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Archive for November, 2010

Chickens in Battery Cages Live Webcam

November 10th, 2010 No comments

This is a brilliant initiative from Anonymous, the animal rights groups based in Israel. They’ve installed a live web cam in a battery cage, which the farming industry can’t find to turn off. Click here to go live inside a battery cage. Still want to eat eggs?

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Vegan Fruit Cake

November 7th, 2010 No comments

Who says vegans can't have their cake and eat it?

This delicious vegan fruit cake was made this morning by yours truly. For many years now, I’ve baked fruit cakes from the recipe in Rose Elliot’s The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine (p. 310). More recently, however, I’ve begun to experiment with the recipe by adjusting the ingredients, which is sometimes prompted by what I have available. No mixed peel? Add some more raisins instead. That sort of thing. Sometimes I add some booze, depending upon my mood. Port or sherry and sometimes brandy. This morning’s cake was also made with a small amount of stewed apples. I never use sugar to sweeten stewed apples. I only use dates. So, this particular cake is especially moist with the addition of stewed apples. My cakes are, of course, always good, as many will testify. Or they had better. Otherwise it’s no more cake for them!

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Power Vegans

November 7th, 2010 No comments

Intriguing article, The Rise of the Power Vegans, in Businessweek.

It used to be easy for moguls to flaunt their power. All they had to do was renovate the chalet in St. Moritz, buy the latest Gulfstream jet, lay off 5,000 employees, or marry a much younger Asian woman. By now, though, they’ve used up all the easy ways to distinguish themselves from the rest of us—which may be why a growing number of America’s most powerful bosses have become vegan. Steve Wynn, Mort Zuckerman, Russell Simmons, and Bill Clinton are now using tempeh to assert their superiority. As are Ford Executive Chairman of the Board Bill Ford, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, venture capitalist Joi Ito, Whole Foods Market Chief Executive Officer John Mackey, and Mike Tyson. Yes, Mike Tyson, a man who once chewed on human ear, is now vegan. His dietary habit isn’t nearly as impressive as that of Alec Baldwin, though, who has found a way to be both vegan and fat at the same time.

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Animal Rights: Top Ten Books

November 6th, 2010 2 comments

Any suggestion of any canon of prescribed required reading inevitably invites comments. Invariably, they are hostile and unforgiving. “You dared to include this book but omitted that one,” someone is bound to say. Nonetheless, it is knowing that brickbats and bouquets will no doubt come my way that I propose my Animal Rights Top Ten Books (well, eleven). I set myself the goal of identifying ten books and writing not more than 50 words about each one. They address such issues as ethics, issues, history and social movement dynamics. Here they are. Do you agree? Please let me know which titles would be yours.

1. Practical Ethics by Peter Singer

Read Practical Ethics and put Animal Liberation aside. This is the must-read book by Singer. Discover his understanding of utilitarianism and its application to moral issues, including our relationship with animals. I do not agree with everything but I understood more deeply how to live ethically in this world.

2. The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan

First attempts to read it failed. I persevered, making several attempts, focussing on particular chapters. I did not read the chapters sequentially. Then, it all made sense. I discovered Regan’s lucid and engaging writing style. The effort was worth it. I understand what moral rights for animals means.

3. Animals’ Rights by Henry Salt

Published originally in 1892. Revised in 1922. Timeless. Salt writes with quiet severity, demolishing rational and irrational reasons why we treat animals the way they did then and still do today. Plus, he situates animal rights within the progressive agenda of social change, which recognises simultaneously human and animal rights.

4. Nature Ethics by Marti Kheel

Starting with a discussion of four prominent eco-philosophers (Roosevelt, Leopold, Rolston, Fox) and finding them wanting, Kheel goes on to elaborate her theory for ecofeminism, which emphasises empathy and care for individual beings and populations. A thorough and compelling account for eco-holistic thinking, which incorporates animal rights.

5. Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh

Hanh is an internationally recognised practitioner of Engaged Buddhism, the intersection of social justice and Buddhist ethics. His fourteen guidelines for Engaged Buddhism, which are equally applicable to the practice of animal advocacy, helped me to become a more effective advocate for animals. They will for you, too.

6. The Animal Ethics Reader edited by Susan J. Armstrong and Richard G. Botzler (second edition)

Of the increasing number of outstanding anthologies published about our relationship with animals, The Animal Ethics Reader stands out as the most comprehensive and thorough. Sections on animal ethics; pain, emotion and consciousness in animals; primates and cetaceans; animal use; religious perspectives; animal law; and animal activism.

7. Animals & Ethics by Angus Taylor (third edition)

Taylor clearly and concisely takes us on a tour of animal ethics. An outstanding achievement becomes even more remarkable as he does not rely upon lengthy quotes from original sources. His ability to describe clearly and concisely different aspects of animal ethics and their relationship to each other is truly informative.

8/9. The Longest Struggle by Norm Phelps and Animal Rights by Hilda Kean

These two histories of social change for animals respectively in the US and UK both excel in recounting the development of social thought and action for animals. The animal rights movement can not understand where it wants to go if it does not know how it got here.

10. The Art of Moral Protest by James M. Jasper

Jasper is a sociologist who studies social movements from a sympathetic perspective. He explores the culture, biography and creativity in social movements, including the animal rights movement. Reading this book gave deepened my understanding of the animal rights movement as a social movement.

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Sociologist Bauman in The Guardian

November 5th, 2010 No comments

I enjoyed this week’s brief interview in The Guardian with sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. I thought the following was particularly insightful–especially the bit I highlighted. I don’t see why what he has to say below is gloomy at all. It just seems right.

Unlike some sociologists, Bauman’s work is accessible, intellectual and often polemical. His own life – from communist believer to persecuted minority to forensic analyst of everyday life – makes him difficult to categorise. Underlying his theory is the idea that systems make individuals, not the other way round. He says it does not matter whether one is dealing with Communism or consumerism, states want to control their public and reproduce their elites. But in place of totalitarian rule, western society looks to scare and entice by manufacturing public panics and seducing people with shopping. Bauman’s work today focuses on this transition to a nation of consumers, unconsciously disciplined to work endlessly. Those who do not conform, says Bauman, become labelled “human waste” and written off as flawed members of society. This transformation from the “ethics of work to the ethics of consumerism” vexes Bauman. He warns that society has slid from “the ideals of a community of responsible citizens to those of an aggregate of satisfied, and therefore self-interested, consumers“. Little wonder perhaps that his critics describe Bauman as “gloomy”.

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BBC Updates on Threat to Hunting

November 4th, 2010 No comments

The BBC reports in No plans for hunting ban vote before 2012, MPs say:

There will not be a House of Commons vote on repealing the Hunting Act before 2012, the BBC understands. MPs close to the campaign admit they do not have the numbers at the moment to win a vote and say the PM will only call one when he knows it can be won. The MPs said a well-organised campaign was under way at Westminster to try to win new supporters to the cause. A list has been drawn up of people thought to be persuadable – and they are being wined and dined. One of the MPs involved in the operation said that it would take at least another year before enough people have been won over, which is why no vote is being planned before early 2012. The coalition government has promised to hold a free vote on repealing the Act at some stage during the five year term.

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Report on Animals and American Politics

November 4th, 2010 No comments

Mike Markarian, Humane Society Legislative Fund, reports on successes for animal issues in the US this week.

It was a big election night for animals, with major victories against the puppy mill industry and agribusiness lobby in Missouri, and against the NRA and trophy hunting lobby in Arizona. And many of the leading animal advocates in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, were reelected to continue their work in 2011. The votes are still being tallied in some races, but here is a rundown of where we stand so far on the major contests that affect animals.

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Is Culling Necessary?

November 3rd, 2010 No comments

A report published in The Guardian on Saturday on the alleged killing of the Emperor of Exmoor stag included this quote by Louise Robertson of the League Against Cruel Sports.

We fully accept that there are cases where deer herds need to be managed and culling is necessary but it should be done by a trained professional.

Of course, I was not present during the interview with Louise and do not know what took place; however, I’m concerned that it gives the appearance of the League too readily agreeing to killing wild animals as a legitimate practice. Always, we should strive toward non-lethal methods of population control where it is proven to be necessary.

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Dogs in Iran Having Their Day … At Last

November 2nd, 2010 No comments

Really encouraging article, “Dogs: Iran’s new symbol of rebellion,” by Masoud Golsorkhi on The Guardian Web site. He concludes:

An underground industry of dog beauty parlours thrives, mostly run out of private homes, as do a plethora of canine protection and welfare charities. A legal and substantial kennel industry has developed into what is fancily called “dog spas” where the middle class deposit their dogs when on holiday or, in the case of some of my conflicted relatives, when a devout auntie comes to stay. The industry booms further every time a firebrand preacher calls for their banning or admonishes dog owners from such platforms like the much loathed national radio and TV. Its been a long time coming, but Iranian dogs are having their day.

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Gyles Mackrell and Elephants in WW2

November 1st, 2010 No comments

Remarkable film about Gyles Mackrell who used elephants to help rescue soldiers in World War Two.

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