October 26, 2012

Lou and Bill and the desire to eat them

Alison Putnam and Meiko Lunetta tend to Lou, who with partner Bill has become a symbol at Green Mountain College, but they are to be sent to a slaughterhouse.
Photo by Caleb Kenna for the Boston Globe
Alison Putnam and Meiko Lunetta tend to Lou,
who with partner Bill has become a symbol at Green Mountain College,
but they are to be sent to a slaughterhouse.

All they need do now is dress the animals in garlands and fine fabrics and dance and sing around them as they're led to slaughter — sacrifices on the altar of environmental sustainability.

The “moral complexity”, as Green Mountain College Provost Bill Throop called it, clearly means only a web of rationalizations based on the false premise that the students must eat meat. The “complexity” arises to create a fog of distraction from the fundamental fallacy behind their choice. Like Michael Pollan, the students and staff at this college are now traveling over great lengths of ethical deliberation only to arrive right where they started: Kill the beast; We must eat.

We have not seen an exercise of moral decision making. We see only self-serving rationalizations of unnecessary violence.

Lou and Bill

Update:  See the articles by Marc Bekoff:

Update (5 Nov):  "Grass Power at GMC"
Training sessions are usually done by Christopher Bergen who has also lead [sic] general driving and experiential lessons in dealing with the oxen. [Ben] Dube closed out with a few tips. “To be a good teamster, you need to be sensitive and attentive, but also not afraid to express authority and dominance. I think that most people who start out on Bill and Lou have more trouble with the latter. Sometimes you have to be a little mean with them, which isn’t easy to do with such sweet animals. I don’t like it, but over time, you learn that they don’t really resent it or mind it much.” [emphasis added] In being around Bill and Lou I have seen that this is definitely the case, and understanding how to work with them is a good learning experience.
animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont

October 25, 2012

Is it “hair on fire” or “pants on fire,” Mr Shumlin?

Write In Annette Smith For Vermont Governor

Smith Calls Out Shumlin and Brock for Hypocrisy on Climate Change and Energy

Working out of her homestead-office in Danby, Independent candidate for Vermont Governor Annette Smith's carbon footprint and renewable energy lifestyle sets an example that others, especially Governor Shumlin, and Randy Brock, could learn from.

“Referring to climate change, Governor Shumlin says ‘our hair is on fire’ and Vermont must do everything possible to stop climate change. Then he burns thousands of gallons of fossil fuel flying to Florida to look for EB5 money for his friends, and flies to California for a fundraiser, and flies again to California for ‘negotiations’ over computer systems with a firm that just happens to have also donated to his campaign,” said Annette. “Shumlin’s supposed desire to fight climate change didn’t stop him from spending four full months traveling out of state in the past year.”

Annette offers a different approach to energy issues, leading by example and empowering local communities. She spends her days advocating for those concerned about their health, their environment and their future; she has been using photovoltaics for her home more than 20 years. She uses solar hot water, drives a car that gets 40mpg, and grows a big garden at her homestead. Annette understands from experience that it is indeed possible to implement “Vermont scale” renewable energy to reduce dependence on expensive and polluting fossil fuels.

“Mr. Brock seems to think that Vermont can have a prosperous future while still endorsing dependence on imported fossil and nuclear fuels to run our economy, but we all know we need to scale back,” said Annette. “And our Governor has made investments in several fossil fuel companies, even as he advocates for the industrialization of our ridge-lines to fight climate change.”

“This hypocrisy and manipulation cannot stand. The best thing that Vermont can do about climate change and peak oil is lead by example and become more self-reliant in ways that actually benefit Vermonters. Vermont’s impact on global greenhouse gas emissions is a drop in the bucket. But we can and must lead by example using realistic, Vermont-scale solutions – not with hypocritical corporate-scale projects that send money and power out of Vermont. We must reframe this discussion, for the health, well-being and energy security of future generations in Vermont,” Annette added. “Shumlin is doing exactly the opposite of leading the way, and is selling out to large corporate interests while thousands of Vermonters struggle with high energy costs. He is a poster-child for excessive personal energy consumption. His advocacy for false solutions like residential smart meters and consolidation of Vermont’s energy infrastructure under foreign-owned mega-corporations make it clear that Shumlin is not a true leader on climate or energy issues.”

Annette believes that the millionaire candidates Shumlin and Brock could also learn something from the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to Vermont. The Dalai Lama responded to a question about what humanity's ethical response to climate change should be, by noting that western society consumes too much and we should be more content and live more simply. Annette lives this perspective in her daily life and recognizes that Vermont’s fossil fuel consumption for heating, hot water and transportation should be the priorities, not our electricity grid which can today be supplied with existing in-state and regional hydro-power.

Annette emphasizes that the first step towards reducing Vermont’s fossil fuel cost and emissions is to reduce consumption: “Turn the lights off. Turn the thermostat down. Button up the house. Convert fossil fueled hot water and heating to solar, wood-fired or heat pumps powered by photovoltaics,” she said. “The key to all of these real solutions is empowering Vermonters with affordable financing to make this transition at the household and community level, instead of subsidizing corporate false-solutions that trick consumers into sending their money out of the state.”


Vermont must aggressively promote energy conservation and reverse the trend of increasing monopoly power over our energy supply. We must support local control over our energy resources instead of subsidizing out-of-state monopolies. Forcing residential wireless smart meters and the corporate industrialization of our pristine ridgelines is not a solution to either climate change or energy security. Distributed solar electric and hot water, sustainable biomass heating fuels, ecologically designed micro-hydro, and the sensible reclamation of our existing hydro-power should be our priorities.

Visit http://annettesmithforvermontgov.blogspot.com/ for more information about how you can get involved in her independent WRITE IN campaign for Vermont governor. Print ads and Palm Cards can be downloaded from her website for volunteer supporters to use.

Email: AnnetteSmithforVermontGov@gmail.com

Save Bill and Lou!

12:00–3:00 pm
Poultney, Vermont

Corner of College and Main Street in front of Brennan Circle on sidewalk

Dress comfortably and warm.

Signs: Bring your own favorite or signs will be available

Contact: Jennifer Wolf: jennifer.wolf78/gmail.com, http://www.nhanimalrights.org/

This protest is for Bill and Lou, 2 oxen who have worked for 10 years at Green Mountain College, which now wants to kill and eat them. VINE sanctuary [blog] in Springfield, Vermont has offered to take Bill and Lou, but the college insists that eating them is the best thing to do.

Whatever your motivation is, ALL are welcome who support Bill and Lou not being sent to slaughter!

The whole world is watching!

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/455989837780838/

List of petitions:




Media links:


James McWilliams:












animal rights, vegetarianism

October 23, 2012

Freaking Out!

Robin Beck of Moveon.org is "freaking out":
I'm freaking out. Despite President Obama and Vice President Biden dominating the past few debates, the race is still incredibly close. ... It's scary. And I'm not sleeping much any more. This whole election is coming down to which side can turn out the most voters. And the only thought that helps me fall asleep—rather than staying up worrying—is that I know I can count on MoveOn members like you, ——, to step up and help us win.
Relax, Robin.

First, it's a close "race" because it's bogus. The "contest" is set up and reported (shaped) to be close so that real differences are not possible.

Second, it's close because the only difference is that one party and its candidate represents Wall Street and the Military with lip service (but not too much!) to so-called liberals and the other party and its candidate represents Wall Street and the Military with lip service to so-called conservatives). To win, each also has to pay lip service to the other group as well. That's what fighting for the center means. And that's why it's necessarily always "close". It is a system designed not to challenge the hegemony of Wall Street and the Military.

And relax, all of you who receive these Moveon.org or similar e-mails. They are fundraising devices, nothing more. Moveon.org is part of the whole machine that requires this "fight" for the center so that they can foment fear among "liberals" just as the tea party foments fear among "conservatives". Meanwhile, Bush expanded Clinton's security state and submission to the banksters, Obama expanded Bush's, and Romney would only expand Obama's.

The threat of fascism is real, but it is already here, it started in a concerted way 30 years ago with the election of Ronald Reagan, and it continued to grow without slowing under every Republican and Democratic administration, Congress, and Supreme Court since.

So relax about the election. It's a charade.

There's plenty of real stuff to freak out about.

anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 15, 2012

Plutocrats vs the people

Doug Broome of Vancouver writes:

The British Labour Party had an objective that a quarter of candidates be blue collar workers. And social democratic parties generally have stronger worker representation through legislators who rise from the union movement.

The U.S. is unique among major democracies in its political duopoly which silences social democratic voices. By international stadards the Democrats are moderate conservatives while the Republicans are almost without parallel.

The working class and the poor have few friends in American party establishments. The result is an increasingly impoverished underclass, low unionization and wages, and widespread worker exploitation.

In any other democracy the AFL-CIO would have split from the Democrats long ago to be a foundation of a pro-union, redistributive, socially progressive party of the left which honour taxes as the price of civilization. And long ago the U.S. would have joined all other advanced democracies in achieving universal health insurance.

Unionized teachers are so vilified that education itself suffers. And despite very low taxes and public investment by international standards, a prevalent anti-tax hysteria guarantees that public investment and social programs will be increasingly sub-mediocre compared to other advanced democracies. For instance, neither Obama nor Romney have a word to say about a shameful 22 per cent child poverty rate.

For want of a left-wing party, the U.S. is sacrificing its future to an emergent plutocracy.

October 13, 2012

A million homes ... sometimes. And minus other users.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced the approval of the biggest fucking wind energy facility in the country which will take up 350 square miles of Wyoming. Salazar said it will provide the electricity for 1,000,000 homes.

What he did not make clear is that the output of this 3-gigawatt facility will average the average energy use of 1 million homes. That it will actually provide that much energy only 40% of the time. That those times will not necessarily coincide with actual need. And that residential use represents less than 40% of electricity demand.

But if he said that, it would probably be too obvious how ridiculous it is to spend $4.5 billion, and how criminal to industrialize 350 square miles of open land, for an energy source that doesn't really work.

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

October 10, 2012

More Greenwashing

Here are ads from two very non-green companies in the current issue of North American Windpower: war profiteer Lockheed-Martin and polluter Dow Chemical.


wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

Que vivà Chavéz!

Seumas Milne writes at The Guardian:

... Despite claims that Latin America's progressive tide is exhausted, leftwing and centre-left governments continue to be re-elected – from Ecuador to Brazil and Bolivia to Argentina – because they have reduced poverty and inequality and taken control of energy resources to benefit the excluded majority.

That is what Chávez has been able to do on a grander scale, using Venezuela's oil income and publicly owned enterprises to slash poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70%, massively expanding access to health and education, sharply boosting the minimum wage and pension provision, halving unemployment, and giving slum communities direct control over social programmes.

To visit any rally or polling station during the election campaign was to be left in no doubt as to who Chávez represents: the poor, the non-white, the young, the disabled – in other words, the dispossessed majority who have again returned him to power. Euphoria at the result among the poor was palpable: in the foothills of the Andes on Monday groups of red-shirted hillside farmers chanted and waved flags at any passerby.

Of course there is also no shortage of government failures and weaknesses which the opposition was able to target: from runaway violent crime to corruption, lack of delivery and economic diversification, and over-dependence on one man's charismatic leadership. And the US-financed opposition campaign was a much more sophisticated affair than in the past. Capriles presented himself as "centre-left", despite his hard right background, and promised to maintain some Chavista social programmes. ...

Venezuela's revolution doesn't offer a political model that can be directly transplanted elsewhere, not least because oil revenues [which have quadrupled under Chavez] allow it to target resources on the poor without seriously attacking the interests of the wealthy. But its innovative social programmes, experiments in direct democracy and success in bringing resources under public control offer lessons to anyone interested in social justice and new forms of socialist politics in the rest of the world.

For all their problems and weaknesses, Venezuela and its Latin American allies have demonstrated that it's no longer necessary to accept a failed economic model, as many social democrats in Europe still do. They have shown it's possible to be both genuinely progressive and popular. Cynicism and media-fuelled ignorance have prevented many who would naturally identify with Latin America's transformation from recognising its significance. But Chávez's re-election has now ensured that the process will continue – and that the space for 21st-century alternatives will grow.

human rights

October 8, 2012

Why Obama can't debate

Obama was always a poor debater, so the only surprise in last week's match-up was Romney's gusto.

Obama is a poor debater because he does not stand for anything. He is essentially a servant of Wall Street hiding in cliché liberal rhetoric. He is moderator-in-chief.

He can not respond to critics from the left, because he wants to believe he is on their side but would have to admit they are right, that he is not at all on their side.

And he can not respond to critics from the right, because he would have to show that they are wrong, which he can not do, because he needs his liberal supporters to believe he is on their side.

Poor man: how to reassure the fascists as well as the vestigial liberals.

And any challenger can easily upset his delicate balancing act by upping the ante, forcing him to defend one or the other, to take on the role of conservative or liberal in the charade of U.S. elections. The incumbent wants to remain neither, throwing rhetorical and occasional executive sops to one constituency or another, and the challenger, if victorious, will become neither in the same way (and in turn challenged in the same way). Thus we are asked to choose between Coke and Pepsi, and those that would choose neither (thinking a cup of tea, perhaps, or glass of seltzer would better serve) are ostracized, clearing the field for this mock politics.

Update, Oct. 18:  When Romney tells you that Obama's responses to the Bush recession didn't help middle class families, he should be asked how his family fared. But that would reveal that Obama has done very well by Romney, which neither of them want to publicize.

anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 7, 2012

Billionaires versus society

Michael Hiltzik wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
Walker's own initiative, like others carrying the Peterson imprimatur, properly acknowledges that fiscal responsibility requires tax increases as well as spending cuts, though people can argue in good faith about how to balance the two. But the hallmark of [billionaire Peter] Peterson's worldview is to view social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare strictly as fiscal expense items, ignoring their roots as moral commitments to American citizens that cross generations and unite economic classes.

These programs form the warp and woof of the American fabric. Portraying them, as Peterson does, as "safety net" initiatives that have outlived their relevance for all but the most destitute Americans is an artful way of destroying their universal appeal.

The danger in the economic debate in Washington comes from treating our fiscal problems as if they spring from the structure of our emblematic public social insurance programs, when the truth is that ill-advised tax cuts and unrestrained military spending have played a more important role.

The shame of Washington, on the other hand, comes from the fact that almost every organization promoting the grand fiscal bargain in which those programs will be on the table has accepted, somewhere and somehow, money from Pete Peterson.
That's an important characterization: Social Security and Medicare — and their future expansion — are not “safety nets” but rather the very fabric of a vital society.

human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

October 6, 2012

Four (4) candidates for President debate the economy

Click here for the transcript.

Click here for the entire 3-hour broadcast.

You have 100 people in a room and 100 loaves of bread: One person gets 35 loaves, four people get seven loaves each, 45 people each get four-fifths of a loaf, and fifty people (the baker among them) get to share one loaf. That's how our economy is working right now. And that's not a society worth the name.
(adapted from Jill Stein, Green Party)

October 1, 2012

NIMBY: Correction

In this month's Windtech International column by Tiff Thompson, important information was inadvertently deleted and due to an editing error, Thompson's column was printed in a way that made it appear illogical in some places. We apologize for these errors, and provide corrections below.

A sentence acknowledging that fossil fuel subsidies include heating, transportation, and "clean" coal research as well as traditional electricity, and that renewables subsidies have included ethanol research and production, was also mistakenly deleted, as was another acknowledging that the figures for the renewables industry do not include the cost of the double-declining accelerated depreciation that is made available to it.

Thompson should also have noted that many states further subsidize the renewables industry by requiring utilities to buy a certain percentage of their energy from it. Furthermore, as this journal is particularly concerned with the wind industry, the particular costs to taxpayers of wind, not of all renewables together, should have been more carefully indicated.

Thompson should also have emphasized that subsidies should be viewed in terms of not just gross numbers, but the recipients' actual contributions to the country's energy mix.

Finally, Thompson's article cited federal subsidy figures for the years 2002-2007 of $13.8 billion for fossil fuels and $2.7 billion for the renewable energy industry, but the figures for more recent years were accidentally deleted.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Information Administration, for electricity in 2007, traditional coal received $854 million, "clean" coal received $2,156 million, and natural gas and petroleum received $227 million. Renewables received $1,008 million, with wind receiving $724 million of that. For every megawatt-hour of electricity generated, coal received $0.44, "clean" coal $29.81, natural gas and petroleum $0.25, all renewables $2.80, and wind $23.37.

In 2010, the direct subsidies for wind had increased to $4,986 million, a 10.5-fold (inflation-adjusted) increase from 3 years before. Subsidies for electricity from traditional coal rose slightly to $1,189 million and natural gas and petroleum to $654 million, while the subsidies for "clean" coal were cut to 0.

Per megawatt-hour of electricity generated in 2010, coal received $0.64, natural gas and petroleum $0.63, and wind $52.48.

The editors also regret any implication that the U.S. government's own spending on renewable energy (eg, for army bases) and opening 16 million acres of public land to renewable energy developers is an argument in support of more spending on renewables or indeed of any development of open and wild spaces. One need only look at the military budget to see that expanded activity and spending do not equal wisdom.

ADDENDUM:  Several readers have asked us about Ms Thompson's comparison of Obama and Romney concerning renewable energy. Again, it appears that some sentences were deleted from the printed column showing that, except for Obama's stated support of and Romney's stated opposition to renewing the Production Tax Credit (which reduces a developer's taxes for 10 years by $22 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated and is scheduled to expire at the end of this year), there is in fact no substantial difference in energy policies between the two.

wind power, wind energy