Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why are children starving in a booming India?

By Stephanie Nolen From Saturday's Globe and Mail

A complex masala of gender, caste, tradition and politics keeps babies hungry. After 15 years of rapid growth, India has made no progress on childhood malnutrition, unlike many poorer nations. Its culture poses many special obstacles – but that could also be the key to change
DEHDE, INDIA — Devsingh Adivasi has baggy pants. Not literally – in fact, he has no trousers at all – but that's the term for a child like him: At two years old, he has rolls of slack flesh that sag below his buttocks and gather at his ankles, as if his skin was made a few sizes too big.

Devsingh is acutely undernourished. He is less than half the weight or height he should be; he's not able to stand on his own; he is intrigued by the small ball made of reed scraps his mother Papo has rolled for him, but does not have the energy to chase it.

He has never eaten a vegetable and never eaten a fatty food – never, in fact, eaten anything other than the flat bread his mother makes on a cow-dung fire every day or two. He nurses sometimes at her slack breasts; Papo herself, in her late 20s, weighs about a third less than is healthy. She says, softly, that she knows her son gets little milk from her and that she should eat more. “But what would I eat?”

Devsingh is one of six children, all of them malnourished. Each one of the 70 families in this village in the northern Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has a child, or several, in a similar condition. But this is not a blighted place with a unique, horrible problem. What's most horrifying about it is its normalcy, across this state and across northern India.

Canadian parents have been invoking malnourished Indian children for three generations to encourage their own children to eat their crusts or lima beans. In that time, however, India has transformed itself from a land where millions of people died each year in famine to one whose explosive development has won it “emerging superpower” status. In the last 15 years, India's average annual economic growth has been 7 per cent.

It's expected to come close to that mark this year even amid the global economic crisis.

India has a booming information-technology industry, an exploding middle class and cities with sleek subway lines, neighbourhood sushi restaurants and rickshaw drivers who use cellphones. Last year it sent a rocket to the moon. But there is one thing that has not changed – the rate of childhood malnutrition, which still affects one in five children here and causes 3,000 infant deaths each day.

A staggering 40 per cent of undernourished children in the world are Indian; the rate here is twice as high as it is in all of Sub-Saharan Africa and five times higher than in China. The land of the economic boom finishes third-last on Unicef's global list of child nourishment, worse than either Sudan or Ethiopia. In fact, the number of starving children is increasing 2.5 per cent annually, while population growth is barely 1.4 per cent.

India's government itself professes shock that the situation has not improved as the economy has grown. “The problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last year. There is a growing sense that the scale of the problem does not befit a country claiming superpower status.

“It is embarrassing,” acknowledges Mahesh Arora, who heads the national child-nutrition program through the Ministry of Women and Child Development. “We are trying our level best. You must realize India is a huge country and some areas are doing much better than others.”

Better is a relative term. In the north and east, at least 55 per cent of children are malnourished; in the south it is about 30 per cent. The Adivasi family lives in the worst of the worst areas, and what happens in their house – and what doesn't – does much to explain why the problem persists.

The family has some of the basic problems that plague people around the world, having no land, no assets, no cash to buy food nor any real way to change their situation. As elsewhere, efforts to help the very poor here have been marred by corruption and mismanagement. But these ills are exacerbated by a collection of factors peculiar to India, from a squabble over the philosophical legacy of Mahatma Gandhi to intractable battles over caste hierarchy to the uncommonly stark powerlessness of Indian women.

The Adivasis share their surname, derived from their group in the Hindu caste system, with their whole village. They are what's called a “tribal” group – an indigenous population at the very bottom of the traditional hierarchy. They own no land, and the soil on the land they have been allotted is rocky and infertile and rain is rare. Their village is a jarring hour's drive (not that anyone here owns a vehicle) down a dirt track off a rural road down a lousy highway that leads only to a small town with no industry or opportunity.

No one here in Dehde has a toilet or a source of clean water to wash their hands; they are, like half of all Indians, “open defecators” who walk into the surrounding fields to relieve themselves. Their children run and play surrounded by excrement and as a consequence suffer episodes of life-threatening diarrhea nearly every month.

There is a school in the village, but as in many other parts of India's corrupt and poorly-managed public education system, the underpaid teacher shows up only a few times each month; looking around, it isn't difficult to understand why he might be hopelessly discouraged. There is not a single literate adult in Dehde.

There is a community health worker, 50-year-old Battu Bai, who is paid $36 a month by the central government to weigh the children and keep track of their growth. She enlists a couple of 12-year-olds, the only people here who are numerate, to read the scale and fill in her charts. She is supposed to exhort the mothers of underweight children into proper feeding but, she says, rolling her eyes: “I am hammering them all the time but the men are the decision makers and it doesn't matter what I say.”

Ms. Bai does not have the skills or the resources to treat the diarrhea that claims so many children here each year. She can only refer families to the clinics in the regional capital of Shivpuri, two hours away. But few have money for transport and, she says, the men aren't interested in making the trip and forbid their wives to go alone with sick children.

“Who would cook, or see to the other children?” grumbles Devsingh's father, Prashadi, when Ms. Bai asks him yet again about having his wife Papo take their child to a Unicef emergency-nutrition centre. STUNTED LIVES

In Dehde, poverty is a congenital condition. Papo, who has tawny hair that spills in curls down her back, married Mr. Adivasi when she was 17. She gave birth to their first child a year later. A full 20 per cent of pregnancies in India are in girls between 15 and 19; a quarter of those, like Ms. Adivasi, give birth at intervals of less than 18 months, taking a toll on their own health and leading to weaker babies.

If these children survive infancy, they grow up stunted – no one in the Adivasi family is more than five feet tall. In fact, research by the World Health Organization showed definitively last year that the idea that Asians are inherently shorter than people in the West is nonsense and the disparity is primarily the result of broad, chronic intergenerational malnutrition.

The children are not just stunted physically. They experience delays in cognitive development that can never, at any later point, be repaired. This has consequences for India as a nation: The World Bank says that undernutrition is reducing the country's GDP growth by three per cent each year, as it reduces any individual's lifetime earning potential by at least 10 per cent.

Like Ms. Adivasi, a third of Indian women are themselves underweight. In addition, 59 per cent of pregnant women here are anemic, which means they give birth to low-birth-weight babies with weak immune systems who struggle to breastfeed properly.

In fact, breastfeeding – a free, critical intervention that can make a massive difference in survival past the first month of life – is a fraught part of the nutrition puzzle here. Ms. Adivasi says that she waited until three days after Devsingh was born to nurse her son. For the first two days, which Unicef calls the most critical for determining infant health, she gave him nothing, believing her colostrum (the antibody-rich, yellow liquid new mother's bodies produce before milk) was unhealthy.

Overhearing her recount this, a couple of village men jump into the discussion: “Even an animal would not feed its child with its first milk!” one man says. Another adds, “No woman here would be allowed to give that to a baby.”

India's central government has helpfully put up billboards at the entrance to many of these villages, extolling the virtue of colostrum in lines of Hindi script that, of course, almost no one here can read.

In many places, a father or his mother will consult an astrologer for an auspicious day to start breastfeeding – which could be as many as 30 days after the child's birth. After that, in some families, the babies who survive those first crucial weeks are breastfed for up to three months. But when they begin to fuss, wanting more nutrients than their malnourished mothers can apparently provide, fathers or mothers-in-law often insist that nursing women introduce solid food or buffalo milk, diluted with unclean water – even though babies should be given breast milk exclusively for their first six months.

In other geographic and caste groups, people believe in breastfeeding exclusively far, far past that point – even up to two years. This, too, is nutritionally damaging: After about six months, children need solid food sources of vitamins and nutrients.

“It's not rocket science but it is science,” said Purnima Menon, a researcher with the International Food Policy Research Institute. And no one is explaining it to women such as Ms. Adivasi.

In any case, Dr. Menon added, “Giving information to a young woman alone is not useful if she has such low status that she can't make the decision.” Yet when Mr. Arora, the government nutrition chief, talks about the need for a massive national ad campaign about correct infant and child feeding, he talks always about educating “mothers,” not their husbands or in-laws.

This may be the single greatest cause of India's vicious malnutrition problem: the striking lack of autonomy of women, especially young women and those in rural areas. Today, the Adivasis' grain box is empty – Ms. Adivasi thumps it, scowling at the hollow sound. But when there is grain enough for her to make five chapati flatbreads, her husband eats two, the six children share two and Ms. Adivasi gets one.

When Ms. Bai, the community-health worker, hears this, she reminds Mr. Adivasi that his wife is breastfeeding and needs extra calories. “She gave me two,” he says with a shrug. “I didn't ask what she ate.”

He goes on to describe how he struggles on the 250 rupees (roughly $4.50) that he, his wife and the older children earn each month to buy food and pay the fees for the one son who goes to school. (They do day labour for a national program targeting the very poor.) But after Ms. Bai pulls her sari down over her eyes and adds a loudly muttered observation, Mr. Adivasi acknowledges with a shrug that he spends more than half that monthly income – 150 rupees – on bidi, traditional cigarettes. The revelation startles an outsider, but no one in Dehde seems to find it surprising.

In villages like this one, male children are prioritized from the moment of their conception. “There's a reason why you see so many more boys than girls in the nutrition centres,” says Anne Philpott, an adviser on nutrition to the British international development office in India. From ages 1 to 4, according to Unicef, the mortality rate for Indian girls is 61 per cent higher than it is for boys.

Nothing, notes Dr. Menon, is more core to the function of a family and a society than the way in which it divides responsibility for caring for its children. This is why a state such as Madhya Pradesh, compared with African countries that have similar populations, ranks so badly on malnutrition: Women may in general be oppressed in Ethiopia and Congo as well, but they have autonomy over feeding their children.

“On purchasing food, on feeding herself, on health care – the critical question is how does the gender inequality play out,” says Dr. Menon. “Women in Africa can be out in society at the market, or generating income, buying food for her family. In India women often cannot make those decisions. So here we need to target men as well for purchasing behaviour: Women often don't see the market, so there's no point telling them what to feed.

“And you have to work with older women too if you want to change breastfeeding – because the poor young mother is in no place to argue with her husband or her mother-in-law.”

So entrenched are these patterns – and so normal are listless toddlers such as Devsingh – that nobody here feels they need to react in alarm, says Dr. Vandana Agrawal, nutritional specialist for Unicef in Madhya Pradesh. “A mother sees that her child is weak but she sees that all the children around her are similar so she doesn't perceive a problem and so she doesn't try to address it,” she says.

“She's working in the fields or doing daily wage labour, she gets up and takes care of the whole family, she prepares food and leaves the child with an elder sibling of eight to 10 years old, and nobody takes care of that child in a systematic way.”

Indeed when Ms. Bai tries once again to talk to Prashadi Adivasi about how underweight Devsingh is, he insists there is nothing wrong and simply gets up and walks off while she is speaking.

CASTE-AWAYS Over top of this toxic brew of poverty and sexism is a uniquely Indian complicating factor, the enduring hold of the caste system. Regional child-health workers, and even rural outreach workers such as Ms. Bai, are usually political appointees (the patronage system extends down to the lowest level) and often of a higher caste than the people they serve. As a result, the lowest-caste women are often hesitant to use those services.

In addition, the Adivasi people are considered to be of such low caste that they are barred by custom (not by law, which officially forbids such discrimination) from any of the limited private labour opportunities around their village.

There is a flip side to this situation: Caste organizes Indian society into units down to the smallest community level. Along with the country's long history of mass public action, that should make it easy to do effective public education on behaviour such as breastfeeding.

“If the astrologer is telling women not to breastfeed until 30 days, then get out there and educate the astrologers. Make them your change agents,” says Ms. Philpott, the British nutrition adviser.

With this kind of concerted effort, a great deal can be done quickly: Thailand cut its rate of child undernutrition in half in four years in the 1980s; China cut its by more than half from 1990 to 2002. Vietnam and Brazil have had similar successes. In Malawi in southern Africa – where the economy has not grown at all and the AIDS epidemic has dramatically worsened public health – the government has nevertheless succeeded in cutting the proportion of malnourished children from 30 to 19 per cent in the past decade.

These countries each followed a different approach, but what they had in common were strong government leadership and a combined emphasis on public education, primary health-care delivery and interventions with very poor households. China made an aggressive push to get clean water and sanitation to the poor; Thailand put 20 per cent of the national budget into health care.

India has one major program to tackle undernutrition, called the Integrated Child Development Service. The $1.6-billion initiative began in the 1970s and set up a network of kitchens and feeding centres in rural and urban low-income areas across the country. While it has been praised for its ambition, it is cumbersome and badly managed – “a shambles,” in the off-the-record assessment of one government consultant involved in designing it. Corrupt officials skim the cash, or poorly-trained bureaucrats mismanage the distributions.

“There is no strong monitoring, and there is no accountability of district officials – no sense that ‘I have to serve,'“ says Unicef's homegrown expert Dr. Agrawal, who has watched schemes come and go for years as statistics stay stubbornly unchanged. “I get so frustrated with India,” she adds.

Paradoxically, some of the greatest obstacles are unintended consequences of the work of lobby groups whose members are deeply concerned for the poor. India has a powerful “right to food” lobby, a coalition of charities and civil-rights groups that fought long and hard to extend the Child Development Service to cover all children and for the wage-labour program that employs the Adivasi family for a few days each month. These are widely considered one of the great victories of the powerful leftist political movement here.

Through nearly a decade of litigation, the movement has persuaded the Supreme Court to order the Indian government to take steps such as serving midday meals at all public primary schools and providing grain at highly subsidized prices to millions of destitute households (although far from all). “You cannot overstate the importance of these steps,” says Delhi-based activist Kiran Bhatty.

Yet the very success of this coalition means that the focus of discussion has been on feeding schoolchildren – a debate over whether to provide them with enriched biscuits or a precooked meal dominated the discussion in the national parliament all last year. But the most crucial part of the malnutrition crisis in India has to do with babies, long before their school-aged years. “By the time we're talking about ‘food',” says Anne Philpott, “it's too late.”

INVOKING GANDHI In recent years in Africa, great nutritional gains have been made by providing micronutrient supplements. Giving children Vitamin A at the age of six months, at the cost of a nickel each, can cut child deaths by 25 per cent. But such efforts were derailed in India when a Hindu fundamentalist lobby protested that the capsules were coated in gelatin, a product made of cows, which are sacred in Hinduism. (Today, some areas are having success with liquid Vitamin A drops.) Fortifying widely consumed foods with nutrients such as iron has also been crucial in Africa, and it is desperately needed here, where most people are vegetarian. A stunning 75 per cent of preschool-aged Indians are acutely anemic, according to a national family-health survey. But the anti-corporate left here is highly suspicious. “The anti-business lobby puts an emphasis on products that are locally made and feels that fortification could just be a money-making scheme,” said Dr. Menon.

For example, breastfeeding advocates fear that any discussion about fortifying foods for infants will open the door to formula companies, even though fortification can now be done in the home or a feeding centre, improving an infant's diet without compromising breastfeeding.

Opponents of fortification also frequently invoke the name of India's great independence fighter, Mahatma Gandhi. In his time, he preached the sanctity of the village and said that Indians should sustain themselves on what they grew and produced at that level.

That argument was aimed at trying to lessen British colonial power, but today his self-proclaimed disciples use his words (and little has more power here than invoking “Gandhiji”) to oppose food fortification by saying that whatever is produced in a village should be sufficient.

“There's a perception that surely all of this can be done through food – through natural means, the Gandhian approach – and that the newer approaches are somehow artificial,” said Luc Laviolette, Asia program director for the Micronutrient Initiative, a Canadian program that has worked with the Indian government to boost Vitamin A supplementation here with some marked successes. “The reality is that for all these reasons – gender, land, plus economic reasons – staple foods alone are not enough.”

Ms. Bhatty says the right-to-food lobby is not trying to turn back the clock: “It's not about a Gandhian utopia at all,” she says. “There are many good reasons to go local, starting with the fact that you need local buy-in if a scheme is going to be sustainable. Using local foods revives local practices, it boosts the local economy and it has environmental advantages.”

Underlying these political tussles are systemic failures of the Indian government – it has failed to prioritize public health, spending just two per cent of the national budget on health care, compared to 13 per cent on defence. There is ample research showing that cheap, relatively simple interventions can have a huge impact, yet none of these are as politically popular as food aid and none are happening at a large enough scale to bring real change.

And while even slum dwellers have doubled or tripled their incomes in India's economic boom, that is rarely enough to get them out of the slums into a house with sanitation and clean water, so their children continue to fall prey to monthly bouts of diarrhea and other illnesses.


There are some stirrings of hope. A few weeks ago, for example, the government introduced its first new guidelines on feeding children since 1975. Last October, the budget per day per child for food supplements was doubled from half a penny to one cent.

The prime minister has appointed a commission on nutrition and promised funds, which Ms. Philpott finds heartening. “The fact that economic growth is so good and they are translating that into programs is a good sign.” The nutrition program's head, Mr. Arora, predicts cheerfully that this could all start to show results in five to 10 years.

Yet in Dehde, it all feels so far away as to be nonsensical. There is electricity for only an hour each night; girls in stained cotton saris collect water at the hand pump; women pat cakes of cow dung into circles to dry on the mud-house walls and burn for fuel. And nothing so far – no economic boom, no space program, no superpower status – has changed the basic truths for the Adivasi family.

“We don't have for ourselves so we don't feed the child – we are poor so we don't have these things to feed him,” Mr. Adivasi says, with equal parts resignation and defiance.

And after he has left the smoky dim of the family's one-room house, when Ms. Bai leans close and tries to urge Ms. Adivasi to do something for tiny, frail Devsingh, the young mother rocks squats back on her heels. “What can I do?” she asks softly. “What is there for me to do?”

Globe and Mail South Asian correspondent Stephanie Nolen was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in International Reporting this week for the sixth straight year.


BLM to Hold "Earth Day" Auction of Oil & Gas Leases. Protests Planned.

For Immediate Release, April 21, 2009

Contact: Oscar Simpson, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, (505) 917-2134
Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians, (303) 437-7663
Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Western Environmental Law Center, (575) 751-0351 x 137
Jay Lininger, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 853-9929

Protest Filed Against Oil and Gas Leasing on New Mexico Public Lands

TAOS, N.M.— Allied conservationists and sportsmen today filed an administrative protest of a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sale for New Mexico. The Bureau will offer 49 lease parcels, totaling 41,635 acres, on April 22, 2009 – Earth Day. The protest challenges the government’s failure to address global warming in its oil and gas leases.

“Global warming hurts wildlife, our rivers and streams, and our heritage. But it’s still business as usual: Lease first, think later,” said Oscar Simpson with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “BLM needs to get a plan in place to deal with the global warming issues directly tied to federal oil and natural gas leasing in New Mexico.”

Several other conservation and sportsmen groups, including Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico, Albuquerque Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, and the Northern New Mexico Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation expressed support for the challenge.

“The support we’re getting from these groups reflects a groundswell of concern that the combined impacts of global warming and oil and gas development aren’t doing wildlife any favors,” Simpson said.

On the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency’s April 17, 2009 endangerment finding that greenhouse gas emissions “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations,” the need for the federal government to address global warming is urgent. In New Mexico, oil and gas production contributes roughly 25 percent — and possibly more — of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the electricity sector.

“Methane emissions from gas production are one of the biggest sources. Natural gas may burn cleaner than coal, but leaks and dirty drilling practices in the production phase result in significant methane emissions to the atmosphere,” said Jeremy Nichols, director of climate and energy at WildEarth Guardians. “And methane’s global warming impact, molecule to molecule, is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

There are cost-efficient technologies to keep methane out of the atmosphere and in pipelines for use in homes, schools, and businesses. These technologies have already proven effective. In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that its Natural Gas STAR program avoided annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the amount emitted by 6.8 million passenger vehicles or 5 million homes per year, and added revenue of nearly $648 million in natural gas sales. But the program relies on industry self-regulation and has been hampered by the Bureau of Land Management’s failure to require these measures as a condition of owning a federal oil and gas lease.

“Fossil fuel combustion is producing a critical mass of greenhouse gases that has already shifted the planet’s climate system into dangerous territory,” said Jay Lininger, ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s a cruel irony that the Bureau of Land Management would lease more climate-threatening oil and gas on Earth Day.”

African Water Woes: Clean Water a Commodity Few Can Afford

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Water.... where is the justice? ( Community News - published by Trust for Community Outreach & Education)

While we drown in the endless rhetoric of electoral promises by politicians guaranteeing the right to adequate and affordable basic needs, water is being turned into a luxury that only the rich can afford. Just ten days before World Water Day on 22nd March, an international day of observance and action to draw attention to the fact that more than 1 billion people worldwide that lack access to clean, safe drinking water, members of the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum an organisation working to unify and mobilise rural communities, appeared in court on charges of public violence for demanding their right to water. The altercation between the frustrated residents and municipal employees broke out on a hot, dry Friday afternoon when contrary to the promise made by the Barrydale municipal manager, Walter Hendricks, there was still no water coming out of the taps.

In Cape Town, Water Management Devices (WMDs) currently being rolled out in black and coloured townships to supposedly reduce wastage and assist poorer households in managing their water usage have been met with such resistance that communities, tired of cut-offs after using a mere 20 of their 25 litre free, daily allowance, are threatening to rip the devices out. The water woes are not just limited to the Western Cape, the City of Johannesburg and Johannesburg Water are appealing the judgement that declared prepaid water meters illegal and unconstitutional in April last year. If they win the appeal, it would not only reverse this historic judgement but could also potentially jeopardise the Court’s order to supply each resident of Phiri with 50 litres of free water per day as the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry are appealing that amount.

It is particularly alarming that South Africa’s looming water crisis has become the perfect scapegoat for the ‘quiet privatisation’ of water which allows the government to retain ownership of this scarce resource but with control and management being outsourced to the private sector. When the ANC-led government began promoting the privatization of public services through GEAR and the Municipal Infrastructure and Investment Unit, clean water instantly became a commodity and millions of people across the country who could not afford to pay had their water cut off. Along with energy, housing and telecommunications, the privatization of water service delivery has meant that citizens are being turned into customers that the municipality is no longer accountable to in the same way than if water was state-owned and run.

The glaring reality is that the allocation of local government and municipal resources for water, sanitation and refuse removal is still divided along apartheid lines irrespective of which political party is in control. As Shawn Hattingh of the International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG) reported in last month’s article for the Monthly Review, eight times more money is spent on providing water to the predominantly white suburb of Durbanville compared to Khayelitsha, and four times more money per person for waste removal. At least 52% of people living in Johannesburg have to do without adequate sanitation services while Sandton continues to have one of the highest rates of water consumption in the world.

But it is not in Sandton, nor in the affluent suburbs of Cape Town, where there are pools to fill and lush green gardens to water that pre-paid meters or Water Management Devices are being rolled out. It is in the dry, dusty and barren ghettos of Mitchells Plain and the townships of Soweto and Khayelitsha. It is time to call a spade a spade. Water management in its current policy and implementation is not about the prudent or cautious distribution of a dwindling resource, it is about cost recovery and ensuring that only those that can afford to pay for water are entitled to it.
Posted by Raffaella at 6:37 AM

Monday, April 20, 2009

PETA ties to explain "Why We Euthanise"......

Well I guess after all the howling about PETAs high euthansia rate, the PETA-Folk have apparently decided to address the issue head-on in an article entitled "Why we euthanise."

The problem is, they only show a few cases of hopelessly sick and suffering animals who NO ONE would deny need to be euthanised. I have never had my intelligence so insulted from the mere reading of an article.

No one ever claimed there was no need for euthansia. Of course there is a need, but should only be used to end hopeless suffering.....PETA does not say anything about the THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of healthy, young aboptable animals they euthanize every year, without even trying to find them ah, I am wondering, what is the point of this article? Tell us something we dont know, Peta. Why do you euthanise so many healthy animals? Why is your euthanisa rate so high?

Click on title above for PETAs article and BE WARNED, graphic photos of sick and suffering animals.

Defending the Indefensible

Friday, April 17, 2009

People will go to great, sometimes absurd lengths to defend that which they hold dear, when it is under attack. In response to last week’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution commending restaurants that have stopped serving foie gras, determined foodies have rushed to the defense of the right to consume the excessively-priced, fattened, and diseased liver of force-fed ducks and geese. In a Wednesday column in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “In Praise of Foie Gras,” Caille Millner attempts not only to defend the indefensible, but to glorify what is arguably the cruelest delicacy known to man. By wildly distorting the reality of foie gras, Millner puts a happy face on profound suffering.

Millner’s piece made my blood boil. Thanks to her skewed claims, thousands of restaurant-goers won’t think twice the next time they see foie gras on the menu. But there's reason for hope. Beyond its superficial claims, Millner's article signals just how out of touch with public opinion anyone who defends foie gras is these days. Millner resorts to patently clumsy and contrived arguments (see below). Clearly, she is on the defensive. Her painting of the anti-foie gras crusade as a raging fad, and her community of foie gras foodie enthusiasts as noble yet misunderstood guardians of a sacred right – lone voices of reason in a sea of confusion – signals just how unpopular foie gras is these days. The desperation of her plea is a testament to the success of the anti-foie gras campaign and more broadly to the fact that, as Nicholas Kristof put it in the New York Times last week, “animal rights are now firmly on the mainstream ethical agenda.”

But Millner is undeterred. She closes on a note of triumph, “Commend away, San Francisco. I'll be just across the city lines, eating without guilt.” What she fails to note is that quite soon, crossing city lines won’t be enough. Thanks to a bill signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2004, the sale and production of foie gras will be banned in California in 2012.

See you in Nevada, Caille.

Thankfully, Millner’s claims are not hard to refute. She uses lines of reasoning and rhetorical devices that are nearly universal in defenses of animal cruelty. I think it’s instructive to flesh these out and consider how we can best respond.

Tactic: Crying anthropomorphism
Her claim: “Most people are prone to anthropomorphize, so they imagine how horrible it would be to have a tube shoved down their own throat (ducks do not have voice boxes or gag reflexes; they breathe through their tongues) and agree that it's a horrible process that must be stopped.”
Why it works: Crying anthropomorphism always scores points. The suggestion is that those who care about animal suffering have fallen prey to childish sentimentality. It lends an air of scientific credibility to those opposing animal rights and suggests that empathy is irrational.
Response: For starters, her claim that geese lack a gag reflex is questionable. The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW), the EU’s most authoritative scientific body on farm animal welfare, reported that “the oropharyngeal area is particularly sensitive and is physiologically adapted to perform a gag reflex in order to prevent fluids entering the trachea. Force feeding will have to overcome this reflex and hence the birds may initially find this distressing and injury may result.” But this is beside the point, because the inherent and undeniable cruelty of foie gras is not the force-feeding itself but the resulting enlargement of the bird’s livers to 6-10 times their natural size, inducing injury, disease, and lameness. Millner makes no mention of this.

Tactic: Displacing culpability/defense by commonality
Her Claim: “The means of production for the vast majority of the country's meat supply are at least as horrifying as what it takes to produce foie gras, but it's much harder to demonize the vast majority of Americans for what they eat.”
Why it works: One of the easiest ways to excuse someone for their evils is to point out that a whole lot of other folks are doing the exact same thing or even worse things. Suddenly, it’s unfair to single out that particular evil over other equally horrible evils. Basically she is saying “all meat production is cruel so why don’t you lay off foie gras.”
Response: The claim that the farm animal rights movement is singularly focused on foie gras is absurd. The resources put into all the foie gras campaigns across the country are minuscule in comparison to those invested in Proposition 2, alone.

Tactic: Distortion and irrelevant claims
Her Claim: “Never mind that there are only three foie gras producers in the United States, all small farms that are paragons of humane treatment compared to our country's countless factory farms….All three foie gras farms in the United States use open pens for their ducks and have very low mortality rates.”
Why it works: When there isn’t supporting evidence for your case, sometimes you just have to make things up. Here, Millner exploits the common image of “small” farms as humane and idyllic.
Response: The smallness of foie gras farms and the quality of living conditions do not affect the cruelty inherent in the force-feeding process. And are the farms in this investigation video (including the three she mentions) truly “paragons of humane treatment?” The housing looks wretched. Low mortality rates (a highly subjective term that she doesn’t quantify) don’t mean much, given that the ducks are slaughtered at only 4 months of age. Moreover, one can think of plenty of forms of torture, human and animal alike, that don’t result in death.

Tactic: Framing issue as human rights vs. animal rights
Her Claim: “Never mind that so many enormous issues - climate change, obesity, health care - are tied up in our country's cheap meats, not its expensive ones. And certainly never mind that the leadership of San Francisco has far bigger things to worry about than whether or not people should be eating foie gras.”
Why it works: Animal cruelty apologists like to suggest that that human rights and animal rights are mutually exclusive. Here, Millner implies that those campaigning against foie gras are squandering time that could be spent working on more important, presumably human issues.
Response: This is not a human life vs. animal life issue. This is a relishing-in-the-fleeting-taste-of-flesh-produced-through-enormous-cruelty vs. finding-something-else-to-eat, issue. The passing of this resolution required little time on the part of the council. Furthermore, the council resolution will have an impact far beyond city limits. Since San Diego passed a similar resolution last year, other cities in Southern California have done the same. The San Fran resolution is likely to have a similar ripple effect.

Tactic: One-sided quotes
Her Claim: "We were the first farm to use a humane auditor," said Rick Bishop, animal welfare officer for Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, N.Y. …“We've always fought misinformation by having an open-door policy at our farm. Anyone who wants to see what we're doing is welcome to visit and observe at any step of the process."
Why it works: It’s simple. Quote somebody that agrees with you and pretend that he or she is an expert.
Response: Thanks to Hudson Valley’s transparency, activists with Compassion Over Killing took up the offer for a free tour. The problem is, they caught it on tape.

Tactic: Appeal to personal investment in cruelty
Her Claim: “A dollop of foie gras is a creamy, rich flavor explosion. Prepared properly, it has wonderful texture - the word "mouthfeel" should have been invented for it - and, like wine, can have notes of flowers, citrus, nuts. I love it.”
Response: Hmmm, I guess the 15 countries that have banned foie gras weren’t aware of how yummy it tastes.


Join hundreds of environmentalists from across New York State to fight for measures to protect our water, air, land and health. No lobbying experience needed!

WHEN: Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

WHERE: New York State Capitol, Albany, NY

Earth Day Lobby Day is New York’s largest annual environmental event, bringing together people from across the state to hear from government and environment leaders, learn about current legislation, and lobby elected officials on the issues that matter to you.

Click here to sign up for Earth Day Lobby Day.

For more information, contact Bill Mahoney at

Friday, April 17, 2009

USDA to Conduct Goose Massacre in Upstate NY!

USDA offers goose roundup plan for Monroe-Woodbury area
Southern Orange officials weigh proposals to collect and gas geese

By Chris Mckenna
Times Herald-Record

Posted: April 17, 2009 - 2:00 AM

The gloves might soon come off in what has so far been a strictly humane approach to reducing the Canada goose population in the Monroe-Woodbury area, a place the waddling manure-spreaders have come to love.

Federal wildlife specialists met recently with frustrated local officials and have offered to take their anti-goose crusade to the next level: a roundup and ominous truck ride, the purpose of which is easily reckoned by fans of "The Godfather."

Reactions so far have been mixed.

"Will it fly? I don't think so," said Woodbury Supervisor John Burke, weighing the likelihood of approval by his Town Board.

But Harriman Mayor Steve Welle firmly supports the idea, saying he worries about the health risks goose droppings pose and suspects that repeated efforts to drive geese from Mary Harriman Park and other local fields and ponds have merely shuttled the birds around.

"I think we're playing pingpong between us, the schools and Woodbury," Welle said.

Any municipality or business that decides to go lethal may contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which charges $1,560 for its workers to come and $5.50 for each goose they remove. Geese are herded into a pen, loaded into crates and hauled away on a trailer.

According to Ken Preusser, district supervisor for the USDA Wildlife Services offices outside Albany, captured geese are driven to "a secure location," gassed with carbon dioxide and buried.

Thus far, lowering the number of formerly migratory geese in the area has consisted of "hazing," which means scaring them away with dogs, remote-controlled boats and rubbing oil on their eggs in spring to keep them from hatching.

Crane Park, a popular goose hangout in downtown Monroe, looks remarkably goose-free these days, although Mayor John Karl said Thursday that the fowl are nesting elsewhere and will likely return to the park in force. Nonetheless, he said, his Village Board has already ruled out euthanizing geese.

Welle said his board will debate the issue once it gets a formal proposal from the USDA.

Monroe-Woodbury Superintendent Joseph DiLorenzo, whose district sent a representative to the recent USDA meeting, said he hadn't been told of the roundup option and needed more information to evaluate it.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Disney to Celebrate Earth Day

Helping earth and animals;
From the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

I want to tell you about a remarkable new movie that our friends at Disney are releasing on Earth Day, April 22nd.

It's called "EARTH," and it follows the fascinating story of three different animal families and their amazing journeys across this planet we call home.

Narrated by James Earl Jones, "EARTH" is the first in a series from Disney's new film label Disneynature. And to celebrate the premiere, Disney will plant a tree in honor of every moviegoer who sees the film in its opening week. The trees will help replenish the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, considered the most endangered rain forest in the world.

Tickets for this incredible movie are now on sale for the opening week through the film's website at, or by calling 1-888-DISNEY6.

A Shared Commitment to Helping Animals

IFAW and Disney first joined together to help animals during a South African oil spill in 2000. Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund helped fund IFAW's emergency rescue efforts and provided volunteers to help with the cleaning and caring of thousands of endangered African penguins.

The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund also supported IFAW's emergency responses to Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami, the earthquake in China, the recent Australian bushfires, as well as IFAW's conservation work with tigers, elephants, porpoises, and other animals. I am incredibly thankful for Disney's ongoing support for IFAW's efforts to save animals and their habitats.

Not only does Disney share our commitment to helping animals, but IFAW has a special interest in the stories and species featured in "EARTH," since they're all animals that we work tirelessly to protect:

Whales: The films shows a whale family traveling thousands of miles, from the birthing waters of the warm tropics to Antarctic feeding grounds. IFAW is leading the fight to end commercial whaling and protect endangered whales for future generations.
Elephants: The dry sands of the Kalahari Desert are the scene of thousands of elephants traveling to Okavango, an inland delta where lifegiving waters will soon flow. IFAW works to protect elephants from ivory poachers, close down markets for ivory, and expand protected habitats for elephants.
Polar bears: Polar bear mothers and their young cubs emerge from their winter dens and set out across the snowscape to find food on the arctic ice before it melts and breaks up. IFAW supports conservation policies and scientific research that protect polar bears and other ice-dependent animals.
See the Movie, Plant a Tree

I know you're as committed to helping animals as I am, so I hope you'll enjoy "EARTH." Don't forget - if you go during the first week, Disney will plant a tree in your honor.

See you at the movies!

Fred O'Regan
IFAW President

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Earth to People: Prognosis Not Good

By: John Collee

The world has about a decade left to sort out the climate-change mess. John Collee sees lessons from his medicine days as parallels for the future of our planet.

Every patient with an incurable illness will ask how long they have to live. The answer goes something like this: "No one can say how long you may live, because every individual is different, but focus on the changes you observe and be guided by those. When things start changing for the worse, expect these changes to accelerate. So the changes that have occurred over a year may advance by the same degree in a few months, then in weeks. And that is how you can judge when the end is coming."

Apply that thinking to climate change. When An Inconvenient Truth opened in 2006 it was generally supposed we had a window of two or three decades to deal with climate change. Last year that shrank to a decade. Last month Australia's chief scientist, Penny Sackett, told a Canberra gathering that we have six years to radically lower emissions, or face calamitous, unstoppable global warming.

Six years. Given that this problem is usually described as a process unfolding over centuries, how can it be that things have spun out of control in such a short time? The worst case scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, dismissed a mere three years ago as remote possibilities, are now given very short odds: the death of the Murray Darling, the drying of southern-east Australia to a tinderbox, the increased flooding in low-lying areas, the defrosting of the Siberian tundra, the dramatic loss of rainforest and the break-up of the Antarctic ice shelf. All these things are happening as predicted but - if you believe the evidence - at several times the expected speed.

I do believe the evidence. Which leads me, personally, to the bleak conclusion that the human race is stuffed. The current financial crisis is merely the curtain raiser to a grand opera of social and ecological collapse. Our children - forget our grandchildren, I'm talking about my own kids, aged 14, 11 and 9 - are going to live in a world in which major cities are flooded, fertile plains become deserts, populations run out of food and water, rivers run dry, fishing grounds become dead zones, our rainforests and living coral reefs become curiosities of history.

Of course, there is a great problem with declaring that point of view because one immediately becomes labelled as a mad Cassandra spouting visions of the apocalypse. Passionate yet sober scientists like Tim Flannery in Sydney and Steve Schneider in San Francisco have so far avoided this trap, insisting there is still a chance to fix things. I've discussed the issue at length with both of these men and I accept their view that to contribute usefully to this debate one has to offer solutions. One has to offer hope. This is the view of Al Gore also, but remember big Al was preaching until recently that the financial markets would save us from destruction.

I've talked also to the other camp: to experts like James Hansen - the doyen of climate change at NASA - who has recently become so frustrated by political inaction that he has almost reached the point of declaring the game over. Jim is by nature a soft spoken and moderate man, a lifetime career scientist. Yet he's also very courageous. This is the man who effectively led the charge against the Bush regime's war on science. Increasingly, he seems to believe we're losing the war for the planet.

Three years ago, when Marian Wilkinson and I were researching a documentary on global warming, Hansen seemed sure communication was the answer. Once people properly understood the facts they would become sufficiently alarmed and then sufficiently enraged to affect real change. He now admits - before the US Senate - that the current enlightenment had no effect. In the past three years the climate modellers' predictions have been publicly vindicated by hard facts. Predictions then dismissed as theory are now history. The parlous state of our planet's health could not be more evident, and still nothing has happened, except that eminent scientists like Jim Hansen have been driven to join the barricades. Demonstrating last month in Britain for a complete moratorium on new coal-fired power stations he said with typical understatement: "The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working."

Why isn't it working? Why have we been so slow to grasp the bleeding obvious? And why, having grasped it, do we seem so powerless to make real changes? In Australia Kevin Rudd came to power, with no less an inspirational figure than Peter Garrett, on the implied promise that he would tackle the big C02 polluters and deliver real action on climate change. How can it be that Rudd has been allowed to gag our Pete, renege on his core promise, and still command approval ratings of 70 per cent?

Polls by GetUp! consistently show climate change as the big issue for the public. What will it take before we drive up to the Hunter Valley and chain ourselves to the gates of coal-fired power stations? I'm worried it will never happen. We would rather watch TV shows glorifying some brainless criminal underclass than engage in meaningful civil disobedience. Since Greenpeace went corporate there has been a global shortage of eco-warriors, and most scientists lack the mongrel element to start a revolution.

I've begun to wonder if climatologists are necessarily the best people to frame the problem. Many climatologists (and most sceptics) come from a background in earth sciences, where change - such as erosion - occurs so slowly it may as well be linear. My background is in medicine, and it's a general rule that changes in the human body occur exponentially. The development of the foetus, the growth of a child, the process of ageing and, finally, the sequence of organ failures that lead to death can generally be mapped as an accelerating curve rather than a straight line. Once you get your head around that, you begin to understand the curly timelines of human health and sickness.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet (a major contributor to sea level rise) cannot be included in sea-level predictions because we have no model for such a process. Their solution, bizarrely, is to ignore the potential contribution of a mountain of ice three kilometres thick poised to melt and slide into the sea. The great insight offered by James Lovelock in Gaia is that we are the model. Planet Earth, being a web of complex self-regulating systems, operates very much like a human body. Terminal illness gives us the template for most forms of ecological collapse. One set of changes initiates another, and so on in a downward cascade of negative feedback until the whole system falls apart.

Lovelock turns 90 in July. In the autumn of his life he is widely regarded as one of the great scientific visionaries of his generation. He has read the signs. He can see how it will end and he does not mind calling it like it is, with the cheerfulness of a man who has gone beyond terror and outrage to a sort of contented fatalism.

The rest of us are less evolved; my suspicion is that most of us still don't get it. Because here's the paradox: wherever you look in the natural world the message of exponential change is reinforced, yet humans have a weird predisposition to see change as linear. I'm guessing this is a throwback to the caveman days when, if someone threw a rock or a spear at you, it was sensible to assume that the missile would keep coming at a constant speed. Strangely, we unconsciously apply the same neanderthal logic to our understanding of ageing, birth and climate change.

The process of labour and childbirth follows a classic exponential curve: a long deceptive period in which apparently nothing is happening, followed by a period in which the changes become perceptible, and then a great calamitous rush in which the baby makes its appearance. As we watch our own parents age, the same pattern is obvious - a long period in which nothing much seems to happen, followed by a few years in which the deterioration becomes pronounced, and finally the rapid decline in which our loved one quickly expires - a process which will always seem cruelly sudden but, like the eventful "second stage" of labour, is really entirely predictable.

Climate change is often described as linear decline followed by some kind of distant "tipping point". But consider these statistics: in 1979 Arctic sea ice cover remained above 7 million square kilometres all summer; from 1989 it was consistently above 6 million; in 2002 above 5 million; since 2007 above 4 million. I read recently we may have reached a tipping point and the ice will be gone in 20 years. But there is no tipping point - a curve is always tipping, and each new finding redraws the curve. If this year's figure comes in under 4 million square kilometres the patient could be dead inside five years, and ships will be crossing the North Pole in September 2014.

The same kind of graph applies to most aspects of climate change - species extinctions, ocean acidity, loss of rainforest. These probably can be equated to the multiple indices by which we plot human health - white and red cell count, blood pressure, temperature and so on. For the planet, these have been tracking downwards for 30 years and, yet, we find comfort in distant thresholds, burning coal as if there is nothing to panic about.

It's like walking across a dome of rock in a fog. To begin with, the surface seems flat, then a gentle incline, then a bit less gentle until the tilt cannot be ignored. Shall we stop what we're doing? Nah, she'll be right, mate. And in a couple more paces the steepening slope beneath our feet becomes a vertical drop.

John Collee practised medicine before turning full-time to writing. His screenplays include Master And Commander, The Far Side Of The World and Happy Feet.

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Teacher Censored for Telling Truth about Food

By JOCELYN ALLISON - jallison@nwherald.By JO

Teacher says he was sent home for preaching vegan lifestyle

FOX RIVER GROVE -- A Fox River Grove Middle School art teacher said he was ousted from the classroom Wednesday for teaching students about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and the dangers of eating meat.
Dave Warwak, 44, said District 3 Superintendent Jacqueline Krause and
Middle School Principal Tim Mahaffy told him that he was being insubordinate and needed to leave after he refused Wednesday to stop sharing his viewpoints about animal cruelty and veganism in the classroom.
"When you´re talking about teaching art and leaving out the animals, I can´t do that," said Warwak, a vegan who referred to Krause and Mahaffy as "ardent meat-eaters."
"It´s impossible," he said of not sharing his viewpoint. "It´s something they´re asking me to do, and I just can´t."
Krause said Wednesday that Warwak still was employed with the district, but declined to comment further because the issue involved personnel.
"This is a matter that´s currently between the employee and the district, and I have no further comment," she said.
Warwak, who became a vegan in January, said he encouraged students to do Internet research about animal cruelty in raising livestock and how hormone manipulation and other factory-farming practices could negatively affect human health.
He also distributed copies of John Robbins´ The Food Revolution, which lambastes factory farming and advocates vegetarianism, to 10 eighth-graders. He gave other students excerpts from the book and informational pamphlets about vegetarianism and cruelty-free shopping, he said.
Warwak said he distributed the materials after the school´s cafeteria
supervisor declined to take down posters advocating the health benefits of drinking milk, which Warwak contends contributes to obesity.
Mahaffy sent Warwak a memo Tuesday addressing the teacher´s efforts to share his viewpoints with colleagues and students.
"If you share your opinions with other colleagues and they are either not receptive or ask you not to discuss the matter with them in the future, I expect you to honor their request," the memo stated.
"The office must approve all literature given to, or sent home with,
students," the memo continued. "I am requesting that you not use your literature or ideas about what is an appropriate diet to influence the students against our school lunch program."
Warwak said he began clashing with school officials last spring when staff members objected to an art display he created that showed marshmallow Peeps "locked" in a cage, smashed in front of a truck or positioned in other ways that demonstrated how people use animals.
In a series of e-mail exchanges between Warwak and Mahaffy in April,
Mahaffy expressed concern that the project was turning into a PETA advertisement and the school was being used as a soap-box for the opinion that non-vegetarians supported cruelty to animals.
Warwak eventually removed the display, but continued to look for ways to get his message out to students, who he said needed to learn at an early age to respect animal life.
He said he was unsure whether he would return to the classroom today and that it was up to the district to make the next move.
"All they have to do is give me something in writing that it´s against the law or against district policy to talk about what´s happening with animals,
" Warwak said. "But until then, I´m going to keep talking about that."
Several teachers and school board members either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
School board member Gerry Blohm declined to comment, aside from saying the board would discuss the situation in the future.
"It´s a personnel issue that the board will discuss," he said.

"Public Land" Hero Slapped with Huge Fine

Who can forget our brave all-american hero, Tim DeChristopher who bid and won on several parcels of govt land to save it from mining operations. The problem was, Tim had no money to pay for the parcels he won. Apparently, the gov has no sense of humor cause they have hit Tim with a HUGE bill for their wasted time;

BLM auction saboteur gets bill
Published: April 7, 2009 at 7:37

SALT LAKE CITY, April 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is demanding $81,000 from a Utah man who is facing felony prosecution for allegedly bogus oil and gas lease auction bids.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which sent Tim DeChristopher a demand letter, says the U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City was responsible for the request for payment, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney for Utah spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch, however, disagreed.

"The 'bill' to DeChristopher is not a part of our criminal case," Rydalch told the newspaper. "It's a BLM administrative action taken independent of our criminal case."

DeChristopher, a 27-year-old University of Utah student, was indicted last week. He is accused of bidding on government land parcel leases with the intent of not paying for the 11 auctions he won.

"You have lost the opportunity to obtain these lease parcels," the letter demand said. "Regardless, the amounts specified above are still required to be remitted."

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Beyond Afghanistan: Choosing Nonviolence

A Statement by the War Resisters League

As we approach the April 4 anniversary of Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s great 1967 "Beyond
Vietnam" speech in New York City's Riverside
Church, the War Resisters League reiterates
King's urgent cry for nonviolence­and nonviolent
resistance. The parallels between the war in
Afghanistan and the U.S. war against Vietnam fill
us with foreboding. While we adamantly oppose
continued U.S. military intervention in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, we also call upon
people of conscience to think beyond Afghanistan
and challenge, as King did, "the giant triplets
of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism."

Others have laid out reasons­from Afghanistan's
topography to the U.S. economic crisis­that would
make an expanded war in Afghanistan "unwinnable."
But WRL does not base our opposition on such
arguments. While they may be correct, we
challenge the very idea of a "winnable" war and
oppose this one as we oppose all war: not solely
for practical and strategic reasons, but because
of our, and King's, decades-long commitment to nonviolence.

Purveyor of Violence

Much has changed in the 40-plus years since King
made that speech, yet the United States remains,
as he named it then, "the greatest purveyor of
violence in the world." WRL stands, as he did,
against that violence, which is not only wrong in
itself, but cures nothing and rebounds on its perpetrators.

King declared that the people of Vietnam "must
see Americans as strange liberators." The
assessment applies today to the people of
Afghanistan. Afghanistan has lost more than two
million civilian lives to war in the last 30
years alone, and the toll is rising again, in a
dreadful example of the ways in which violence
boomerangs and warfare begets only devastation
and more warfare (including attacks by groups
like Al Qaeda). For centuries that battered land
has been subject to imperial aggression and
intervention. The Taliban rose to power with the
support of the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence
services, intervening against the USSR's
invasion. Today, Afghanistan's infrastructure is
destroyed. Each year, pregnancy and childbirth
kill 25,000 women, and diarrhea kills 85,000
children. Landmines planted in turn by troops of
the Soviet Union, the Northern Alliance, and the
Taliban kill 600 people per year and maim so many
that manufacturing artificial limbs is a major
industry. The infamous U.S. "detention center" at
Bagram continues to hold more prisoners than
Guantánamo. Rather than bombing and shelling
Afghanistan­and maintaining a prison there­the
United States could promote economic development,
public health, education, food security, women's
empowerment, and de-mining efforts.

The Enemy of the Poor

War wreaks its devastation within our own country
as well. In this period of increased global
instability and recession, the world is
undergoing a tectonic shift in its assumptions
about the institutions of capitalism. That
re-evaluation must include its assumptions about the institution of war.

"I knew that America would never invest the
necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of
its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam
continued to draw men and skills and money like
some demonic, destructive suction tube," King
said in 1967. Substitute "Iraq and Afghanistan"
for Vietnam, and the sentence is equally, terribly true today.

Here as abroad, war remains, as King called it,
the "enemy of the poor." While the Pentagon pours
billions of tax dollars into implements of
destruction and rains down bombs on poor
civilians in Afghanistan, our own infrastructure
crumbles, and our own people are struggling
without decent schools, healthcare, and
employment. The funds that we need to provide
housing and care at home end up diverted into
killing people thousands of miles away, and
people of color, immigrants, and lower-income
whites are targeted by military recruiters to do
the killing. Massive bailouts line the pockets of
bankers, unemployment skyrockets, and military
recruiters are having the easiest time meeting their quotas in years.

Nonviolence in Afghanistan and at Home

Despite the monumental obstacles they face, many
in Afghanistan and Pakistan are working
nonviolently for peace and to repair the ravages
of war and warmaking. In Afghanistan,
Parliamentarian Malalai Joya­despite illegal
suspension from Parliament and assassination
attempts­has continued to denounce the warlords
and call for human rights, women's rights, and
governmental accountability. Thousands of peace
advocates in northern Pakistan and southern
Afghanistan have met in the assemblies called
jirgas to imagine and formulate peace and
reconstruction initiatives. The lawyers' campaign
in Pakistan has mobilized thousands, despite
beatings and arrests, to reverse the military's
control over the courts. Others are building
schools and countering the bitter legacy of
violence against women. U.S. peace advocates
should be promoting and publicizing these
nonviolent actions to rebuild Afghan and
Pakistani society in the midst of war,
devastation, warlordism, and patriarchal control.

In our own country as well, there are
increasingly loud voices against war and for a
reordering of our priorities­for affordable
housing, universal healthcare, gender justice,
disability rights, clean energy, quality
education, restorative justice, fair food, and an
anti-racist society. Among these allies are
newcomers to the United States, people who have
survived and resisted wars and challenged
immigration policies that facilitate the
extraction of profits from cheap labor, even
while being criminalized, imprisoned, deported,
and denied citizenship. Some of those most
forsaken by the U.S. government have continued to
build organizations and networks for those with no safety net.

The Choice

The War Resisters League urges everyone to join
us in organizing, protesting, and demanding the
closing of Bagram prison (and all such "detention
centers") and an end to military actions in
Afghanistan and Pakistan and across the globe.
Organize against military recruitment­the
military is preying on those most affected by the
battered economy. Support the voices and actions
of the survivors of war. Listen to veterans of
the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; create space for
their heartbreaking stories of remorse and
harrowing accounts of the worst kinds of violence
and dehumanization. Stop funding war­become a war
tax resister. Instead of paying to train men and
women to kill, foster ways to help all of us rebuild our communities.

The so-called "war on terrorism," with its
occupations and detentions, its torture and
carnage, has failed because military action can
never lead to security. We don't have easy
answers, but we know that the cycle of violence
has to end, and we have to help end it. While
thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan
are finding the courage to risk their lives to
work for nonviolent solutions, we have a
responsibility to lift our voices. We must reject
the notions of good wars and bad wars, legal or
illegal wars, winnable and unwinnable wars. We
must decide whether our identity as a nation will
be based on a culture of cultivating life or
dealing death. As King declared, "A nation that
continues year after year to spend more money on
military defense than on programs of social
uplift is approaching spiritual death. ... We
still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence
or violent co-annihilation." Together, let's choose the path of nonviolence.

For suggestions for actions opposing war in
Afghanistan, see United for Peace and Justice,
the antiwar coalition to which WRL belongs,


War Resisters League
339 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10012

Campaigning for the "Struck & Lost"

Baby Seals

I have a shocking story to tell you.

Just last week, our hunt observers personally witnessed an injured, bleeding seal escape into the water before a sealer could finish killing it. The sealer tried to pull the seal out by the hind flippers but it slipped out of his grip and into the icy water. This wounded seal most likely suffocated or bled to death under the ice - and yet this needless loss of life won't even be counted in the official number of seals killed.

And that's not even the shocking part.

What's shocking is that this is expected to happen 15,000 more times during this year's Canadian seal hunt! In recent years, as many as 26,000 seal pups - many not yet old enough to know how to swim - have been mortally injured, and then lost or left behind.

They call the seals who die these unnecessary deaths, the "struck and lost." It's heartbreaking enough that a seal dies to make a fur hat or gloves - but to die for no reason at all? It shows how inhumane this hunt truly is...and it leaves me profoundly saddened and speechless.

So I'm reaching out to you again to please help us put an end to this brutal and wasteful slaughter. You can make their deaths mean something.

Please make a donation now for the forgotten victims of the seal hunt.

The Canadian government claims that the annual seal slaughter is "a humane, professionally run hunt." But our evidence shows that this simply isn't true!

The latest report from the ice proved it with this chilling story:

"We also saw seal pups which had been killed and then left frozen on the ice - without their skins removed. Thousands more had been skinned, but their carcasses were just left there - abandoned on the ice amid pools of blood."

Can you imagine going for a walk in the woods and finding dead animal carcasses rotting on the forest floor all around you? The government would never allow such horrific and wasteful killing - the police would be called in, and arrests would be made. But for the seal hunt - they not only allow it, they subsidize it!

Of course, the ice eventually melts or floats off to sea, and the evidence of this dreadful cruelty is gone forever. And that's why it's vital that that our seal hunt observers remain on the ice gathering video footage and evidence. We use this proof to tell the REAL story. But we need your help to keep our team out there and to alert the world to this tragedy.

Please send an emergency donation now to help us keep our hunt observers at the scene of the slaughter.

The world is intensely watching this year's hunt, and I'm certain that the evidence we are gathering will speak for itself:

It will help convince the European Parliament to pass an EU-wide ban on the trade in seal parts.

It will help gather support for Canadian Senator Harb's historic Bill to end the commercial seal hunt forever. Thanks to IFAW's efforts, Russia recently banned the killing of seals less than one year old - a great step forward for seals - and now it's time for Canada to enact their own seal hunt ban.
And it will help convince other countries to follow the lead of the US, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and many other nations who have already banned seal products or announced their intention to do so.

Please help us honor the forgotten victims of this brutal and senseless hunt by making a donation today. Any amount you can spare will help.

...For the "struck and lost," and the hundreds of thousands of other seals that will be killed this year,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Fred O'Regan
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) President

P.S. If you've already given a donation to help stop this cruelty - or if you'd like to save even more animals - please also consider becoming a Champion for Animals. As a Champion for Animals, your automated monthly donation can help the baby seals and other animals who need us most.

Click on the title above to visit the IFAW website.

Act Now to Stop Aquaculture from Coming to an Ocean Near You!

The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute—the scientific arm of SeaWorld—is currently planning to place an open-ocean aquaculture project in federal waters five miles off the coast of San Diego, California. If allowed to proceed, this project would be the largest open-water marine aquaculture facility in North America. A number of state and federal agencies are reviewing the Hubbs-SeaWorld project to determine whether it should move forward, including the Army Corps of Engineers. Unfortunately, right now, the Army Corps of Engineers is planning just one public hearing on this project – at Hubbs-SeaWorld's very own facility in San Diego!

Right now, there is simply not enough public information available about the project for it to be approved. We do know that similar endeavors elsewhere have caused problems for the marine environment and economies of coastal communities. From ocean pollution to the massive consumption of small prey fish, open ocean aquaculture projects around the world have often resulted in unemployment and reduced recreational opportunities. The potential problems from the Hubbs-SeaWorld project, one of unprecedented scale here in the U.S., are very troubling – tell the Army Corps of Engineers that you want a fair chance to review and comment on the proposed project.

Keep you're eye on "Ocean Grown,"
The New "Monsanto"

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva seeks Inquiry into Jaguar Killing

Feds agree to look at jaguar's capture

Fish and Wildlife promises to investigate 'all aspects of the incident' involving Macho B (a Jaguar)
By Tony Davis and Tim Steller
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.03.2009

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will investigate the circumstances surrounding the capture and euthanization of the jaguar Macho B, service officials said Thursday.
The federal agency, legally responsible for protecting endangered species such as the jaguar, said it would look into "all aspects of the incident" involving Macho B's capture and death. It said the decision to investigate — previously sought by a congressman and two environmental groups — was based on "new information received in the last 48 hours that called into question the circumstances of the initial capture."
The announcement came after the Arizona Daily Star published an article raising the possibility that the Feb. 18 capture of Macho B was deliberate and not accidental, as State Game and Fish officials had said. In an interview, Janay Brun, a field technician for a non-profit jaguar research group, said she was told on Feb. 4 by a biologist for the group, Emil McCain, to place female jaguar scat at the snare trap site where Macho B was later captured. McCain has denied Brun's allegation.
A service spokesman said "I can't say that it is one specific thing" that triggered the investigation.
"It is the circumstances around the trapping of the jaguar in general," said spokesman Jose Viramontes in Albuquerque.
The federal investigation had been sought by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, of Tucson, and environmental groups the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife. The center and Grijalva said that they didn't want the Game and Fish Department to investigate itself.
In a letter to the service this week, Grijalva asked for a probe into:
• Whether the capture was legal, and whether it was intentional or unintentional.
• The status of state and scientist guidelines for capturing and handling jaguars, and how Game and Fish and the contractors carried out the protocol.
• Factors leading to the jaguar's recapture on March 2, the recapture itself and its propriety.
• Macho B's health before its euthanization and whether the animal should have gotten more time before being euthanized.
• Why a more thorough autopsy was not performed, instead of what was called a cosmetic necropsy that was designed to preserve the jaguar's hide so it could be used for scientific, educational or religious purposes.
• The Fish and Wildlife Service's involvement in decision-making in the capture and death.
Viramontes would not comment on what items will be covered in the federal investigation.
The service's entry into this case came two days after Game and Fish announced it was investigating Macho B's capture — also based on unstated "new information."
On Thursday, the state agency said it welcomes the federal investigation and will fully cooperate with it. On Wednesday, Game and Fish said the state investigation would be led by the Arizona Attorney General's office. The service said Thursday that it would investigate in concert with the Attorney General.
"We will not speculate on its outcome," Game and Fish said in a statement. "In the event this investigation reveals any inappropriate conduct or actions, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and department will take appropriate measures. The Department and commission did not authorize or condone the intentional initial capture of this jaguar."
In an interview, Brun was pleased at the service's decision to investigate.
"I think that there is responsibility that needs to be taken for mistakes that were made, if any were made. I think there was a lot that seems to have been left out and a lot that wasn't done by the book. I think it is fantastic that they are investigating so hopefully something like this won't happen again," said Brun, an Arivaca resident who is out of state on family matters.
Bob Hernbrode, the Tucsonan who chairs the Game and Fish Commission, declined to comment in detail because of the ongoing investigations.
"I'm not going to make any judgments till we hear from the investigation," he said.
He noted that he initially defended the commission at a press briefing held by state and federal officials in Tucson, three days after the jaguar's death. But that was before information emerged suggesting the capture of the jaguar was intentional.
"This stuff is as painful to me as it is to anyone. I guarantee you we will follow through whatever happens," he said.
Contact reporters Tony Davis at 806-7746 or and Tim Steller at 807-8427 or

"Easter Bunny" Fable Contributes to Rabbit Abuse

How about we ditch the easter bunny fable and replace it with the "Easter-man?"

A pet store in Connecticut received a shipment of products last week. Products, meaning rabbits. Sentient nonhumans for sale. The rabbits were produced, of course, by a rabbit mill that supplies “pet” stores with live creatures whom humans will purchase without having any idea of the conditions they were produced under. Or what happened to their mother.

This time of year, the demand for rabbits peaks because Easter is around the corner, and what better way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after he was crucified than to buy a rabbit. Whom you will put in a cage for the rest of her life, without a fraction of the stimulation she should have. And who won’t be able to do what comes naturally to her.

But back to the bunny in question. He has two noses. The AP calls him “the nosey bunny” and notes that inbreeding or the parent’s exposure to pesticides or poisons might be the culprit.

I bet crowds of people will flock to see the bunny. And maybe sales will increase. How auspicious for the owner of the pet store, who deals in sentient nonhumans!

Deformities in animals who are mass-produced are not new. Nor are they surprising. And it’s not cute and sweet that the greed of humans and our obsession with profiting from every inanimate object and every living being on Planet Earth trumps compassion . . . and even common sense.

Go to the House Rabbit Society for more on why purchasing a bunny as an Easter gift, or any other kind of gift, and in fact purchasing a bunny in general, is a terrible idea. And go to Make Mine Chocolate! (and vegan chocolate, I hope) for more on “breaking the cycle of acquisition and relinquishment by educating the public about the responsibilities involved in keeping a companion rabbit before a rabbit is brought home.”

Salazar to Resume Bushs' Wolf Killing Spree: Wants First Shot!

On Thursday -- just one year after the famous wolf Limpy was shot and killed just outside Yellowstone National Park -- President Obama’s pick as Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, has taken it upon himself to eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Greater Yellowstone, the Northern Rockies and other parts of the American West!

As a result of Salazar’s action, more than 1,000 wolves in Idaho and Montana could be killed by people like Idaho Governor Butch Otter, who recently reaffirmed that he wants to be one of the first to shoot a wolf.

Click on title above to watch our powerful new Northern Rockies wolf video right now and urge President Obama now to restore life-saving protections for our wolves!

Salazar’s decision is a mistake, and we have to let the Obama Administration know it. To send a strong message, we need to generate at least 100,000 messages in support of protections for our wolves before May 4th, when the federal protections are lifted and the wolf killing can resume.

Last year, when the Bush/Cheney Administration briefly eliminated these vital federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies, more than 100 of the region’s estimated 1,500 wolves were killed in just a couple of short months, until Defenders succeeded in convincing a federal judge to stop the killing.

Now Secretary Salazar has approved the exact proposal for which the Bush Administration was roundly criticized. And he did so with no consultation with wildlife advocates and with no warning of what he was thinking.

This time, unless this latest decision to remove federal protection from wolves is reversed, even more wolves -- as many of two-thirds of the region’s wolf population -- could be killed. The new wolf rule will also eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves that are only now beginning to return to parts of their historic range in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Utah.

Take action! Please check out our new video and encourage President Obama to protect our wolves before it is too late.

It will be a tough fight, but I know that with your help we can win and ensure a brighter future for wolves like Limpy.

With Gratitude,

Rodger Schlickeisen
Defenders of Wildlife

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

G20 Protesters Attack Cop And Storm RBS Bank

March 31, 2009

Riot police have moved in after an officer was hurt during scuffles between police and G20 demonstrators outside the Bank of England. Skip related content

Windows were smashed at a nearby RBS branch in the City of London and four protesters were seen entering the building, followed shortly afterwards by police.

It came after a protester hit an officer with a large pole during large-scale protests ahead of the summit of world leaders.

Anger at bankers' role in the global economic downturn and frustration at slow progress in tackling climate change prompted thousands to take to the streets in the capital.

Four protest marches converged on the Bank of England after setting off along separate routes as helicopters circled overhead.

A group of officers was forced to retreat behind metal crowd barriers outside the Bank, apparently because of the crush of the crowd in front of them.

Missiles - including fruit - were thrown towards police as red smoke rose above the crowd.

One protester, who was bleeding from a wound to his head, was seen shouting at police officers who had formed a line in front of them.

Another demonstrator dressed in black then ran forward and hit an officer with a pole.

Sky News Online's Alex Watts, at the scene, said police have now cordoned off the area where the attack took place and are not letting anyone in or out.

He said some 50 officers ran in and made arrests.

Scuffles also broke out between police and demonstrators near the Corn Exchange.

Earlier, City workers leaned out of windows and waved £10 notes at demonstrators on the streets below, who responded with jeers and shouts.

Elsewhere, however, the mood has remained largely good-natured.

Protesters set up tents outside the European Climate Exchange for a camp aimed at demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the global approach to tackling climate change.

One of them told Sky News he and his friend had travelled from opposite ends of the country, and hoped to use "peaceful resistance" to stay there for 24 hours.

Another protester, unemployed Adam Lambert, 25, of Finsbury Park, north London, said: "I'm here with the Stop the War Coalition because we think the G20 are not representing the ordinary people in the world.

"We think they are representing the rich.

"Every day we hear of billions being given to bankers and billions are being spent on wars.

"We want to demonstrate today to say we are not going to put up with this and the G20 should represent us.

"I think people are angry and they want to show their anger."

Many shops and businesses closed for the day, while those that remained open braced for violence.

Holly Taylor, a hairdresser at Tony and Guy's at Bank, told Watts: "We're really scared. We're worried about them storming through and getting bombarded.

"We've been told to keep the shop open and we've removed all the fire extinguishers and chairs away from the window.

"We're one of the only shops open. All the offices above us have been empty for the day."

Many City traders dressed down to avoid confrontation with demonstrators, swapping their suits for casual clothes.

Some were told to stay at home, others that they should bring lunch with them to the office.

Simon Denham, head of City finance firm Capital Spreads, told Online: "(It was) an extraordinary trip into work today - not a suit in sight as just about everyone who works in the City, or at least those who haven't stayed at home, came in wearing just jeans and a shirt."

Who Is In The G20?














Saudi Arabia

South Africa

South Korea



United Kingdom

United States

Getting Ready for the BigWhoop (G20) U.S. Not L@@kin' So Good Abroad...

US President Barack Obama greets China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo as China's President Hu Jintao (3rd right) greets US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the US ambassador's residence in London ahead of the G20 summit. (Photo: Reuters)

As much as Barack Obama may be loved abroad, he can't reverse the decline of Washington's influence.

The run-up to the G-20 meeting has been interesting and colorful. President Lula Da Silva of Brazil declared that "this crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing." His full remarks made it clear that he was not promoting biological race theories but calling attention to the injustice that the vast majority of the world, who happen to be both poor and non-white, should suffer for the greed and stupidity of a few. China also let loose with an uncharacteristic broadside against the United States, basically saying that we (the Chinese) have gotten our act together and are mobilizing massive resources internally to counter the downturn; now how about you clowns who made this mess step up to the plate, before we take more losses on your stinking treasury bonds? It was worded somewhat less rudely, but still a stunning departure from the "hide brilliance, cherish obscurity" motto that has guided Chinese foreign policy.

This is what happens when you change the composition of the Ad Hoc Committee to Run the World (the G-7), and the media spotlight wanders over to some of those previously excluded. The change was meant to be symbolic, but even symbolic changes can shift the debate, as new actors find themselves in the middle of an international forum where they can try to show some leadership.

Welcome to the multi-polar world. It's not here yet but the direction is clear. President Obama will discover this week that as much as he is loved and respected around the world, he can't reverse the declining influence of Washington that his predecessor clumsily accelerated.

U.S. leadership is taking an immediate hit because it was at the forefront in creating the current world recession. It's hard to believe that Nicolas Sarkozy won the presidency of France barely two years ago by promising to make French capitalism more like the American brand. The idea that the "American model" was superior in economic terms has been promoted for years by the European press even though the statistical evidence has always been weak or non-existent (e.g. France has a productivity level about the same as the United States). But from now on these ideas will be a much harder sell.

Still, the debate surrounding the G-20 meeting is missing quite a bit on the economic issues. The problem of asset bubbles did not even make it into the G-20's draft communiquÈ. Yet the housing bubble in the United States was the primary cause of its deep recession, and contributed enormously to the financial crisis - including through the over-leveraging of financial institutions and the toxic assets and derivatives that they spread around the world. This is also the second recession in six years in the U.S. - which comprises a quarter of the world's economy - that was caused by the bursting of an asset bubble (the 2001 recession was caused by the bursting of the stock market bubble). Housing bubbles in Spain, the U.K., Ireland, and other countries also contributed to their severe recessions this time around. How to prevent asset bubbles from reaching dangerous proportions - which is actually much easier than the other forms of regulation being discussed - should be a major item on the agenda.

But it is the economic issues of the developing world that are most obscured and/or neglected. For most developing countries, the current economic crisis is a more acute form of what they have experienced for most of the last three decades - commonly known outside the United States as the era of neoliberalism. Since 1980, there has been a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries. As would be expected during a long period of reduced economic growth, there was also reduced progress in the areas of life expectancy, infant and child mortality, and other social indicators. This slowdown in economic growth, and its accompanying negative effects, is not attributable to "diminishing returns" - in other words, it is far beyond what would be expected from the natural course of individual countries facing reduced growth potential at a higher stage of development.

A likely explanation for this massive economic failure is that it had something to do with the neoliberal economic policy reforms that were introduced since the 1980s: the abandonment of development strategies, the introduction of much more restrictive monetary and fiscal policies, an indiscriminate opening to international trade and capital flows, and of course the de-regulation and excesses of the financial sector - including its excessive political influence - that the world is now forced to recognize as harmful. It is noteworthy that China, which has had the fastest growing economy in world history over the last 30 years, has mostly avoided these neoliberal reforms, even as it moved away from central planning and began a period of export-led growth.

A serious discussion of what has caused this long-term development failure is long overdue, but still not forthcoming. On the contrary, the draft G-20 communiquÈ reaffirms the importance of completing the current Doha round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a set of rules that is so tilted against developing countries that it would not stand a chance of being approved by the legislatures of many WTO member countries today. Ironically, the WTO's Financial Services Agreement seeks to establish rules that would make it more difficult for countries to undertake the financial regulations that this crisis has so painfully demonstrated are needed. There is no talk of reforming the WTO - only moving "forward."

The same is true for the IMF, which just a decade ago was Washington's main avenue of influence in developing countries. The collapse of the IMF's creditors' cartel in middle-income countries, in which many governments could not get credit from other sources without first agreeing to IMF conditions, was one of the most important changes in the international financial system since the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in 1973. The U.S. Treasury department, with help from Europe and Japan, seeks to revive their lost power in a time of crisis by tripling the IMF's resources to $750 billion and making the Fund the arbiter of conditionality for loans to countries hard hit by the crisis.

But regardless of how much money is added to the IMF coffers, the clock will not be so easily rolled back. Nor will the G-20 move us forward to a new financial architecture, as some had hoped. It took a Great Depression and a World War to get us the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944; fortunately we have not had either of these yet. And the leaders of the rich countries today are far more steeped in neoliberal ideology than the architects of Bretton Woods. In economics, as in the physical sciences during the Middle Ages, a significant amount of knowledge has been lost since the time of Keynes.

For now, at least, the most important economic reforms will take place more quietly and without the fanfare of the G-20. China's decision this week to provide $10.2 billion dollars in a currency swap arrangement with Argentina is an unprecedented (in this hemisphere) and prime example. The creditors' cartel that forced Argentina to accept disastrous conditions from the IMF a decade ago is no longer operative there. That is progress, and there will be much more in the coming years, as national governments seek alternatives to failed policies, and co-operate with each other outside the structure of unreformed neoliberal institutions.


Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, DC. (