Christmas, Christian, Doha, Tony the Tiger, Media, Israel, Christine Townend, India, Whaling, Energy, George Mondbiot, Peter Hartcher, Guns etc
December 23, 2012
Thanks to Derek Cattani again for Christian’s Christmas card – I look forward to them each year. Seasons Greetings to all. We seem to have survived the Mayan end of the world prediction and may instead be “transitioning” into a new era. According to Bolivia’s Government, it is the end of “hatred” and “lies” and the beginning of “love” and “truth” – with community and collectivity prevailing over capitalism and individuality.
Next hurdle is the US “fiscal cliff”!
I hope most of you have time off to relax with friends and family, and our pets of course. I also hope the general public are more thoughtful about pets as appropriate presents, and ensure they are not later discarded and abandoned when the novelty wears off.
I have a friend who is very frustrated by his adorable labrador puppy which is chewing everything, and I’d love to offer to look after him. However, already I can’t travel as much as I would like to as I am reluctant to leave my two cats in any other hands, so I don’t think it is the right time to add a dog to the mix.
DOHA: Given the alarming headlines about the warming of the planet, it was a disappointing compromise at Doha, rather than the urgent action required. Several reports forecast possible temperature rises of 4-6 degrees by the end of the century. China is responsible for 80% of new emissions, and like the US, did not sign up to the extended Kyoto Protocol. Some Pacific island states were not impressed – if the sea rises one more metre, their islands will be uninhabitable. Of scientific published peer review articles on global warming, 24 articles argue against, while 13,926 agree with the analysis of scientific data that global warming is real and humans are a factor contributing to it.
The leaked next Intergovernmental Panel report on Climate Change states, according to the SMH, “Evidence in support of climate change has grown stronger and it is now “virtually certain” that human greenhouse gas emissions trap energy that warms the planet”.
In our Opposition party we have a few boofhead climate change sceptics who wear their ignorance with pride, and the party has a commitment to rescind the carbon tax/price. I’m sure this process would be very complex, and the reversal bad for business confidence and investment certainty, as well as our international reputation. Unfortunately, despite Julia Gillard’s resilience, polls keep indicating that the Opposition will win the next election. Most intelligent people have experienced an almost seamless introduction of the carbon tax, accepted some modest price rises like 10% on an electricity bill, and now understand the need for it.
The Government has just abandoned the impossible promise to get the budget back into surplus. Many economists and business people seem to think that this is the correct decision. The Government no doubt hopes for the distraction of Christmas and the summer holidays to drown out the predictable shrill reaction from the Opposition over this “back flip”.
TONY THE TIGER: An update on Tony the Tiger is available here. It is rather depressing. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear their case, and waiting for a trial date to decide if Mr. Sandlin’s lawsuit will move forward. Can 2013 finally be Tony’s year? Perhaps we should put our money where our mouth is and donate to the ALDF Matching Gift Challenge.
I’m looking forward to seeing the movie Life of Pi, although like many people I have spoken to lately, I didn’t actually finish the book. I hope the film doesn’t create a craze for people wanting tigers. In the US there are far too many tigers already in private hands – more than in the wild, as we have discussed previously.
I’ve been loving Louis Theroux’s shows, and he is as ubiquitous as Stephen Fry on Australian television. Recently, in America’s Most Dangerous Pets, Louis visited exotic animals in private “zoos”. He was understandably quite nervous with many of the animals. The number of animals confined for life for human entertainment was staggering, and inappropriate cross breeding has negated any conservation objectives. In African Hunting Holiday Louis accompanied Americans trophy hunting farmed exotic animals in Africa. He found hunting quite distasteful and couldn’t do it himself. He was mystified how people that profess to admire animals can shoot them? One of the owners of the African farms said every lion would kill anybody given the chance, a statement I can contradict from my own experience! The lions did look aggressive I must admit, but they were probably anticipating food. Their behaviour was probably a response to how they had been treated.
Louis is the son of travel writer Paul Theroux.
Sadly, Koko the dog who starred in Red Dog has died aged 7.
MEDIA: I know some of you think I rely too much on the mainstream press and you often draw my attention to many other sites on the internet. I love reading the Sydney Morning Herald, and also listen and watch news and current affairs programs. I jot down any new facts or insights on the subjects that interest me – and then often forget if I have quoted verbatim or tried to paraphrase them! Most of us accept we can’t lead the debates, but we can all stand up for and support the causes we believe in, and together we can have a collective voice and influence.
I admire sites like Crikey, with their research, reporting and analysis of the news, but they have a huge staff! Despite some of the information divulged by WikiLeaks, I’m sceptical about quite a few of the conspiracy theories on the internet, and don’t seem to have the time to visit – or revisit, many fascinating and informative sites.
Julian Assange still languishes in London in the Ecuadorian Embassy with no access to a garden or courtyard for fresh air or sunlight for over six months. I love his balcony speeches – what a ham. Assange has said he wants to stand for the Senate in the next Australian elections! WikiLeaks has often confirmed our worst fears about our governments, and piece by piece information or new theories do emerge from various sources.
ISRAEL: For example, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson recently said that Israel bombed Hamas in Gaza to clear out their missiles because it wants to bomb Iran in early 2013. This would not have occurred to me, and I’d have no idea if it is true. The Hamas leader Khaled Meshal finally visited Gaza and still wants to “wipe Israel off the map”. Equally chilling, Daniella Weiss, a leader of the settler movement, stated the now obvious; settlements and out posts were planned strategically to prevent a Palestinian state. Announced by Nethanyahu as punishment the day after the overwhelming UN vote (138 to 8) against Israel, the E1 settlement has been described as the final piece in the jigsaw – the West Bank will be cut in half.
If the “two-state” solution is now impossible, a “one-state” would contain a (Palestinian) population without a vote, and a higher birth rate. Israel will have to decide what they want to be: a Jewish state or a democratic one?
CHRISTINE TOWNEND: I was delighted to hear from Christine, founder of Animal Liberation in Australia in 1976, after her recent trip to India.
” Dear Ace, I was thinking of your visit with us to the Indian animal shelters when we were recently at both the Kalimpong and Darjeeling shelters which Jeremy and I founded in 1995 and 2007. You’d be happy to know that both are running well with plenty of rescues, treatment of privately owned animals especially brought to the shelters, and also a continual ABC (animal birth control) programme. As you know from your visit, the purpose of the ABC programme, according to WHO Guidelines, is to create a friendly, rabies-free street dog population. The vaccinate-neuter programme has now created groups of old dogs hanging around with nothing to do, and fighting over food. I may send you a report I’m writing about this new problem or post it in due course on www.workingforanimals.org.au
As you know Ace, I was managing trustee of Help in Suffering Animal Shelter in Jaipur from 1990 to 2007. Jeremy and I had not returned there for over two years. From the moment we arrived, that traditional Indian hospitality was extended to us. All the staff , the CEO and managing trustee were waiting at the front gate, greeting us by placing garlands of roses round our necks. Jimmie, the dog who had been dumped outside the shelter when a tiny puppy, and whom I had reared so many years ago, wiggled and cried with joy. I, like her, felt quite emotional to be returning, especially when we entered the little cottage in the grounds of the shelter, where we had lived for so many years. It had been cleaned and still looked just the same, with all the objects and books we had collected over the years still arranged neatly (in future the cottage will be used for guest accommodation).
Timmie Kumar, the current managing trustee, was very appreciative of the money we raised through Working for Animals Inc, the Australian charity which raises funds for the animal shelters in India. It was great that you were able to speak at this successful fund-raiser. As you know, Jeannette’s photographs of India just walked out the door, and I’m pleased that my paintings also sold. We visited the new HIS Camel shelter on the outskirts of Jaipur. It must be the first of its kind in India. Dr Pradeep Singhal, who conducts the HIS Camel Project, also treated heaps of camels at the Pushkar Fair.”
MAIL: Thanks for the kind words and comments from some of you last blog, and your Christmas greetings. Sometimes I interpret them as a remark to me personally, rather than a comment to post on the blog.
INTERVIEW: You may like to watch my skype interview with Tiempo Real here. Once I had adjusted to the jerkiness and the unflattering harshness of skype, I thought WilsonVega produced and edited an excellent story.
AASG: The Australian Animal Studies Group’s News Bulletin for December can be accessed here.
WHALING: Correction: the Japanese are going to hunt whales again this season but in a scaled down exercise. Their departure for the Southern Ocean has been inexplicably delayed, and Paul Watson is again vowing to disrupt their unnecessary slaughter of whales with the Sea Shepherd and possibly a newly acquired vessel.
ENERGY: More than 100 coal fired power stations in the US have been closed following environment and community group litigation campaigns to enforce mercury and air toxin standards. A further 170 planned coal stations have not been built.
With the conservative government back in power in Japan, it is expected reservations and opposition to nuclear reactors will be pushed aside.
After coal fired power stations, the production, transportation and marketing of our food creates the most emissions. We need to buy locally and grow much more of our own!
GEORGE MONBIOT: Again George has another interesting article and the premise is pointless Christmas presents where the “fatuity of the products is matched by the profundity of the impacts”. Our “pathological”consumerism, has been “rendered so normal by advertising and by the media that we scarcely notice what has happened to us”. He quotes Annie Leonard who discovered when researching for her film The Story of Stuff “that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale”.
This is at a time when so many in the US are doing it very hard and the inequality is growing. In the US in 2010 “a remarkable 93% of the growth in incomes accrued to the top 1% of the population”.
PETER HARTCHER: It was heartening to read SMH journalist Peter Hartcher’s article Things aren’t as bad as they might seem. Global goals for cutting infant and maternal mortality rates are being exceeded. The global “deep poverty” rate has halved, assisted by more donor aid than anticipated, remittances from family members working abroad, and some developing economies recovering from the GFC more quickly than others.
Worldwide deaths by armed conflicts has been declining steeply for 20 years. Hartcher concludes, on “poverty, war and human misery… progress is possible, progress is happening and progress is real. Of course there are always new threats. Climate change is the great, new, unmet challenge facing humanity”.
GUNS: Let’s hope Americans finally face the facts and act – 300 million guns in the community, 100,000 injuries per year, 30,000 of them fatal, and six mass shootings this year. For now, there is support for Obama’s attempts at gun law reform and eliminating weapons of war from private ownership. The powerful National Rifle Association’s comments have so far been so insensitive that some former supporters are wavering, but this debate will unfortunately be very ugly. Handguns are apparently sacrosanct however, “part of American culture” – pity about the 12,664 Americans killed by handguns last year, compared to 323 by rifles and semi-automatics. Naturally gun sales have soared.
Meanwhile, as discussed, in my own State of NSW, the Government sometimes needs the support of the Shooters Party to pass legislation in the the Upper House, and this lobby group is exerting undue influence and has been able to stack committees. Our gun laws are in danger of being weakened, and hunting is to be allowed in some National Parks even though a secret report from the Government’s own Environment and Heritage Department warned about the high risks to the public! Over the summer holidays bush walkers and campers will have to start exercising extreme caution, but despite this, enjoy!
Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year to everyone.