January 1, 2008

1/1/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Best Wishes For a Happy New Year To All

2. Update On A SACRED DUTY

3. Great New Jewish Vegetarian Web Site: ShalomVeg.com

4. Article Recommends That People Consider Switching to Vegetarianism For the New Year

5. Summary of 2007 Animal-Related Issues

6. Human Activities Threaten Survival of Some Mammals

7. How Climate Change is Altering World Relationships

8. Year End Summary From CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals In Israel)

9. Best Friends Animal Society Interviews Me and Posts Interview at Their Web Site

10. Strange Weather in US and Worldwide in 2007 Due to Global Warming

11. Climate Set to Alter California Landscape

12. January IVU (International Vegetarian Union) Online News Published

13. My Letter to the Forward

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 the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, 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. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Best Wishes For a Happy New Year To All

Thanks to everyone receiving this JVNA newsletter for your involvement through 2007 and for all that you are doing to create a more humane, just, healthy, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

Let us hope that, with our great new outreach tool A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD, we will make great progress toward a more –vegetarian world in 2008.

Your comments and suggestions will always be welcome.

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2. Update On A SACRED DUTY

As the items below indicate, A SACRED DUTY continues to receive a very positive response. Especially from the vegetarian community. However, as in the past, there is still much resistance from meat-eaters. They just do not want to be confronted by the facts. They just want to be left alone, to continue their carnivorous eating habits, no matter how harmful to themselves and to the planetary environment.

So, we need creative ideas and we have to find ways to effectively use A SACRED DUTY to break through the ignorance and apathy that are so prevalent.

I plan to send out some strategy ideas, sample press releases and other approaches in upcoming JVNA messages.

Here are some recent responses we have received re A SACRED DUTY:

I just used the quiet time mandated by my cold to view A Sacred Duty. Magnificent. The production shines, the narration is elegant and moving, the message is inspirational and wrenching. Even though I know your work is always beautiful, seeing yet another achievement is a thrill, and even though I have heard you speak to the environmental issues, the affect of the film is profound.

Congratulations! Bravo! Thank you for the good you are doing!
Love, Lois _____,
Author, Artist

I want to compliment you on a phenomenal documentary. It is extremely powerful and I was so thrilled to see you covered everything that Al Gore did not. It flows so well from the global warming problem to livestock to the health aspects and finishing up with the brutal and horrific treatment of the animals -- for what ... a meal? I am so sensitive to the feelings of animals that I shook uncontrollably for about a half an hour after I had managed to stop crying - it is quite unbelievable to me that anyone can treat anything in such a manner - the cow's tears will never leave me - as all the shocking atrocities committed against all these sentient beings. How can we possibly call our society civilized? I keep copies of many of the documentaries made about animal suffering such as Earthlings, Meet your Meat, If this is Kosher, Delicacy of Despair and others, which I either give to people or loan out. But to be honest with you, I cannot watch as I become immobilized - I did watch yours and it is inconceivable what is done to these innocent beings. Anyone with an ounce of morality will change their life after watching your documentary for the sake of the animals, the earth and their health.

I plan to ask some people I know who belong to synagogues here to set up appointments with several rabbis and give them a copy of the documentary and ask whether they would share this with their congregation - actually the way I feel right now I just want to put up huge screens everywhere and make sure the public see the indescribable suffering these animals endure and the treatment of them for nothing more than an unhealthy meal. I have found that a powerful tool I use for those people insensitive to animal suffering is giving them a copy of The China Study to read, and everyone I have given the book to (my daughter finds that her friends have become vegan after she has given them Skinny Bitch) has gone vegan (one gentleman in South Africa aged 88 and one in Florida aged 83) and from there have begun to explore the books available on food and animals such as your book, Richard and John Robbins and Howard Lyman's books - many have written to me and said that they cannot believe they once ate animals after reading about the treatment of the animals and the illness that can be avoided by going vegan.

Thank you for making such a powerful and truthful documentary that I believe will educate the public about the urgency of changing our habits if they are wise enough to do so, and will help the precious animals and our planet.

Thank you so much!!!

Melanie Blake
Houston, Texas

We are getting daily requests from people, Jews and non-Jews, in the U.S. and in many other countries, requesting DVDs and indicating plans to arrange screenings.

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3. Great New Jewish Vegetarian Web Site: ShalomVeg.com

a. Boris Dolin, a rabbinical student currently learning in Israel, has set up a wonderful web site ShalomVeg.com, with a wide variety of very interesting material. Please visit and interact with the material.

Recently, Boris has added the valuable message below about A SACRED DUTY at ShalomVeg.com. You can add comments at the end of the article.

Is This The Movie We Have Been Waiting For?

A Sacred Duty

In November, the new Jewish Vegetarians of North America documentary A Sacred Duty premiered in Jerusalem, and since then has been shown in synagogues, community centers, and other venues all across the US. The movie, produced by the award-winning documentary filmmaker, Lionel Friedberg, focuses on the environmental issues threatening our planet, including global warming and pollution, and contains interviews with various rabbis and leaders in the Jewish community speaking about what Jewish tradition says we must do to deal with the threats.

There have been many great documentaries over the past few years dealing with environmental and vegetarian issues, including the award winning A Peaceable Kingdom, and of course, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Yet what makes this film so unique is that the call to action comes not only from the urgent need to save our imperiled planet, but from a call to connect to the truths of our Jewish texts and traditions which tell us why change must happen.

We learn that the same teachings which command us to care for our neighbor, tell us we must care for the environment and for all life on earth. We hear from rabbis and leaders from all over the denominational spectrum including Rabbi David Rosen, the former chief rabbi of Ireland, Reconstructionist Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Rabbi Adam Frank, the rabbi of the largest Conservative synagogue in Israel, and Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, a Breslov chassid. There are also interviews with environmental leaders in Israel, and JVNA president, Richard Schwartz among others. While the lifestyles and beliefs of the people profiled in the movie might differ, each of these leaders believes that the core values of Judaism command us to care for the environment, and take seriously the threats which we see around us. They also show that Judaism has much to say about tsaar baalei chayim - compassion for animals, and the power of a vegetarian diet.

Many of us came to vegetarianism for different reasons, but we all know the power of a good movie to make people think. When we can see the faces of people speaking so strongly about their faith, when we can see the pain in an animal's eyes as he is being led to slaughter, and when we are forced to look at the shocking statistics about the impact human progress has had on the environment, we can't help but be compelled to make a change. A Sacred Duty will be an important tool for the Jewish vegetarian and environmental community as we work to influence and educate others about the issues.

JVNA is giving out free copies of the DVD to congregations and groups who are willing to arrange showings of the film. For more information see the website of A Sacred Duty .

Have you seen the movie? What did you think? What was the most compelling message of the movie for you?

[Please go to ShalomVeg.com, to add your comments. Thanks.]

b. Guest Column at Heeb’n’Vegan
Guest Post: Introducing ShalomVeg.com!

Guest post by Boris Dolin (director, ShalomVeg.com)

When I started rabbinical school a few years ago, I noticed that in my own community and in those I visited there were growing numbers of vegetarians, and I met people who stopped eating meat for many different reasons. Some couldn't justify saying they loved animals and then continue to eat them. Some said that it was their way of keeping kosher. Others simply did it for their health or because they didn't like the idea of eating meat. There were vegetarians and a sprinkling of animal activists all across the denominational spectrum, and I was thankful that saying I was a vegan was not something that got me into too much trouble.

The exploration of the connections between Judaism, vegetarianism and animal issues is not new, but only recently has the subject really moved into the forefront. The recent Hazon conference, the JVNA documentary A SACRED DUTY, and the great posts here on Heeb'n'Vegan are good examples. Yet, as I talked with the Jewish vegetarians and animal activists I met, I realized that there was a definite need for something else--for a place where the community could connect with each other and feel at "home." Many people felt that while they could be openly vegetarian in their Jewish communities, people did not always fully understand the issues or misunderstood the reasons for their eating choices. Others said that their veggie friends never fully appreciated their pride in being Jewish, or recognized the importance of issues such as social justice and compassion towards animals in the Jewish tradition. With these ideas in mind, I decided to create a website where the Jewish vegetarian and animal rights community could meet and connect with each other -- hopefully gaining strength to make important changes in the world.

ShalomVeg.com went online last month as a comprehensive free online community for Jewish vegetarians, vegans and animal rights activists to learn, network and build connections with each other. On the site, users can catch up on current animal rights and Jewish news, search for and share recipes, and explore the growing article and essay collection. If you register on the site -- don’t worry it’s free and completely private -- you can also:

* Create an online profile (like a simple veggiefied version of Facebook) and meet other people who share your interests and passions; find people in your area, work on projects, or share activism ideas with the people you meet; and add others to your friends list, send messages, and create your own mini-community.
* Join the forums to learn, share and ask questions.
* Create your own blog space to share your thoughts.
* Use the classified ads pages to buy, sell, share a skill, or make an announcement.
* Submit your own articles, essays and stories to share with ShalomVeg readers, and comment on articles you have read.

Other sections such as chat rooms and a "creative corner" will be added in the next few weeks.

Like any community, ShalomVeg is starting small, and we are looking for any and all ideas about what you would like to see on the site. Please register, spread the word and make the site your own. The more people who join the community, the more we can make change!

The site can be found at http://www.ShalomVeg.com.

Looking forward to seeing you at ShalomVeg!

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4. Article Recommends That People Consider Switching to Vegetarianism For the New Year

Takes comments:


Why Not Give a Vegetarian Diet a Try for the New Year?
by Bruce Friedrich

The New Year is upon us, and at PETA, we're encouraging people to, for their new year's resolution, give a healthy vegetarian diet a try. Just last month, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta celebrated that the average cholesterol level in this country has fallen to 199, which is below (just barely) their stated target of 200. It's too bad the CDC is happy with a 199 average in this country, since at 199, people are still dropping like flies from heart disease.

Heart disease kills more people in North America than does any other cause of death. Up until the 1980s, it was assumed that as people get older, their arteries inevitably become clogged. If you didn't get hit by a bus or die of cancer or something else, your arteries would eventually close, causing either your brain or your heart to give out, and that would be it. Enter Doctors Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, two doctors with 100 percent success in preventing and reversing heart
disease, using a low-fat vegan diet.

If you know someone who has had a heart attack or suffers from heart problems, please stop listening right now and buy them Dr. Esselstyn's book, Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease, which details his work at the top heart clinic in the world, The Cleveland Clinic. He covers both the skepticism of his colleagues, and also his 100 percent success taking people with advanced stages of heart disease, people who were told by their cardiologists that they were going to die, and stopping the disease in its tracks and even, in most instances, reversing it. The book will change, and perhaps save, their life.

The average vegan American's cholesterol level is about 133, while the average vegetarians cholesterol level is 161. And the average meat-eater's cholesterol level is now at 199. Although the medical establishment may say, "Well, you've done your best," at 199, people are still dying in droves. As Dr. Charles Attwood pointed out, this is insane: If people were being run down by trucks at the same rate that
they're dying from heart attacks induced by meat, eggs, and dairy products, drastic steps would be taken.

And it's not just heart disease that a vegetarian diet is good for. The American Dietetic Association, the world's largest organization of nutrition professionals, performed an extensive review of all the scientific studies about vegetarian diets. They found that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity than meat-eaters, and wrote a position paper on
vegetarian and vegan diets which concludes that vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for all stages, including infancy and pregnancy, and that in fact they have, "health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."

And it's not just disease prevention that a vegetarian diet helps -- most vegetarians report increased energy and concentration, among other advantages. Consider a study from a school for troubled youth in Miami. Dr. Antonia Demas from Cornell University put kids there on a vegan diet, resulting in a The Miami Herald headline, "Brain Food: Student Vegans See Boost in Grades, Energy." School Principal Mary Louise Cole
explained that the students "seem to have a lot more energy -- they don't have the down times." Gabriel Saintvil, stated that "I used to get tired when I ran laps or lifted weights. Now I get endurance and keep on doing it."

It works for adults, too. Carl Lewis, named "Olympian of the Century" by Sports Illustrated, says, "[M] y best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet. Moreover, by continuing to eat a vegan diet, my weight is under control, I like the way I look."

And Atlanta Hawks guard Salim Stoudimire reports that his veganism, "does amazing things for my basketball game. I essentially never get tired [so] I have certainly became much more of a pain to guard because I have a lot of energy. And at the end of games, when everyone is not jumping as high, I now get a ton more points in the paint and rebounds. And I don't get sick very often. I can't shake the feeling that more athletes should try eating this way."

Of course, new year's resolutions tend to focus on weight loss more than anything else, and vegetarianism is helpful there, too, since vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters are, and vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese. You can be an overweight vegan, of course, and you can be a skinny meat-eater. But on average, vegans are 10 to 20 percent lighter than meat-eaters.

Temporary diets don't work, but a lifestyle switch to a vegetarian diet does, in instance after instance after instance, as documented in books like Dr. Neal Barnard's Food for Life or Dr. Dean Ornish's Eat More, Weigh Less. The cancer prevention properties of a vegetarian diet were covered on HuffPo last year about this time in Michael Huffington's new year's resolution column about his own vegan commitment after he read Dr. T. Colin Campbell's best-selling book, The China Study, so I won't revisit them here.

Of course, a vegetarian diet is also the best diet for the environment and animals <http://www.meat.org> , as has been discussed admirably in the past on HuffPo. I grew up in Minnesota and Oklahoma, and when I was
first presented with the idea of not eating meat, it sounded to me about as plausible as not breathing oxygen. But upon further examination, I came to see that my progressive ideology requires of me an openness to new and challenging ideas, even if they strike at the foundation of my existence -- what I eat.

Readers interested in meal plans, cookbook recommendations, recipes, and more, can find it all at www.VegCooking.com. For more information on all aspects of vegetarianism and the meat industry, please visit
www.GoVeg.com. Happy Eating and Happy New Year!

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5. Summary of 2007 Animal-Related Issues

Selections from:
DawnWatch Animal News year end round-up -- 2007

It's Christmas morning. Before I shut down my computer until January 3, 2008, I will enjoy fulfilling what has become a DawnWatch tradition -- a scan of the media stories of the year. Because I feel so blessed to do this work, Christmas morning seems the most perfect time to sum up a year of it.

For dogs, 2007 was the year of "fake fur” coats made from real dog fur, of the Menu pet food crisis, of celebrity pet store blunders, and the year of Michael Vick.

In February the Humane Society released a report telling us it had tested
garments being sold at popular outlets and had found many garments labeled faux but containing real fur. Also, fur labeled as raccoon was sometimes from wild dog, or domestic dog, including a German shepherd-collie mix. The story got widespread media play, even in People magazine. While animal advocates may dislike the suggestion that dog fur coats are more repugnant than others, the dog angle got the media. The widespread coverage reminded the public that all fur coats were once live sentient animals.

In 2007, the hideous practice of dog fighting finally got massive media
attention when Michael Vick was arrested for it. There were reports that he was involved in many dog deaths including the electrocution of a dog after she lost a fight. After failing polygraph tests while denying he killed dogs, Vick finally admitted to hanging a dog and eventually owned up to another dog killing. He was sentenced, in December, to twenty-three months in prison. The dogs taken live from his property have been retired to the Best Friends sanctuary. For a short time there was so much media, Vick seemed to be the new Britney.

The scandal inspired a storyline on the hit drama series CSI, detailing the
cruelties of dog fighting. It aired December 13 under the title “Lying Down With Dogs.”

That brings us to the remarkable coverage this year of animal issues on
mainstream television, in hit drama and comedy series:

In January, on the popular show “Veronica Mars,” Veronica was hired to
investigate the disappearance of a monkey stolen from the campus lab. We learn that while the animal rights kids were suspected, the monkey, Oscar, was actually taken by a science student who couldn’t bear the thought of the monkey being euthanized, which was Oscar’s fate at the lab. Thus millions of American teenagers learned the fates of monkeys who die in laboratories for trivial purposes. Of course, Veronica decided not to turn in the science student for his act of compassion.

Also in January, ABC’s Boston Legal took a look at animal testing. Bethany defended Matthew, accused of harassing a woman named Bella who owned a cosmetic company that tested its products on animals. Matthew’s organization had been protesting outside the business and saying it kills and tortures animals. When Bethany cross examined Bella, she said: “The truth is, you do kill and torture animals, do you not?...Your company uses rabbits….You lock them in stocks so that just their heads stick out. You clip their eyelids open and poor chemicals into their eyes while they are left there for two weeks to experience ulceration, bleeding, and massive iris deterioration. Do you not subject these animals to excruciating pain?...Sometimes the rabbits break their own necks trying to escape.”

Later in the year, in December, David Kelly and Boston Legal took on meat and the environment. In one episode, the head of an environmental organization was distressed to see massive energy waste at the law firm's offices. He sued, claiming that the firm had misrepresented itself as green. Cross examining the head of the green group, the lawyer asked if he eats meat, and explained, "I only ask because studies show eating meat contributes more to greenhouse gases than driving a car. Denny says you two often have rib-eye together. Is that true?" When the defendant said he didn’t believe eating meat is worse for the environment than driving a car, the lawyer responded, "It is. Contaminated runoff from slaughterhouses is a major source of water pollution. Livestock itself contributes 18% of greenhouse gases just from, pardon me, farting. That's more than all the planes, trains and automobiles put together."

Boston Legal takes its storylines from current affairs. How wonderful that this year both animal testing and the impact of meat diets on the planet were current affairs deemed important and topical.

The Wall Street Journal covered Smithfield’s announcement that it will phase out sow gestation crates. Those are individual cages in which sows spend much of their lives. They are too small for the animals to turn around or lie down in with legs outstretched. The phase-out will be over ten or twenty years, so we continue to push for bans. This year Oregon became the first state to pass a legislative ban on the crates. In 2008 we hope to make California the third state to do so by ballot initiative. The initiative will include bans on restrictive cages for calves raised for veal, and for laying hens.

Even Wolfgang Puck went welfare, announcing early this year that he would no longer sell foie gras, and that he would introduce animal welfare standards for the meat prepared in his food empire. He also vowed to introduce more vegetarian dishes.

Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd’s work for the whales was featured in a lengthy New Yorker story, and in an interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show with the author of Whale Warriors.

Newsweek broached marriages between vegans and omnivores. And, astounding to many of us, this year Gourmet Magazine announced that it would start running regular vegetarian features, and editor Ruth Reichl wrote “how much more food there would be if we all ate vegetables instead of feeding the plants to the animals and eating their meat.” She also wrote, “It is becoming increasingly clear that we ought to change our ways. We live in a society that consumes more meat than any other group in history. There are currently more than three billion domesticated cattle, sheep and goats in the world - and that number does not include the 100 million pigs or the 9 billion chickens that we consume every year in this country alone. Livestock grazing and feed production now use 30 percent of the surface of the planet, and that takes a toll on the environment.

Eating so much meat takes a toll on us as well: Most health professionals agree that we would be better off if we consumed less meat and more vegetables."

The same magazine, in June, covered chicken slaughter, sharing gruesome details of standard practices. Gourmet!

Veganism’s move to the mainstream got a push from Skinny Bitch, a vegan diet book that sold well from the start, but which hit the number one spot on the New York Times best seller list after Victoria Beckham was spotted with a copy. 850, 000 copies are now in print!

Vegan fighter Mac Danzig won Spike TV's "Ultimate Fighter" championship.

And the New York Times Magazine section's "7th Annual Year in Ideas" included “Vegansexuality,” the term for those who seek intimate partners who share their compassionate lifestyle.

This year, at Thanksgiving, there were so many articles on vegetarian feasts that DawnWatch couldn’t possibly cover them all. I had to “settle” for the New York Times Thanksgiving Day front page article on turkey rescue! Activists taking the animal protection message into faith based communities made news with a lead article in The Los Angeles Times. The article noted the work of Best Friends, and of the new "animals and religion" program at HSUS, and of Bruce Friedrich from PETA. The Los Angeles Times also covered PETA’s undercover investigation of a hen farm run by a Trappist Monastery in South Carolina. We learned that the monks were raising the hens under standard industry conditions, and learned the cruelty of those conditions. Just before Christmas the monastery announced that it will halt its egg farming business.

Also late this year, Foxnews.com published two groundbreaking pieces about shocking cruelty at a pig slaughterhouse – just in time for the Christmas ham season. We wish Gretchen Wyler had been alive to see them – and all of this years’ amazing coverage. In May we lost the Golden Age Broadway star who founded the Genesis Awards, an award show as glamorous as she was, which honors animal friendly media. We will miss her but know that her legacy, the Genesis Awards, is stronger than ever. What a media selection there will be to choose from this year!

I have been working on DawnWatch for eight years. Every year, as I look back and see the immense increase in the amount and depth of coverage of animal issues I get a little weepy. We are getting somewhere. I thank all of you who care. This year I particularly thank the many of you who made my job easier and helped out everybody, by sending me media tips and links when I could not find the time to dig them up. Many of you know I have spent most of the year writing and putting together a book. It is called “Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals,” and will be published by Harper Collins in March. I so look forward to readings and to meeting some of the thousands of wonderful activists behind the email addresses I see on my screen. Your care and commitment is changing the world.

Wishing us all joyous holidays that renew our strength for the compassionate campaigns of 2008,

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(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. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which yyou enjoy, please help the list grow by signing
up. It is free.)

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6. Human Activities Threaten Survival of Some Mammals

Lionel Friedberg saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you
should see it.

** Humans 'drive out large mammals' **

The number of large mammals has fallen sharply across most of the planet as a result of human activity, a study says.


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7. How Climate Change is Altering World Relationships

Forwarded article

Climate Change Gives Rise to New World Order

By Mario Osava
Inter Press Service

Wednesday 26 December 2007


Rio de Janeiro - Once again, humanity is facing the risk of catastrophe. The terror of destruction by nuclear missiles ready to be launched at the touch of a button has given way to the disturbing possibility of global warming going past the point of no return, and this is turning traditional international coalitions and geopolitical concepts upside down.

Although the seriousness of the threat to human survival has been acknowledged in diplomatic rhetoric, the international powers are still not giving the climate crisis the absolute priority it deserves. The old divisions and disputes arising from strategic, economic, trade and ideological issues continue to predominate.

Brazil, for instance, should join the European Union (EU) in a "virtuous and responsible alliance," and distance itself from China, the country that now emits the greatest volume of greenhouse gases and has an "irresponsible" attitude to climate, Eduardo Viola, a professor of international relations at the University of Brasilia, told IPS.

In the view of this pioneer Brazilian scholar of global climate security, only cooperation between the main greenhouse gas emitters can create the conditions needed to avoid dangerous climate change, which will occur if the average surface temperature of the planet rises by more than two degrees during the course of this century.

An important factor will be whether or not U.S. voters chooses a president in November 2008 who is capable of taking a leadership role in facing this challenge.

Brazil, the sixth largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, the United States, the EU, India and Russia, could contribute to climate-friendly progress by allying itself with European governments and Japan to work for "a transition to a low-carbon economy," assuming major commitments and recovering the degree of environmental leadership it enjoyed in the 1990s, said Viola.


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8. Year End Summary From CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals In Israel)


2007 saw the placement in loving, caring homes of all the puppies we rescued from the line of fire, and the joyous celebration of their one-year reunion. Watch the adventure, from rescue through reunion, on YouTube: www.youtube.com/ChaiAnimalRescue

Our Israeli sister charity, Hakol Chai, exposed numerous incidents of severe animal abuse (including puppies at a pet store and cart horses on the street), reported them to municipal authorities, and followed up to ensure that action was taken.

CHAI created humane education materials for schools and made presentations to Sunday school classes in the U.S., while Hakol Chai made presentations to classes of school children in Israel, encouraging them to take a stand for animals.

Hakol Chai put up hundreds of posters on the streets in Israeli cities to promote awareness of horse abuse and highlighted this problem through the media. Hakol Chai also held demonstrations, disseminated information in the media, and lobbied in the Knesset to educate Israelis about the cruelties in the horse racing industry.

"Having grown up in Israel, I know first hand how difficult the situation for animals is there. I greatly appreciate the work of CHAI and Hakol Chai in making a difference, and I am happy to lend my support to them." Personal Life Coach for Dogs, Tamar Geller, speaks out in support of CHAI’s work.

Now Tamar devotes her life to promoting better communication between dogs and people as The Today Show's resident dog expert, the personal life coach for Oprah Winfrey’s puppies, the author of the bestseller The Loved Dog: The Playful Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior, and the founder of Southern California’s first cage-free doggie daycare and boarding facility.

Please help us continue to be a strong voice on the side of the animals in 2008.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy holiday season!

Together, we will make the future better for the animals.

Please send your tax-deductible donations to:

CHAI, POB 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302, USA, or

donate through our website:

Yours for a more compassionate world,
Nina Natelson, Director
CHAI - Concern for Helping Animals in Israel

PO Box 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302

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9. Best Friends Animal Society Interviews Me and Posts Interview at Their Web Site

Message from Kris Haley of Best Friends, who has been very supportive of A SACRED DUTY and JVNA. Thanks, Kris.

Hi Richard! Article is up on the network Animals and Religion community news page and here is the link: http://network.bestfriends.org/News/Admin/21607.html

Please forward and publicize the link as you wish. If it gets picked up on the main page of either the network side or the best friends side, I will forward those links to you as well. They would be temporary as they highlight top news stories as they occur…However the link above should be permanent for the time being. (:

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10. Strange Weather in US and Worldwide in 2007 Due to Global Warming

Forwarded article:
2007 a Year of Weather Records in US
By Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press
Saturday 29 December 2007

Washington - When the calendar turned to 2007, the heat went on and the weather just got weirder.

January was the warmest first month on record worldwide - 1.53 degrees above normal. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1880 that the globe's average temperature has been so far above the norm for any month of the year.
And as 2007 drew to a close, it was also shaping up to be the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere.

U.S. weather stations broke or tied 263 all-time high temperature records, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. weather data. England had the warmest April in 348 years of record-keeping there, shattering the record set in 1865 by more than 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

It wasn't just the temperature. There were other oddball weather events. A tornado struck New York City in August, inspiring the tabloid headline: "This ain't Kansas!"
In the Middle East, an equally rare cyclone spun up in June, hitting Oman and Iran. Major U.S. lakes shrank; Atlanta had to worry about its drinking water supply. South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years. And on Reunion Island, 400 miles east of Africa, nearly 155 inches of rain fell in three days - a world record for the most rain in 72 hours.

Individual weather extremes can't be attributed to global warming, scientists always say. However, "it's the run of them and the different locations" that have the mark of man-made climate change, said top European climate expert Phil Jones, director of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in England.
Worst of all - at least according to climate scientists - the Arctic, which serves as the world's refrigerator, dramatically warmed in 2007, shattering records for the amount of melting ice.

2007 seemed to be the year that climate change shook the thermometers, and those who warned that it was beginning to happen were suddenly honored. Former Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Oscar and he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of thousands of scientists. The climate panel, organized by the United Nations, released four major reports in 2007 saying man-made global warming was incontrovertible and an urgent threat to millions of lives.

Through the first 10 months, it was the hottest year recorded on land and the third hottest when ocean temperatures are included.

Smashing records was common, especially in August. At U.S. weather stations, more than 8,000 new heat records were set or tied for specific August dates.
More remarkably that same month, more than 100 all-time temperature records were tied or broken - regardless of the date - either for the highest reading or the warmest low temperature at night. By comparison only 14 all-time low temperatures were set or tied all year long, as of early December, according to records kept by the National Climatic Data Center.

For example, on Aug. 10, the town of Portland, Tenn., reached 102 degrees, tying a record for the hottest it ever had been. On Aug. 16, it hit 103 and Portland had a new all-time record. But that record was broken again the next day when the mercury reached 105.

Daily triple-digit temperatures took a toll on everybody, public safety director George West recalled. The state had 15 heat-related deaths in August. Portland was far from alone. In Idaho, Chilly Barton Flat wasn't living up to its name. The weather station in central Idaho tied an all-time high of 100 on July 26, Aug. 7, 14 and 19. During 2007, weather stations in 35 states, from Washington to Florida, set or tied all-time heat records in 2007.

Across Europe this past summer, extreme heat waves killed dozens of people.
And it wasn't just the heat. It was the rain. There was either too little or too much.

More than 60 percent of the United States was either abnormally dry or suffering from drought at one point in August. In November, Atlanta's main water source, Lake Lanier, shrank to an all-time low. Lake Okeechobee, crucial to south Florida, hit its lowest level in recorded history in May, exposing muck and debris not seen for decades. Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes, dropped to its lowest August and September levels in history.

Los Angeles hit its driest year on record. Lakes fed by the Colorado River and which help supply water for more than 20 million Westerners, were only half full.
Australia, already a dry continent, suffered its worst drought in a century, making global warming an election issue. On the other extreme, record rains fell in China, England and Wales.

Minnesota got the worst of everything: a devastating June and July drought followed by record August rainfall. In one March day, Southern California got torrential downpours, hail, snow and fierce winds. Then in the fall came devastating fires driven by Santa Ana winds.

And yet none of those events worried scientists as much as what was going on in the Arctic in the summer. Sea ice melted not just to record levels, but far beyond the previous melt record. The Northwest Passage was the most navigable it had been in modern times. Russia planted a flag on the seabed under the North Pole, claiming sovereignty.

The ice sheets that cover a portion of Greenland retreated to an all-time low and permafrost in Alaska warmed to record levels.

Meteorologists have chronicled strange weather years for more than a decade, but nothing like 2007. It was such an extreme weather year that the World Meteorological Organization put out a news release chronicling all the records and unusual developments. That was in August with more than 145 sizzling days to go.
Get used to it, scientists said. As man-made climate change continues, the world will experience more extreme weather, bursts of heat, torrential rain and prolonged drought, they said.

"We're having an increasing trend of odd years," said Michael MacCracken, a former top federal climate scientist, now chief scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington. "Pretty soon odd years are going to become the norm."

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11. Climate Set to Alter California Landscape

Posted: 2007-12-30 14:28:43
Filed Under: Science News


LOS ANGELES (Dec. 29) - California is defined by its scenery, from the mountains that enchanted John Muir to the wine country and beaches that define its culture around the world.

But as scientists try to forecast how global warming might affect the nation's most geographically diverse state, they envision a landscape that could look quite different by the end of this century, if not sooner.

If temperatures in California this century climb by 3 to 10 degrees as scientists predict, much of the state's signature wine region will be wiped out.

Where celebrities, surfers and wannabes mingle on Malibu's world-famous beaches, there may be only sea walls defending fading mansions from the encroaching Pacific. In Northern California, tourists could have to drive farther north or to the cool edge of the Pacific to find what is left of the region's signature wine country.

Abandoned ski lifts might dangle above snowless trails more suitable for mountain biking even during much of the winter. In the deserts, Joshua trees that once extended their tangled, shaggy arms into the sky by the thousands may have all but disappeared.

"We need to be attentive to the fact that changes are going to occur, whether it's sea level rising or increased temperatures, droughts and potentially increased fires," said Lisa Sloan, a scientist who directs the Climate Change and Impacts Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "These things are going to be happening."

Among the earliest and most noticeable casualties is expected to be California's ski season.

Snow is expected to fall for a shorter period and melt more quickly. That could shorten the ski season by a month even in wetter areas and perhaps end it in others.

Whether from short-term drought or long-term changes, the ski season already has begun to shrivel in Southern California, ringed by mountain ranges that cradle several winter resorts.

"There's always plenty of snow, but you may just have to go out of state for it," said Rinda Wohlwend, 62, who belongs to two ski clubs in Southern California. "I'm a very avid tennis player, so I'd probably play more tennis."

Because California has myriad microclimates, covering an area a third larger than Italy, predicting what will happen by the end of the century is a challenge.

Photo Gallery: Effects of Global Warming
John McConnico, AP

A record amount of Greenland's ice sheet melted this summer -- 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark. And for the first time on record, the Northwest Passage was open to navigation.

But through a series of interviews with scientists who are studying the phenomenon, a general description of the state's future emerges.

By the end of the century, temperatures are predicted to increase by 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit statewide. That could translate into even less rainfall across the southern half of the state, already under pressure from the increased frequency of wildfires and relentless population growth.

Small mammals, reptiles and colonies of wildflowers in the deserts east of Los Angeles are accustomed to periodic three-year dry spells. But they might not be able to withstand the 10-year drought cycles that could become commonplace as the planet warms.

Scientists already are considering relocating Joshua tree seedlings to areas where the plants, a hallmark of the high desert and namesake of a national park, might survive climate change.

"They could be wiped out of California depending on how quickly the change happens," said Cameron Barrows, who studies the effects of climate change for the Center for Conservation Biology in Riverside.

Farther north, where wet, cold winters are crucial for the water supply of the entire state, warmer temperatures will lead to more rain than snow in the Sierra Nevada and faster melting in the spring.

Because 35 percent of the state's water supply is stored annually in the Sierra snowpack, changes to that hydrologic system will lead to far-reaching consequences for California and its ever-growing population.

Some transformations already are apparent, from the Sierra high country to the great valleys that have made California the nation's top agricultural state.

The snow line is receding, as it is in many other alpine regions around the world. Throughout the 400-mile-long Sierra, trees are under stress, leading scientists to speculate that the mix of flora could change significantly as the climate warms. The death rate of fir and pine trees has accelerated over the past two decades.

In the central and southern Sierra, the giant sequoias that are among the biggest living things on Earth might be imperiled.

"I suspect as things get warmer, we'll start seeing sequoias just die on their feet where their foliage turns brown," said Nate Stephenson, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist who is studying the effects of climate change in the Sierra Nevada. "Even if they don't die of drought stress, just think of the wildfires. If you dry out that vegetation, they're going to be so much more flammable."

Changes in the mountain snowpack could lead to expensive water disputes between cities and farmers. Without consistent water from rivers draining the melting snow, farmers in the Central and Salinas valleys could lose as much as a quarter of their water supply.

Any drastic changes to the state's $30 billion agriculture industry would have national implications, since California's fertile valleys provide half the country's fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists' study.

"Obviously, it's going to mean that choices are going to be made about who's going to get the water," said Brian Nowicki, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Ariz.

Among the biggest unknowns is what will happen along California's coast as the world's ice sheets and glaciers melt. One scenario suggests the sea level could rise by more than 20 feet.

Northeast: A map created by University of Arizona scientists, based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, show areas in the Northeast that would become flooded if the the sea rose one meter.

Will the rising sea swamp the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the nation's busiest harbor complex, turning them into a series of saltwater lakes? Will funky Ocean Beach, an island of liberalism in conservative San Diego County, become, literally, its own island?

Among the more sobering projections is what is in store for marine life.

The upwelling season, the time when nutrient-rich water is brought from the ocean's depths to the surface, nourishes one of the world's richest marine environments.

That period, from late spring until early fall, is expected to become weaker earlier in the season and more intense later. Upwelling along the Southern California coast will become weaker overall.

As a result, sea lions, blue whales and other marine mammals that follow these systems up and down the coast are expected to decline.

The changing sea will present trouble for much of the state's land-dwelling population, too. A sea level rise of 3 to 6 feet would inundate the airports in San Francisco and Oakland. Many of the state's beaches would shrink.

"If you raise sea level by a foot, you push a cliff back 100 feet," said Jeff Severinghaus, professor of geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. "There will be a lot of houses that will fall into the ocean."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2007-12-29 19:53:26

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12. January IVU (International Vegetarian Union) Online News Published


IVU Online News – January 2008

Table of Contents

Report from West Africa Vegetarian Congress
Interview with IVU Regional Coordinator for East/SE Asia and Oceania
Report from Argentina Vegetarian Union Congress
Another Major Addition to the IVU Website
IVU at the All India Kannada Literary Conference
Dresden Discount Deadline Draws Near
Welcome To New IVU Member Organizations and Supporters
Upcoming Events
Changes in Attitudes in Asia Too
Study: Kids Will Eat Healthier School Food
Veg Friendly Books for Children and Parents
Research Updates
Welcome to Organizations Recently Registered with IVU
Please Write for IVU News

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13. My Letter to the Forward

December 31, 2007

Editor, the Forward

Dear Editor:

Kol hakavod (kudos) to Jay Michaelson for his very timely, much needed reminder that Judaism mandates that we be shomrei ha'adamah ("guardians of the Earth"), co-workers with God in preserving the environment (December 27, 2007 article: "Thinking Green: It's Not Just A Virtue -- It's Your Jewish duty.") At a time when the world is heading rapidly toward an unprecedented catastrophe from global warmig and hope it will help make tikkun olam (the healing and repairing of the world) a central focus in Jewish life today.

Consistent with Michaelson's assertion that working to preserve the other environmental threats, his message is extremely important, and I environment is our "Jewish duty," Jewish Vegetarians of North America has recently released a documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD, which has a very positive Jewish message on responding to global climate change and other environmental problems. We will gladly send a complimentary DVD to anyone who contacts me (president@JewishVeg.com) and indicates how they might use the documentary in an effort to help shift our severely imperiled world to a sustainable path.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz

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