Clearing Ban Renewed in Indonesia’s Tropical Forests

About a third of the world’s remaining tropical forests are to be found in Indonesia. They include some of the world’s most biodiverse rainforest, home to countless species of animal, including the orangutan, elephant and Sumatran tiger. Between 2000 and 2010, Indonesia lost almost 3 million acres of forest each year. A two-year moratorium on felling forests in an effort to halt deforestation (deforestation that benefits timber, paper and palm oil companies) cut this to 450,000 acres a year. The moratorium recently expired, leaving plantations and loggers legally free to expand into new areas (although they are expanding ILLEGALLY all the time anyway). Indonesia is already the world’s third-largest carbon emitter.

On Monday 13th May, Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, signed a two-year extension of the moratorium, which bans new logging permits for primary, or virgin, forest — i.e. forest not logged in recent history. The moratorium was vehemently opposed by — big surprise – palm oil planters. A spokesman for the Association of Indonesian Palm Oil Producers said the ban caused Indonesia to be overtaken by Malaysia as the world’s biggest producer of palm oil. (And who will care when the rain forest is GONE??)

“We firmly reject any proposal to extend this moratorium because we stand to lose more than we gain from it,” the spokesman said. Profit NOW is apparently more important than the fact that carbon dioxide emissions were found this week to have reached the highest atmospheric concentration in recorded human history. If emissions continue to rise the world will experience devastating degrees of warming within several decades — apparently still too far in the future for the palm oil companies to care.

Environmentalists say the moratorium is, while better than nothing, still far from sufficient. It excepts projects already approved by the forestry minister and others considered vital, such as for power production, and leaves many glaring loopholes. For example, the province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra has overturned its own deforestation ban at the local level and plans to open up a million hectares of protected forest for exploitation despite the moratorium — and despite a petition with almost almost a million signatures.

It is a good point to mention (again?) that none of us should be using palm oil. It isn’t in anything crucial, it isn’t in anything you can’t do without. I know we were all delighted to find Earth Balance….but it contains palm oil, so ditch it. Spectrum Canola Oil Spread (at Vegan Haven) and Saffola margarine (at QFC) are both vegan and palm oil-free. You can do it.

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In-vitro meat makes a debut

Here’s some food for thought: If the main reason for choosing a vegan lifestyle is to reduce suffering, what do you think about in-vitro meat?test tubes

The New York Times recently reported about a hamburger grown in a laboratory from muscle tissue. This in-vitro, or cultured, meat doesn’t require the water, grain, land, transportation, and slaughter of an animal.

The sample being worked on at the moment isn’t vegan–it’s origins are animal in nature (cow stem cells). But future versions could be grown from non-animal sources.

This still sounds like science fiction, and I’ll stick by the loads of scientific findings that meat of any kind isn’t healthy. But if people don’t stop eating meat, perhaps they could gravitate toward in-vitro meat and bypass factory farms.

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ACLU Against Ag-Gag Bills

The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, a non-partisan charity dedicated to defending the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, has come out strongly against the so-called Ag-Gag bills, introduced in 17 states so far. The ACLU asserts that these laws are “flagrant violations of the First Amendment:, and is encouraging Americans to “protect animals and free speech” by fighting these efforts to hide cruel and often criminal practices from the public.
It’s about time.
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First Person Arrested Under Ag-Gag

 

Twenty-five year old Amy Meyer was arrested and charged with violating Utah’s new “Ag Gag” bill that makes it illegal for citizens to record the abuse of animals.  262554_570497038429_549205_nShe went to the Smith Meatpacking Slaughterhouse in Draper, Utah, because she had heard that anyone could see what was going on right from the street. While she was there, she saw cows fighting to get away, a downer cow carried off on a tractor lift, and ground flesh being spewed from a chute on one side of the building. While filming this with her cell phone, she never set foot in the slaughterhouse area, and remained at all times on public property. She was arrested and charged with agricultural operation interference. She is to go to court on May 23rd. If convicted, she faces up to six months in jail. By the way….the Mayor of Draper, Darrell Smith, co-owns the slaughterhouse. But that wouldn’t have anything to do with anything, would it?

Please call the following people and express your support for Amy Meyer and slaughterhouse transparency. I am guessing you can think of many ways of expressing this. And then write two quick emails. Please try to stay respectful and polite — don’t make people remember our rudeness rather than our rightness. These are EASY CALLS. No one is going to start arguing with you (and do you care?) :-)

Utah Governor Herbert
Phone: (800) 705-2464

Draper Mayor Darrell Smith
Phone: (801) 576-6513

Draper City Prosecutor Ben Rasmussen
Phone: (801) 576-6545

Members of the Utah legislature
http://le.utah.gov/Documents/find.htm

Please call the Dale T. Smith and Sons Meat Packing Company and express your disapproval of their mistreatment of animals and their decision to press charges.
Phone: (801) 571-3611
mail@smithmeats.com

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Another Worthwhile Petition re Ag-Gag Legislation

As you are aware, courageous undercover investigators have exposed and documented patterns of terrible abuse at numerous factory farms. These have led to recalls for food safety reasons as well as criminal convictions for animal cruelty. Instead of changing agribusiness, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, wants to criminalize anyone who brings animal abuse to light. (You can read more about ALEC at GreenIsTheNewRed.com — they are also behind efforts to weaken environmental protections and silence free speech online). They believe the factory farms should be left to regulate themselves, like toddlers in candy stores.

Ag-Gag bills have been introduced in nine states this year, and became law in three last year. They don’t just target undercover investigators, but other whistleblowers and journalists. Some of them criminalize anyone who even “possesses” or “distributes” photographs and YouTube videos. Under the model bill devised by Agribusiness and ALEC, investigators, whistleblowers, journalists and anyone who shares the footage they obtain are labeled terrorists.

Please write this oh-so-quick letter below, or a variation thereof, sign it, and send it to ALEC.

To:
ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)
Ron Scheberle, Executive Director
John Eick, Legislative Analyst, Energy, Environment and Agriculture and Civil Justice Task Forces
Bill Meierling, Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Stop bills that make it a crime to expose animal abuse on factory farms.Consumers have a right to make safe, healthy, and humane decisions about what we buy.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

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NY SENATE PASSES BILL TO END SHARK FIN TRADE

The New York Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed a bill prohibiting the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in New York. This action seeks to help avert the threatened collapse of shark populations worldwide, caused by the demand for shark fin soup — a tasteless but expensive Chinese delicacy and status symbol usually served at banquets and celebrations.

This legislation is not only bipartisan but also has the support of every Chinese American legislator in the state.

Similar legislation recently passed in Maryland and already exists in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

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California ag-gag bill pulled

Ag-gag bills have been popping up around the country. The bills would criminalize whistle-blowers who capture video in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The California bill would have required anyone who records an incident of animal cruelty to turn the evidence over to the authorities within 48 hours. That would make it impossible to build a case, or show a pattern of continued abuse, which is what’s usually needed to prosecute animal cruelty.

Fortunately for now, the California bill is dead. Its author pulled the bill because it faced strong opposition from animal rights groups, food safety organizations, environmental organizations, labor unions and people fighting to protect the first amendment.

If ag-gag bills are passed, even journalists who end up in possession of undercover factory farm footage are at risk of being prosecuted. The bill isn’t good for anyone except the people who make cruelty their business and want a free pass to do whatever they want behind closed doors.

The failure of this bill is another excellent example of how we need to speak up and let lawmakers know when we don’t agree with what’s happening around us. A strong, unified voice does make a difference for animals, the environment, and people.

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Criminalize Ag-Gag Laws

Pigs, chickens, cows and turkeys are being stomped, electroshocked, kicked, pitchforked, punched, skinned, burned…and a lot more….as you are reading this. It happens while you sleep, eat, drive to work, watch movies, relax. It happens unceasingly. Not everyone thinks it’s OK, and the videos/photos/proof brought out of those factory farms have won some significant victories. Ag-gag laws criminalize undercover work. Let’s be really clear: these laws, that are now in place in FIVE STATES and pending in many others, do nothing to improve conditions for the animals — on the contrary. They free farmers to commit the most atrocious acts of cruelty on a regular basis because no one will ever see them. This is also a food safety issue, not that I care ONE DUST MOTE about that. Under these Ag-gag laws, it is not the crime that is illegal, but bringing the crime to light.
This petition goes to the White House and must be answered.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/criminalize-ag-gag-laws/KQWSvsKr

Signing takes less than 10 seconds. Even if your house is on fire you have 10 seconds.

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We Seldom Promote Petitions…

…as many may be nothing but a way for the signers to feel they did something without, in fact, having done anything. But I think we have a real chance of getting a MILLION people to sign this petition against the Japanese dolphin slaughter, and an equally real chance of having it contribute to the decision on who is to host the 2020 Olympics.

This campaign was begun by Shona Lewendon, who lives near Glasgow, in Scotland. She is not a professional campaigner, a journalist, or a politician. She is a single mother of three, someone who cared so much about the dolphin slaughter that she couldn’t do nothing. As she put it, “I realized that I was a person who had to become a ‘someone’ and try to do something about this.” So, after researching the Olympic Charter and the Sustainability Through Sport Agenda 21, she created an online petition to the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, and its president, Jacques Rogge. She points out that Japan’s actions with regard to the dolphin hunts actually contradict Olympic principles of environmental respect, and in addition clearly make Japan ineligible since it is not compliant with the terms set out in Agenda 21. It has garnered over 300,000 signatures in three months. The IOC’s final decision is on September 7th. We can do this. Allowing Japan to host the 2020 Olympics — as it desperately want to do — would be tacitly condoning the dolphin slaughter. NARN already participated in a demonstration outside the Japanese Consulate in February, and will be doing so again in June. Please take a MOMENT to sign now and a couple of hours to join us then.

For those of you who do not yet know, the Japanese Government grant permits to the Taiji Fishermen’s Union to hunt 2,800 dolphins from September to April for slaughter & to supply the captivity trade. Babies are torn from their mothers, many dolphins witness the slaughter of their entire families before either being taken captive or killed. The manner in which they are killed is horrifically cruel and caused protracted agony. Despite worldwide protests, the hunt continues, in a roped-off cove, hidden under tarpaulins. Those taken captive are held in sea pens, starved and traumatized, while buyers are found. The lucky ones die waiting. Many alternatives that allow the continued employment of the “fishermen” have been suggested, including turning Taiji into a tourist attraction for whale and dolphin watching, but they are repeatedly rejected in the name of “tradition”.

Taiji-Dolphin-Cove4-300x231

 

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