Philip Brasher's piece in the Sunday, November 12 Des Moines Register should make you smile. It is headed, "Animal activists step up political pressure" and sub-headed, "Lawmakers who don't support certain legislation find themselves targets as groups' clout grows."
"Washington, D.C. - Republican U.S. House members Heather Wilson and Richard Pombo already had enough problems in their re-election races when a new set of opponents surfaced - animal-rights activists.
"The Humane Society Legislative Fund, a new political arm of the Humane Society of the United States, decided in September to actively work for the election or defeat of lawmakers based on issues key to the animal-welfare movement, such as banning the slaughter of horses.
"The group then spent more than $200,000 in the final four weeks of the campaign, most of it targeted at defeating two lawmakers who were in tight races, Pombo in Northern California and Wilson in New Mexico. Win or lose, the Humane Society was sending a message: Lawmakers could pay a price for their votes on issues of animal welfare.
"For a member of Congress such as Rep. Steve King, a Republican from a heavily agricultural district in western Iowa, that's no threat at all. King, an ardent opponent of banning horse slaughter, has little to fear from taking on the Humane Society.
"But to lawmakers who represent urban or suburban districts, the Humane Society is an opponent they could do without. And the livestock industry is alarmed about the organization's growing financial and political clout."
The article tells us that HSUS has been gaining clout by merging with other groups and it explains, "Unlike its parent, the Humane Society of the United States, the legislative fund is organized under a tax law that allows nonprofit groups to spend money actively campaigning for and against lawmakers. HSUS directs its spending to ballot measures and lobbying."
The piece ends with a quote from a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, " "They are getting into the political game now. ...As big as they are, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with."
Though I sent the article out partly just to make you smile, I also urge you to follow up on the opportunity it presents for animal friendly letters to the editor. The Des Moines Register takes letters at http://tinyurl.com/cduqy That page has useful tips for getting published.
Yours and the animals', Karen Dawn
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To discontinue, go to http://www.DawnWatch.com/nothanks.php You are encouraged to forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts but please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)
Brasher: Animal activists step up political pressure
WASHINGTON FARM REPORT
Lawmakers who don't support certain legislation find themselves targets as groups' clout grows.
Washington, D.C. - Republican U.S. House members Heather Wilson and Richard Pombo already had enough problems in their re-election races when a new set of opponents surfaced - animal-rights activists.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund, a new political arm of the Humane Society of the United States, decided in September to actively work for the election or defeat of lawmakers based on issues key to the animal-welfare movement, such as banning the slaughter of horses.
The group then spent more than $200,000 in the final four weeks of the campaign, most of it targeted at defeating two lawmakers who were in tight races, Pombo in Northern California and Wilson in New Mexico. Win or lose, the Humane Society was sending a message: Lawmakers could pay a price for their votes on issues of animal welfare.
For a member of Congress such as Rep. Steve King, a Republican from a heavily agricultural district in western Iowa, that's no threat at all. King, an ardent opponent of banning horse slaughter, has little to fear from taking on the Humane Society.
But to lawmakers who represent urban or suburban districts, the Humane Society is an opponent they could do without. And the livestock industry is alarmed about the organization's growing financial and political clout.
Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, sees her group doing for animal welfare what organizations like the National Rifle Association and the League of Conservation Voters have done for gun owners and environmentalists.
"We can make this an issue that factors into who is elected to office and who is turned out," she says.
The Humane Society has become the leading force in the animal-rights movement, surpassing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, through a series of mergers and increased fundraising.
Amundson joined the organization in September after the Humane Society took over the Doris Day Animal League.
In 2005, the Humane Society hired Paul Shapiro and Miyun Park, leaders of a group called Compassion Over Killing, fresh off their successful campaign to stop conventional egg producers from labeling cartons with the term "animal care certified."
Also in 2005, the Humane Society merged with The Fund for Animals, an anti-hunting group, and formed the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the political arm that Amundson now runs.
Unlike its parent, the Humane Society of the United States, the legislative fund is organized under a tax law that allows nonprofit groups to spend money actively campaigning for and against lawmakers. HSUS directs its spending to ballot measures and lobbying.
Between Oct. 4 and Nov. 3, the legislative fund spent nearly $220,000 on radio ads, direct mailings and canvassing homes, records show. More than $146,000 was directed against Pombo alone, $105,000 of that on radio advertising.
Pombo, who was heavily targeted by environmental groups, wound up losing his race. Wilson claimed victory, although the outcome was still contested as of Friday.
Pombo, a staunch critic of the Endangered Species Act, had enough enemies that the Humane Society can hardly be credited with defeating him.
Nevertheless, the organization's influence is growing.
HSUS says it raised about $125 million in 2005, up from less than $79,000 reported the year before.
HSUS spent $2.8 million on state ballot measures in this year's elections, including a successful measure in Arizona to restrict the way sows can be housed. That is more than five times what the group spent on 2004 ballot measures.
"They are getting into the political game now," says Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, which is concerned that the Humane Society may try to attach animal-welfare measures to the next farm bill.
"As big as they are, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with."
Animal Welfare Is the Issue, Not the Candidate's Party; Loaded for Bear Hunters
By BRODY MULLINS November 7, 2006; Page A1
DUBLIN, Calif. -- Wayne Pacelle marched up to a one-story house here last week, hoping to persuade the two Republicans inside to vote against incumbent Republican Rep. Richard Pombo.
"Beware of dog," read a nearby sign as Mr. Pacelle knocked on the front door. Suddenly, a pit bull charged from inside the house. Mr. Pacelle stumbled backward. The dog slammed into the door. A screen was all that separated the growling beast from the chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States.
"I may be with the Humane Society, but I prefer little dogs when I'm canvassing," said the 41-year-old Mr. Pacelle. For Mr. Pacelle, the pit bull is just one snarling obstacle in his path toward transforming the nation's largest group of pet lovers into a ferocious force in congressional elections. Call it puppy power at the polls.
For the first time in its 50-year history, the Humane Society is trying to elect candidates to Congress who support its animal-welfare agenda. After a series of mergers with other animal-welfare groups, the Humane Society counts 10 million Americans as members, an average of 23,000 in each of the 435 House districts. That's more than twice the membership of the National Rifle Association, which is considered one of the most effective single-issue campaign organizations.
More important, the Humane Society's motivating issue -- the promotion of animal welfare -- resonates with the white suburban women who could be the key block of voters who decide this election.
The Humane Society isn't campaigning for just one political party. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania, won its support this year for championing federal funding for animal-protection programs. Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen was endorsed for introducing legislation to require bitter-tasting antifreeze to discourage pets from lapping up spills.
In the House, the Humane Society is campaigning for several Republicans in close races, including Reps. John Sweeney of New York and Christopher Shays of Connecticut. Mr. Sweeney, who represents Saratoga's race track, pushed legislation through the House to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Among Republicans the Humane Society is targeting are Montana's Sen. Conrad Burns, who opposed Mr. Sweeney's horse-slaughter bill in the Senate, Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Mr. Pombo of California.
The Humane Society has endorsed more than 300 candidates for Congress. But it has spent money in just two dozen of the closest races where Mr. Pacelle believes he can swing about 5% of the vote.
"Animals are a part of the fabric of our culture, so it's inevitable that the organized network that protects animals would activate for political ends," Mr. Pacelle said in an interview. About two-thirds of households have pets. "We can be an incredibly influential political organization, as powerful as the Chamber of Commerce," Mr. Pacelle told a crowd of election volunteers in Las Vegas last week.
Carolyn Mathias, a lifelong Republican, learned from the Humane Society that the state's Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich, had approved the state's first bear hunt in 50 years. The Humane Society publicized the decision in television advertisements that featured graphic images of dead bears.
"I'm sure it must sound unusual for a Republican to suddenly not vote Republican based on one issue," Ms. Mathias says. "The way I look at this is that the bears have no political party."
It cuts both ways. When Mr. Pacelle knocked on doors in Las Vegas last week for Republican Sen. John Ensign, a veterinarian, all but one of the volunteers who accompanied him were Democratic women.
Mr. Pacelle began creating the Humane Society political operation two years ago when he was named chief of the organization. Since then, he has quietly built a formidable election campaign machine. To comply with tax and election laws, Mr. Pacelle has created two offshoots of the Humane Society to focus on election campaigns. In total, the entities have spent $3.4 million on congressional elections and ballot initiatives, more than Exxon Mobil Corp. They have contributed $150,000 to candidates for Congress, which is more than Halliburton Co. has contributed.
The Humane Society has a long history of winning state ballot initiatives on issues ranging from banning cockfighting in Oklahoma to prohibiting hunting with steel-jawed leg traps in Colorado. This year, the Humane Society is battling the NRA over dove hunting in Michigan and big agriculture over the size of pigpens in Arizona.
The Humane Society first tested the waters in congressional elections in 2004 -- and then, in just one race. In that campaign, the group campaigned against Rep. Chris John in Louisiana when the Democrat ran for an open Senate seat against Republican Rep. David Vitter. Mr. John championed the state's legalized cockfighting industry, and the Humane Society didn't want to see him in the Senate.
Polls showed that nine in 10 women in Louisiana opposed cockfighting, so the Humane Society set about to tell 300,000 white female voters that Mr. John supported the practice. The group spent $400,000 on radio ads and mailings to get the message out. When Mr. Vitter won with 51% of the vote, the Humane Society knew it could be a force.
"If we could win in 'Sportsman's Paradise,' we can win anywhere," says Mr. Pacelle. A Yale graduate, Mr. Pacelle considered going to law school before dedicating his career to the protection of animals. Mr. Pacelle says he grew up with several pets and an "unusual interest in the welfare of animals." On his way to a recent news conference, Mr. Pacelle brought his fuel-efficient 2006 Toyota Prius to a halt to let a pigeon pass in front of him. "More than one million animals are killed each day by cars," he says. Divorced, Mr. Pacelle has no pets these days because, he says, he travels too much.
In the campaign's final days, the Humane Society focused on defeating Mr. Pombo, the California Republican who chairs the House Resources Committee. From that perch, Mr. Pombo has broad authority over environmental and agriculture legislation. The Humane Society backed Democratic candidate Jerry McNerney.
The Humane Society spent more than $100,000 on radio ads and $50,000 in mailings accusing Mr. Pombo of blocking legislation to promote animal welfare. A radio ad that aired last week accused Mr. Pombo of voting to "deny funding to crack down on the barbaric practices of dog fighting and cockfighting" and opposing legislation to outlaw the slaughter of American horses, "so the French can eat horse meat as a delicacy."
Such tactics "turned what might have been a snooze of a race into a nationally watched showdown," according to an Oakland Tribune article last week.
In Oakland last week, Mr. Pacelle embarked on his door-to-door canvassing tour dressed in tan khaki pants and a T-shirt that said "Get Political for Animals." After his encounter with the pit bull, Mr. Pacelle eyed a bumper sticker on a truck parked in a driveway: "Dog is my co-pilot," it read. "This is a good sign," Mr. Pacelle said, advancing to the door. In his typical pitch, Mr. Pacelle described Mr. Pombo as "so extreme he even actively supports commercial whaling."
A spokesman for Mr. Pombo predicted the Humane Society's effort would fail because voters would view the group as too extreme. "They are basically accusing members of Congress of clubbing baby seals and kicking puppies," said Brian Kennedy, the spokesman.
That sentiment was echoed by the Republican owners of the growling pit bull. Mr. Pacelle's speech about Mr. Pombo was cut off midsentence. "I don't think he kills dogs," the occupant said, shutting the door.
Mr. Pacelle fared better a few minutes later when he spotted a young couple getting into a black Ford Mustang. "She watches Animal Planet all the time," the man yelled as he drove away. "You've got our vote."
'Green' consumers just as likely to succumb to a good deal
SCOTT DEVEAU Globe and Mail Update
There is no such thing as truly green consumer, because even the most ethically savvy shoppers often trade their ideals for a bargain, according to new research out of the University of Leeds.
While more people are becoming aware of environmentally- friendly, energy-efficient, and organic products, when it comes down it, the majority of consumers apparently would prefer to save some money than try to save the planet, according to the study.
Along with the usual considerations such as price, availability or size, green consumers also weigh in additional factors, such as energy efficiency, water consumption or the working conditions of the employees involved in the manufacturing process, the paper says. Most consumers have a problem resolving conflicting ideas of brand loyalty, green ideals and ethical considerations.
The researchers found that while so-called green shoppers were more likely to apply their ethical standards to purchasing everyday items, like food or clothing, which were well advertised as such, they would compromise those same ideals when it came down to buying more expensive items.
"In the end, what ethical consumers get is often the same products as normal consumers, because they've sort of watered-down their beliefs," said Dr. William Young, professor of environment and business and lead researcher on the study, in an interview from Leeds.
Dr. Young and his colleagues drew their conclusions from a series of interviews, focus groups and workshops to explore the decisions consumers make when buying everything from washing machines to light bulbs.
"With goods like food, consumers find it easier to buy green products because they can experiment, it's cheap, and if they don't like it, they can buy something else next week," Dr. Young said. "Whereas, with some of the bigger items, like fridges and cars, price comes in big time there, because there's more of a risk. It really reduces their environmental values."
The researchers identified three different kinds of green consumers:
* Translators: are green in some aspects of their lives. They are motivated by a sense of trying to "do the right thing" and are open to change and willing to make a certain amount of sacrifice if they see a clear rationale for adjusting their lifestyle.
* Exceptors: have a personal philosophy about consumption, sustainability is a priority in every aspect of their lives. All their consumption choices try to achieve the least environmental impact with the most social justice.
* Selectors: are the most common type of green consumer. They act as green or ethical consumers in one aspect of their lives, like being an avid recyclers, eating only organic food, or supporting fair trade, but are less focused on other issues.
Selectors are able to follow their beliefs more successfully because they are only focused on one ideal, Dr. Young said, adding that these people don't see their own behaviour as contradictory and would have no problem driving to the grocery store to buy organic food.
Even the most conscientious consumer group, the exceptors, still have what Dr. Young refers to as "blind spots."
While they may spend a lot of effort researching almost all of their purchases, they still have certain luxury items - most often electronics like iPods or computer game systems - that they purchase on a whim without any consideration for the environmental or social impact of the purchase.
"They wouldn't have looked at the environmental policies of that company, or if an NGO had rated that company," Dr. Young said. "They see it as a reward for being good most of the time. They'll just go to the shop and buy it."
WASHINGTON - Americans care about the environment, but they don't usually vote that way in elections for president or Congress.
Compared to voters in Europe, where the Green Party is a political force and global climate change is part of the public dialogue, US voters in national elections tend to cast their ballots based on candidates' stances on the Iraq war, the economy and health care -- not on environmental policy.
The next Election Day is Nov. 7.
Only about 3 percent of US voters in recent exit polls said the environment was the most important issue to them in casting their ballots, according to Karlyn Bowman, who tracks public opinion polling for the American Enterprise Institute.
That puts it far behind the hot-button issue of abortion, which between 9 percent and 13 percent of US voters said was most important to them.
This may be because Americans reckon the question about what the country wants in terms of the environment has long ago been settled, Bowman said.
"When we (in the United States) agreed in the late 1960s and early 1970s that we wanted a clean and healthful environment and we wanted to spend a lot of money to get one, once that consensus was reached at the national level, most Americans pulled away from the debate," she said.
While Americans accept the need to support a clean environment, each US resident uses about twice as much energy as the typical German, Japanese or Briton and emits roughly as much carbon, according to the Sierra Club.
With 5 percent of the world's population, the United States uses 25 percent of the world's oil and produces 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Much of the American appetite for energy is focused on transportation, where individuals are more likely to drive energy-inefficient vehicles for longer distances than in other developed countries.
ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS IS LOCAL
Bowman said the environment has lost its potency as a national issue, but still mobilizes Americans in state and local races.
That mobilization is clear as the United States counts down to the Nov. 7 election for Congress and other offices.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has broken with the Republican Bush administration on environmental issues, has pushed for special state vehicle pollution standards, a bond issue meant to assure safe water and beaches, and for a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Nearly 400 Green Party candidates are on US ballots in 2006, and so far Greens have won 24 out of the 62 elections where they had candidates around the country, according to the greens.org Web site. However, those winners are all in local offices, ranging from the Sebastopol, California, city council, to the board of supervisors in Douglas County, Wisconsin.
Most Americans do consider the environment important, according to Michael Bell, an environmental sociologist at the University of Wisconsin. Bell noted polling since 1983 shows a consistent high level of public support for environmental issues.
But he said few politicians make this a highlight of their campaigns, so voters leaving the polling booth are unlikely to list the environment as the reason they cast a ballot for a particular candidate, Bell said.
He also acknowledged that the environmental message is often one of "gloom and doom" -- a strategic mistake, in Bell's view.
"If to be an environmentalist is to put on a hair shirt every day, to force yourself at every second of the day to ask, 'Am I making the environmentally right decision?'.. . it's going to be rather overwhelming to people," Bell said.
The issue resonates with voters but not with business leaders, Bell said, adding, "That maybe is an important factor in understanding why it doesn't seem to resonate with politicians, whose interests often reflect those of business."
Story by Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for research and educational purposes only. ***
"They were brought out of Africa and into chains in America. Or they were born into slavery here. Yes, I am talking about the first African-Americans to reach these shores, but I am also describing the animals now enslaved in circuses. The species and continents are different, but the stories are tragically similar. The animals in circuses are held against their will by chains and domination. They are forced to perform a series of acts by coercion and violence because they would never normally do these things on their own. They can never choose their own partners, their own homes, their own food or have control over any aspect of their lives. I don't care how this is dressed up by promoters with music and lights, it is still slavery."
If you are reading this net message, thank you! If you can, maybe copy this into a new net message too. Maybe someone in your network will be able to save Crystal! Heartfelt thanks, Melanie
Give CRYSTAL A Treat This Halloween & Save Her Life! PLEASE! October 17, 2006 10:12 PM
Hello, My name is Crystal.
I am an aproxamately 2year old Female American Pit Bull Terrier.
The man that owned me was a very bad person. He had me chained to the bumper of a car by only a few feet of chain.
I had no food, no shelter and no water. You can still see the chain they cut me off of in the pictures. There were 3 other dogs chained up with me too...but they are very scared still and may not get the chance to make it out like I will.
Despite the condition I was found in, I am very sweet and friendly! The people at the shelter love me very much and want me to find a good home or rescue to go to. They asked my Aunt Christine if she would help to get me out of here...I know she does not have any room and I can see how sad she is about that when she comes here with her daughter to play with me. I know that she will help as much as she can if some one will just give me a chance.
I am HW negative and UTD on shots and have been wormed.
I Dont want to die here like this...wont you please help me find a loving place to live.
I am allowed to leave here on OCTOBER 30th...the day BEFORE Haloween. After that my time is up.
Thank you for taking the time to care about me...
If you are interested in adopting Crystal...Please contact Christine for the Adoption Aplication.
CRYSTAL is located in Vicksburg MS at the VWHS. They DO NOT Adopt out this breed. She can go to rescue only, but I am willing to consider applications for adoption to a qualified individual.
FRIENDS, DUE TO THIS DAYTON, OH ANIMAL ORGANIZATION HAVING TO TAKE IN 78 PIT BULLS FROM A BREEDER WHO BREEDS DOGS TO FIGHT (COURT CASE SOMETIME), ROOM HAS TO BE MADE FOR THESE DOGS SINCE THEY ALL HAVE TO BE QUARANTINED. THEREFORE, THEY ARE EUTHANIZING ALL DOGS AT THIS CENTER STARTING TONIGHT.
ALL DOGS ARE FREE!!!!! THERE ARE GERMAN SHEPHERDS, SMALL MIXED BREEDS, LABS, SPRINGER SPANIELS, BEAGLES AND MANY OTHERS.
THEY WILL BE STARTING WITH THE MIXED BREEDS FIRST.
THEY HAVE ENOUGH DOGS, THAT IT WILL TAKE THREE DAYS TO EUTHANIZE THEM ALL!
IF ANYONE CAN HELP THESE DOGS OR TAKE SOME AND FOSTER, WE WILL BE SAVING MANY ANIMALS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE LOSE THEIR LIVES.
IF YOU CAN HELP, PLEASE CALL: 937- 898- 4457, ASAP!!!!!!!!
Join Us this Thursday to Protest China's Brutal Killing of Dogs
In five days at the end of July, more than 50,000 dogs were brutally beaten, electrocuted, or shot to death in response to a rabies outbreak in southwestern China. Now, this unimaginable cruelty is set to happen again in the eastern city of Jining.
Please join Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States this Thursday, August 10, for a protest at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Please help us show China that the world is watching and holding them accountable for their actions prior to the 2008 Olympic games.
We will deliver hundreds of advocates' letters and reaffirm our offer to assist the Chinese government in developing a humane animal control and rabies prevention program for the country. Your participation is crucial to showing China that the global public will not tolerate such acts of cruelty.
Date: This Thursday, August 10 Time:11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Location: Chinese Embassy, 2300 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC [map] Directions: South of the Connecticut Ave. bridge, near the Woodley Park/Zoo (red line) Metro stop.
Mark your calendar and bring friends and family this Thursday. Please RSVP by sending an email to email@example.com.
Thank you for taking action for the animals!
Wayne Pacelle President & CEO The Humane Society of the United States
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Will Travers is CEO of the Born Free Foundation based in England and President of Born Free USA, headquartered in Washington, DC.
For more than 20 years I have been involved in rescuing wild animals from lingering, deplorable conditions and imminent threats. With the Born Free Foundation's global partners we have relocated these animals to safe havens where they can be rehabilitated, protected, and, wherever possible, released back into the wild. Lions, tigers, African and Asian elephants, chimpanzees, baboons, and other species have benefited from Born Free's global brand of compassionate conservation. A true rescue puts the animals' needs first.
So it is with a sense of incredulity that I read the recent news reports in which San Diego Zoo officials claim to have "rescued" some of the nearly three dozen primates recently imported into America from an animal dealer in South Africa (who received them from the Democratic Republic of Congo). While many of the details of this international commercial animal trade remain secretively held, some of the claims surrounding this deal need to be explored critically.
These young primates were apparently the unfortunate by-product of the illegal and increasingly destructive bushmeat trade in the DRC-a trade that decimates wildlife across Africa. Their mothers were likely killed to supply the market for wild animal flesh, leaving these young, vulnerable primates orphaned and alone.
That's what we've been told, but searching questions remain unanswered. How were the animals actually acquired and what is the animal dealer's background? Were the poachers in the DRC apprehended and prosecuted? What efforts were made to find them sanctuary in Africa and were they assessed for possible rehabilitation and release? Without clear answers to these questions it seems to me that there is little to stop unscrupulous individuals from killing more adult primates, capturing their offspring, and repeatedly offering them to willing American buyers such as zoos under the ruse of an international "rescue". Does the American zoo industry really want to perpetuate the illegal killing of wild animals and commercialization of those who survive?
How much is a monkey worth? The sum paid by the zoo consortium for the animals and the subsequent associated fees for quarantine, veterinary care and shipment, totals a reported $400,000, of which the greatest portion ($80,000) was paid by San Diego Zoo. Rescue or sale? It seems somewhat incongruous, and perhaps even hypocritical, for San Diego's associate curator of mammals, Karen Killmar, to claim that "we don't put a market value on animals, and . we don't want to create a market for them." Surely, to have valued and financed a deal with a wildlife trader in this way is the definition of creating a market for threatened and endangered species.
Without intervention, zoo officials contend, these animals would have ended up confined as pets. Now, they are instead confined in zoos thousands of miles away from home. Were alternative destinations sought for these poor individuals? Did the South African dealer and American zoos work with the Government of the DRC to repatriate the animals to their homeland? Did anyone consult one of the primate sanctuaries in Cameroon, Congo, DRC, Guinea, Kenya or elsewhere that could have possibly taken these animals if authorities insisted upon their return? Teaching Americans about the bushmeat trade is important-but it is more important to keep the animals in Africa and teach Africans about the bushmeat trade so people there can help stop the killing now.
Of course, this is not a new experience. In 2003 the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Lowry Park Zoo in Florida imported eleven elephants from Swaziland claiming they were "rescuing" them from an imminent slaughter. Conservation organizations such as Born Free identified three viable protected areas in southern Africa to which the elephants could be sent. Such an alternative would have spared the animals a lifetime in captivity in America's urban concrete jungles while simultaneously helping impoverished local communities in Africa, which would have benefited from subsequent ecotourism revenue.
In the end, one must ask whether buying these animals is really a substitute for conserving species in their native habitat. The sums of money involved in the deal would do wonders for wildlife law enforcement on the ground in Africa. Instead, this deal will send one simple signal to would-be hunters, poachers and animal traders - that the capture and sale of live, exotic species is acceptable and immensely lucrative. The zoo association and recipient zoos have put a bounty on the head of every primate across the African continent. Poachers and profiteers get the message loud and clear: the American marketplace for wild-caught animals is open and our zoos are ready for business.
Posted to the web on: 12 July 2006 ‘Green police’ bring muscle to battle to protect environment Chantelle Benjamin
Johannesburg Metro Editor
GOVERNMENT has established a new environmental policing unit with the same investigative and arresting powers as the police.
This move will see businesses or individuals who flout environmental legislation brought to book.
New regulations relating to the National Environmental Management Act, which were put in place this year, have given environmental authorities much-needed teeth to fight destruction of the environment by those who plunder natural resources or dump toxic material.
The environmental management inspectors unit has been set up to give the environmental affairs and tourism department the ability to enforce the law. There is an increased chance of arrest and there are heavy penalties.
Gauteng has become the first province to launch its environmental management inspectors unit. Members completed an intensive training course run by the department and the University of Pretoria.
The programme was supported by the environmental agencies of England and Wales as well as the Environmental Protection Agency of the US.
The new unit, succeeding an earlier group known as the Green Scorpions, will have powers of search and seizure, will be able to set up road blocks, issue enforceable compliance notices and carry out routine inspections. Fines of up to R5m can be issued for contraventions.
This gives environmental management teams the capacity to prevent abuse.
Gauteng conservation and environment MEC Khabisi Mosunkutu said yesterday that the unit heralded a new period for environmental management.
“It will convey a positive and firm message to the Gauteng community that they now have a force exclusively dedicated to ensuring no one will, with impunity, degrade the environment and compromise our health.
“The honeymoon for environmental criminals is coming to an end. The (inspection units) are well trained and sufficiently well motivated to deal with (them).”
The units were set up to comply with constitutional obligations. These say South African citizens have a right to a clean environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing.
Dear EarthTalk: Is bamboo really an environmentally friendly alternative to wood for making paper? If so, why are we still cutting down trees to keep our copiers and printers humming? -- Ali Forte, via e-mail
Bamboo is a fast-growing and renewable resource, and it has long been used throughout Asia as a raw material for many goods, including paper. With North America's supply of forests now dwindling, bamboo is starting to look like a viable alternative to wood pulp to make paper for Western consumption. It has a similar consistency to wood pulp, and most existing paper mills can adapt to it with existing infrastructure.
On the other hand, clearing forests to establish bamboo plantations across the globe hardly makes environmental sense. Aaron Lehmer of ReThink Paper, a project of Earth Island Institute, calls the rapid expansion of bamboo plantations in Southeast Asia "alarming," and says that it is "setting up a status quo whereby natural forests are increasingly being developed" for bamboo cultivation for paper.
Most of this bamboo is feeding paper mills in China and India, says Lehmer, but increasing demand from North America and Europe could deplete existing supplies and force Southeast Asian producers to push deeper into the forests. This would deplete primary habitat for hundreds of threatened species of birds, pandas, reptiles and amphibians. "Since there are no international standards or certification mechanisms in place for bamboo, neither paper producers nor consumers have any way of knowing whether the bamboo they purchase is coming from endangered ecosystems," he adds.
According to the World Bamboo Organization, a trade group, 12 million acres of bamboo reserves exist across Asia today. If demand for bamboo were to increase, Lehmer says, surely the environment in these areas would suffer. Indeed, environmentalists in India are already crying foul over government-subsidized bamboo extraction from that country's supposedly protected forests, including the world-renowned Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve, one of the last suitable habitats in the world for the big endangered cats.
ReThink Paper would rather see North American paper producers convert existing mills to process locally generated agricultural waste, such as wheat or rice straw. These are usually plentiful and inexpensive, and paper companies could reap significant financial benefit getting raw material from local farmers eager to offload otherwise unmarketable "biomass" waste. This makes eminent environmental sense, too, says Lehmer, compared to importing bamboo chips from far away on planes, trains, ships and trucks that emit tons of climate-altering carbon dioxide en route.
The debate over papermaking reminds us that modern society has yet to go "paperless" as many predicted we would. But our inability to achieve that goal as yet doesn't make efforts to cut back worthless. Everyone can do their part at home, school and office to reduce paper usage, even if only one sheet at a time.
1. Go to a peaceful,
serene spot that you feel
most calm in. It must be
quiet and free of
clutter. 2. Close your
eyes and get into a
position. Take six deep
breaths with a count of
six seconds on the inhale
through the nose and
I would like to take this
opportunity to thank all
those who have helped me
along the way. In
other words, everyone
I've ever met, and many I
haven't. I believe
everyone who crosses our
path or our mind is there
for a reason, whether we
Spirituality is, of
course, different from
religion. This is
in part why we changed
our description to that
of being an
rather than an interfaith
interfaith hints at
religion, meaning we are
a church of all...
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address bar should
The top of the page
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Excuses don't really
excuse anyone from
anything other than to
g4t out of learning,
advancing and reaching
goals, as in having an
excuse to miss
class. You miss
it. That's what I'm
talking about.Some people
use excuses for