February 26, 2011

Final Statement to the Court

Animal liberationist Walter Bond received the minimum sentence allowed by a Colorado court, 5 years prison and 3 years probation, after pleading guilty to burning the Sheepskin Factory in Glendale.

I'm here today because I burnt down the Sheepskin Factory in Glendale, CO, a business that sells pelts, furs and other dead animal skins. I know many people think I should feel remorse for what I've done. I guess this is the customary time where I'm suppose to grovel and beg for mercy. I assure you if that's how I felt I would. But, I am not sorry for anything I have done. Nor am I frightened by this court's authority. Because any system of law that values the rights of the oppressor over the down trodden is an unjust system. And though this court has real and actual power, I question its morality. I doubt the court is interested in the precautions that I took to not harm any person or by-stander and even less concerned with the miserable lives that sheep, cows and mink had to endure, unto death, so that a Colorado business could profit from their confinement, enslavement, and murder.

Obviously, the owners and employees of the sheepskin factory do not care either or they would not be involved in such a sinister and macabre blood trade. So I will not waste my breath where it will only fall on deaf ears. That's why I turned to illegal direct action to begin with, because you do not care. No matter how much we animal rights activists talk or reason with you, you do not care. Well, Mr. Livaditis (owner of the Sheepskin Factory), I don't care about you. There is no common ground between people like you and me. I want you to know that no matter what this court sentences me to today, you have won nothing! Prison is no great hardship to me. In a society that values money over life, I consider it an honor to be a prisoner of war, the war against inter-species slavery and objectification! I also want you to know that I will never willingly pay you one dollar, not one! I hope your business fails and you choke to death on every penny you profit from animal murder! I hope you choke on it and burn in hell!

To my supporters, I wish to say thank you for standing behind me and showing this court and these animal exploiters that we support our own and that we as a movement are not going to apologize for having a sense of urgency. We are not going to put the interests of commerce over sentience! And we will never stop educating, agitating and confronting those responsible for the death of our Mother Earth and her Animal Nations. My vegan sisters and brothers, our lives are not our own. Selfishness is the way of gluttons, perverts and purveyors of injustice. It has been said all it takes for evil to conquer is for good people to do nothing. Conversely, all it takes to stop the enslavement, use, abuse and murder of other than human animals is the resolve to fight on their behalf!

Do what you can, do what you must, be vegan warriors and true animal defenders and never compromise with their murderers and profiteers. The Animal Liberation Front is the answer. Seldom has there been such a personally powerful and internationally effective movement in human history. You cannot join the A.L.F. but you can become the A.L.F. And it was the proudest and most powerful thing I have ever done. When you leave this courtroom today don't be dismayed by my incarceration. All the ferocity and love in my heart still lives on. Every time someone liberates an animal and smashes their cage, it lives on! Every time an activist refuses to bow down to laws that protect murder, it lives on! And it lives on every time the night sky lights up ablaze with the ruins of another animal exploiters' business!

That's all Your Honor, I am ready to go to prison.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, anarchism, ecoanarchism

February 21, 2011

Workers of the World United

Kamal Abbas, General Coordinator of the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services, an umbrella advocacy organization for independent unions in Egypt, addresses the workers of Wisconsin:

I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, "Liberation Square", which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights.

From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.

I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.

No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable.

We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don't waiver. Don't give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.

We and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support.

As our just struggle for freedom, democracy and justice succeeded, your struggle will succeed. Victory belongs to you when you stand firm and remain steadfast in demanding your just rights.

We support you. we support the struggle of the peoples of Libya, Bahrain and Algeria, who are fighting for their just rights and falling martyrs in the face of the autocratic regimes. The peoples are determined to succeed no matter the sacrifices and they will be victorious.

Today is the day of the American workers. We salute you American workers! You will be victorious. Victory belongs to all the people of the world, who are fighting against exploitation, and for their just rights.

February 19, 2011

Meanwhile, in the land of the free

CNN reported this clip from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Feb. 15 speech at George Washington University on internet freedom as "Clinton interrupted by protester", stating that she was "interrupted by a heckler".

In fact, Ray McGovern had simply stood up and turned his back on her. And it is clear that Clinton did not consider the police-state response to be an interruption. She just keeps blathering away in her robotic lip service to freedom.

Kevin Zeese writes more about it at Counterpunch:
When Secretary of Clinton kept speaking about the importance of freedom of speech, as if nothing was occurring before her eyes, Ray McGovern's voice became even louder. The hypocrisy of the United States became thunderous. Free speech was being snuffed out right before her eyes but she kept talking about freedom of speech, doing nothing to protect it while criticizing other countries, U.S. client states like Egypt and those enemies like Iran, for their failure to allow their people to speak freely.

On the same day that McGovern was roughed up and left bleeding by the police, independent journalist Brandon Jourdan returned from Haiti after being on assignment documenting the rebuilding of schools. When he returned to the United States, he was immediately detained, questioned about his travels, and had all of his documents, computer, phone, and camera flash drives searched and copied. This is the seventh time Jourdan says he has been subjected to lengthy searches in five years, and he has been told by officials that he is "on a list." Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? Did Secretary of State Clinton say anything? No. She remained silent.

And, on that same day, as he has for the last 8 months, Pfc Bradley Manning sits in solitary confinement, pre-trial torture, for the alleged crime of sharing with the media evidence of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as crimes committed by agents of U.S. foreign policy. Included in the documents he is accused of leaking are diplomatic cables that show Secretary of State Clinton issuing a memorandum directing U.S. diplomats to spy, including illegally spying on U.N. diplomats. During his long pre-trial punishment, has Secretary of State Clinton said anything about Pfc Manning's illegal punishment before trial? No, she has remained silent.

Finally, a last example of many that I will not describe here, while Secretary of State Clinton was speaking, agents of the U.S. Department of Justice were trying to find a way to prosecute Julian Assange, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks. They claim this super-journalist, whose publication has released more classified documents than the Washington Post has in decades, is not a journalist. Some of the most recent publications of WikiLeaks helped to spark the revolution in Tunisia. And during the revolt in Egypt, WikiLeaks documents showing that Mubarak's newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman was the choice of Israel to be Mubarak's successor. This U.S.-trained military and intelligence officer tortured people at the request of the United States. While Secretary of State Clinton has remained silent about the trumped-up investigation of Assange, she did not remain silent about Suleiman. She made it clear, he was America's choice as Mubarak's successor.
Also at Counterpunch, Ron Jacobs describes State Power and Democracy: Before and During the Presidency of George W. Bush, a new book by Andrew Kolin:
Kolin begins his book with a brief look at the debates over the writing of the US Constitution and its eventual incarnation as a blueprint for a centralized authority whose intention was to keep government away from the hoi polloi. Adjunct to this endeavor was a desire to expand the nation. This was done by killing the indigenous peoples living on the land to be expanded into. In order to justify this genocide, it was necessary to delineate the natives as something other than human. According to Kolin, the need for such an "other" is essential to the development of an authoritarian state. The Native Americans and the African slaves filled the need quite nicely given their obvious physical and cultural differences.

Another aspect of Kolin's proposition that differentiates it from so many other commentaries that have been written on the police state tactics of the Bush administration is his contention that the US police state is not a future possibility. It already exists. We are living in it. He backs up this contention with an argument that dissects the elements generally considered essential to the definition of a police state and applies them to the present day United States. From torture to propaganda techniques; from the government's ability to eavesdrop on anyone to its ability to wage war at will — these are but a few of the indices Kolin examines in his study. According to Kolin, however, the ultimate indicator of a police state is defined by whether or not the leader of a particular government (in this case, that of the United States) exists above the laws of the nation and the world. In other words, if the leader does something, is it ever illegal? Kolin provides multiple examples of every administration since Abraham Lincoln's operating in a vein suggesting that they all operated in this way at times. However, it was not until the inauguration of George W. Bush and the events of September 11, 2001, that the word of the president became a law onto its own. When George Bush said he was "the decider" he wasn't joking. He and every president to follow him truly have that power. They can decide who to kill, who to spy on, who to lock up, and who to attack without any restriction other than their own morality. Furthermore, they can also determine how such actions are to be done. As far as the presidency is concerned, no laws — not the Bill of Rights nor the Geneva Conventions — apply.

The march towards this police state that Kolin describes is best characterized by the phrase "two steps forward, one step back". Historically, for every presidential administration where excesses occurred, there followed another that saw a relaxation of some of those excesses. The repression of the Palmer Raids was followed by a decade where the Communist Party became legal; the McCarthy Era was followed by a relaxation of the anti-communist hysteria in the 1960s; Nixon's attempts to subvert the democratic process were answered with convictions and a series of laws that were supposed to prevent similar excesses. Yet, the march towards authoritarianism continued its quiet goosestep. Nowhere was this more obvious than in U.S. foreign policy. After the U.S. turmoil around its war against the Vietnamese, Congress passed a War Powers Act that supposedly limited the president’s ability to send US troops to other nations. In answer, every single president afterward pushed the limits of that law so that by the 1980s it was meaningless. Other attempts to limit the White House's ability to make war, such as the Boland amendment which made arming the Nicaraguan Contras illegal, were just ignored. By the time Bill Clinton took power in 1991, the ability of the president to attack whenever and wherever was no longer seriously challenged by Congress, leaving the White House in sole control of the nations' military might.

The nation described in Kolin's book is a fearful one. It is a nation whose agents torture at will and whose military wages war for no apparent reason other than profit and power. It is a nation whose political police forces operate as both judge and jury and often fail to leave their personal prejudices at home. It is a nation whose judicial system rarely interprets a law differently from the chief executive, and when it does that executive ignores the ruling. It is a nation where so many of its citizens live their lives under the illusion that the authoritarian rule they increasingly live with is somehow protecting them. It is a nation that refuses to prosecute officials including the former president that were involved in torture that violated domestic and international laws. Finally, according to Kolin, it is a nation without redemption that will see the powers of the police state continue to grow unless its people wake up and dismantle it.

Clinton the Great and Enlightened Despots

Dallas Darling writes:

When security forces assaulted and beat 71-year-old Ray McGovern while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just stood by and watched, it evoked a faraway age of enlightened despots. As Clinton began her speech at George Washington University and condemned human rights violations, government arrests of protesters, and internet censorship, McGovern remained standing peacefully and silently turning his back. He was then attacked by security officers and brutally hauled out of the meeting. McGovern received bruises, lacerations, and contusions during the assault. Meanwhile, Clinton continued to observe and watch and did absolutely nothing. McGovern, a veteran, was later jailed.

Enlightened despots were kings and queens who were rich and well educated and recommended religious toleration while talking about abolishing torture and capital punishment. Some of them supported the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness up to a certain point, or when their own power base was threatened. More often than not, the changes they made were motivated by making their kingdoms stronger and their own rule more effective and forceful. Catherine the Great was one such enlightened despot who instituted some reforms and modernized Russia while still remaining an absolute ruler. Even though she believed education was better than punishment, she once scribbled to an aristocrat: "Be so good as to call your peasants cattle."

Catherine also exchanged letters with Voltaire, Diderot and John Locke. She wrote that liberty was the dearest thing to her soul and more important than even life itself. Catherine spoke against serfdom and praised enlightened thinkers for fighting the united enemies of humankind: "superstition, fanaticism, ignorance, and trickery." But when thousands of serfs and mine and factory workers revolted along the Volga River in 1773 for equality, liberty, land, fair taxation, and their own courts, she sent troops and crushed the rebellion. Tens of thousands of serfs and workers perished. The ring leaders of the rebellion were executed. Other ethnic peasants, who fought for toleration and freedom from persecution, were slaughtered too.

Catherine responded with severe repression to over fifty peasant revolts. After the Great Plague of Moscow killed 100,000 persons, cannon were used to suppress rioting. Priests were silenced and jailed for challenging her policies. She gradually started to see the aristocracy as her allies in maintaining state control. In 1785, Catherine granted Russian nobility a privileged status. They were exempt from personal taxation and afforded numerous rights. In return, they supported Catherine's rule. Russian serfs lost their last trace of freedom. Behind "Potemkin's Villages," a sarcastic phrase used in referring to overblown and unreal achievements, Catherine arrested writers, banished dissidents, and censored the press. Her contribution to Russia was not reform but an expanded empire.

In a tightly scripted speech, Clinton told about the promises and perils of the internet. She accused WikiLeaks of "stealing" government documents and posting them, and that such actions raised serious questions about balancing freedom with security concerns. Clinton declared that without security, liberty was fragile and without liberty security was oppressive. For Clinton, it seems security is beating and silencing a 71-year old peaceful protester. For Clinton, it appears security is a government that wiretaps, steals records, and infiltrates peace groups, even arresting members on frivolous charges. Not only is self-expression banished and the press censored, specifically by aristocratic corporations and their propagandistic armament industries that can afford it, but despotic wars are forced on the masses.

Despotic presidents too, who once promised a transparent and open government and railed against fear mongering tactics, gradually ally themselves with the military industrial complex and aristocracy. The excuse is always the same: national security is at risk and a free press and access to information is a clear and present danger. Other despotic rulers in Congress try to control public space and the acquisition of knowledge and therefore, they submit new bills that will make publishing classified information punishable, even unto death. In the end, public discourse is either repressed or sacrificed, as are debates over misguided military interventions and lengthy military occupations. Meanwhile, thousands of military serfs continue serve the empire and die.

Behind President Barack Obama's empty words and "Clinton's Villages," expanding the empire and feeding a corporate aristocracy are more important than reform and liberty. Welcome to another age of enlightened despots!

February 13, 2011

The nimbyism debate

Maria McCaffery, Chief executive of Renewableuk, wrote in The Guardian:
Last week, Alexander Chancellor declared himself in favour of nimbyism. In the debate on windfarms, this acronym, derived from "not in my back yard", signifies a state of mind of those who protest against windfarms in their residential area, almost entirely on aesthetic grounds.

Which is the crux of the problem. An aesthetic objector will start with a sense that a windfarm will in some way devalue the landscape and his property. Sensing that this is not a sufficient reason to object against renewable energy, he will then drag into the debate all sorts of cod-scientific evidence on why wind turbines don't work, often with a tilt at Brussels eurocrats and perceived environmental "political correctness".
In these two opening paragraphs, McCaffery exhibits a barrage of logical fallacies that are typical of wind proponents:
  1. She narrowly defines nimbyism as subjectively based ("aesthetics").
  2. She denigrates that aesthetic judgement as materially fearful and selfish.
  3. She broadens the questioning of large-scale wind to an attack on all renewable energy.
  4. She mocks arguments of fact as "cod-scientific" window dressing and questionable politics.
In fact, that is precisely the nature of pro-wind rhetoric:
  1. Wind energy is presented as a saviour of industrial society.
  2. It is highly profitable to it investors, who benefit from public subsidy.
  3. Sensing that this is not a sufficient reason to defend large-scale wind power development, it is linked to the ideals of renewable energy in general.
  4. Projections and sales hype are presented as scientific fact, without any follow-up with actual data about wind's impacts on other fuel sources.
In short, the argument against nimbyism, i.e., the reasoned defense of one's home, is a bullying "greater good" that has yet to be shown and seems only to benefit a few developers.

Updates, Feb. 14: What is environmentalism if not a matter of aesthetics? What is environmental degradation if not a matter of aesthetics? What is the very life we seek for ourselves if not a matter of aesthetics? Of course, life is a dance of compromise, but that does not negate what we know to be aesthetically good. It does not mean that we should not fight against the further senseless degradation of that good. Aesthetics is the distillation of what we believe and value, of who each of us is. You need a lot more than mere monied arrogance to convince me to look the other way.

And in Ontario, Sierra Club Canada has mounted a campaign to convince the Wainfleet Town Council to ignore the concerns of their citizens and listen to the reassurances of industrial wind developers only: "Health and other impacts of wind turbines have been studied in conditions similar to Ontario and have been shown NOT to be significant. Please look beyond the rumours and unsubstantiated claims being circulated. Those behind the rumours and misinformation have a vested interest in killing wind energy – don’t be fooled by them." Dare such a person who could write that to actually meet a victim of wind turbine noise. See the poster presentation, "Consequences: Truth is treason in an empire of lies" (click here to view on line).

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights

February 8, 2011

Wind is not replacing other fuels in Europe

As reported in the European Wind Energy Association's "2010 European Statistics", Europe installed (net) 5 times more coal and 8.6 times more natural gas capacity than wind (at a 20% capacity factor) from 2000 to 2010.

In 2010 alone, Europe installed (net) 17.3 times more fossil fuel–fired capacity than wind. Most of that was natural gas: 15.3 times more new capacity than wind.

wind power, wind energy

February 7, 2011

Meanwhile in Europe: 70-mpg Fiat 500

James Martin reviews the Fiat 500 in the Daily Mail (U.K.):

It’s rare for something that makes you grin to be cheap to run as well. Normally it’s a trade-off. But that’s going to change this year, starting with this little 70mpg marvel.

There’s now a Corsa that manages nearly 80mpg. Then in March there’ll be the smart new Ford Focus, the eco version of which does 75mpg, and in the autumn VW is launching a little car called the Up!, which I hear might eventually do 100mpg (using a two-cylinder engine like the Fiat).

Then we’ll see the hybrids, such as the plug-in Vauxhall Ampera due next winter, which will do 175mpg – although with those you’re paying a premium for the new technology.

Also, Eric Peters writes in the U.S.:

The new Mini Cooper Countryman can get 63 MPGs on the highway – just not on our highways.

Like so many other high-mileage, diesel-powered vehicles, it’s not available in the United States. Instead we get gas-electric turkeys like the Toyota Prius hybrid – which maxes out at 48 MPGs on the highway.

[The current Mini Cooper diesel gets 74 mpg.]

February 6, 2011

The Yankee Bloc

Lew Rockwell describes (click the title of this post) the uprisings in north Africa and the Middle East as parallel to the 1989 unraveling of the Soviet bloc.

February 5, 2011

Mubarak and Bush and Hobbes and Locke

Dallas Darling writes at World News:

But Mubarak and Bush are worse than Hobbes, for it was them, not their citizenry, that were "brutish, selfish, nasty, solitary, and poor." In projecting and injecting their own natures into the bloodstream of their nations, Egypt and America, they are the one's that inevitably caused mass chaos and bloodshed. While hundreds of Egyptian protesters have been killed and wounded, merely for wanting food, shelter, jobs, better pay, and a greater sense of liberty and equality, tens of thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, and American soldiers have too been killed. But it appears Egyptian protesters are much more politically acute than Americans. They understand that Mubarak and his regime are selfish and corrupt, something Americans have not yet understood about their own government. They cannot wait any longer. Mubarak must go now! But for the majority of Americans, it appears a politically and historical illiterate and inactive citizenry will continue to offer up their rights and their human spirits to an overbearing and unjust regime.

Locke believed governments were formed to protect rights and freedoms, not to indoctrinate people with fear and mistrust and the need to fight perpetual wars. He thought the best government had limited powers, one that was accepted by all citizens and allowed full participation. He also established a new radical and revolutionary idea, in that, if the government is not serving the people and is not accountable to them, the people have a right to either change the government or overthrow it. For Americans, this "right to revolution" was echoed in the Declaration of Independence. For now, the demonstrators in Egypt are reminding Americans of this eternal truth. It is a truth that some Americans have sadly forgotten. This was observed again in 2000, when, and instead of one person one vote, five justices and a governor usurped one-hundred and sixty-million voters and anointed King George the Decider.