nestle paid for a stall at the Labour Party Conference in October 1998 and became annoyed at a UNICEF stall carrying anti-Nestle information. It wasn't long before UNICEF's posters were removed. It’s also worth mentioning that the Nestle UK Chief Executive is president of the Food and Drink Federation with access to government ministers. It's a pity the opposing view does not have the same access to such resources.

Childhood Hypocrisy
Nestle spend vast sums on covert advertising to children, such as through the 'Kid's Club Network' where money given to schools is exchanged for direct marketing to impressionable young minds. A sample task from the Nestle worksheet; "Carry out a survey of 30 mint consumers to find out what four variants of Polo they find appealing." However, there is no Kid's Club for the child slaves that pick the coca beans used by Nestle. The company does not use fair-trade coca or coffee beans and buys much of its cocoa beans from supplies produced on the Ivory Coast, where it is claimed 90% of plantations use slaves. When this allegation came to light recently, Nestle responded by co-producing a study that showed there was no evidence to support that figure. Not everyone agreed with their conclusion though, and the Daily Express noted "the study was done without anyone setting foot in Ivory Coast, let alone going looking in coca farms."

Genetic Modification
As if that's not enough, Nestle foods use Genetically Modified ingredients in their products. This outraged Greenpeace Hong Kong activists so much they continue to plan demonstrations to highlight the issue. Recently two of the activists were arrested for such actions. Nestle Italy was also forced to withdraw 'Alsoy' infant formula after it was found to contain Genetically Modified Organisms despite Nestle's promise not to use GMOs in it. In addition the journalist John Vidal comments on Nestle's GMO plans, "There's still some way to go before you can drink genetically engineered coffee but Nestle, the University of Hawaii (working with Monsanto) and the Hawaii Biotechnology Group Inc have patents on coffee gene sequences that may allow the bush to grow caffeine-free."

Baby Deaths
And how could we forget baby milk? This issue has been around for many years and shows no sign of abating. Much has already been written on this issue, so to cut a long story short, Nestle have been selling baby milk substitutes in the developing world. Baby milk substitutes can have a deadly effect in countries where the water supply is not purified. Consequently, bottle-feeding can trigger fatal diseases that breastfeeding does not. UNICEF's publication 'State of the World's Children 2001' states, "Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.5 million children a year." Baby Milk Action, the Cambridge based pressure group for such issues remark, "Breastfeeding is the best start in life for a child. The Word Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one and a half million infants die each year because they are not breastfed. However, despite the proven benefits of breastfeeding, women throughout the world are under pressure to use artificial milks as a result of the unethical marketing practices of the baby food industry." Nestle stands accused of violating agreements on the marketing of baby milk, so causing the unnecessary deaths of many babies simply for profit. Of course Nestle denies it is breaking any agreements, and has a massive ongoing PR blitz to counter claim against it, of which @Bristol seems to be part. So Nestle lie about such things? Yes. For example an employee of Nestle Pakistan, Syed Aamar Raza, smashed pretensions of adherence to any marketing codes after seeing babies that had died in hospital as a result of Nestle policy. His allegations were damming, "It is said that Nestle does not give gifts to doctors, but we did this. It is said we did not make direct contact with mothers, but we held baby shows in clinics, and we used Cerelac samples as a way of striking up conversations to push the milk. The Charter says Nestle does not pay staff by incentives, but my salary revisions signed by Nestle's Marketing Manager included incentives. Infant formula received the most points in the scheme."

PR Coverup
On it goes as more and more evidence emerges of the Nestle's activties. Their sponsorship of @Bristol seems to part of the PR-war, after being advised by PR firm Saatchi and Saatchi (the people responsible for the Tories 'demon eyes' campaign in the 1997 general election) to go on the offensive; not by stopping their bad practice, but by spending money on 'good causes' to deflect criticism. In such a manner the boss of @Bristol, John Durant, told activists in March this year that Nestle has cleaned up it's act. Three months later the Independent newspaper carried a story on a report published that showed that multinational baby food companies; including Nestle; were continuing to break an international code on marketing powdered milk to mothers. Squeaky clean!

Self Serving @Bristol
Plus, it's odd how Nestle's 'good causes' work serves to provide financial benefits to Nestle itself. Take for example the @Bristol project which Nestle provided sponsorship for, and also acquired the concession to run a Nestle cafe there. Undercover anti-Nestle activists were told by a representative of New Era Ltd, (the company that runs the franchise) how successful the cafe had been, yet rumour has it (unconfirmed!) that @Bristol find them selves in financial trouble. So the question arises; why would a leisure attraction surrender one of it's most valuable financial assets to someone else?

Nestle Go Home
They may have accrued a vast pile of financial and political muscle, but they aren't all getting it their own way. People have been and continue to speak out against Nestle’s corporate tyranny. As long as the baby milk issue has been in the public consciousness there has been resistance to Nestle. In 1977 the Nestle Boycott was launched and since then resistance has intensified. A typical example would be the events of October 1999, where actions such as building occupations and demonstrations occurred across the UK to highlight Nestle's exploitation of the Chiapas region of Mexico. Chiapas is widely known as the homelands of the Zapatista rebels and their charismatic spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos. Even Nestle acknowledged the resistance when in a recent interview the Chief Executive of Nestle UK Peter Blackburn talked of issues surrounding graduate recruitment, ..."in some universities we've had a rough time when we've gone to make presentations - we've had to close down on a couple of occasions." It's heart-warming to hear that active morality and resistance are also being found in the younger generation as this news-clip from an activity camp for 11 to 16-year-olds in the UK shows, "..but the KitKat machine that usually does a roaring trade has attracted spontaneous demonstrations and picketing, and has only just survived the attention of the Woodcraft Folk, the 20,000-strong alternative scouts movement.." Campaign groups and concerned people the world over continue to pile on the pressure and world-wide resistance to Nestle's practices grows.

For more on Nestle and the resistance against them, click here.

Posted by Richard
6/06/2002 05:06:53 PM | PermaLink

Nestle Integrates into Dairy Partners Americas

Swiss multinational Nestle and New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra have announced the creation of joint venture vehicle Dairy Partners Americas (DPA).

DPA will operate in the North, Central and South American regions. It will be used to market chilled products and liquid milk and ingredient milk powders under existing Nestle and Fonterra brands.

The first DPA joint ventures will be established within three months with priority countries including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. DPA's turnover for the first year is expected to be around US$1.4 billion (CIA billion), although Fonterra has said it does not expect to see any benefit from the deal for at least a year.

The companies expect DPA to benefit them through sales growth in existing and new markets, cost efficiency through the use of their respective infrastructures, better use of resources in distribution, manufacturing strengths and research and development.

Nestle and Fonterra also expect an increase in quality and quantity of milk by developing dairy practices in host countries, especially in Latin America. Fresh milk for DPA will be sourced in the Americas and dairy ingredients from New Zealand.

Fonterra chairman John Roadley said: "In recent years, we have established sound beachheads in the Americas.The alliance will enable us to move to the next stage of the development of our business, for the benefit of New Zealand dairy farmers and the country as a whole."

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and comes after Nestle and Fonterra announced their intention to create a joint venture last August.

In March, Fonterra signed a -'49.7 million deal to supply Mexican state agency Liconsa with milk powders.

Liconsa is Mexico's largest importer of milk powder, and is responsible for the supply of milk powder and reconstituted milk in Mexico.The powder will be distributed through Liconsa's 7,000 retail outlets in Mexico.

UK dairy processor Dairy Crest also signed a similar deal with Liconsa in March.

Copyright Wilmington Publishing Ltd. Apr 2002

Posted by Richard
6/06/2002 05:04:11 PM | PermaLink

 
Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Global Warming in the Blog Community

I'd like to call this blog to people's attention: Quark Soup: Reflections on the Wave Function of the Universe by David Appell. David's giving the world a break by using his Ph.d. in Physics to break down the contemporary scientific issues of the day as a writer and journalist, instead of hacking away in some stuffy corporate lab or university. He's got links to recent articles of his in Scientific American and Salon amongst others.

More importantly (perhaps), he's got his finger on the global warming issue and is taking on some of the right-wing bloggers (an impossible task -- they're like Hercules' hydra) and setting them straight as to the facts. Well written by a professional writer, and backed up with the facts from a scientist who knows his shit...check him out if you've got a moment.

Posted by Richard
6/05/2002 01:37:42 PM | PermaLink

15,000 Deer to Die in Wisconson

As the Mad-Cow relative Chronic Wasting disease threatens east of the Mississippi, Wisconson turns to hunters to solve the crisis through a massive Spring die-off. But what is the state doing about the underlying cause of the problem, I wonder? If a body breaks out in pox, slicing off each of the sores doesn't therefore make the body well? I would like to see state departments of all levels begin to talk meaningfully and openly about Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting instead of simply declaring that a slaughter is all that is necessary. These diseases have societal causes and wiping out animals (wild or domestic) is a tragic, brutal, and cowardly reply to the challenge these horrendous diseases present to the global society.

Mad Cow also turns up for the first time in Israel. And more in Japan.

I announce again: "Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan!" (tm).

Posted by Richard
6/05/2002 11:40:48 AM | PermaLink

Hybrid Enthusiasts Love that Mpg!

Drivers trade tips, techniques to boost mileage even higher

By Jeffrey Ball
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

FREEPORT, Maine, June 5 -- The Honda Insight, which gets about 64 miles per gallon of gasoline, is the most fuel-efficient car sold commercially in the U.S. But 64 mpg is peanuts to Naoto Inoue. If he can't coax his two-seat silver Insight to more than 70 mpg, he considers it a bad day. [Read more]

Posted by Richard
6/05/2002 11:18:05 AM | PermaLink

Ozone Hole Getting Smaller -- No! Let it Not be a Legacy of Lies...

A recent article released by the Japanese National Institute for Environmental Studies, and printed in Nature, points to a new avenue in the complex analysis of atmospheric chemistry and its effects in the breaking down of Earth's natural ozone. But it is downright mis-informative and irresponsible in as much as it also paints an inaccurate picture of the Ozone hole "on the road to recovery," slipping in that the problem itself may be healed (happily) by "2040!"

The fact of the matter is that the ozone problem is analogous to the global population problem -- both do appear to have internal trends towards slowing that, if projected out over decades, show an eventual levelling off and even decline. But this is a very misleading "road to recovery" indeed! On the contrary, ozone depletion and global population continue to rise, and even by the most radical of optimists both are expected to continue to do so for at least a generation. Further, when we factor in that the hopeful "slowing" trends pointed to by scientists are in fact long-term predictions that fail to account for a wealth of variables that can (and will) arise within the coming decades, and that these variables could easily shift the scale back towards a quickening of the problem(s), we discover that there is little reason right now to be parading our hope.

For example: while the continued eradication of CFCs and HCFCs in industrialized nations has helped to create a slowing trend in ozone depletion, the coming globalization of the third world should give us cause to worry. Regulations on CFCs, etc., are often not in existence in these regions (and certainly not enforced where they do exist). Therefore, as these regions come to bear the brunt of global industry in the coming years, there is every reason to believe that current trends are false and inaccurate as regards even the very near future. Additionally, as these same findings by the Japanese imply, there are relationships between greenhouse effect and ozone, and so as global warming continues unabated, we have further reason to suspect an increase in the use of exactly the types of appliances notorious for the production of CFCs and their like (e.g. air conditioners, refrigeration appliances, etc.). Thus, I ask you, what's all this talk about "healing?"

We should hope that the ozone problem will significantly abate sooner rather than later. Many experts currently have it doing so by around 2050. This new report plots 2040 and moves the time scale up by a decade. That's good news, for sure. But it's also news that fails to mention that the current ozone hole is as large and larger than ever and has developed from a fissure over the anatarctic to become a region the size of North America, stretching now over parts of southern Chile! Reports of people and sheep going blind there from excessive UV radiation appear false, but then there are also reports of sheep in the fields with large melanomas on their backs. Even if we don't have any credible evidence yet as to the real meaning of the threat of UV radiation in our lives, we should not waste this time in complacency as we await the year 2040 to roll around. Rather, if 2040 is to even emerge as a realistic date, it will only do so as each of us now takes up this problem, and its consequences, for themselves and so works towards forming the type of future in which our children will be relieved of the greater burden with which we now seem bent on leaving them.

Posted by Richard
6/05/2002 09:54:05 AM | PermaLink

 
Tuesday, June 04, 2002

California Highway Patrol Tip Cows with Their Guns

This on Fark today -- and the farkers redeem themselves (somewhat) by understanding that whatever you think of veggie pet food, this is unacceptable behavior by the CHP. The discussion here -- some funny images, some not.

Posted by Richard
6/04/2002 11:14:07 AM | PermaLink

They Eat Fish, Let's Kill Them

First it was let's "eat them to save them," now it's "they eat the fish that were meant for our mouths." The Japanese arguments for whaling are becoming so outrageously dumb as to obscure the whole issue here -- these are large, sentient, peace-loving mammals that represent a special place in the eco-systems of oceans, and who (thanks to a century of industrial whaling and global encroachment by human practices) now face the problem of on-coming extermination. Some whales eat fish, many do not. Who cares? If global fishing practices were sustainable all along, and if people's demand for a fish-based diet was equally so, then the hokie idea of murdering our ocean brethren in order for our children to eat couldn't even arrive in consciousness. The onus is upon us -- not them. They're not eating us to death...insanity!

Posted by Richard
6/04/2002 10:02:44 AM | PermaLink

How Sustainable is the Talk of Sustainability?

As world government gets geared up for Earth Summit II in Johannesburg this August and the requisite ton of money gets spent (and resources used) in the name of producing this Lollapalooza of global political spectacle, the buzzword of the day appears to be "sustainability." I use it. Monsanto uses it. Heck, now that the Bush administration has finally admitted that global warming is a serious, human industry-created problem that will greatly affect our future, even G.W. himself appears to want to get in on the act. But are we all speaking the same language here? How can someone interested in animal rights, or non-toxic community gardens, or local, organic produce possibly intend the same thing by speaking about "sustainable living practices" as a giant transnational corporate venture which is bent on outmoding exactly those very things?

Truth be told -- there are many "sustainable futures" out there as the term becomes commodified and enters the marketplace. Guy Debord, in his Return of the Society of the Spectacle, spoke of how the spectacle of global capitalism has the magical power to acquire and implode into itself even the most anti-capital of concepts and practices -- anything can be commodified: even the slogans of anti-commodification! Images of the '50s sci-fi thriller The Blog come to mind, an amorphous mass with only one purpose -- to eat -- eating everything in sight, with little or no phase change save for the size of the undertaking.

In the '80s and '90s the politics of "political correctness" deftly swallowed (and thereby neutralized) an emerging radical language bent on critiquing and transforming the status-quo of patriarchial history. More recently, terms like "multi-culturalism" or "de-colonization" appear to be headed for a similar fate, as they become assimilated into any number of right-wing and/or conservative projects that have their conceptual base in the very histories which these terms were initially used to call into question.

Now, despite the very hard work of many ecologists, environmentalists, philosophers, activists, social theorists, and radical economists, the term "sustainability" hangs in the balance over a steep precipice of meaninglessness. The society of the spectacle threatens to meet the great extinction of life which its prior practices have brought us to with sustainable fast food, plant-killers, and slave trades. More neutral in appearance, the language of public policy is all a buzz with sustainable debate. For instance, I was emailed this Report of the Second National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment the other day -- "Hoorah!" was the supposition, "Look, Washington has heard us! Republicans and Democrats alike are on board!" But on board for what? Clicking through and examining the corresponding website finds that this report was handily paid for by all the giant corporate entities that the politics of sustainability was created to empower unwitting publics against. Since when, can I ask, does big transnational oil have any rights to signing on for a sustainable world?

Not that I don't envision a world in which the Monsantos and Amocos, etc. etc., can and do sign on for just such a vision...that's not the point. The point is that there is a difference between having one's day in court, being found guilty, and properly paying one's fine to society and slipping out the back door through a bit of legal-ease magic because your lawyer is good friends with the judge.

In this battle over the terms of sustainability, I would argue, that now more than ever before, we are each asked to play the role of judge in a significant manner. Thus, I ask you, judge(s), can this blatant mis-use of the talk of "sustainability" be allowed to continue? I move that it be stricken from the record and barred from these proceedings...

I hereby append my motion, your honor(s), in the hopes that it will be sustained.

Posted by Richard
6/04/2002 08:48:44 AM | PermaLink

The Democracy of Memes

Adding Zed over at MemeMachineGo! to the revolutionary blogging project...I asked Zed how he arrived at his name and blog:
MMG has two eponyms: one I blogged about today, Susan Blackmore's _The Meme Machine_; the other is the title of one of the stories in Grant Morrison's comic book series, _The Invisibles_: "Time Machine Go!"; it was thanks to a pointer from Morrison that I read _The Meme Machine_.

A conscious goal of mine in blogging is to spread further the ideas I'd like to see spread further. The memetic perspective is that that is me acting on behalf of memes more than the other way around. The name is to evoke that.


Now the question is: where does the blogging memetics stand vis a vis revolutionary democracy? Personally, I find Blackmore and Dawkins' The Selfish Gene naive in their materialism and their politics. But, in particular, Blackmore's thesis does meet up with the history of radical leftist thought: think William S. Burroughs and his idea that language is a virus implanted within beings -- it's a body snatcher, a terrorist weapon created by establishment elites in the dawn of history which got way out of hand, a gypsy moth at the level of the human soul. On the other hand, a reading of meme theory could lead in the direction of far-right thinking and fascist apologetics: the denial of agency (and hence moral responsibilty) -- "I was only following orders from above."

A third possibility arises -- the structuralist/post-structuralist Marxist tradition -- in which we implode into the memes and the distinction between "them" and "us" becomes hazy. Memes (i.e. language) represent the structure which is the ground of our very subjectivity as beings, and yet the combination of their own groundlessness and that groundlessness represented itself memetically at the level of structure means that the meme of "agency" develops. Thus, Zed's notion of consciously identifying one's memetic being and reproducing that at the social level can be seen as part/parcel of a revolutionary democratic politics. But only so much in as "being conscious" means being critical of one's reproduction and "being social" means being transformed by the memetic interaction with others in historic space/time. In this sense, then, we might be machinic in the manner of Donna Haraway's "cyborgs" -- beings transforming themselves by imploding the body into technology (and the reverse) -- but we are not machines in the sense of thoughtless androids...memes are not linear programs that activate a push-button response.

Or rather: they should not be...the fact that our media and educative institutions often act in directly that manner points to the fundamentally political questions surrounding the theory of memetics. Anyhow, take this up with Zed and engage the question for yourself!

Posted by Richard
6/04/2002 08:09:57 AM | PermaLink

 
Monday, June 03, 2002

On Aronowitz and the "Remaking of the American Left," by Murray Bookchin

STANLEY ARONOWITZ has written a generally admirable and important work in Socialist Review, "The Remaking of the American Left," that deserves widespread discussion. For the present, I would like to focus on what I regard as a core issue of the article, notably Aronowitz's distinction "between the ideological left of socialists, communists, libertarians of various sorts . . . and the popular left" which in past decades consisted of movements for redistributive justice," by which I take Aronowitz to mean the traditional labor, agrarian, and unemployed movements of the 1930s and earlier periods. While these movements certainly linger on at varying levels of consciousness and degrees of organization, I feel we cannot give enough emphasis today to radical environmentalists, feminists, gays, ethnic groups, countercultural folk, and peace activists. I do not believe the latter simply "supplement" the "popular left" of traditional socialism, and I am sure that Aronowitz would agree with my formulation. What I do think, however, is that many leftists today fail to recognize that the old "popular left" and the new one reflect basically changing social con- texts of a historical nature that have not received sufficient emphasis among socialists and anarchists-changes that should profoundly affect our strategies for the left as a whole.
[Read more]

Posted by Richard
6/03/2002 12:57:14 PM | PermaLink

Discussion of Veggies for Pets on Fark

Thanks to Dr. Menlo for bringing this Fark post to my attention. Here's a case study in net dialogue, if we can call it that: it begins with an uninformed rigthist posting a story about a vegetarian diet for animals. It is given the lablel "asinine" so as to properly contextualize that this idea has about as much sense as electing G.W. Bush president. Then, it is handed over to the Farkers to discuss in their usual manner -- somewhere between informing each other and debating and slamming each other in the name of competitive and meaning-less fun. Interestingly, there are a significant group of readers who are either vegetarian or vegan and/or happen to know something about the issue and so in between vehement declarations of war against PETA and "dumb ass vegheads," the informed try to calm the discussion and contextualize the story. This is met with ultra-reactionary language and the threat to slap anyone who would dare try to promote this idea in person. Nice! There's net democracy in action -- the left doing everything they can to dissolve hatred and inform, whilst the hard-core right feels afronted that anyone would think them so stupid as to believe that they could be duped into an actual dialogue in the name of transforming opinion and evolving...

The Fark discussion has most of the information on the issue listed in there, so I won't take the time/space to do so here. But if people are interested, please comment and I will happily provide the info I have on this issue. In short, pets can be quite healthy on a veggie-based diet -- especially considering the fact that mass-produced pet food is some of the most toxic stuff available on the market. There is the issue of "taurine" for felines, but there are products available on the net that can be supplemented to provide this.

My position, re: pets and food, is not so much about meat/veggie but rather about the toxicity and make-up of what goes into the production of that food -- wet or dry, it makes no difference...

Posted by Richard
6/03/2002 09:49:28 AM | PermaLink

 
Sunday, June 02, 2002

Storm clouds move over Willacy County, Texas

This picture taken from Quiet Wounds, demonstrating that while we hold Texas accountable for the social ugliness of the Bush clan, there's still lots of beautiful country out there between those big cities and lonestar cattle ranches. Anyone who's ever driven the state of Texas at dusk, during a summer storm, has to wonder how it has also given rise to a bunch of trans-national corporate elitists, security mavens, and governmental cronies for the establishment...oh yeah: oil!


Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 11:07:47 PM | PermaLink

Under the Nuclear Shadow by Arundhati Roy

This week as diplomats' families and tourists quickly disappeared, journalists from Europe and America arrived in droves. Most of them stay at the Imperial Hotel in Delhi. Many of them call me. Why are you still here, they ask, why haven't you left the city? Isn't nuclear war a real possibility? It is, but where shall I go? If I go away and everything and every one, every friend, every tree, every home, every dog, squirrel and bird that I have known and loved is incinerated, how shall I live on? Who shall I love, and who will love me back? Which society will welcome me and allow me to be the hooligan I am, here, at home?

We've decided we're all staying. We've huddled together, we realize how much we love each other and we think what a shame it would be to die now. Life's normal, only because the macabre has become normal. While we wait for rain, for football, for justice, on TV the old generals and the eager boy anchors talk of first strike and second strike capability, as though they're discussing a family board game. My friends and I discuss Prophecy, the film of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the dead bodies choking the river, the living stripped of their skin and hair, we remember especially the man who just melted into the steps of the building and we imagine ourselves like that, as stains on staircases.

My husband's writing a book about trees. He has a section on how figs are pollinated, each fig by its own specialized fig wasp. There are nearly 1,000 different species of fig wasps. All the fig wasps will be nuked, and my husband and his book.

A dear friend, who is an activist in the anti-dam movement in the Narmanda Valley, is on indefinite hunger strike. Today is the twelfth day of her fast. She and the others fasting with her are weakening quickly. They are protesting because the government is bulldozing schools, felling forests, uprooting hand pumps, forcing people from their villages. What an act of faith and hope. But to a government comfortable with the notion of a wasted world, what's a wasted value?

Terrorists have the power to trigger a nuclear war. Non-violence is treated with contempt. Displacement, dispossession, starvation, poverty, disease, these are all just funny comic strip items now. Meanwhile, emissaries of the coalition against terror come and go preaching restraint. Tony Blair arrives to preach peace -- and on the side, to sell weapons to both India and Pakistan. The last question every visiting journalist always asks me: “Are you writing another book?”

That question mocks me. Another book? Right now when it looks as though all the music, the art, the architecture, the literature, the whole of human civilization means nothing to the monsters who run the world. What kind of book should I write? For now, just for now, for just a while pointlessness is my biggest enemy. That's what nuclear bombs do, whether they're used or not. They violate everything that is humane, they alter the meaning of life.

Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?

Arundhati Roy of India is the author of the acclaimed novel The God of Small Things (Harper-Perennial, 1997). Her non-fiction books are The Cost of Living (Modern Library, 1999) and Power Politics (South End Press, 2001). She is a leading anti-war and anti-corporate globalization activist. This commentary was first broadcast on Radio 4's Today program in the UK.

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 10:29:58 PM | PermaLink

Inspired Election Choices for 2002 by New York State Greens

Having previously mentioned the upcoming State elections and some of the Green candidates for CA and MA, I've got to give my overwhelming endorsement to the New York Greens this year for their choice of Stanley Aronowitz. Professor Aronowitz, a leading theorist on education, politics and society, besides being just a very intelligent candidate, should also be the type of candidate that can appeal to a wide range of groups who have an interest in transforming the status quo (now that all of our political realities have been transformed). Hey, if Jesse Ventura can be Governor of Minnesota, and Dubya Bush can play the President, it seems clear that Stanley Aronowitz can be Governor of the Big Apple -- a state desperately in need of some greening, post 9-11. Give Pataki hell!
----------------------------------------------
New York State Green Party Nominates Stanley Aronowitz for Governor
Dr. Jennifer Daniels Accepts Lt. Governor Nomination
Hawkins and Long Receive Nomination for Comptroller, Attorney General

Stanley Aronowitz received more than 70% of the vote for Governor at the Green Party statewide nomination meeting in Ithaca on Saturday.

Dr. Jennifer Daniels, who recently received the highest vote total in history for a third party candidate for Mayor of Syracuse, was overwhelmingly endorsed for Lt. Governor.

Mary Jo Long, an attorney from Afton NY, was nominated for Attorney General, along with Howie Hawkins for State Comptroller.

No other candidates received the 25% of the vote needed to qualify for the statewide ballot without the need for petitioning.

Dr. Aronowitz said that key issues in his program would include energy policy, especially the need to close the Indian Point nuclear power plan; the effects of the growing permanent war machine on our ability to meet social needs in the state; and, tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporate welfare. Like many of the speakers at the Green convention, Aronowitz spoke of the need to oppose the efforts by the national Democratic and Republican Parties to use September 11th as an excuse to curtail civil liberties and increase corporate welfare. Aronowitz also spoke on the need for campaign finance reform, universal health care, and increased state efforts to assist low-income and disabled New Yorkers.

Stanley Aronowitz is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Urban Education at the Graduate Center, City University of New York since 1983. He was the chief organizer in New York for the Independent Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Formerly a steelworker he was an organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers(now UNITE) and the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers. Dr. Aronowitz is an elected officer of the Professional Staff Congress, the union of more than 17,000 faculty and professional staff at CUNY Aronowitz is author or editor of 20 books. He was director of Park East High School in East Harlem, the first post-war experimental public High School in New York City and was associate director of Mobilization for Youth, one of the largest youth work agencies in the United States where he also served as a community organizer.

Dr. Daniels was the Green Party candidate for Mayor in Syracuse last year, pulling 7% of the vote on the Green and Libertarian lines. Jennifer Daniels, M.D., M.B.A is a graduate of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School of Business.

Dr. Daniels, a long time critic of corporate welfare, grew up on the South Side of Syracuse, New York, which has for years been known for its drug traffic. After completing her education, she returned to the South Side determined to help reclaim the area. Among her many activities, she has built her medical office on a block that had been vacant for 20 years. She also built a home for herself and her three children on three city lots located two blocks from her office, where she and her children cultivate an extensive vegetable garden. As a member of the ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy Speakers Bureau, Dr. Daniels addresses the benefits of ending the drug trade through legalization.

Dr. Daniels is the recipient of the 1992 American Medical Women's Association Community Service Award, Community Service Award, the Syracuse Mayor's Outstanding African-American Role Model Award (1993) and the Governor of New York's Woman of Achievement Award (1998). On February 19, 1993, Dr. Daniels was featured in the Wall Street Journal special issue on Black entrepreneurs.

Howie Hawkins of Syracuse received the Green Party designation for State Comptroller. Hawkins was a founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 and the Green Party in the United States 1984. Hawkins, the Green's 1998 candidate for Comptroller, has been a Green candidate in Syracuse for Mayor, Congress and City Council. He works for the United Parcel Services and is a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Hawkins is the long time Director of CommonWorks, a federation of cooperatives and community organizations in Central New York.

Hawkins said that "for 25 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, New York has paid for repeated cuts in rich people's income taxes by cutting public services for the rest of us." Hawkins called for a package of progressive tax reforms that would raise taxes on the richest 10% and on environmentally damaging products, while lowering taxes on low- and middle-income people and on ecological products.

The reforms include: higher income taxes on the richest 10%; replacing the Governor Pataki's STAR program with a progressive "circuit breaker" that caps property taxes paid by low- and middle-income homeowners and renters; increased state revenue sharing with cities and school districts; and, replacing the across-the-board sales tax with selective eco-taxes on environmentally damaging products. Hawkins called for completely scrapping the state's system of economic development incentives to corporations through tax breaks and grants. Decrying this system as "corporate welfare," Hawkins said that "if the public is going to take the investment risks, they should get their share of income rewards instead of just giving it away."

In place of these incentives, Hawkins called for "a federated system of neighborhood, regional, and statewide investment boards that would be popularly elected, competently staffed, and charged with prudently investing economic development moneys, including all such moneys now in the state budget, public pension funds, and the assets of a publicly-owned bank and insurance company."

The Green's nominee for Attorney General, Mary Jo Long, has been an attorney for 25 years. Long has worked at Brooklyn Legal Services, taught at Cleveland- Marshall Law School and Case Western Reserve Law School, and is now a solo practitioner in Afton, New York. She is chair of the Chenango County Green Party Organization, and a member of the Governing Council of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY). Long and her husband live on an 85-acre homestead. Long and her husband built their own house, raise most of our their own food, and heat and cook with wood cut on their own land.

"The domination of corporations over our politics, economy, culture and environment has gone too far. Corporations were originally created by We The People through acts of our State Legislatures. Corporations have been reaching beyond the bounds for which they were created so that now their purpose is to create profit even if that means cheating people (e.g. Enron), poisoning the environment (e.g. General Electric dumping PCBs into the Hudson River and Monsanto developing genetically engineered foods that uses people as human guinea pigs), or encouraging our children to sit in front of television in order to sell them sugar and soda to the detriment of our mental and physical health. Corporations get away with crimes that are not tolerated when committed by flesh and blood human beings. The Attorney General of the State of New York can play an important role in reining in corporations," stated Long. Additional information about the candidates can be found on the Green Party web site at http://www.gpny.org/.

The Greens, who finished third in the recent Presidential election, need 50,000 votes for Governor in order to maintain their ballot status. The Greens are committed to ecology, democracy, nonviolence and justice.

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 09:57:50 PM | PermaLink

Fate of the Forest: Will the World Bank Replicate Amazonian Failures in Central and Eastern Europe?

EASTERN EUROPE AND CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION

The Romanian forest remains host to a full range of European forest biodiversity, including top predators that are either extinct or rare in other parts of their former range. Approximately 60 percent of all European brown bears and 40 percent of wolves and lynx occur in Romania."

So says the Environmental Assessment Report of the Romanian Forest Development Program, a World Bank project now under preparation.

But acknowledgement of the forest's unique environmental value has not stopped the Bank from boring full-speed ahead with its support for the project.

According to the Bank, the declared objective of the project is "to increase the contribution to the national economy from the sustainable management of Romanian forest resources."

The project has three main components. First, it devotes $11 million to support the newly established forestry inspectorates and establish a forest monitoring system. Second, it allocates $3.4 million to help the ongoing forest restitution process, through which land is being returned to its precommunist era owners. Finally, it provides a $26.5 million capital injection into the National Forest Administration (NFA), the public company managing state forests. The NFA monies will support a "pilot project" of the reconstruction of roughly 500 kilometers of forestry roads, as well as the construction of approximately a hundred kilometers of new roads in state-owned forests. Along with European funding, NFA officials intend to use these and future World Bank loans to construct in total more than 1,000 kilometers of new forestry roads in coming years.

The World Bank rates the projects as posing a high degree of environmental risk - designating it environmental Category A, the top category, but Bank documents say the project has "the potential for a significant and beneficial environmental impact."

The staff responsible for the project preparation say the current forest restitution process risks serious environmental degradation without proper advisory and law enforcement services in place. They also argue that the forest road-building component will benefit the environment by shortening skidding distances, the distance over which tree trunks are dragged on non-paved tracks and thus cause soil erosion. They explain that road building will be done according to a best practice guideline which helps to avoid harmful environmental consequences of the construction.

A coalition of Romanian environmentalists has formed to oppose the project, charging that Bank safeguards will do little to alleviate damage, and that road-building will intensify deforestation. In January 2002, the environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) published a document criticizing the project titled "Comments on the Romanian Forestry Development Program." At stake, they believe, is the future of Romania's forests, and maybe even those of the entire region.

CORRUPTION AND CONSTRUCTION

Above all, say the NGOs in a letter to the board and presdent of the World Bank, the extreme and thorough corruption of Romanian government agencies precludes any forest protection safeguards from succeeding.

"Once, the Romanian National Forest Administration (NFA) had significant organizational capacity with excellent specialists, detailed management plans and sufficient funds," they write. "Now, the picture is completely different. Since 1990, the system has been very chaotic and corrupted. According to the media, NFA is one of the most corrupted authorities in Romania. As long as the problem of corruption is not properly addressed, the project has hardly any chance of success. The most effective way to increase income from the forestry sector would be to combat the corruption, not to increase harvesting."

Will Romania's forest survive World Bank support?

Romania is ranked 69 out of 91 countries on Transparency International's corruption perceptions index, with lower rankings signaling a higher level of corruption. The country receives a 2.8 score out of 10 on Transparency International's corruption perceptions index.

A 2001 World Bank survey of corruption in Romania reaches similar conclusions, providing details of pervasive bribery. "Thirty-eight percent of public officials reported that they had been offered a gift or money during the previous year," the report finds. "Twenty- eight percent and 42 percent of enterprises and households, respectively, reported that they either were made to feel that a bribe was necessary or directly offered bribes or atentie ("attention") to various public officials during the previous 12 months."

The World Bank now estimates that illegal logging totals 5 percent to 20 percent of all timber cutting in Romania. A 1999 working paper concluded, "It became a mass phenomenon and very often forestry guards were threatened, beaten or even killed. None of the criminals were ever caught. Yet, forestry guards were not allowed to have arms. Illegal logging was tolerated by the NFA, and later on it was allegedly promoted by the same authority."

However, the available Bank documentation for the Forest Development Program does not address the corruption plaguing the forestry sector, except for a concern that money from the project should not be siphoned off.

The regulators who are supposed to enforce logging regulations receive far too little support to change tree-cutting practices, say Romanian environmentalists. Even with the support of the World Bank loan for equipment and for undertaking a high-tech forest inventory, the Forestry Inspectorates will be understaffed, underpaid and unlikely to perform well, the environmentalists say.

They also worry that the Forest Department, in which the Forestry Inspectorates are located, was moved during the project preparation period from the environmental ministry to the Ministry of Agriculture. Now the ministry oriented to using the forests to generate revenues controls the institution which is supposed to protect forests and the rule of law, even if it is in conflict with economic interests. "Wolves in charge of the sheep," one Bank staff admitted privately.

The most significant NGO concern with the project itself is the forest-road component, which is the dominant part of the project. Environmentalists view roads as the biggest enemies of forests, since they make once-remote trees accessible to loggers. If Romanian authorities construct a forestry road network as dense as in Austria, say the Romanian environmentalists, then Romania will have forest biodiversity as poor as Austria.

The Bank says the loan will only be used to repair damaged roads and to extend existing roads in production forests. But environmentalists say these investments will simply increase the efficiency of forest destruction, and have nothing to do with the alleged goal of shortening skidding distances. The Bank's capital injection will also free up NFA's road construction budget to build roads in other areas, potentially including virgin forest.

Romanian environmentalists say the Bank has failed to address these and other basic environmental issues. They dismiss the Bank's 350page environmental impact assessment as a shoddy piece of work. The document provides no information on the exact location of the planned roads, no assessment of biodiversity impacts, and barely mentions that these roads will spur the logging of mature forests.

The assessment only examines the impacts of two roads out of 74. It suggests road-specific environmental assessments take place only after the project is approved and the road list is final. Environmentalists believe this approach turns the whole assessment into a rubberstamping exercise, since the project will not be able to be revised in light of the environmental impact assessment's findings.

The environmental assessment calls for an approval process which is "very focused, streamlined and reduced in scope relative to World Bank" standard operating procedure. Streamlined review is not supposed to be available for Category A environmentally threatening projects.

RUBBER STAMP WORRIES

Despite the concerns, the Bank is seeking to rush the project to approval, without slowing to follow Bank procedures, consult locally or even make key documents available to Romanians.

During project preparation, the Bank consulted only three NGOs. Of the 17 groups that have criticized the environmental impact assessment, not a single one even knew about the project during its planning phase.

In November 2001, when NGOs tried to obtain the Romanian version of the study, the external affairs office of the World Bank's local office in Romania wrote that, "the translation is on-going and going fairly slow as it is a difficult, long document."

In December, Romanian authorities promised NGOs a place on the Project Monitoring Committee and full transparency in exchange for ceasing their criticism. They declined the offer, vowing instead to continue raising questions about a project threatening a vital Romanian resource.

As a Christmas present, CEE Bankwatch, wo\rking in collaboration with Romanian NGOs on the project, received an official protest from the Romanian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, expressing his view that statements about the project, posted on Bankwatch's website, were incorrect and inappropriate.

In January, environmentalists prepared a consolidated document with detailed comments outlining concerns about the project.

Meanwhile, for unclear reasons, the project has been repeatedly delayed - giving opponents hope that the dangerous initiative may still be derailed.

In March 2002, the Bank assigned a new task manager to the project. In March 2002, in Brassov, Romania, NGOs, Bank representatives and Romanian authorities met to discuss the project. This time, Romanian authorities made available the draft Project Appraisal Document - the first document available which contains accurate information about the project - providing a basis for meaningful dialogue.

The Project Appraisal Document reveals that foreign companies would be able to bid for road building contracts along with Romanian companies. The project support for road construction is supposed to transfer best practices in forestry road building to Romanian companies, leading some to ask how this knowledge transfer will occur if local companies do not get contracts.

The Bank staff followed up the meeting with a detailed note, explaining that they do not want to commission a new Environmental Assessment. Instead, they intend only to make improvements to remedy serious flaws so that the document can comply with relevant Bank procedures. These "improvements," however, would come after World Bank board approval of the project.

This proposal leaves environmentalists worried that the Bank's approach will be to tinker with the existing flawed documents, then rubber stamp them and rush headlong into a project that may decimate Romania's forests.

Compounding the problem, similar forestry projects are under preparation in Georgia and in Bulgaria, giving rise to fears that the Bank may do to Eastern European forests what it did to the Amazon, with countless hectares of virgin forest sacrificed as a result.

Above all, say environmentalists, the extreme and thorough corruption of Romanian government agencies precludes any forest protection safeguards from succeeeding.

by Joszef Feiler, policy coordinator for CEE Bankwatch Network and international coordinator of Friends of the Earth-Hungary.

Multinational Monitor, May 2002

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 08:53:05 PM | PermaLink

China Talks "Sustainability" as Report Brings Bad News

China yesterday released its official national environmental status report for last year, which states that "the overall environmental situation in China is still grave."

According to the annual environment report by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China's environmental quality remained stable last year, while the country enjoyed an economic growth rate of 7 per cent.

Total pollutant discharge was roughly kept at the same level as in the previous year, the report said. The nationwide industrial solid waste discharge totalled 28.9 million tons, a 9.2 per cent drop from the figure for the previous year.

Pollution in all seven major rivers around the country increased to some extent last year, with the water quality of the Yellow, Huaihe and Liaohe rivers suffering the most because of their dramatic drops in water volume.

Coastal pollution remained serious in the East China and Bohai seas.

Urban air quality was almost the same as for the year 2000, but total suspended particulate (TSP) pollution became more widely spread. Acid rain fell on around 30 per cent of the country's territory but the number of cities affected was slightly reduced, according to the report.

Most cities around the country were slightly affected by noise pollution, said the report.

Zhu Jianqiu, vice-minister with SEPA, also drew attention to the country's problem of increasing desertification when answering questions from the media.

"China places a high priority on combating desertification," Zhu said.

According to Zhu, China's deserts and desertified areas cover 2.42 million square kilometres, with an annual expansion of more than 3,000 square kilometres.

More than 90 per cent of usable natural grasslands in China, with a total area of 135 million hectares, suffered varying degrees of degradation last year, Zhu said.

Statistics from the ministry indicate that sand storms last year were more serious than in the previous year in terms of frequency and intensity, with 18 sand storms covering 45 days from March to May last year in northwestern, northern and northeastern parts of China.

Zhu also pledged yesterday at the press conference, which was held by the State Council Information Office and SEPA, that the Chinese Government would resolutely fight against pollution and consistently improve the country's environment to make it possible to achieve sustainable development.

The report also covered other environmental issues such as nuclear radiation, forest conservation, soil erosion, biological diversity, the ecological situation in the Three Gorges Reservoir area, red tides, and progress of major environmental projects across the country.

Source: China Daily - North American Edition

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 08:38:55 PM | PermaLink

Bardot Back in the Headlines: Animal Abuse is no Monkey Business

PARIS (Reuters) - A court fined French rapper Joey Starr 9,750 euros ($9,100) Wednesday after he hit his pet monkey on television, sparking a storm of protest from animal rights activists including former film star Brigitte Bardot.

Starr slapped the caged Barbary ape several times during a program recorded at his home in March by the M6 commercial channel, provoking a flood of complaints from viewers that alerted Bardot and other animal rights groups.

The court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny found Starr, whose real name is Didier Morville, guilty of maltreating an animal and illegally possessing a protected species.

Barbary apes are found in bands in Algeria, Morocco and on the Rock of Gibraltar.

Starr has a number of convictions for violence, including assaults on an air hostess and on his partner.

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 05:09:57 PM | PermaLink

Kicking Out the Old and Greening up the Works

Bob Morris of Politics in the Zeros blogged in on American Samizdat about potentially big political gains for the Green party in state elections in MA and CA. Click through to his blog to see his hyperlinked version of the LA Weekly article covering the abandonment of Grey Davis and more in depth information about upcoming Green politics. Also, a lot of water and energy news -- of which "in the Zeros" specializes and covers well.

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 02:49:25 PM | PermaLink

The Economics of Your Cup-a-Joe

While accepting a humanitarian award from Coffee Quality Institute on May 5, Starbucks Coffee Co. president and CEO Orin Smith challenged coffee industry leaders to help facilitate a coffee economy based on sustainable principles. Smith received the industry's first Humanitarian Medal of Merit at the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Starbucks' Sue Mecklenburg, VP of business practices, says that despite barriers to finding fair trade coffee that meets the company's quality standards, Starbucks is making strides to support fair trade, organic and shade-grown coffee. The company’s latest social responsibility report states that the international coffee seller bought 653,000 pounds of certified fair trade coffee in 2001. (Oakland, Calif.-based TransFair USA is the certifying body.) The report also states that during the 12 to 18 months that began September 2001, Starbucks intends to buy one million pounds of fair-trade-certified coffee.

However Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based international human rights organization, doesn't believe that Starbucks is doing enough. Global Exchange cites figures from Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International --a Germany-based umbrella organization whose members include TransFair USA--showing that 2000 total coffee production by groups on the Fair Trade Coffee Register was 165 million pounds. Equal Exchange, a Canton, Mass.-based roaster, bought 1.77 million pounds of fair-trade-certified coffee in 2001, or more than 2.5 times Starbucks' 2001 purchases, according to a May 2 CBS.MarketWatch.com news story. Equal Exchange reported sales of $7.7 million for FY01; Starbucks' FY01 consolidated net revenues were $2.6 billion. [Read more]

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 01:25:27 PM | PermaLink

Toxic Chemicals Raise U.S. Cancer Risk

WASHINGTON (June 1) - Toxic chemicals pose an elevated cancer risk to two-thirds of Americans living in nearly every part of the country, says an assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A long-awaited study of health risks from 32 toxic chemicals, released Friday, concludes that 200 million people live in areas where the cancer risk from exposure to these substances is higher than what the EPA considers a minimum level of concern.

The assessment, based on 1996 data, found that automobile and truck emissions are a major cause of exposure to the chemicals, with power plants and other industrial sources also involved.

The study, described as a ``snapshot'' of health risks from air toxins, found that the chemicals can be expected over a lifetime of exposure to cause 10 additional cancers for every 1 million people. These risks can be found across virtually the entire country, said the study, which was reviewed by outside scientists.

``More than 200 million people live in census tracts where the combined upper bound lifetime cancer risk from these (chemical) compounds exceeded 10 in 1 million risk,'' said the report. It added that 20 million people live in areas where the risks are even higher - 100 additional lifetime cancers for every 1 million people.

The EPA considers a cancer risk of greater than one in a million or greater as a matter of concern, although those levels do not always trigger regulatory actions.

``The risks are very much in line with what we expected all along,'' said Jeffrey Holmstead, head of the EPA's air office.

He said the risks of cancer from toxic chemical exposure still ``are very, very small'' compared with overall cancer risks from all sources, and are likely smaller than suggested by the study.

``Since that time (1996), the risks already have been reduced significantly,'' he said in an interview late Friday after the study was placed on the EPA's Web site.

Holmstead said the report was ``designed to be a baseline'' for further studies on risks posed by air toxins. Another assessment is expected to be issued next year based on more recent data.

But environmentalists said the study's findings provide clear evidence that tougher measures are needed to reduce releases of toxic chemicals - such as benzene, mercury, formaldehyde and other carcinogens - from automobiles, power plants and industrial sources.

They show ``a lifetime cancer risk at least 10 times greater than the level considered acceptable by the EPA,'' said Emily Figdor of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. ``These findings are a wake-up call that EPA should take action to reduce this long-overlooked public health threat.''

Among the study's conclusions is that automobiles and trucks contribute substantially to the public's exposure to cancer-causing air toxins.

It estimated that 100 million people live in areas where motor vehicles - both on- and off-road - account for an additional lifetime cancer risk of at least 10 in a million.

The study also concluded that toxic chemicals pose a significant health hazard other than cancer to much of the U.S. population, especially problems with respiratory systems.

The report said the assessment should be viewed as a ``snapshot'' that identifies the greatest health risks from toxic chemicals and identify the areas of most potential concern, but not as an analysis to determine what levels of risks are acceptable or not acceptable.

The authors also cautioned that the risk analysis was subject to limitations ``due to gaps in data or in the state of the science for assessing risk.''

In some cases the shortcomings may have understated the risks, the authors suggested. For example, the study did not attempt to assess various dioxin compounds ``that may contribute substantially to (cancer) risks,'' they wrote.

In addition, the study noted, the EPA is reassessing the health effects of the 32 toxic chemicals that were studied and that the reassessment could show an increase in the overall risks that the chemicals pose.

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, A.P.

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 12:41:27 PM | PermaLink

Pets Join First Turkish Animal Rights Rally

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Pet dogs, cats, turtles, horses, donkeys, birds and rabbits joined about 1,500 people in Turkey's largest city on Sunday to march in the country's first-ever animal rights rally.

Activists, some from the international group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have criticised Turkey for its lack of an animal rights policy. A law aimed at protecting animals has been pending before parliament since July 1999.

Mustafa Sarigul, mayor of Istanbul's Sisli district, led the march at the start of World Environment Week, cradling a lamb in his arms.

"We are all together today for the first march to show respect for the environment," Sarigul said. "I invite all of our citizens to protect the environment and living beings."

City workers with brooms cleaned up behind the animals and provided buckets of water in the midday sun.

"A flea-bitten dog has as much right to live as I do," one demonstrator's placard read.

Ankara has made moves to curb the slaughter of millions of sheep, goats and cows during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, when animals are killed in a gesture of faith and charity.

Local authorities in Turkish cities, where it's still relatively unusual to keep domestic pets, have sometimes poisoned stray cats and dogs in clean-up campaigns.

Posted by Richard
6/02/2002 11:41:04 AM | PermaLink