Posts Tagged ‘animal’

Prairiewoods celebrating 15 years as ecospirituality oasis

Prairiewoods celebrating 15 years as ecospirituality oasis

The labyrinth at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Iowa. Taken Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Angela Holmes/SourceMedia Group)

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Cindy Hadish, Eastern Iowa Life (SourceMedia Group), easterniowalife.com

 

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The Gazette

HIAWATHA — With more than 40 years in the making, Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a nature festival.

After purchasing farmland in 1962 as a potential site for a regional headquarters, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wis., had numerous offers to buy the land on the Cedar Rapids/Hiawatha border.

“The sisters could have made millions,” says Prairiewoods Director Barry Donaghue of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. “But they said, ‘Let’s see if we can make it an oasis. Let’s take care of it.’”

Betty Daugherty, a Franciscan nun and one of six founding members of Prairiewoods, initiated weekly committee meetings to determine the future of the site.

Betty Daugherty

“It was a gradual process,” says Daugherty, who still resides at the center at 120 E. Boyson Road in Hiawatha.

Joann Gehling, another Franciscan nun and founding member, says planning began in earnest in 1994, once the philosophy was determined to combine ecology and spirituality into what would become known as an ecospirituality center.

Gehling, who lives near the center, says other religious communities had similar undertakings elsewhere in the country, but nothing like Prairiewoods existed in Iowa.

Joann Gehling

Their vision, based on the Franciscan philosophy of God revealed in the natural world, included restoration of the prairie and ecological practices, such as the use of natural materials and renewable energy in the buildings.

Doors of the center opened in 1996.

With 30 acres of tallgrass prairie and 40 acres of oak woodlands, the site offers the oasis that the sisters envisioned.

Picnickers and hikers walk the center’s woodland trails. Business workers find respite at retreats in the center’s main building, which sports meeting rooms, a fully-staffed kitchen and meditation room with inspiring view of the woods. Meals, cooked to perfection by chef Jill Jones, use produce grown on-site and other local foods.

One hundred solar panels generate 22,500-kilowatt hours of electricity annually and classes use a new building as a solar training facility.

Barry Donaghue

Artists and writers find solitude in Prairiewoods’ two hermitages. A 19-room guesthouse also provides overnight accommodations.

People of all backgrounds and faiths use an outdoor labyrinth and traditional sweat lodge.

As Donaghue describes it, the center isn’t focused on Catholicism or any particular religion.

“We don’t proselytize,” says Donaghue, who has studied and ministered in Australia, England, Ireland, France, Israel and the Fiji Islands. “Basically, we’re trying to get people to think.”

With that in mind, Prairiewoods is home base for groups such as Wednesday Women, who meet 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesdays to explore topics related to spiritual growth, and Green Living Group, which meets 6:30-8 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month to discuss subjects such as voluntary simplicity.

Holistic treatments, including massage and reflexology, are scheduled by appointment.

Prairiewoods also offers retreats and events, including Nature Fest, scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, to celebrate the center’s 15th anniversary.

The celebration features music, games, blessing of animals, an ice cream social and environmental art and poetry from Iowa winners of the 2011 River of Words.

In a column Daugherty wrote about exploring ecospirituality, she notes that “eco” comes from oikos, a Greek word for “home.”

“Hence, ecospirituality is not about a relationship with a God in a far-away heaven,” she writes. “The Divine can be found in our daily lives, in our human relationships and in our relationship with Earth.”

 

FYI

 

What: Nature Fest at Prairiewoods

Where: 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha

When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2

Other: Event features live music by Deep Dish Divas and Bob Ballantyne; games, nature tours and outdoor activities. Ice cream social begins at 1:45 p.m.; message from Sen. Rob Hogg and storytelling at 2 p.m.; blessing of animals at 2:45 p.m. and more.

The event includes the only Eastern Iowa showing of winners of River of Words, an environmental art and poetry competition for youths ages 5 to 19.

More information: www.prairiewoods.org

A deer roams the woods at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, 120 E. Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Iowa. Taken Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Angela Holmes/SourceMedia Group)

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http://easterniowalife.com/2011/09/24/prairiewoods-celebrating-15-years-as-ecospirituality-oasis/

 

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For the love of cats and dogs

For the love of cats and dogs

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Posted 25 September 2011, by Rashvinjeet S. Bedi, The Star, thestar.com.my

 

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Thanks to social networking, many pet lovers are taking their fight for animal rights to cyber space and forming groups to pressure the authorities to act against abuse cases.When news broke out that 300 cats were being neglected and starved at a pet hotel in Damansara Damai early this month, scores of pet lovers in Klang Valley headed to the premises to rescue the animals.

Many volunteered their services, taking the traumatised cats to veterinarians or fostering the animals until their rightful owners came to claim them.

Some even stood outside the shop from morning till night for a few days to inform cat owners who had just returned from their Hari Raya holidays the whereabouts of their pets.

In loving hands: Lai and rescued pup Baby leaving the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters after Lai and MDDB supporters lodged police reports in connection to a video depicting animal abuse. — DARRAN TAN/The Star

Animal lovers, banded under a group called KTAJ (Kucing Terbiar Anjing Jalanan), coordinated the rescue efforts.

The KTAJ is one of several animal welfare groups that have sprung into the limelight recently. These independent groups, some bearing little known acronyms, are made up of individuals who share a common bond – their love for animals.

Formed in March this year, KTAJ has already attracted more than 14,700 “likes” on its Facebook wall.

Besides KTAJ, other groups include Malay­sian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB), Malaysian Cats Care Project (MCCP), Independent Pet Rescuers (IPR), Myanimalcare, Garden of Eden, and Paws mission. The roles they assume, at times, appear to have eclipsed those of mainstream organisations like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and PAWS.

“Many individuals have been feeding and rescuing animals for decades but it is only recently that animal lovers, especially those from the younger generation, are organising themselves,” says MDDB adoption coordinator Christine Lai.

Saving cats: Suzana, founding member of KTAJ and, right, the KTAJ Facebook fanpage.

With social networking tools, animal lovers are now able to share their views online with many other like-minded people, resulting in groups being formed at the community level.

These groups use Facebook, blogs and Twitter to send out alerts if there is an emergency, as in the Damansara Damai case three Sundays ago where the cats were left at the pet hotel without food for days.

Both KTAJ and MDDB constantly update their Facebook to inform members on pets that need to be adopted or urgent rescue missions. They also highlight cases of animal cruelty by posting pictures and videos online.

Lai says the group was formed in 2008 when seven volunteers collaborated to rescue a stray dog whose ears had been torn out while trying to escape some dog catchers.

MDDB believes in organising members to have a louder voice so that the authorities will take action against those found neglecting or abusing animals. Members have exposed the sorry state at pounds and circulated photographs showing animals being mistreated.

“Initially, detractors rebutted our findings and even claimed our pictures had been doctored. But all that changed when members of the public started coming forward to expose similar atrocities.’’

Lai points to a video posted on YouTube which showed a group of local council workers brutally euthanising a dog at a housing estate in full view of residents. Someone captured the scene and uploaded it on the Internet. The video sparked off a public outrage with calls for action to be taken against the errant workers.

“This shows that cruelty against animals is no longer tolerated. We are glad that the people have become more proactive. We also want to change the public’s perception on animal welfare and create a more caring society.”

When videos of a cat “killer” in Serdang and abuse of Sushi the toy poodle went viral recently, they resulted in a huge outcry. Independent groups lodged police reports and handed petitions to the authorities, demanding justice.

Some good came out of it – the government decided to review existing laws and look into more deterrent measures. The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, for instance, has proposed to amend the existing Animal Act 1953 to impose a stiffer penalty of up to RM50,000 and a year’s jail for those convicted of ill-treating animals.

MDDB also tries to highlight the good work of independent rescuers to encourage others to follow suit.

“Many animal lovers have been doing great work quietly on their own. We want them to be seen and heard to inspire others,” Lai says.

MDDB has a halfway home for dogs, and employs several full-time staff. Funding comes from the public and the members’ own pockets. The group is in the midst of registering an association called the Animal Protection Society and hope to be able to operate larger shelters like the SPCA in future.

KTAJ, meanwhile, came about when a few cat lovers decided to band together after seeing MDDB’s fight for dogs.

Founding member Suzana Sulaiman, 30, says many stray cats too need help. The group’s target is to minimise the stray population by neutering and nursing the animals, fighting animal cruelty and helping the local animal shelters.

The architectural designer believes that independent rescuers prefer to work with independent NGOs such as KTAJ as they are more flexible than groups that operate during office hours.

“You are more likely to get a quicker response from these groups. You shout for help and there are bound to be volunteers. We can pull our resources together,” she says, adding that 80% of the group is made up of women, mostly students and housewives.

Another KTAJ member Shahriza Idrus, 32, says members share the same interest in wanting to create animals rights awareness.

“We got to know each other through Facebook. Our members have big hearts and there is transparency in everything we do,” she shares.

Members usually come up with their own funds but in cases where the medical bills are too steep, they can request others to help via their Facebook page, says Shahriza.

In the past two months, Shahriza has spent about RM400 on medical bills for two cats – one, a kitten with hernia and the other, an adult cat with a serious head wound.

Despite being a busy event planner, Shahriza finds time for the felines. She drives to a few areas every night to feed stray cats. Even when she returns home from work in the wee hours of the morning, she will stick to this routine lest the strays go hungry.

Her car is always equipped with dry food, newspapers and gloves. If Shahriza comes across any animal carcass on the road, she will wrap it up before placing it by the roadside. If she is not busy rushing anywhere, she will bury the carcass behind her house.

Shariza says she is always bombarded with questions by people who ask her why she channels so much time and energy on the animals.

“Cats cannot speak or ask for help. At least, people know how to earn money and defend themselves,” says the event planner who finds keeping pets therapeutic.

One of the earlier independent groups to be formed, the IPR was set up in 2005.

“Many of us cannot turn a blind eye on a puppy or stray animal by the roadside,” says IPR volunteer Carnea Lee, who is a real-estate agent.

The IPR, she says, has a pool of volunteers who are on call. Like MMDB, the group has an animal sanctuary in Kuala Kubu Baru run by members using their own funds and public donations.

There are also pet lovers who are not affiliated with any one group but will readily offer help when needed.

Rena Chang, 46, for instance, has rescued countless animals over the last 10 years and works with any group that requires her assistance. She herself keeps four dogs and two cats, all rescued.

The property agent and events management executive helps strays and abused animals find homes with people who can be trusted. She has come across a dog with its nose chopped off while another was beaten until its jaw was dislocated.

Caring for animals can be time consuming and financially draining, as Chang has learnt over time. Most of her weekends are occupied with rescue work and she last took a holiday in 2002.

But for Chang, it’s not about the money or time spent as she gets satisfaction from helping and caring for animals that suffer from neglect or abuse.

Some independent rescue workers have even gone to the extent of setting up pet shops so they can use the premises to house rescued animals and buy pet food at cost price.

Ruth Chow and Amy Gui of the Garden Of Eden (http://www.thegoeden.com) began rescue work in 1996 when they reluctantly rescued a kitten. Many more rescued animals soon found a home in their house. But neighbours, tired of the endless barking and yelps, reported them to the authorities.

In 2006, they started a pet shop to keep the authorities at bay and listed boarding as one of the services provided. They were also able to get good food and supplements for the animals at a cheaper price. However, people started to dump animals outside their shop.

“We had no choice but to keep the animals as we didn’t have the heart to leave them. In the few years that we ran the pet shop, the number quadrupled. It was difficult to sustain the business financially and we had to close shop.

“We were getting into debt. I’m still paying off the supplier to this day,” laments Chow.

Last year, they managed to rent a tract of farmland for RM1,000 monthly and now have over 90 dogs and 200 cats under their care. Apart from contributions from well-wishers, Chow teaches English and music to help sustain the animal sanctuary.

“We have to live frugally as we will never let the animals go hungry. To us, they are God’s creations too and have a right to live, just like us humans.”

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http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/9/25/focus/9468486&sec=focus

How To Take Out 15 Wolves With One Shot

How To Take Out 15 Wolves With One Shot

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Posted18 September 2011, by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog (Skinny Moose), skinnymoose.com/bbb/

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*Scroll for an Update*

WARNING: This image may cause idolizers of wolves to suddenly hemorrhage and shake uncontrollably.

You must click on the image to enlarge in order to fully understand the post’s title.

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*Update* Sept. 19, 2011, 8:25 a.m.

I would like to take a minute to explain why I posted this photograph and what led up to the posting of it. First let me say that I have absolutely no idea who took this photograph or where it was taken. I did not take this photograph. It was sent to me in my email and by judging from the number of emails, most of which I did not recognize, the photo had been around a time or two.

Personally, I thought the picture was disgusting, unnecessary and yes, over the top. But it got me thinking. As I wrote in a comment after the posting, after quite some deliberate self debate, I decided to post it mostly for the reasons I listed, the main one being that over the years that I have been doing this there has never been any outrage from readers when I posted disgusting, unnecessary and over the top photos of other animals that have been disemboweled, dismembered and/or eaten alive by large predators. And yes, never any outrage over when hunters, hikers and joggers get attacked and sometimes killed by other animals. Pity and sorrow maybe, but outrage? Never.

I provided a link to just one other story that very closely resembled this one. There was no outrage. I was not threatened with my life. None of that. Both photos were “posed” by the person who took the pictures and yet there is only outrage over this canine. Why is that?

I proved the point of why I posted the photo. Was it the best choice I’ve ever made? Probably not but I do not apologize for it. If nothing else, rational people can leave from here asking themselves why there is a difference and if you can answer that question, you will be one step closer to understanding why there is a war going on that many call the wolf wars.

On an aside: One reader commented that the photo was of a coyote. There is only one way anyone can know whether this animal is a wolf, coyote or some hybridized canine is to have information about the photo none of the rest of us do.

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http://www.skinnymoose.com/bbb/2011/09/18/how-to-take-out-15-wolves-with-one-shot/

Animal Liberation Front: Radicals, Destroyers of Private Property and General Terrorists

Animal Liberation Front: Radicals, Destroyers of Private Property and General Terrorists

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Posted 23 September 2011, by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog (Skinny Moose), skinnymoose.com/bbb/

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We all know the radical and violent nature of the Animal Liberation Front. They are up to their usual tricks. In Oregon they decided to trespass and destroy private property in order to free domestic elk at the Damascus Elk Farm in Clackamus, Oregon.

Obviously this is ignorant and demented behavior on the part anyone participating in such actions.

So, where is the state of Oregon on this? Last I checked most government organizations in Oregon opposed any form of elk ranching. Maybe they were behind this? Or are turning a convenient eye in the other direction?

They might even consider what Idaho did several years ago when an elk rancher there had some of his elk escape his enclosure. They just hired people to come in and shoot all the elk they could find.

Whether from terrorists groups like ALF or our government, there is no respect for private property.

Makes me ill.

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http://www.skinnymoose.com/bbb/2011/09/23/animal-liberation-front-radicals-destroyers-of-private-property-and-general-terrorists/

Is Green the New Red? Thinking About Political Repression Today


Is Green the New Red? Thinking About Political Repression Today

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Posted 22 September 2011, by Craig Hughes and Kevin Van Meter (posted by , Left Eye on Books, lefteyeonbooks.com

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“While corporations and the state have certainly targeted activists as ‘eco-terrorists,’ too many other populations have also been targeted for repression to sufficiently pair the Red Scares and the Green Scare.”

“McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled,” said Joe McCarthy to a public audience at the height of the second Red Scare that marked the years between 1947 and 1957. While we presume the first part of the sentence to be correct, the rolling of sleeves is a bit more complex, as it can connote both gearing up for a fight as well as preparing for hard work.

The “Green Scare” — a period of government repression of radical earth and animal liberationists, wherein the government has utilized anti-terrorism rhetoric and legislation — as with the Red Scare before it, has both reinvigorated direct violence of the state and attempted to produce a particular form of American society. It is the subject of Will Potter’s important new volume, “Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement under Siege.”

Potter has undoubtedly written a valuable book. While animal rights activists, animal liberationists, environmentalists and earth liberationists have increasingly been targets of repression for decades under the guise of attacks on “eco-terrorism,” the increased repression they’ve faced, particularly following Sept. 11 2001, is not always included in discussions of the hysteria that followed that tragic day. As importantly, the slow linkage of “terrorism” with animal rights and environmental direct action through legislation and shifts in political discourse is an important but little known history. In “Green Is the New Red” Potter has provided us with a well researched, easily accessible and engaging work that tells the story of the corporate and government assaults on environmental and animal rights activists, which has led to dozens of arrests, and numerous convictions — including some with so-called “terrorism enhancements.” Potter explains in clear terms the development of repressive legislation, identifies the major corporations and lobbying units involved, and illuminates the emergence of a policing apparatus that has enforced the criminalization of a wide array of dissenters in the name of “anti-terrorism.”

We hope in this review to supportively, but critically, explore Potter’s book. We do this first by summarizing the volume, then by relaying a story from our own past, which is briefly mentioned in Potter’s work. We think that the conclusions from our own experiences add to the story Potter tells, and may point to other ways to think about the development of the Green Scare. From here, we want to think through the meaning of the Green Scare by questioning the concept in relation the more generalized state of siege that activists and other communities are under, as well as the co-optation of the environmental and animal rights movements.

Green is the New Red

This volume is divided into eleven chapters that span the course of thirty years, but focus primarily on the last twenty. Potter begins with his own limited experience of animal rights activism in Chicago, which led to attempted intimidation by FBI agents who told him that, unless he cooperated and provided them information, he would be labeled a terrorist. Potter’s story is alarming although by no means unique particularly in the post-September 11 period.

The majority of the book is focused on two major subjects: those convicted under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) as part of the “SHAC 7” (the handful of activists involved in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, who also received convictions for conspiring “to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (AETA)); and those arrested in Operation Backfire for Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) actions that occurred in the West and Northwest near around the millennium turn. SHAC, the ELF, as well as the ALF, are often grouped together under the rubric of “eco-terrorism,” though not a single individual was harmed in any of the hundreds of ELF or ALF actions.

The SHAC convictions were focused on the organization’s website, which functioned as a clearinghouse for information for direct-action — activists could use this information for interventions against individuals and corporations with ties to Huntingdon Life Sciences. The multi-pronged approach worked, as underground actions combined with relentless above ground protests succeeded in shifting business as usual — the SHAC campaign was so successful in targeting Huntingdon that it wiped the corporation from the New York Stock Exchange and nearly caused it to go bankrupt.

The Operation Backfire arrests focused on a series of arsons committed under the name of the ELF by a group of about 20 people. The arrests sprang from the work of Jacob Ferguson, the first person to ever commit an ELF arson in the U.S., who later began to work for the FBI to round up his past comrades. Ferguson was able to escape without jail time in this case because he was so instrumental in solving the string of ELF actions, which had caused millions of dollars in damage. Some of those convicted in the Operation Backfire incidents received “terrorism enhancements,” which could add significant years to their sentences and increase the hardship they faced throughout their prison terms and after release.

In order to explain the development of the Green Scare and the notion of “eco-terrorism,” Potter has to explain a significant amount of history. Accordingly, we are treated to a succinct and well-conceived explanation of the development of post-‘60s environmental radicalism in the States. There is also a lengthy and insightful analysis of the word “terrorism,” which, as Potter points out, is rarely clear in meaning, ever-expanding, and always intended to “demonize the other.”

The ALF first appeared in the 1980s but the use of arson was not used until later. As ALF actions increased underground during the 1990s, above ground activism intensified and their combined effectiveness led the animal-product industry to actively lobby for repressive legislation. Similarly, as environmentalism gained ground and was increasingly effective in the 1980s and 1990s, the industries under pressure from environmentalists began to work hard to target activists and prevent further victories. Accordingly, Potter points out that corporations “needed to displace activists from their moral highground,” and “[a] key development in orchestrating this fall from grace was the decision to wield the power of language.” He points out that a lobbyist from the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise coined the absurdly defined term “eco-terrorism” — “a crime committed to save nature,” in 1983. Think tanks like the Center for Consumer Freedom, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the National Association for Biomedical Research, and others have had influence on politicians and in political discourse, which has played a significant role in labeling direct action, or support of direct action in the case of SHAC, as “terrorism.” As corporations and think tanks have built relationships with congress and developed PR campaigns, and as legislation has been passed and “anti-terrorism” has become the driving force in law enforcement, animal rights and environmental activists have increasingly seen even banal behavior, like flyering, become criminalized.

Potter traces environmental and animal rights intra-movement developments along with those in legislation and discourse. The ELF’s use of arson and sabotage caused a split inside Earth First!, which was undoubtedly the cutting edge of radical environmentalism in the States during the ’80s and ’90s. In the post-September 11 period some of the major environmental organizations have actively supported legislation that explicitly targets direct-action-oriented environmentalists; some have passively supported the repression of targeted activists through refusals to speak out in support of them during their cases. The above-ground animal rights movement has also had a tricky relationship with underground activists; although groups like PETA have refused to denounce ALF actions. As activists have found legal, above-board action insufficient to deal with issues like vivisection and factory farming, some have taken to clandestine direct action to damage the animal-abuse industries.

Environmental and animal rights activists have become targets due to the effectiveness of their campaigns that cut into profit margins. Further, Potter points out that within the policing apparatus “anti-terrorism” is a significant career ladder for individual agents. Particularly following Sept. 11, the government has sought to sponsor and fund “anti-terrorism” initiatives that then need to locate targets to justify themselves. Potter’s research on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings together state lawmakers, think tanks and corporations to draft legislation is particularly salient. Potter points out that “[b]y 2010, thirty-nine states had passed laws carving out special protections for animal and environmental enterprises and special penalties for activists.” In 2006, in light of the ELF, ALF, and the SHAC campaign, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act was expanded to create the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – this was done, simply, to increase the penalties activists faced for using direct action. And activists have felt the pressure of this change, where simple actions of flyering can bring the wrath of being called, and punished as an “eco-terrorist,” or simply a “terrorist.”

The feeling of terror that activists have thus felt, and the crazy but very real ways the government has codified processes that evoke it, are at the core of Potter’s notion of the Green Scare, which of course harkens back to the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s (he does not address the first Red Scare that targeted the Industrial Workers of the World and others around the 1920s). Potter’s argument here is that the second Red Scare, like the Green Scare today, functioned through legislative, legal and extra-legal levels — the latter, “scare-mongering,” he argues “was by far the most dangerous” because it had the “sole intention of instilling fear.” Potter does not argue that we are today seeing something equivalent to the Red Scares of old, but rather something historically contingent, which thrives from the confluence of corporate involvement in American politics, the power of PR campaigns and the post-September 11 political environment.

In his discussion of SHAC, the ELF, ALF, and the Operation Backfire convictions, Potter successfully humanizes those who have been targets of anti-“eco-terrorism” efforts. The SHAC defendants had long histories in organizations like Food Not Bombs and a variety of charitable groups. Operation Backfire defendant Daniel McGowan, the subject of the recent documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”, is the son of a New York City police officer, who felt an urgency to save the environment after painfully experiencing the ineffectiveness of above ground activism. Though efforts were taken to avoid injuring any human being in any action — and these efforts have always been successful — people like Daniel have been labeled “terrorists” and imprisoned in the Communications Management Unit, which some have labeled “little Guantanamo.”

In contrast, Potter powerfully points out that right-wing activists, particularly those who have waged brutal campaigns against abortion providers and in the course harmed human beings, have rarely been a target of anti-terror legislation. He points out that for the FBI, “in the three years following September 11, every act of domestic terrorism, except for one, was the work of animal rights and environmental activists.” In contrast, he points out that “[f]rom 1977 to 2008, anti-abortion activists committed eight murders” — in addition to the hundreds of other acts that include assaults, arsons, vandalisms, bomb threats, death threats, and anthrax threats — and “[n]one of these crimes are recorded by the FBI as acts of domestic terrorism.” In 2005 the FBI publicly announced that “The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement…” That’s the absurdity of the current circumstance.

With this brief summary in mind, we now turn toward our own experience with anti-“eco-terrorism” efforts in order to expand on Potter’s story and raise some questions. We want to stress that our points and questions are comradely in intent. Potter’s work adds to our understanding of the current situation, and deepens the sophistication of activist attempts to understand repressive state and corporate activities today. There’s just more to say.

Days We Struggle to Remember

In April of 1998 a handful of radicals on Long Island formed the Modern Times Collective. In our approximately four years of existence we attracted significant local attention, especially for a small group spread across many miles that compose suburban Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Various press outlets ran stories on what they called a ‘rag tag’ group of radicals organizing small protests and cultural events such as DIY flea markets. Significant players in the establishment-Left on Long Island categorized us as “bomb throwing anarchists,” for little more reason than that we challenged the overwhelmingly boring and ineffective approach to social justice politics so dominant in the area at the time. Then, in early 2001, the FBI arrested Conor Cash, one of our main organizers, and charged him with conspiracy to commit arson as part of the ELF, which had committed a series of actions in the region during the last days of 2000. On Sept. 19, 2001 his charges were upped to include a “terrorism enhancement” that could have added decades to a potential sentence if convicted — he became the first person to be charged as a “domestic terrorist” after Sept. 11. He was swiftly acquitted after a two-week trial nearly three years later, in 2004. This is a story that while included in Potter’s narrative, only appears briefly. His basic summary of the case is as follows:

 By 2000, the FBI reassigned one of the Joint Terrorism Tasks Forces to investigate ELF arsons in Long Island, New York. The task force had previously investigated the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and the first bombing of the World Trade Center. Then came September 11th.

Modern Times had thought, from early on, that we were being surveilled, if only because anarchist groups on Long Island are few and far between and we were also increasingly aware that we were part of a larger movement that was rapidly gaining momentum and visibility. As the turn of the millennium social justice protest cycle intensified in the U.S. –from the Millions for Mumia march in Philadelphia, where we participated in one of the first significant black blocs on U.S. soil, through the Battle of Seattle, International Monetary Fund and World Bank protests in DC, the 2000 Republican and Democratic Conventions, the Free Trade Area of the Americas resistance in Quebec, and so on — we became more and more aware of policing, surveillance and, to some extent, infiltration. Simultaneously, we became swept up in what we perceived as a new cycle of struggle.

In 2000, Modern Times members inspired by Reclaim the Streets (RTS) actions in New York City and Britain, organized a local May Day protest, where a few dozen people held a main intersection in Huntington Village with a street party for about an hour during a busy shopping weekend day. Our desire to disrupt privatized-public space and create a ‘carnival against capital,’ was complemented by the attention we sought to bring to rising living expenses and falling wages. It was an important coup for us in the end, as we successfully disrupted traffic and business in a place that isn’t well known for its use of direct action or proliferating radicalisms. For a short period of time, as the crowds gathered around, it was irresistible. For the FBI and local police, who videotaped the event from start to finish, it was alarming; taken in the context of our increasing involvement in national street mobilizations, it was particularly concerning for them.

As street mobilizations like RTS were gaining momentum, and local manifestations of the global justice movement developed in numerous areas across the U.S., repressive rhetoric on the part of the government intensified. Thus, on May 10, 2001, in light of the increasing presence of radical protests and organizing, the federal government declared RTS a terrorist organization. An FBI reported explained,

 Anarchists and extremist socialist groups — many of which, such as the Workers’ World Party, Reclaim the Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism –have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States. For example, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage during the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle.

Our local Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) — the locally based coalitions of FBI agents and police departments that focus on disrupting and stopping “terrorism” — began following Modern Times members by May of 2000; this was confirmed during court testimony. The JTTF/FBI agent charged with pursuing the case against our friend had been flown to Seattle and later to Philadelphia to learn about protestors and anarchists, and to use this information in his work on Long Island.

Starting in November 2000 and continuing through to early January 2001, the ELF claimed responsibility for a string of actions at construction sites and a duck farm. The FBI started door knocking, targeting some of those arrested during the May Day RTS protest the MTC organized. They offered monetary compensation to at least one member of Modern Times, who was also an organizer of the RTS action, to infiltrate the ELF culture that the government presumed he had access to; he turned their offer down and later testified about it in court as a defense witness. The FBI had determined Conor to be a leader in the MTC, and hence, the ELF. During the RTS action he sat on top of the 21 foot tripod that allowed us to hold the street and unfurled a banner that read “this is what democracy looks like,” with a circle around the ‘A’ in democracy. In August of that year he would be arrested along with three dozen other Modern Times members at the 2000 Republican National Convention protests in Philadelphia. A few months later, Conor was arrested — supposedly for playing a leading role in the ELF actions.

What became clear to many of us before 2004, but certainly during our friend’s trial, was that the government’s case was much less about specific incidents of arson or vandalism than it was about breaking apart our communities and slowing down the ‘movement of movements’ — even in the suburbs, even on Long Island. We watched as the FBI showed a clearly doctored video during the trial — and we laughed at such an impressive example of tragic comedy, but that concocted video was used as evidence against someone we loved. One of those convicted for the ELF actions, a cooperating witness and high school student at the time of his arrest, stated bluntly on the stand that the FBI had “coerced” him. The FBI had the gall to visit a prominent New York University professor the eve before he testified for the defense to question him about his testimony. Perhaps most ridiculous, was that at the center of the government’s case was this argument: because Conor had a ‘circle-A’ tattoo on his shoulder, and the ‘A’ in democracy was circled on the banner during our May Day protest, and because someone had spray-painted a circle-A symbol at one of the arson sites, clearly our friend was guilty. That was the plain of absurdity the U.S. government played on. Absurd. Tragic, but real; and terrifying, which, of course was their point.

In “Green is the New Red” Potter points to this case, stating that the government’s “first victory against the number one domestic terrorism threat was the conviction of three seventeen-year-old high school students” (this requires a slight clarification — three people were convicted, two of these functioned as cooperating witnesses against Cash, and a mysterious fourth who confessed to involvement to the FBI, according to court testimony, was never formally charged).

In our view, this case deepens and complicates Potter’s account in a couple of important ways. First, it points to the fact that pre-September 11 the government had sought to vilify radical activists, like those who host unpermitted street parties, as “terrorists,” and to target them accordingly. Secondly, in our view, it points to the importance of placing the Green Scare within context of the counter-globalization struggles at the turn of the millennium.

The Seattle resistance against the World Trade Organization in 1999, and the organizing surrounding it, was a watershed moment in U.S. social movement history. The “Battle of Seattle” is referenced various times in the book — indeed, some of those convicted as part of Operation Backfire were involved in protesting at the WTO and in the infamous black bloc actions — but Potter does not adequately draw out how the state conceived of “Seattle,” nor its consequences, and does not adequately draw out the organizing surrounding it, which upped the ante for both the movements and the state. For example, as mentioned above, RTS had been designated a “terrorist” threat at least months before Sept. 11, but Potter does not mention this in the book. This designation occurred largely in the context of the Seattle actions. That perception, and the government concern about the global justice movement, certainly played an important, indeed decisive role in our experience with repression on Long Island.

The counter-globalization protests against the WTO in Seattle shows up in various Green Scare indictments and in the narratives of various activists mentioned in the book. And certainly some of those involved in the ELF actions in the Northwest, those targeted in Operation Backfire, would point to this moment as anomalous, inspirational and motivational. Notably, for example, current ELF political prisoner Daniel McGowan, whose case is a major focus of Potter’s work, stated to one of us in a personal conversation that the oft quoted slogan spray painted on buildings during the Seattle protests — “We are winning” — was taken by him and others as a sign of radicals actually winning. We felt similarly, although we turned down different roads.

Indeed, the years surrounding the turn of the century were a time when a culmination of decades of radicalism came to a crescendo. Activisms exploded nationally — not just in the environmental and animal rights movements, but in the anti-corporate movements, the myriad of immigrant rights struggles, the prison justice movements, and various others; these struggles challenged the bottom line and impacted popular discourse, to the detriment of corporate profits, in critical ways. As corporations and politicians sought to stifle the environmental and animal rights movements, the rhetoric of “terrorism” and pre- and post-September 11 government repression intensified because the policing apparatus also sought to dismantle the counter-globalization movements — both their local manifestations and their militant street demonstrations. In our view this context is very important for understanding both movement history and the development of government repression over the past couple of decades.

 Is Green the New Red?

Potter’s research is particularly impressive in tracing the roots of the two major pieces of legislation against the animal rights movement — the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (1992) and its expanded and amended version, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006). The former was created in the context, at least rhetorically, of numerous ALF actions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The latter development is contextualized through the SHAC campaign and is largely about intensifying penalties faced by activists and increasing the risk associated with animal rights activism. What Potter shows throughout his work is that a well-funded group of industry lobbyists and think tanks, their politician friends and allies, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have created a web of legislation and policing powers intended to dismantle earth and animal rights campaigns, and to punish activists, like those convicted for politically motivated arsons.

Potter’s ultimate point is that the Green Scare is not just about money, not about profits alone. Rather, he argues, the repression is about spreading fear and about winning a “culture war” — “[t]he only way to explain the conflation of mainstream and radical groups as terrorists is to assume that all of it — from ballot initiatives to sabotage — poses a threat.” He summarizes:

Ultimately, the rise of the Green Scare was no conspiracy. It does not seem to be the result of any secret planning document drafted jointly by industry and the FBI. The shift was gradual, slowly merging the rhetoric of industry groups with that of politicians and law enforcement. Eventually, what was once a fringe argument became official government policy.

Potter’s case is strong, but calling this all “the Green Scare,” while compelling, isn’t sufficient or precise enough given the context. While corporations and the state have certainly targeted activists as “eco-terrorists,” too many other populations have been targeted simultaneously for repression to sufficiently pair the Red Scares and the Green Scare. This would require almost endless caveats about the substantive differences between the two. That doesn’t make this volume less valuable, but rather speaks to the need more nuanced analyses and broader conceptualizations of the current situation.

This bigger picture extends far beyond the counter-globalization movement, and far beyond the animal rights and environmental movements. It extends to Middle Eastern and Islamic communities that are only marginally mentioned here, even though these communities have faced the brunt of the government’s daily assault in the name of “anti-terrorism.” It also extends to the massive round up and deportation of immigrant peoples after the successful Sí, Se Puede movements defeated a major piece of federal anti-immigrant legislation — the Sensenbrenner Bill – in 2006. It extends to the arrests of Black Panthers for decades-old charges. It extends to the rhetoric used against anti-nuke, South African divestment, and Central American Solidarity activists roughly twenty years ago.

While it’s understandable to focus on animal rights and environmental activists, who have been one significant focus of government and corporate attacks, one is left to wonder how something like the Green Scare relates to a much larger situation where all of society has been mobilized to be on consistent alert for “threats,” and to be constantly ready to become police in the day-to-day. How do we read the many scares in the name of “anti-terrorism,” –one inclusive of the assault on environmentalists and animal rights activists and the many, many others who’ve suffered similar repression in recent decades? How do we read the many “scares” and develop a coherent concept that reflects the intensified repression in the name of “anti-terrorism?” Is it better to think about “Green” as a “new red,” rather than the new red?

Additionally, it also seems worthwhile to explore the differences between the ELF and SHAC in terms of effectiveness and repression when describing and thinking through the Green Scare. Potter doesn’t effectively differentiate environmental and animal rights groups. While the powers that be may see them as interchangeable, and composed of many of the same activists, it’s highly doubtful that they always are, and it’s not necessarily clear that in terms of repression that the government sees them as the same. In terms of effectiveness, each used a different approach – including entirely different models, approaches to research, approaches to media, and tactics – and weighing these out seems worthwhile for understanding how activists have impacted social change. In terms of repression, we were also left with some curiosity in thinking through the Green Scare. The framing of Green Scare came into being prior to the SHAC 7 trial, prior to the cooperation of many of the Operation Backfire defendants, though four of the latter individual pled guilty while maintaining a non-cooperating stance with the government. There was no clear reformulation of the concept with these developments since that point.

If under the second Red Scare most people did not commit the “crime” of involvement with the Communist movement, but under Operation Backfire those accused turned out to actually be involved in the ELF, how do we perceive the meaning of the Green Scare in thinking through government repression? Does this conceptualization need to be more nuanced? It also seems worthwhile to explore fundamental differences between how the repression against the SHAC 7 and the Operation Backfire functioned; since, for those considering a defense against future and current repression it is important to understand these particulars and the aspects of the situation they are encountering.

Perhaps most controversially within our own communities, we were also left with questions related to issues of political economy. Potter discusses FBI targeting of mainstream groups like PETA, and the impression one gets is that environmentalism and animal rights as a whole face repression, and are threats to the established order of some sort. Potter makes a point similar to this explicitly when describing the theoretical strands that underlie contemporary animal rights and environmental organizing: “Their confluence is the redefinition of what it means to be a human being.” Going on, he summarizes a DHS report that argued “Animal rights and environmental movements directly challenge civilization, modernity and capitalism,” and directly quotes the report as saying that if victorious these movements “not only would fundamentally alter the nature of social norms regarding the planet’s living habitat and its living organisms, but ultimately would lead to a new system of governance and social relationships that is anarchist and antisystemic in nature.”

This is debatable. Capital is tricky, and what was liberatory one moment is a profitable investment the next, and sometimes there is never a separation between the two. Green capitalism is a major industry and it only looks to be growing. Co-opting the language of environmentalism has been profitable for sectors of capital in the current crisis as — buzzwords such as ‘sustainable,’ ‘green,’ ‘local,’ and even ‘vegan’ become opportunities for new markets. Indeed, the animal rights movement is gaining significant cultural ground. But even as vegans ourselves, we are under no illusion that a shift toward healthier, somewhat less brutal diets, in anyway leads to some sort of gradual process toward a more liberatory, post-capitalist world. How the growth of more compassionate capitalism as a direct response to the supposed threat of the animal rights and environmental movements is very much unclear. These aren’t questions that Potter’s volume sought to tackle, but it is worthwhile to point out the issues here.

In conclusion, in “Green is the New Red,” Potter did an impressive job tracing the various threads that played a role in developing the contemporary animal rights and environmental movements. In doing so, we are offered the opportunity to follow the leads and learn more. Potter has created an easily accessible volume that helps document some of the dangers radicals currently face. And while one can only hope the book reaches far and wide, it is important to consider the various scares — green, red, and otherwise — that are both acts of violence against our movements and part of the State’s attempt at creating a society without said movements. We must roll our sleeves as well — there are many waves of repression to fight against and a new world to work for.

Craig Hughes and Kevin Van Meter co-edited, with Team Colors Collective, “Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States” (AK Press, 2010) and co-authored the short book “Wind(s) From Below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible” (Team Colors & Eberhardt Press, 2010). Both have been involved in various organizing efforts together over the past 14 years. Hughes and Van Meter, along with Conor Cash, are currently writing a chapter titled “The Curious Case of Conor Cash” for a forthcoming volume on counter counter-insurgency.

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The Magic of Chickens

 

The Magic of Chickens

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Robyn Lawrence, Care2, care2.org

 

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If Harvey Ussery were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one thing, he would bring a flock of chickens.

“They would feed themselves by foraging over the island, keep me supplied with eggs, one of the most perfect foods,” says the Virginia homesteader and author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. “In the process, they would continually improve my island’s soil by working in plant covers and their droppings, increasing its productivity for whatever food crops I was able to grow. Hens who went broody would hatch out chicks to renew the flock each year.”

Harvey Ussery makes his chickens partners in food production. Photo courtesy of Harvey and Ellen Ussery/Mother Earth News

Harvey, a Mother Earth News writer who produces much of his own food on 3 acres, manages chickens holistically, enlisting them as partners for soil improvement, making compost, insect control and more. He’s been raising a mixed poultry flock, which he considers a key to greater food independence, for almost 30 years. “I am constantly reaching for new ways to integrate the flock with the work of food production, to make them happy and content, and to provide them more live, natural foods right on the homestead,” he says.

Harvey’s been experimenting for years to find new ways to convert organic “wastes” (chicken poop) into resources for greater soil fertility. “To truly imitate nature, we must banish all notion of ‘waste,’ remembering that in natural systems one critter’s waste is another’s priceless resource,” he says.

He’ll talk about this alchemy during his workshop, “Trash to Treasure: Bioconversion of Waste to Resources” at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, on September 24. Harvey says he looks forward to “sharing ideas with people who are passionate about finding saner, more sustainable ways to produce our food.”

Harvey’s chickens are housed in a comfortable roost with room to roam. Photo courtesy of Harvey and Ellen Ussery/Mother Earth News

I was at the Fair last year, and I wholeheartedly agree with Harvey–there’s nothing quite like this opportunity to swap ideas and learn from masters. I can’t make it this year, but I’m having fun reading about the passionate, sane voices that will be heard there at the Mother Earth News Fair blog. Check it out to join the conversation–and possibly win free tickets if you live near Seven Springs. There’s just nothing quite like connecting with likeminded others in a beautiful mountain setting (and checking out chickens and livestock while you’re at it).

Robyn Griggs Lawrence writes the daily Natural Home Living blog for Mother Earth News, the original guide to living wisely. The editor-in-chief of Natural Home magazine from 1999 until 2010, Robyn’s goal is to help everyone create a nurturing, healthy and environmentally friendly home. Her book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, introduces Americans to the 15th-century Japanese philosophy of simplicity, serenity and authenticity.

 

More on Birds (104 articles available)
More from Robyn Lawrence (31 articles available)

 

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http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-magic-of-chickens.html

 

 

Rare whales surface in Robson Bight

 Threatened fin whales showing up near Island in increasing numbers

One of the two fin whales that paid a rare visit to Robson Bight this week. Fin whales, the second biggest species, are listed as threatened and are more usually seen in the open ocean. Photograph by: JARED TOWERS, DFO

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Judtih Lavoie, The Victoria Times Colonist, timescolonist.com

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The sound of lengthy whale blows echoing through the fog in Robson Bight caught whale researcher Marie Fournier’s attention Monday as she kept watch at an OrcaLab outpost.

Then, out of the fog, swam two massive fin whales — something never previously documented in Robson Bight, located off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

Fin whales, the second largest animal after blue whales, are starting to return to B.C. waters after being almost wiped out by decades of whaling, but they usually prefer the open ocean. Recent sightings have been several kilometres offshore.

“I was completely surprised. I had to do three or four double takes to make sure what I was seeing,” Fournier said.

The identity giveaway was the size of the animals, estimated at about 22 metres, and their huge blows, reaching five metres into the air, said Fournier, who called Jared Towers, a Fisheries and Oceans research technician.

When Towers arrived to take identification photographs, he discovered that he photographed one of the whales in Hecate Strait last summer.

“Just by luck it turned out to be the same animal,” Towers said.

It is hoped that the growing catalogue of photos will give some idea of the size of the fin whale population off Canada’s west coast, he said.

Fin whales are listed as threatened under the Species at Risk Act.

John Ford, a marine mammal specialist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station who is conducting fin whale research, said the animals have previously been seen about 10 kilometres away around Malcolm Island, but not around Robson Bight.

“Something like this is very unusual. It’s the first time,” he said.

This year, about 50 fin whales were seen around Langara Island. In previous years, it was considered unusual to see five or 10, so it appears the population is probably increasing, although there is not yet a good estimate of the abundance, Ford said.

“Thousands of them were killed off before the last coastal whaling station closed down in 1967,” he said.

“They have likely been recovering over the last 45 years, and we may now be seeing a steep curve of population growth.”

Scientists in areas such as Alaska have also reported a return of fins, Ford said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
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