January 14, 2006

1/12/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. JVNA Extends Its Prayers to Prime Minister Sharon and Acting Prime Minister Olmert And Klal Yisrael

2. Rapid Growth of Vegetarianism in Israel

3. JVNA Leaflets Available for Distribution

4. Green Zionist Alliance Successfully Petitioned for Increased Funding to Improve Israel’s Rivers

5. How should Vegetarians View In-Vitro Meat?

6. Medical costs Continue to Soar

7. New Jane Goodal Book on Global Effects of Our Diets

8. On the Human Treatment of Animals

9. Update on Global Climate Change Threats

10. Update on Bird Flu Threat

11. New 2006 Calendar Focuses on Jewish Teachings On Kind Acts, Charity, and Repairing the World

12. God Does Not Eat Meat - A New E-Book From Arthur Poletti

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. JVNA Extends Its Prayers to Prime Minister Sharon and Acting Prime Minister Olmert And Klal Yisrael

JVNA extends its prayers for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s speedy and complete recovery, and also offers its prayers for Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, that he be successful in guiding Israel during this time of crisis.

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2. Rapid Growth of Vegetarianism in Israel

Forwarded from “Kosher Today” by Prof. Joe Regenstein

Vegetarianism Grows in Israel

(Jerusalem) by Idele Ross Despite the fact that only 10% of Israelis defined themselves as vegetarians, they spend $64 million a year on meat substitutes and $43 million on chicken breasts and ready to eat poultry products. Ynet News reports on market research which shows that the sales of alternatives to meat -- usually soya-based products -- have grown by some 5% in the last year and a half. Almost 50% of Israelis use products which are meat substitutes. Children between the ages of 4 and 14 years are the main users of these products. Tivall controls about 60% of the meat substitute market while Soglowek and Teva share the rest. Analysts attribute this trend to the growth in health conscious consumers, the rise in the number of women who work outside the home, more microwave ovens and an increase in the number of single people. Tivall recently created a series of vegetable pastries using a dough made from vegetables. The unique dough, which is at least 50% vegetables, was invented in the Tivall food technology labs and has been patented in Israel and internationally.

Development took two years at a cost of $1.5 million. Tivall chief executive Omri Lotan believes the dough will increase Tivall sales by 50% in the years to come. At present annual sales are at $100 million of which 55% are sales outside of Israel.

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3. JVNA Leaflets Available for Distribution

Please contact Israel Mossman at mossman@bluecrab.org for copies of the JVNA leaflet for your own use and for passing them out to others. There is no cost for them and they can be very helpful in promoting the Jewish vegetarian case. Please consider giving out leaflets at your local synagogue, Jewish community center, and at Jewish events. Many thanks.

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4. Green Zionist Alliance Successfully Petitioned for Increased Funding to Improve Israel’s Rivers

The Green Zionist Alliance
Working Today For Israel Tomorrow

GZA Co-Founders Influence Allocations :


NEW YORK, January 10, 2005 — In a landmark achievement for environmental responsibility, two co-founders of The Green Zionist Alliance (www.greenzionism.org) successfully petitioned to double the budgetary funding for Israeli river restoration projects.

[Please go to www.greenzionism.org to register to vote for the Green Zionist slate in the upcoming World Zionist Conference election. I plan to have more re this in the next JVNA newsletter.]

At a board meeting late last month of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL, the Jewish National Fund in Israel), the two representatives, Dr. Eilon Schwartz and Dr. Alon Tal, were the only participants to object to the proposed 2006 budget.

In the total budget of 587 million shekels ($128 million), only five million shekels had been allocated for direct river restoration projects.

The chairman of the KKL board was convinced and agreed to have the river restoration sum doubled to 10 million shekels. In a unanimous decision, the board then instructed the Finance Committee to reduce other budget items to cover this expense.

The two Green Zionist Alliance representatives are Dr. Eilon Schwartz, Director of the Heschel Center for Environmental Leadership, and Dr. Alon Tal, founder of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

Their appointment to the KKL board was brokered at the 2002 World Zionist Congress through an agreement between The Green Zionist Alliance and Mercaz Olami, the Zionist arm of the Conservative Movement.

"It was a highly satisfying achievement," said Dr. Tal. "This promises to put new energy and funding into Israel’s national stream restoration efforts, and it certainly shows that involvement makes a difference."

The Green Zionist Alliance, the first environmental party to participate in the World Zionist Congress, campaigns to strengthen an activist environmental presence in Judaism, Israel, and the Middle East.

The 2006 election runs through February 28, 2006. The Green Zionist Alliance aims to be the third largest U.S. delegation to the Congress.

For additional information, contact:

Hal Klopper
Executive Director
The Green Zionist Alliance
T: (646) 644-7891
E: hdk@greenzionism.org
W: www.greenzionism.org
© 2006 The Green Zionist Alliance

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5. How should Vegetarians View In-Vitro Meat?

Thanks to JVNA member Rina Deych for the following very thoughtful article. (Comments and suggestions are very welcome.)

How should Vegetarians View In-Vitro Meat?
By Rina Deych

About 6 years ago, when I first learned of the concept of in-vitro meat from friend and fellow vegetarian, Philip Carter, my initial reaction was revulsion. As a registered nurse/health advocate and vegetarian for many years, I could not imagine myself promoting a product I associated with pain, disease, and pollution. In my frustration at the slow progress of the materialization of my pipe dream to turn the entire world vegetarian, I decided to learn more about the process.

The technology involves painlessly taking a few cells from a live animal and putting them in a nutritious medium in which they will divide. It was initially introduced by Dutch dermatologist Wiete Westerhof. Theoretically, a few cells can feed an entire nation. It has taken me 6 years to get past my revulsion and seriously consider the concept. I wondered: how can we promote any meat, even meat that doesn't involve cruelty, when we have been pushing for vegetarianism/veganism for all these years? After much thought I have come to the conclusion that it's not about (the turning of) my stomach that's important. It's about the potential to spare the suffering of tens of billions of animals per year and, at the same time, improve human health, and reduce insult to the environment.

In the 21 years I've been a vegetarian I have only "converted" a handful of people. I have become more pragmatic over the years,realizing that if one angle isn't working, or isn't working fast enough, we must try others.

Supporting this technology does not mean that we must cease to promote veganism as the desired ideal, the ultimate goal. We can consider it an interim compromise, and, hopefully, a stepping stone to veganism.

Interestingly, though the reaction is mixed in the vegetarian/vegan community, some people who have given it the thumbs up are:
Peter Singer, Patrice Greanville (of Animals Agenda), Alix Fano (friend, author of Lethal Laws, and executive director of the Campaign for Responsible Transplantation), and Valerie Traina (Director of Development, Great Plains Restoration Council).

In addition, Erik Marcus, author of Meat Market and Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating (available free online at: http://shannonburns.net/vegan.pdf) has written an article entitled "Franken Meat" in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of VegNews (available only on hard copy).

I don't think, in a climate of paranoia about Mad Cow and Avian Flu, it's any accident that in-vitro meat has been in the news recently.

Using this technology, a pure product minus hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and pesticide residues would be created. In addition, since it would be produced in a completely controlled environment, there would be no Mad Cow, Avian Flu, Salmonella, E-Coli, and other flesh-borne diseases in the meat.

A 12/11/05 NY Times article by Raizel Robin stated: "...if in vitro meat becomes viable, the environmental and ethical consequences could be profound. The thought of beef grown in the lab may turn your stomach, but in vitro meat would avoid many of the downsides of factory farming, most notably pollution: in the United States, livestock produce 1.4 billion tons of waste each year. What's more, once a meat-cell culture exists, it could function the way a yeast or yogurt culture does, so that meat growers wouldn't need to use a new animal for each set of starter cells -- and the meat industry would no longer be dependent on slaughtering animals."

In November, CBS aired a short piece on Dr. Vladimir Mironov, tissue engineer working on this technology at the Medical University of South Carolina. It highlighted the fact that due to lack of funding, progress is slow. Dr. Miranov and co-author Jason Matheny (a doctoral student and a vegan) have founded New Harvest, a nonprofit research organization working to develop new meat substitutes, including cultured meat. More information about their work can be found at: http://www.new-harvest.org/resources.htm.

I recently spoke with Dr. Miranov at length to learn more about the process and to determine an estimate of his needs over the next five years (which is roughly one million dollars). The NIH has, thus far, refused to issue him a grant based on the fact that they do not consider this a public health priority. My point is: not only is it a health priority, but, with Mad Cow, Avian Flu, Salmonella, Trichomonas, E-Coli and other flesh-borne diseases in the news, now is the perfect time to introduce this concept.

Promoting this technology would also give us the opportunity to highlight the horrors (ethical, health, and environmental) of agribusiness.

Much of the general public is still not aware (or willfully ignorant) of the suffering of billions of farm animals per year, not to mention the hormones, steroids, antibiotics (70% of which are pumped into the livestock industry), and pesticide residues in factory-farmed meat.

Aside from having a profound impact on billions of animals' lives, the product would be healthier (or less unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) than factory farmed meat. In addition, the insult to the environment would be minimal compared to that caused by the huge amounts of waste and pollution generated by agribusiness.There is even a buzz in the meat industry about how, after an initial investment, this technology could rapidly become cost-effective, with no maintenance of live animals (including feed and veterinary care), no medications, and no waste management problems.

Naturally, I wish the whole world would become vegan overnight. Since this is not likely to happen (now or in the near future), I find myself more sure that the support of this technology is essential.

Rina Deych is a registered nurse, vegan, and JVNA member. She has been active in the animal rights community for many years. Her web site is: http://www.rrrina.com

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6. Medical costs Continue to Soar

Forwarded From: "FARM"

Medical care rises to 16% of GDP
Record Share Of Economy Is Spent on Health Care
By Marc Kaufman and Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writers
The Washington Post - Tuesday, January 10, 2006; A01

Rising health care costs, already threatening many basic industries, now consume 16 percent of the nation's economic output -- the highest proportion ever, the government said yesterday in its latest calculation.

The nation's health care bill continued to grow substantially faster than inflation and wages, increasing by almost 8 percent in 2004, the most recent year with near-final numbers.
Spending for physicians and hospitals shot up considerably faster than in recent years, while drug costs grew at a slower rate than over the past decade.

Even as health care costs continue to escalate, however, many Americans -- especially minorities and the poor -- still do not receive high-quality care, according to two other federal reports yesterday. The quality of health care is improving slowly and some racial disparities are narrowing, the reports found, but gaps persist and Hispanics appear to be falling even further behind.

"We can do better," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said at a Washington conference on racial and ethnic disparities in health care. "Disparities and inequities still exist. Outcomes vary. Treatments are not received equally."

Political, medical and economic leaders and experts have long warned that health care cost trends will gradually overwhelm the economy, and many companies now complain that employee and retiree health costs are making them less competitive. Yesterday's report added new reasons to worry.

The overall cost of health care -- everything from hospital and doctor bills to the cost of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, insurance and nursing home and home-health care -- doubled from 1993 to 2004, said the report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In 2004, the nation spent almost $140 billion more for health care than the year before.

In 1997, health care accounted for 13.6 percent of the gross domestic product.
"Americans rejected the tougher restrictions of managed care in the late 1990s, and yet they want all the latest advances in medical technology," said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which researches health issues. "Since government regulation of prices and services is not in the cards, the inevitable result is higher costs."

The health care increase of 7.9 percent in 2004 was almost three times the overall national inflation rate, which was 2.7 percent. The average hourly wage for workers in private companies was essentially unchanged that year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

After a sharp jump in health care costs earlier in the decade, the health inflation rate appears to be plateauing, according to the authors of the report, which appears today in the journal Health Affairs.

The best news involved spending on pharmaceutical drugs, which increased by less than 10 percent for the first time in more than a decade.

Cynthia Smith of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, lead author of the health spending report, attributed the slower increase in drug spending to greater use of generic drugs and mail-order pharmacies, a slowdown in the introduction of costly new medications, and the impact of higher drug co-pays. Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents drug benefit managers, said the trend was also a result of their "work over the past decade to change the way consumers, clinicians and purchasers think about prescription drugs."

Although the fast rise in drug spending in the past decade attracted great attention from officials and health policy experts, it remains a relatively small part of the health care bill -- about 10 percent.

Defenders of increased drug spending have often argued that those added costs would keep people healthier and reduce the amount spent on hospitals and doctors. The 2004 statistics told a different story, however, with an increase in doctor costs of 9 percent from 2003 and an increase in hospital costs of 8.6 percent. The report's authors said the jumps appeared to be associated with higher Medicare reimbursement rates for some doctors and, anecdotally, to an upswing in construction of new hospitals.

"This is an alarming situation, but it's more like a creeping infection than a broken bone, and so people get used to it," said Edward Howard, executive vice president of the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonprofit education group chaired by Sens. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). "Frankly, I don't see major change until people who have some sort of organized political influence start hurting a little more."

In addition to the report on costs, a different agency yesterday released two new annual reports mandated by Congress on the quality of health care and disparities in care. Officials called them the most comprehensive assessments of their kind.

For the report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, researchers compiled data from dozens of sources collected by the federal government and others to create 179 quality measures, including 46 "core" measures.

The researchers concluded that the overall quality of care in 2005 had improved at a rate of 2.8 percent from 2003. That was the same increase as the year before, and many measures showed no improvement or even decreases.

For example, there was improvement in the percentage of patients with high blood pressure whose condition was under control, but no improvement in providing speedy treatment to people having heart attacks.

In the second report, the National Healthcare Disparities Report, researchers found more measures on which the quality gap between whites and racial minorities was shrinking than widening. But the report found that major disparities remained for all groups and that the gap had widened for Hispanics.

Of disparities experienced by blacks, 58 percent were narrowing and 42 percent were widening, the researchers found. For Hispanics, 41 percent of disparities were narrowing, whereas 59 percent were becoming larger.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

U.S. Healthcare Tab Grows Faster Than the Economy
The Los Angeles Times - January 10, 2006
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — America's healthcare bill rose to nearly $2 trillion in 2004, or about $6,280 for every man, woman and child, a team of government economists reported today.

Healthcare spending grew faster than the output of the economy, siphoning off a disproportionate share of increasing incomes.

But the 7.9% rate of increase was a little lower than in 2003, the experts said, because some efforts to control prescription-drug costs were succeeding.

"Medical spending continues to rise faster than wages and faster than economic growth, and workers are paying much more in healthcare premiums than just a few years ago," said the report by economists from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published in the journal Health Affairs.

Although polls show that increasing medical costs and diminishing insurance coverage are leading concerns for voters, it's unlikely that a Congress bitterly divided along partisan lines will succeed in any comprehensive effort to control costs or expand coverage for an estimated 46 million uninsured people.

"What you see is ongoing pressure," said economist Deborah Chollet of Mathematica Policy Research, which conducts technical studies for government and business. "There is an agreement by most observers that the private health system is crumbling."

The report warned: "Continued spending growth will require difficult trade-offs for businesses, households and governments as other spending also rises. These trade-offs are more stringent for those with fewer resources."

As the government's annual accounting of healthcare costs, the report found that spending is growing not only in dollar terms, but as a share of the economy. Healthcare represented 16% of the economic pie in 2004, compared with 13.8% in 1993 and 9.1% in 1980.

For those concerned about costs, prescription spending was a bright spot.

Americans paid $188.5 billion for prescription medications in 2004, about $14 billion more than the year before. But the 8.2% increase was the first time in a decade that drug costs have risen by less than a double-digit percentage.

Be Kind to Animals - Don't Eat Them!
www.farmusa.org; 1-888-FARM USA

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7. New Jane Goodal Book on Global Effects of Our Diets

Bleak harvest
Global eating exposé leads to indigestion

AN exposé on world food production, Jane Goodall's latest work gives new meaning to the adage "we are what we eat."

In fact, the book unleashes an arsenal of information so menacingly bleak that it may give some readers indigestion.

Goodall is the world's foremost authority on chimpanzees. She has published numerous books, some autobiographical and others focusing on the animal kingdom and the environment. One of her best known is In the Shadow of Man, a classic account of primate behaviour.

In fervent prose, the book describes the food we eat, where it comes from and how it reaches our tables. Accordingly, the topics include agribusiness, genetically modified food, animal rights, vegetarianism and the organic food movement.

Each chapter contains a description of some current aspect of food production, a sidebar describing an individual's effort to counteract it and a section entitled "What You Can Do."

According to Goodall, buying organic produce and free range meat, joining a food co-op, growing a garden and demanding labels for genetically modified foods will help bring about positive change.

She also advocates eating less meat or becoming a vegetarian as she herself has done.

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8. On the Human Treatment of Animals

Forwarded material from Dawnwatch:

The Canberra Times, the largest paper in Australia's capital city, includes a piece in the Monday, January 9 edition, on the issue of human treatment of other species. I generally summarize long pieces, providing a link to the article for those who wish to read the detail. I am somewhat pleased, however, that I cannot find a link to this piece on the paper's website and must send out the article in full. The piece is already a summary of Professor Mirko Bagaric's paper "No absence of Malice Towards the Gallus - Animal Cruelty the Shame of a Generation in the Environmental and Planning Law Journal Generation (with Keith Akers)." It does not waste words.

Bagaric details some of the cruelty we inflict on other animals, then argues, cogently, for the elevation of their moral standing, via incremental steps, to a point where it is universally considered wrong to consume them. There are those in our movement who argue, also persuasively, that incrementalism interferes with achieving that ultimate goal. They will not agree with all of Bagaric's points. What most in our movement with will agree on, however, is that it is terrific to see this searing indictment of the way we treat members of other species published in a leading newspaper.

The piece opens the door for letters to the editor regarding our relationships with other species. I hope many people will send appreciative notes to the Canberra Times. Few papers print pieces such as this; the Canberra Times should be commended. The paper takes letters at http://tinyurl.com/cl8hp

Canberra Times
January 9, 2006 Monday


The Moral black spot that we have towards animals is so gaping that it will shame us in the eyes of future generations.

That's the message we should take from the Greenpeace activists that are harassing the Japanese whaling fleet as it goes about its brutal task of fulfilling its self-awarded licence quota of killing 935 minke and 10 fin whales this summer. The Japanese don't have a monopoly when it comes to dishing out doses of human savagery towards animals. All countries engage in the practice at obscenely high levels.

The killing of whales is a particularly distressing example of animal cruelty. Whales scream in terror as they are being massacred in a killing process that often lasts for several hours. Unlike humans, they are not blessed with a consciousness shut off valve that kicks in when they are subjected to extreme levels of pain. Their suffering continues as their flesh is repeatedly harpooned and ripped apart.

The rivers of blood that are now filling the Antarctic ocean should jar our moral psyche into overdrive to reassess the manner in which we treat animals.

Looking back on history many of us are bewildered at the barbarity displayed by previous generations towards the interests of certain agents. More enlightened future generations will regard the callous disregard with which we treat animals as on a par with the repugnant ways that our forefathers treated groups such as women and people with dark skin.

We eat millions of animals annually, despite the fact that animal products are not essential (and in some cases are detrimental) to our dietary needs. In the process we often farm and kill animals in cruel ways. We have no qualms about inflicting the cruel death of gentle creatures so that we can salivate on the transient delight of a yummy burger, even though we would salivate no less on a vegetarian meal, properly prepared.

Don't be conned into thinking that we don't inflict suffering on animals in the process. Just go to your local battery hen plant for a visit. There you will notice that within one to 10 days of being hatched, chicks will be debeaked, which involves amputating about half of their beak with a red hot blade or wire. The pain involved is so intense, that some chicks die of shock or injury. Shortly after this they are placed in 50cm x 50cm wire cages with up to four other hens, where they stay for the rest of their lives. They will never experience the ''luxury'' of walking or spreading their wings. Many hens lose all their feathers from being pecked by others and some even die from pecking injuries. All this so that we pay a few cents less for our omelettes. Mercifully, the laying capacity of battery hens reduces quickly and after one or two years most are slaughtered for pet food or flavour concentrates.

We also intentionally inflict pain on animals in scientific experiments that have less than remote chances of success and use their skins to keep us warm and enhance our looks, despite the fact that we have an oversupply of synthetic material which can satisfy these ''needs''.

Rarely is the benefits and burdens scale so grossly distorted. It's time for the carnage to stop.

There is no wriggle room on the animal cruelty front. It is unquestionably morally repugnant. Animals can't speak in ways that we understand. Their intellect is not high and they don't have an awareness of themselves as continuing entities over time. Yet they are entitled to be treated with concern and regard because they possess the most important attribute that qualifies an entity for moral standing: the capacity to feel pain and suffer.

Suffering is suffering, whether experienced by animals or humans. The physiological process is identical.

It is always agonizing to endure and often as agonizing to observe. That's why few people who witness the excruciating death of a whale would contemplate eating whale flesh and the best advertisement for free range eggs is a visit to a battery hen processing plant.

To remedy this situation we need to be cognisant of the lessons of history. Full moral status is not accorded quickly to repressed agents. Thus, we need to move towards incrementally improving the plight of animals. The first stage of this process involves ceasing to engage in activities that are cruel to animals, unless there is an overwhelming benefit to be obtained from such conduct. This means that it is never permissible to kill animals for food by painful means, given that we do not need animal products to maintain a healthy diet. Cruelty in relation to scientific experimentation should be only permitted where the objective of the research is to advance human or animal health; the potential benefits of the research are significant; the research goals cannot be achieved without animal experimentation and there is a high level of confidence that the research will achieve its stated outcomes.

Once the moral standing of animals has been elevated to a point where it is accepted that it is impermissible to treat them cruelly, the next stage involves a recognition of the fact that it is wrong to kill animals (even using painless techniques), or otherwise mistreat them, for our consumption. Until we reach that level of moral understanding our behaviour towards animals will continue to be the shame of our generation. Mahatma Gandhi correctly noted that: ''the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated''. It's not only the Japanese that stand condemned at this point in history.
Professor Mirko Bagaric is the Head of Deakin Law School. This is a summary of his paper No absence of Malice Towards the Gallus - Animal Cruelty the Shame of a Generation in the Environmental and Planning Law Journal Generation (with Keith Akers).

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To unsubscribe, go to http://www.dawnwatch.com/cgi-bin/dada/dawnwatch_unsubscribe.cgi If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)

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9. Update on Global Climate Change Threats

A Victory in Montreal, But. . .
Future Hope column, January 9, 2006
By Ted Glick

"The Earth's climate is nearing, but has not passed, a tipping point beyond which it will be impossible to avoid climate change with far-ranging undesirable consequences. These include not only the loss of the Arctic as we know it, with all that implies for wildlife and indigenous peoples, but losses on a much vaster scale due to rising seas. . . The Earth's history suggests that with warming of two to three degrees, the new sea level will include not only most of the ice from Greenland and West Antarctica, but a portion of East Antarctica, raising the sea level by twenty-five meters, or eighty feet." James Hansen, NASA scientist, as quoted in 1/12/06 N.Y. Review of Books

There is no question but that the earth and all its life forms won a victory over those who are destroying them in early December at the United Nations Climate Conference in Montreal, Canada. Despite the arrogant and obstructionist efforts of the U.S. delegation to prevent it, the nations of the world who have signed the Kyoto Protocol agreed to take steps to begin negotiations this year on how to strengthen the Protocol when its current first phase ends in 2012.

The world's governments stood firm partly because the science is so overwhelmingly clear on this issue, partly because countries around the world are beginning to experience the negative effects of global warming, and partly because on December 3rd over 30,000 people in Montreal and close to 100,000 internationally demonstrated in the streets.

The birth in 2005 of this visible international grassroots movement is as important, probably more important, than the decisions made inside the Palais de Congres in Montreal. Because the hard reality is that, despite those decisions, the pace and scale of action to slow, stop and reverse
global warming is much too slow, much too influenced by the power and influence of the transnational corporations whose bottom line is not the health of the world's peoples, animals, mammals, fish, insects and plants but, instead, the pursuit of selfish profit.

A recent article, "Neoliberal Bird Flu Infects Climate Talks," by G.C.S. Erion and M.K. Dorsey, explains how this happened and what it has meant:

"Back in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was being negotiated, the Brazilian delegation came forward with the idea of a Clean Development Fund whereby developed countries (called Annex 1 in the Protocol) would face heavy fines for missing their reductions targets, which would be put towards north-south clean technology transfer. However, the American delegation rejected this proposal in favor of a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that rejected fines and substituted emissions trading. Similar to their acid rain trading program, this scheme would allow Annex 1 (developed) countries to get credits against their own targets by investing in emissions reductions or sequestration projects in developing countries. The scheme effectively avoided forcing transnational polluters to pay for carbon pollution.

When introduced the CDM proposal was rejected by the EU, the G77, and the vast majority of environmental organizations (ENGOs) as they worried it would fail to deliver real benefits in developing countries or any real reductions in developed countries. Yet the Americans made it very clear that they would not sign Kyoto without the CDM and so everyone finally agreed to it.

"Now eight years later, the Americans of course have refused to ratify Kyoto, the Europeans have gotten over their initial opposition to trading and launched the EU Emissions Trading System (EUETS) in early 2004, and many ENGOs - such as the Climate Action Network (CAN) - now support trading. Yet the empirical evidence around all the flaws of the CDM keeps building up. . . Poorer countries, especially in Africa, have attracted very little investment. . . For those countries who are getting the investments, the vast majority of emissions credits approved to date are concentrated around projects that capture and/or destroy other [than carbon dioxide] greenhouse gases like hydroflorocarbons or methane, which provide little benefits to local communities, but enormous returns on investments for project developers. . . Thus traditional energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, which were initially expected to represent the bulk of the CDM, now account for less than 5% of the market."

Those around the world and around the USA who recognize the urgency of the climate crisis, those who are prepared to speak and act on that basis, have an obligation to be forthright and clear about what is needed if we are to have a chance of preventing the catastrophe of an 80 foot rise in sea levels and all the other catastrophes coming down the pike. And now is the time to do so because this year, as a result of the decisions in Montreal, organized international discussions are to begin about how to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. We need to broaden and deepen the international grassroots movement, and that movement needs to demand a significant course correction in the way in which this crisis is being addressed, indeed, before 2012.

Climate Crisis: USA Join the World, the network of 70 organizations that came together last year and which organized clean energy actions around the USA during the time of the Montreal conference, put out a press release just prior to that conference about what it thought was needed:

"The Climate Crisis group is demanding that the U.S. government join the world by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and then take action to achieve the 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which credible scientists agree is necessary to stabilize the climate. It calls on the federal government to withdraw its annual $25 billion in subsidies for coal and oil and create equivalent subsidies for clean, safe, non-nuclear energy alternatives; to dramatically strengthen energy conservation and fuel efficiency standards; to plan for a just transition for workers,
Indigenous communities and others affected by a change to clean energy; and to actively defend the world's forests and support community-run tree planting campaigns.

"Climate Crisis also proposes that the U.S. government enact tax-shifting legislation to decrease the amount of taxes taken from a worker's salary and to raise the same amount via a tax on the use of carbon-based fuels--oil, coal and natural gas--which cause global warming.

"The Climate Crisis program, moreover, urges that the international community establish a fund, of about $300 billion a year for about a decade, to jump-start renewable energy infrastructures in developing countries. That fund could be financed by a tax on international airline travel or by a miniscule tax (0.025 percent) on international currency transactions -- in other words, a tax on global commerce to fund the transfer of clean energy to poor and developing countries.

"Finally, Climate Crisis endorses the proposal made by, among others, Margot Wallstrom, former Environmental Commissioner of the European Union, and Sir Crispin Tickell, former British Ambassador to the United Nations, for a 5% Progressive Fossil Fuel Efficiency Standard and urges delegates and climate activists in Montreal to publicly support this approach. Under this mechanism, every country would start at its current baseline of energy use and increase its energy efficiency by 5% every year until the necessary 70% reduction of greenhouse gases is attained.

"Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat Is On (1997) and Boiling Point (2004), said of these proposals, 'They are ideas whose time has to come, and that time is now. The world scientific community is in agreement that the climate crisis is real, it is accelerating, and there is an urgent need to take action today.'"

With the limited victory won in Montreal, environmental organizations have a responsibility to give leadership, to call for and demand that the world's governments discuss and support these or similar ideas. We cannot accept that the earth's ecosystem be held hostage to a corporate-type "solution" that is clearly not working given the escalating and dangerous pace of climate change.

All people who care about our future, whether currently active with an environmental group or not, must learn more about this issue, take steps to be about energy conservation on a personal level, publicly speak out, and consciously build the energy conservation/clean energy movement. More mayors and local governments, more state governments, more universities, more religious institutions, more small businesses and, yes, more corporations need to take action to improve efficiency, reduce fossil fuel use and increase the use of renewable energy. Every candidate running for office this year and next should be confronted with people demanding that he/she take the right positions and do the right thing if elected or re-elected.

Finally, we have to keep up the "street heat" pressure. November 11th will be the next International Day of Climate Protest, but we can't wait until then. We need to consider how to up the ante, how we underline the urgency and magnitude of our crisis. Organized fasts; a national march on Washington; targeted nonviolent civil disobedience: all of these and other tactics must remain under active and on-going discussion.

The holidays are over; the new year is beginning; it's time to get busy!

Ted Glick is a leader of the Climate Crisis Coalition (www.climatecrisis.us) and is acting coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network (www.ippn.org). He can be reached at indpol@igc.org or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.

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10. Update on Bird Flu Threat

Forwarded message:

Avian Influenza: US to Test All Birds as More Deaths Reported Worldwide

In an effort to reassure US chicken consumers about their products, members of the industry's National Chicken Council (NCC) have announced they will test all domestic flocks for avian influenza. Tyson Foods, the largest slaughterer of animals in the world and purveyor of 26% of all domestically consumed (US) chicken flesh, is reportedly conducting 15,000 avian influenza tests per week. Pilgrims Pride Corporation, which controls 16% of the domestic market, and other companies are following suit by requiring contract "growers" to submit to testing. In total more than 90% of US chickens raised for their flesh will be tested. Ifany birds have the H5 or H7 types of avian influenza, the NCC says the entire flock "will be promptly and humanely destroyed on the farm and disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner." The NCC agreement also calls for a 2-mile quarantine of all other chicken flocks located near an outbreak. The US poultry industry is attempting to diffuse consumer concerns about the possibility of highly pathogenic avian influenza coming to the US. Recent reports indicate that Turkey now has 15 known human cases of the disease, plus other human cases in China and Indonesia, although scientists have been unable to confirm any human-to-human transmission.

1. "Chicken Companies Expand Bird Flu Tests," dnronline.com, 1/7/06

2. Press Release: "Testing Program Launched to Ensure Chicken Products are Free of Avian Influenza," National Chicken Council, 1/5/06

3. "New Human Bird Flu Cases Reported in Turkey, China, Indonesia," Meatingplace.com, 1/10/06 (Registration)

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11. New 2006 Calendar Focuses on Jewish Teachings On Kind Acts, Charity, and Repairing the World

Forward message from Arevut:

A Kindness A Day Calendar

Areyvut is pleased to announce that our 2006 "A Kindness a Day" Calendar is now available for purchase. After receiving such an extraordinary response to our 2005 calendar, Areyvut has worked with Judaica Press to develop a fresh look, new suggested activities and insightful corresponding quotes that promise to make this year's calendar even better than the first. Like the 2005 calendar, this year's "A Kindness a Day" Calendar contains 365 suggested activities that exemplify Jewish values. Activities are based on such ideals as chesed, tzedakah, and tikkun olam, Torah learning, teaching, and character improvement. The 2006 calendar is great for adults and children, for homes, schools and organizations, both as a guide to help inculcate Jewish values into one's life and as a springboard for discussion and study.

The original idea for the calendar was inspired by the "Book of Jewish Values," written by renowned author and member of Areyvut's Advisory Committee Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

The calendars can be purchased through www.Amazon.com, www.JudaicaPress.com and at better Jewish book and gift stores nationwide. Areyvut offers special pricing for schools, synagogues, non-profit organizations and discounts for bulk purchases.

Click on the following link to read the www.areyvut.org/calendar/pressrelease2006.doc.

Click on the following link to see a sample week of the calendar www.areyvut.org/Calendar/picture.asp.

To see Frequently Asked questions about The 2006 Areyvut "A Kindness a Day" Calendar please www.areyvut.org/Calendar/calfaq.asp.

To learn about the impact the calendar has had please visit www.areyvut.org/Calendar/impact.asp.

For more information about The 2006 Areyvut "A Kindness a Day" Calendar please contact Areyvut at 212-813-2950 or via e-mail at info@areyvut.org.

"Make A Difference" Day 2006: March 31, 2006

From Friday, March 31st-Sunday, April 2nd will be Areyvut's second annual "Make a Difference" Day where we invite schools, synagogues, families and community organizations to dedicate their day to helping others. We anticipate the 2006 "Make a Difference" Day to build on the success of last year's program. More details about "Make a Difference" Day and educational resources will be available in the coming weeks.

We encourage you to register for "Make a Difference" Day at www.areyvut.org/Calendar/makereg.asp.

We welcome cosponsors who will help financially, inform others about the program and participate in it. For more information on "Make A Difference" Day 2006, please visit www.areyvut.org/Action/make2006.asp.


Give a Calendar and Impact the World

Areyvut's "A Kindness a Day" Calendar has been widely received throughout the country. On each page of the calendar, there is a text regarding Jewish values to reflect upon and a related task to accomplish. Regardless of an individual's background or interests, the goals set by this calendar inspire its readers to give of themselves to others.

While the calendar can be motivational for people we know, it is also a means by which we can reach out to others. A number of community organizations have voiced an interest in distributing these calendars to their staff and program participants, and we ask for your help in fulfilling their needs. For each $18 donation, you can ensure that one person receives a copy of our "A Kindness a Day Calendar." Your act of kindness will inspire others to act with similar kindness, thereby continuing the chain of chesed, tzedakah and tikkun olam, among the Jewish people.

Donations can be made by personal check, credit card, or gifts of stocks or securities. For more information on sponsoring the calendar, please visit www.areyvut.org/Calendar/sponsor.asp or contact our office at 212-813-2950 or via e-mail at info@areyvut.org.

Matching Funds

From December 22nd through January 22nd all contributions from "new" Areyvut donors will be matched dollar for dollar for a total of up to $25,000.

Donations can be made by personal check, credit card, or gifts of stocks or securities. For more information on donating to Areyvut, please visit www.areyvut.org/Support/match2006.asp or contact our office at 212-813-2950 or via e-mail at info@areyvut.org.

The Bottom Line

"How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to change the world."
Anne Frank

Wishing you a happy and healthy year of actively working together to make a difference.

1001 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1208
New York, NY 10018

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12. God Does Not Eat Meat - A New E-Book From Arthur Poletti

Forwarded message:

WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill./EWORLDWIRE/Jan. 11, 2006 --- God Does Not Eat Meat is a new e-book that explores the cruelty of animal slaughterhouses and asks the reader, What If? The book, which can be read for free online or downloaded for a small fee, uses history and fact to weave a shocking, life-changing narrative. The author, Arthur Poletti, was inspired by his intuitive relationship with animals, the earth and God to write the story.

The thought provoking and controversial story cuts between a violent and bloody present world in which millions of animals are slaughtered daily, to a future America where all meat has been removed from the food chain. The unlikely hero goes against the status quo with unyielding determination to set an example of the power of kindness for the benefit of his family and friends.

The story was written to honor the irreplaceable life of each and every vulnerable animal that has been or will be killed in a slaughterhouse, has been or will be hunted and killed for sport and that has or will suffer during the gruesome process of laboratory experimentations.

full story

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