After reading today's Notmilk letter, you might be motivated to send an email to a Chicago Tribune reporter who wrote the story of a vegan teacher who no longer teaches Chicago kids about milk's dangers.
You might also consider sending an email to today's hero, a teacher by the name of Dave Warwak. Somebody should make a movie about this man's exploits. I see Robin Williams playing the feature role. Dave's email:
In past years, I have had the courage to walk into a dairy class at Penn State university, facing two hundred very angry sons and daughters of dairy farmers. Two of them filed bogus charges against me with authorities. One with the Penn State police, and one with the United States Department of Agriculture anti-terrorism squad who later showed up at my front door.
In past years, I have taken on Monsanto and gone to federal court against The Company and their team of legal reps, King & Spalding. In past years I have appeared on national television and pointed my finger at USDA undersecretaries, accusing them of conflicts of interests by working for the dairy industry. I have accused congressmen and senators of taking bribes. I have taken on two presidents, one of whom enacted legislation (the Economic Espionage Act) directly against me while I was in federal court seeking to get Monsanto's smoking gun research (the Richard, Odaglia, & Deslex study) legally released.
I have had dead animals accompanied by out of state milk cartons thrown onto my lawn. The FBI has arrested two people who made threats against me. One possessed plastique explosives.
I have not feared many things, but there is one thing above all which terrifies me, and I will forever avoid.
Local school systems.
Every mother has an agenda. Do I dare take on dairy in the schools? No way! Been there, done that. One cannot beat city hall or a local school system.
Not only do I fear local moms, but those spineless eunuchs lacking principles, called principals.
Which brings me to this week's Chicago Tribune story. _________________________________________________________ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ _________________________________________________________
Vegan Teacher May Lose His Job By Jeff Long and Carolyn Starks, September 7, 2007
Dave Warwak has taught art at Fox River Grove Middle School for eight years, and for most of that time, he was happy to eat meatloaf, hot dogs or whatever else the cafeteria workers dished out.
But in January he became a vegan and started spreading the word about the benefits of a meatless diet to students at the McHenry County school. He even built an exhibit out of candy that depicted animals in cages and as road kill.
On Thursday, Warwak said his crusade might cost him his job. He said he was told to stay away from class this week by administrators he described as "ardent meat-eaters."
Warwak, of Williams Bay, Wis., near Lake Geneva, said he is scheduled to meet with Fox River Grove District 3 officials Monday about the discussions he's had in class about vegetarianism, which excludes meats, and veganism, which excludes meats and other animal products such as milk. Officials asked him to leave the school Tuesday because he refused to stop talking about the harms humans cause animals, he said.
Principal Tim Mahaffy declined to comment Thursday, calling the dispute a personnel issue. He would not discuss issues raised by Warwak or verify the teacher's version of events.
The candy display came down after three days, when Mahaffy decided it was too much of a "PETA advertisement," Warwak said. The battle over diet lessons resumed this week after Warwak distributed the book "The Food Revolution" to his 8th-grade students and talked to his classes about vegetarianism.
"It's probably one of the most life-changing books a person can read," Warwak said of the book, written by John Robbins and subtitled, "How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World."
"It's about how we're destroying the planet with pollution from factory farming," Warwak said. "It's about health. It's about living longer."
Neither the American Civil Liberties Union nor the Illinois Education Association had an opinion on the case, but Warwak drew support from animal rights advocates.
"We believe that in a time when there's so much violence, especially in schools, that teachers who show kindness and compassion for all life should be commended," said Nathan Runkle, executive director of the Chicago-based Mercy for Animals advocacy group, which lobbies against factory farms.
"It's appropriate for students to learn about the horrendous cruelty that animals endure on factory farms, and about the benefits of a healthy diet."
Runkle said his group plans to write a letter to the school in support of Warwak.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is giving Warwak its "Compassionate Educator" award, vice president Bruce Friedrich said. The group is also sending the school a letter in support of the teacher.
Warwak, meanwhile, sees no problem discussing the topic he cares about passionately during art classes.
"It's art in every way," he said. "Art is something different for everyone...Art is like philosophy."
District 3 Supt. Jacqueline Krause was out of the office Thursday and unavailable for comment. Warwak, who said he makes $55,000 per year, said he feels a responsibility to warn his students about the dangers of what he calls an unhealthy diet and to open their minds to new ideas.
"I'm telling kids, 'Don't believe everything you see and everything you read,'" he said. "I'm trying to get them curious enough to check things out for themselves." _________________________________________________________ @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ _________________________________________________________
I lack the courage to do what this teacher has done. I will never again try to take on my local school system. My children went through years of ridicule and tireless Gotmilk jokes after my first (successful) attempt to change the milk from GMO to organic in 1994. I have learned my lesson.
Your letter of support can be forwarded to Jeff Long, the reporter.
It's remarkably common for a grandson to take up his grandfather's major project. This occurred to me when I read recently of Thor Heyerdahl's grandson taking up his mission to cross the Pacific on a raft. But what really struck me was the BBC story aired on July 23rd documenting President George W. Bush's grandfather's involvement in a 1933 plot to overthrow the U.S. government and install a fascist dictatorship. I knew the story, but had not considered the possibility that the grandson was trying to accomplish what his grandfather had failed to achieve.
Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895 to 1972) attended Yale University and joined the secret society known as Skull and Bones. Prescott is widely reported to have stolen the skull of Native American leader Geronimo. As far as I know, this has not actually been confirmed. In fact, Prescott seems to have had a habit of making things up. He sent letters home from World War I claiming he'd received medals for heroism. After the letters were printed in newspapers, he had to retract his claims.
If this does not yet sound like the life of a George W. Bush ancestor, try this on for size: Prescott Bush's early business efforts tended to fail. He married the daughter of a very rich man named George Herbert Walker (the guy with the compound at Kennebunkport, Maine, that now belongs to the Bush family, and the origin of Dubya's middle initial). Walker installed Prescott Bush as an executive in Thyssen and Flick. From then on, Prescott's business dealings went better, and he entered politics.
Now, the name Thyssen comes from a German named Fritz Thyssen, major financial backer of the rise of Adolph Hitler. Thyssen was referred to in the New York Herald-Tribune as "Hitler's Angel." During the 1930s and early 1940s, and even as late as 1951, Prescott Bush was involved in business dealings with Thyssen, and was inevitably aware of both Thyssen's political activities and the fact that the companies involved were financially benefiting the nation of Germany. In addition, the companies Prescott Bush profited from included one engaged in mining operations in Poland using slave labor from Auschwitz. Two former slave laborers have sued the U.S. government and the heirs of Prescott Bush for $40 billion.
Until the United States entered World War II it was legal for Americans to do business with Germany, but in late 1942 Prescott Bush's businesses interests were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Among those businesses involved was the Hamburg America Lines, for which Prescott Bush served as a manager. A Congressional committee, in a report called the McCormack-Dickstein Report, found that Hamburg America Lines had offered free passage to Germany for journalists willing to write favorably about the Nazis, and had brought Nazi sympathizers to America. (Is this starting to remind anyone of our current president's relationship to the freedom of the press?)
The McCormack-Dickstein Committee was established to investigate a homegrown American fascist plot hatched in 1933. Here's how the BBC promoted its recent story:
"Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy."
Actually, if you listen to the 30-minute BBC story, there is not one word of so much as speculation as to why this story is so little known. I think a clue to the answer can be found by looking into why this BBC report has not led to any U.S. media outlets picking up the story this week.
The BBC report provides a good account of the basic story. Some of the wealthiest men in America approached Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, beloved of many World War I veterans, many of them embittered by the government's treatment of them. Prescott Bush's group asked Butler to lead 500,000 veterans in a take-over of Washington and the White House. Butler refused and recounted the affair to the congressional committee. His account was corroborated in part by a number of witnesses, and the committee concluded that the plot was real. But the names of wealthy backers of the plot were blacked out in the committee's records, and nobody was prosecuted. According to the BBC, President Roosevelt cut a deal. He refrained from prosecuting some of the wealthiest men in America for treason. They agreed to end Wall Street's opposition to the New Deal.
Clearly the lack of accountability in Washington, D.C., did not begin with Nancy Pelosi taking Dubya's impeachment off the table, or with Congress' decision to avoid impeachment for President Ronald Reagan (a decision that arguably played a large role in installing Prescott Bush's son George H.W. Bush as president), or with the failure to investigate the apparent deal that George H.W. Bush and others made with Iran to not release American hostages until Reagan was made president, or with the failure to prosecute Richard Nixon after he resigned. Lack of accountability is a proud tradition in our nation's capital. Or maybe I should say our former nation's capital. I don't recognize the place anymore, and I credit that to George W. Bush's efforts to fulfill his grandfather's dream using far subtler and more effective means than a military coup.
Bush the grandson took office through a highly fraudulent election that he nonetheless lost. The Supreme Court blocked a recount of the vote and installed Dubya.
Prescott's grandson proceeded to weaken or eliminate most of the Bill of Rights in the name of protection from a dark foreign enemy. He even tossed out habeas corpus. The grandson of Prescott, that dreamer of the 1930s, established with very little resistance that the U.S. government can kidnap, detain indefinitely on no charge, torture, and murder. The United States under Prescott Bush's grandson adopted policies that heretofore had been considered only Nazi policies, most strikingly the willingness to openly plan and engage in aggressive wars on other nations.
At the same time, Dubya has accomplished a huge transfer of wealth within the United States from the rest of us to the extremely wealthy. He's also effected a major privatization of public operations, including the military. And he's kept tight control over the media.
Dubya has given himself the power to rewrite all laws with signing statements. He's established that intentionally misleading the Congress about the need for a war is not a crime that carries any penalty. He's given himself the right (just as Hitler did) to open anyone's mail. He's created illegal spying programs and then proposed to legalize them. Prescott would be so proud!
The current President Bush has accomplished much more smoothly than his grandfather could have imagined a feat that was one of the goals of Prescott's gang, namely the elimination of Congress.
Authors Bio: DAVID SWANSON is a co-founder of After Downing Street, a writer and activist, and the Washington Director of Democrats.com. He is a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and serves on the Executive Council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson obtained a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997.
For 25 years, nobody ate more meat than Gary Yourofsky. He wore leather shoes and even owned a goat fur coat.
But now, at age 36, Yourofsky is a vegan activist. He neither eats nor wears anything that once had a face, a mother or a bowel movement.
Yourofsky is the founder of the Royal Oak-based animal rights organization, ADAPTT (Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow). Lean, toned, and just a little bald, he delivers his litany to college classrooms around the country. Since ADAPTT’s 1996 inception, Yourofsky has given nearly 1,000 lectures — and on Nov. 14, he spoke at Wayne State University. Yourofsky shows footage he took himself showing the gruesome inside of slaughterhouses. Cows are chopped up and baby chicks run through grinders. He uses “Even God Must Get the Blues” by Jo Dee Messina as background music, and as the line, “Rain falls down from heaven” plays, a goat’s blood sprays from its wounded neck on to the ground.
As people turned away from the footage, Yourofsky said, “If it’s not good enough for your eyes, then why your stomach?”
Yourofsky’s path to veganism began in his early 20s when he went behind the scenes at the Shrine Circus, where his stepfather is a clown. He saw three elephants chained to the floor, swaying neurotically from their imprisonment. He looked around and saw bears in yellow tutus and tights and other unnatural sights.
He said to his friend, “Let’s get the hell outta here.” Over the next few years he switched to a vegan lifestyle.
As a vegan, he is opposed to speciesism, which holds that humans have a right to do whatever they want to animals — whether to be eaten, or experimented on, or treated poorly. Yourofsky feels that animals have the right to live free; human enslavement of lower creatures, he said, is a form of social injustice.
On April 31, 1997, Yourofsky, with members of the Animal Liberation Front, released 1,542 minks from Ebert’s Fur Farm in Blenheim, Ontario. He spent 77 days in a Canadian prison for his efforts.
His contention is, why is it illegal to free tortured and enslaved animals, but legal to harvest animals for slaughter in the first place? Which is the greater crime? In Yourofsky’s mind, there is no question about this. Fighting for animal rights allows him to be able to look at himself in the mirror every day.
As for those who love a tasty piece of meat and are hooked, Yourofsky once loved meat as well. He thinks it is a murderous addiction, one based on cruelty for wanting a piece of flesh.
“But, sadly, heroin, cocaine and alcohol ain’t got shit on meat, cheese, milk and eggs,” said Yourofsky.
According to Yourofsky, 98-99 percent of all animal abuse occurs in the meat, dairy and egg industry. Also, it is an industry that uses up 70 percent of the U.S.’s crops that could be used to feed humans. Meat and dairy are subsidized by the government. Water is free to farmers, and cattle are allowed to graze on public land. It is about supply and demand. If people stop wanting these products, the cruelty would stop, too.
Yourofsky went on to say that humans find difficulty in digesting meat, and that it makes the blood acidic. To combat this, calcium is leached out of bones to correct the pH. Furthermore, many people are lactose intolerant. These are more reasons to veg it, and go whole grain, legumes, tofu and soy.
“How is soy gross? Blood, flesh, veins, muscles and tendons are gross,” said Yourofsky.
Yet at the heart of his argument, Yourofsky feels animals should be treated by the golden rule. Animals should be treated as humans are treated. He quoted clergyman William Inge as saying, “If animals formed a religion, humans would be depicted as the devil.”
Yourofsky sees hatred from every corner of society. This is his way to lift up those he sees as oppressed.
COA News Special Presentation; Orwell Rolls in His Grave is the consummate critical examination of the Fourth Estate, once the bastion of American democracy. Asking whether America has entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for the truth, Director Robert Kane Pappas explores what the media doesn’t like to talk about: itself.
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