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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Flying Fox Faces New Threat

Here's ecology manifesting as a dynamic pathogen on the human-animal/culture-nature borderlands. Aussie's are developing forest and other potential agricultural habitat and care little for this version of the North American urban rock dove (one often hears New Yorker's refer to them lovingly as "rats with wings"). But the Spectacled Flying Fox is an ecological catalyst despite its bad reputation. But with its developed taste for the berries of the invasive wild tobacco plant, the vegetarian bats now often leave the high canopies of the rain forest to come down low to the ground to gorge themselves on the tobacco bushes, which can out-compete many domestic plant species and so have invaded sun-drenched areas that have emerged because of deforestation and ground clearing. Unfortunately, they also provide homes for the Australian Paralysis Tick, a parasite that is capable of killing animals as large as humans with its venom that shuts down body function as it travels through the blood stream. The final problem, apparently, is that the ticks routinely attach themselves to the Flying Foxes as they feed and that high tick season coincides with the time when most Flying Foxes are pregnant. Thus, voila, one ends up with less and less fruit bats as the mothers and young are killed off and sent hurtling toward extinction, one more stress in a dynamic movement toward phasing out old, naturalized and relatively stable orders and replacing them with extremely hybridized and unstable orders that owe much to the impetus of imperialistic capitalism.

Via: Australian Broadcasting Company
Many people consider the flying fox a noisy, smelly pest, with the potential to carry the deadly disease lissavirus.

But scientists argue the big bats should be recognised for their crucial role in helping pollinate and spread many of the trees which make up Australia's World Heritage-listed rainforests.

One of the most important animals involved in that process -- the spectacled flying fox -- is already under stress from loss of habitat.

Now the species is facing a new threat.

The Spectacled flying fox has started eating an introduced weed called wild tobacco, which is having fatal consequences for the bats and could spell trouble for our rainforests.

Posted by Richard
11/06/2004 01:04:49 PM | PermaLink

Friday, November 05, 2004

SHAC Lives and Urges the Left Onward

SHAC's analysis below of the perverse logic of US war and animal-testing/murder is to be commended. I am reminded of Marcuse's statement that the same urge that leads humanity to destroy one another arises with the urge to destroy the Earth is the death wish.

I'm less pleased with SHAC's conclusion that the American public is really, really stupid -- which sounds both reactionary and elitist. It also has the effect of making the 59-odd million who either cast their vote or appeared to cast their vote through e-voting system republican hack attacks somehow less responsible for their politics. For instance, we don't treat brilliant serial killers like Ted Bundy and those that might commit the same kind of acts, but have an IQ of 75 and below, similarly in this country. One gets a moral sanction of horror and is delivered unto his death, the other gets a sanitarium, in theory some meager amount of care, and in some cases perhaps even the possibility of social rehabilitation.

So, it is not helpful or correct, even in the attempt to be funny, to name the arch-conservatives, the war mongering, the anti-cosmopolitan trailer park-cultured, the racist and sexist, the pacified good christian folk, the cattle ranching and wolf shooting, and the greedy corporate capitalists as tremendously ignorant. It may very well be the case that there is much they do not understand about what it is to be alive, to love, to honor and cherish, to protect and perserve, but this is not the essence of their identity and is not a cause which gives rise to their political being. In other words, education is not equivalent to revolution, nor is it the primary path to such...even the revolutionary educator Paulo Freire noted this.

If one follows the link included below to the SHAC page, one finds that the infamous picture of "monkey bush" (included here for convenience sake) is paraded alongside the text...intimating the blind leading the blind. Again, I think for ethical reasons alone, centering Bush's intelligence is the wrong tactic. His policies do not arise from stupidity, but rather rapacity; and neither are they his alone, but rather conditioned by the full force of the historical movement of empire in all its institutional forms.

Further problematic, especially for the animal liberationist, is that the semiotics of casting Bush as an ape. The image SHAC uses, which is the typical iconic centerpiece of the leading anti-Bush site, for instance, is thereby colored as deeply anthropocentric and also contains significant flavors of the mistaken reading of evolution that portrays humans as an advance out from the cosmic slime of simian-kind and others...and thusly, the leading-edge and vector of what is meaningful on the planet. Of course, SHAC itself does not believe this; but the point is that by deploying the political spectacle of such, they help to propagate it through the backdoor and breathe life into it. This is a mistake...

Finally, back to the importance of SHAC in a post-Kerry political world -- I would argue that beyond all that was done in the first term of Bush, jr. (the carnival multitude protest spectacles, the internet organizing and issue-raising, the small acts of civil disobedience here and there), one thing that will have to happen now is deepening the political response of opposition. I don't think we can expect the bulk of Kerry supporters to suddenly up the level of their disgust and risk going to jail and getting fined for their politics, but the RNC convention showed that there are a great many who will. Certainly, as the left begins to fracture under the refusal of the Anyone But Bush cadres to subject themselves to rigorous self-critique and power divestment, as radicals and progressives feel hurt and disavowed by rank and file Democrats, the emphasis of a more radical political response will fall to the radicals themselves.

Off the top of my head, the big three economic sectors beholden to Bush are pharmaceuticals, the military, and Big Oil industrial complexes. These, then, represent the primary targets for anti-Bush radicalism from boycott to beyond. Therefore, SHAC -- whether it fully realizes it or not -- is choicely positioned at the leading-edge of this movement. For its attacks upon pharma labs, while undertaken first and foremost in defense of the animals brutalized therein, also clearly have the consequence of undermining the institutional viability of a primary capitalist corporate sector. This is what the arrest of the SHAC7 was all about, as I think Steve Best and I pointed out decently in our piece (originally done for Impact Press).

So, it would have been better if SHAC weighed in on Bush by taking ownership of this larger agenda -- the radical clarion call against a contemporary oppression that at once wholly unifies the mass murder of animals and everything non-human with the institutional arrangement of imperialistic capitalism.

: Stratergy

If nothing else, the absurd re-election of George Bush can teach us an invaluable lesson about the American public: they’re really, really stupid.

Riding on a wave of ignorance and fear W. swept an electorate of whom half still honestly believe there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. This gullible wonderless mass of banality offers important insight to what we all must now accept now as proof; that the time for intelligent debate is over.

It was over before it ever began for those animals in Huntingdon. No justification has ever been offered for their suffering or their deaths. No repeated challenges for public forums accepted. No accusation answered. No doorstep confrontation proved their righteousness.

Proving themselves incapable of understanding basic reasoning, topical issues, or even a rudimentary grasp of the cold hard facts – the American public has become on audience we must no longer convince with dialogue or discourse, but rather sensationalism and sound-bite.

This is useful information to know. The ‘smoke and mirrors’ campaign of fear effectively used by this current administration is that same championed by the vivisection industry. That “without animal research we will all die” sounds remarkably like “if you don’t vote for me – we could face nuclear annihilation.” Similarly that “animal research is making progress towards great cures” parallels the “we are making progress against this growing insurgency.” And the most sinister probably being, “we take great care to only sacrifice those animals that the research deems necessary” echoing the “we are take great care to not have civilian casualties.”

If it’s the Karl Rove playbook that is effective, it’s a campaign of dirty-tricks we have been taught to employ. If it’s acceptable to bend some rules and slander some people to put a Texas village idiot into the highest office, it is certainly acceptable to get a few beagles out of HLS.

The animals languishing inside of HLS deserve better, the American public has proven it does not. Just as record number of evangelicals turned out to help Bush succeed, the SHAC campaign was ‘born again’ on October 23rd with a weekend of action designed to re-dedicate itself to this fight. The gloves are off – and now we know we what we need to do to win. Don’t despair, just get even.

Posted by Richard
11/05/2004 10:00:24 AM | PermaLink