October 13, 2008

10/10/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Best Wishes for a Joyous, Meaningful Sukkot

2. Getting A SACRED DUTY to Rabbis, Rabbinical Students and other Key People

3. Vegetarian Activist Seeking Supporters To Raise Money for His Marathon Run To Support Vegetarian Outreach

4. Another Way to Get Our Message Out

5. Some Thoughts On getting Our Vegetarian Messages Out More Effectively

6. Israel's Worst Drought Ever Continues

7. Does the Current Economic Crisis Indicate the Need for a New Way of Life (that Includes Vegetarianism?

8. NEW USGS (Geological Survey) Climate Change Website Established

9. Nearly a Quarter of World's Mammals Face Extinction, Annual "Red List" Reports

10. Petition Urges Vegetarianism as a Response to Global Hunger

11. California Ballot Proposition Supports Improving Conditions for Farmed Animals

12. 10 reasons for NOT drinking cow's milk

13. Yom Kippur Teaching on Compassion

14. Rising Seas/Severe Storms Threaten Humanity

15. Action Alert: Getting Vegetarian Options into Schools

16. Article Re Kosher Slaughter In NY Times Magazine Section

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 Joyous, Meaningful Sukkot

My article relating Sukkot and vegetarianism is below. It and other articles relating the Jewish festivals to vegetarianism can be found in the festivals at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz. Please use the material in these articles for your own articles, letters to editors and talking points.

Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and Vegetarianism

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

There are many connections that can be made between vegetarianism and the joyous Jewish festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly), and Simchat Torah:

1. Sukkot commemorates the 40 years when the ancient Israelites lived in the wilderness in frail huts and were sustained by manna.

According to Isaac Arama (1420-1494), author of Akedat Yitzchak,and others, the manna was God's attempt to reestablish for the Israelites the vegetarian diet that prevailed before the flood in the time of Noah.

2. On Simchat Torah, Jews complete the annual cycle of Torah readings, and begin again, starting with the first chapter of Genesis, which contains God's first dietary law: "Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which there is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed - to you it shall be for food." (Genesis 1:29). Also, the Torah, along with prophetic and Talmudic interpretations, is the source of the Jewish mandates - to take care of our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace - that point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet today.

3. Sukkot is the Jewish harvest festival called the "Feast of Ingathering". Hence, it can remind us that many more people can be sustained on vegetarian diets than on animal-centered diets that presently involve over 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States being fed to animals raised for slaughter, while 15 to 20 million people die due to malnutrition and its effects annually.

4. The Sukkot holiday, including Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, is known as the "Season of Rejoicing", because people's worries about the success of the harvest are over. Since one must be in good health in order to fully rejoice, the many health benefits of vegetarian diets and the knowledge that such diets are not harmful to hungry people or animals are factors that can enhance rejoicing.

5. Sukkahs, the temporary structures that Jews dwell in during Sukkot, are decorated with pictures and replicas of apples, oranges, bananas, peppers, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables, never with meats or other animal products.

6. After the sukkah, the main ritual symbols for Sukkot are related to the plant kingdom. The Torah states: "On the first day, you shall take the first fruit of hadar (goodly) trees (an etrog or citron), branches of palm trees (lulav), boughs of leafy trees (hadassim) and myrtle, and willows of the field (aravot), and you shall rejoice before the Lord thy God seven days (Leviticus 23:40). These four species represent the beauty and bounty of the land of Israel's harvest.

7. On Shemini Atzeret, Jews pray for rain, and plead to God that it should be for a blessing, not a curse. This is a reminder of the preciousness of rain water to nourish the crops so that there will be a successful harvest. Also, according to the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 1.2), the world is judged on Sukkot with regard to how much rainfall it will receive. In the days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, there was a joyous "Water Drawing Ceremony" (Simchat Bet Shueva), designed to remind God to pour forth water when it was needed. Modern intensive livestock agriculture requires huge amounts of water, much of it to irrigate feed crops. According to Newsweek magazine, the amount of water needed to raise one steer would float a Naval destroyer. A person on an animal-based diet requires up to 14 times as much water as a person on a vegan diet.

8. Sukkot is a universal holiday. There are at least three indications related to the festival that Jews consider not only their own welfare, but also the fate of all of the world's people:

a. In Temple days, there were 70 sacrifices for the then 70 nations of the world;
b. The lulav is waved in all directions, to indicate God's rule over and concern for the entire world;

c. The roof of the sukkah is made only of natural materials such as wood and bamboo, and must be open sufficiently so that people inside can see the stars, to remind them that their concerns should extend beyond their immediate needs and should encompass the world.

Vegetarianism also considers not only a person's health, but also
encompasses broader concerns, including the global environment, the
world's hungry people, and the efficient use of the world's resources.

9. Moving out of comfortable homes to dwell in relatively frail
sukkahs indicates that it is not our power and wealth that we should rely on, but rather that our fate is in God's hands. And it is God Who originally provided vegetarian diets for people, and created us with hands, teeth, and digestive systems most conducive to eating plant foods, not animal products.

10. Dwelling in sukkahs also teaches that no matter how magnificent
our homes, no matter how extensive our wealth and material possessions, we should be humble and not be overly concerned about our status. Vegetarianism is also an attempt to not be taken in by status symbols, such as those that the eating of meat often represent.

11. Sukkot's prophetic readings point to the universal messianic transformation of the world. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, based on the prophecy of Isaiah (. . . the wolf will dwell with the lamb, . . . the lion will eat straw like the ox . . . (Isaiah 11: 6-9)), the messianic period will be vegetarian.

In summary, a shift to vegetarianism is a way to be consistent with many values and teachings related to the joyous festivals of Sukkot,
Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.

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2. Getting A SACRED DUTY to Rabbis, Rabbinical Students and other Key People

We have already freely distributed almost 20,000 DVDs to rabbis, Hillel directors, educators, JCC directors, animal rights activists and other key people. However, there are still many people we would like to get complimentary DVDS to many more influential people.

If you can help get DVDs to key people, please let me know. Also, please let interested people know that they can see the entire DVD and/or obtain a complimentary copy and/or get background information about the acclaimed documentary at ASacredDuty.com

One important effort is indicated below in a message from Boris Dolin, web coordinator of ShalomVeg.com and a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College:

“I still would like to give a copy of A Sacred Duty to all RRC students and staff. If you can send me 100 copies then there would be enough for everyone with a few left over in case people want extras to hand out.”

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3. Vegetarian Activist Seeking Supporters To Raise Money for His Marathon Run To Support Vegetarian Outreach

Message from Boris Dolin, founder and coordinator or ShalomVeg.com and a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College:

I am currently training for my third marathon running on Team Vegan Philadelphia. I have a goal of raising $500 to go to veg education causes before the race in December, and was wondering if you could send out a blurb in the next JVNA newsletter.

The more I can raise the better.

Here's a blurb you can use:

Rabbinical Student Running on Team Vegan to Raise Awareness about Veg Issues

I am training for my third marathon in November, and this time around am running on Team Vegan Philadelphia. The group is out to show that vegans are healthy and strong, and also is raising money for local and national veg outreach. I need to raise $500 by race day, and am looking for supporters. Now is your chance to help a vegan rabbinical student finish a marathon and work for justice in the process. Even a few dollars will help do important outreach work, and if I raise $1000, I will try to beat three hours :) Go to http://www.firstgiving.com/borisdolin to make a pledge. Thank you for your help!

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4. Another Way to Get Our Message Out

Many publications on the internet permit postings after their articles. This is a great way to get our message out to many more people, through placing postings after relevant article. Below is a posting I recently submitted.

Kudos, Michael for a great article.

For more information on Jewish teachings re vegetarianism, please visit (1) the Jewish Vegetarians of North America web site (www.JewishVeg.com), (2) my over 130 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz and ASacredDuty.com, where you can find out about, view and/or order a complimentary copy of our one-hour documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD, which relates animal-based diets to global warming and much more.

Richard Schwartz
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America

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5. Some Thoughts On getting Our Vegetarian Messages Out More Effectively

a. Comment from JVNA advisor, rabbinical student and coordinator of ShalomVeg.com Boris Dolin:

This recent email (below), and one of your emails you sent out a few weeks ago about people ignoring a message from a vegetarian organization did make me think about some of this issues that have come up while discussing veg and animal issues with the RRC, and even the general liberal Jewish community that I work with. I have found that when I discuss the issues with other people and vegetarianism and veganism is the theme, people do often "turn off". As we all know, from a psychological and social perspective discussing veg issues is inherently challenging. When we tell other people that their eating habits might not be the best for society or the environment, they are bound to be threatened--they need to eat to survive, they have been eating the same way their entire lives, and society as a whole sees their lifestyle as normal and healthy. Then we come in and say "much of what society has been telling you is not true and is actually harmful". As Jews and people from religious communities, we are doubly challenged, since the people we are trying to influence have not only society but "tradition" to back them up. When we confront another Jewish person, they can always fall back on the argument that God or Jewish law gives them permission to continue their lifestyle. This is understandable, and of course in some way we must respect this, since as Jews we cannot deny the power of tradition and faith.

So how are supposed to influence religious communities, especially if they are so resistant as the email from Martha mentions? I am wondering if maybe we are focusing too much at first on facts and connecting to Jewish law and traditions when addressing the issues within our community. There are deeper values that Jews and of course most people hold that influence how they live their lives and how the make decisions about what to eat, and what to believe in. Instead of asking how can we be commanded in the Torah to feed the hungry or care for animals and continue to eat meat, maybe we should instead be asking first what are the deepest values that people hold--only once these values are brought out in the open, and the people accept them, can facts really connect. This is one of the main ideas behind humane education philosophy: we are not trying to get people to realize facts and statistics to make them change, we are instead asking them what its means to be the most caring and compassionate person you can be. We can do this from a "secular" and a religious perspective. Adults, just like children in a classroom, are more apt to learn and change if they are made to recognize the values that they hold, and then are presented with information that allows them to make the connections for themselves. If they are just given facts before the connections are made, then I don't think the change will be quite as strong.

One way that I think that we can do this, is by turning the focus away from animals, at least at first and put the focus on "social justice." Most Jewish communities are big on this issue, even if it can be a very broad idea that encompasses so many different issues. Being a vegan is about social justice and recognizing that we above all are working for people; by being vegan, people can come closer to each other and to their environment. Of course the non-human animals will be helped too, but since their pain is caused by our decisions, we are the ones who need to change. People are hurt by living in a hypocritical world where some choose to care about some things and be ignorant of others, no matter how much pain and suffering is causes. Being a vegan is about living justice, not only when sitting in a synagogue or marching on the street, but when we are sitting alone in our house eating breakfast or dinner. It is the only fight for justice, and the only protest against injustice that we do with one of the most important things we need to survive--food. When people ask me why I am a vegan, I do not answer because I am against animal cruelty and want to care for the environment and feed the hungry. I instead say "I am vegan because I cannot justify saying I believe in the values of social justice, human rights and caring for the environment and continue to participate in something that is a core representation of exploitation and pain in the world." Then I ask why the person has made the choice to eat meat. The facts usually do come up, but I have only been able to make people change when I can get them to answer non-threatening questions, and think through their behaviors and how they connect to the rest of the values first.

And just like other social justice causes, maybe we should be more out in the open for the "fight". Yes people might see it as a little threatening, but why are we not standing out in front of our synagogues handing out pamphlets before services? Why are we not showing more videos of animal cruelty and Jewish community events? Why are we not challenging Jewish leaders and rabbis with the idea of hypocrisy and social justice not just facts? I know that the answer is partially that we are part of the community, and the Jewish community is not one that we want to hurt. We don't want to do something that would make us outcasts or no longer fully part of this community. But not being forceful enough, and not doing whatever we can, even if it makes people uncomfortable, just will make making change more difficult. Ultimately, if we get people to first recognize their own core values, and listen to and guide them as they make connections, then they will make changes. But we have to be more "out" and visible with our views. Emails, letters and movies are an important and necessary part of the fight, but I think we need to do more. People need to see our faces and be asked questions face to face. If this is a protest against injustice, then we need to protest where we can be more visible.

Just some of my thoughts as we head into the new year,

b. Comments from vegetarian activist Martha Sullivan:

I have wanted to run this idea by you for a few years, actually........I value your opinion and your thoughts about it. I'll supply a little background to put things in context.

I was raised Catholic. In my 20s I joined a "progressive" "Catholic" (oxymoron??) church whose members and pastors were later excommunicated by the Pope because we had broken too many rules concerning ordaining women priests, blessing same sex marriages, etc. In 2001 I eventually left that church after getting disillusioned with the hard-core hierarchical structure and hypocrisy that had emerged in it over time. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" - remember those lyrics? (Kind of similar to Norm Phelps' disillusionment with the Dalai Lama. People don't "walk the talk".) Losing my spiritual community after so many years remains one of the painful experiences of my life, yet my own spirituality has grown and deepened in so many ways since then. I could never regret leaving because of that.

But what was the most disappointing in all of that experience was how utterly resistant my own community was to hearing any message about adopting a more compassionate diet. All of these supposedly forward-thinking people wanted no part of hearing how they might be contributing to animal cruelty. I guess people have an enormous investment in seeing themselves as "good", "liberal", etc. Don't present them with any facts to the contrary, or suggest that there are ways they could improve - especially if it "threatens" their diet.

So for the past several years, based on both my own experiences and others I have heard about, I have begun to wonder if religious communities really are the best place to be focusing our time and efforts to promote the compassion of a vegan lifestyle. Along the way I hooked up with the traditional Catholics, and spent more than a year teamed up with a dynamic, creative guy (a Catholic deacon - head of the Adult Education in the Rochester Diocese) who worked with me to develop a great, comprehensive program (touching on not only the animal cruelty but also the environmental and social justice aspects) which he planned to introduce to all the parishes. Then there were personnel changes, he was moved out of his postion and his replacement was not interested in pursuing our program. Dead end there.

I also approached other progressive Christian denominations in Rochester with similarly disappointing results. I had some contacts in the Episcopal and Lutherin churches but their committees to address those kinds of issues were all "over-extended". No one was interested despite receiving packets of relevant material and videos.

It has been quite a while since I've seen my Jewish "partner in crime" who was going to approach her rabbi to see what she could get started. Maybe she's had more luck than I've had.

So I've started to wonder - maybe we're barking up the wrong tree, at least to begin with. Maybe people in religious communities are too entrenched in their own beliefs to be open to such a "threatening" message. Although the religious communites are obviously where the message should be originating from, maybe that's more of a theoretical idea than a practical or realistic one. Maybe we inadvertantly started with the hardest communites first, instead of the easiest.

I say that because I stumbled into a situation that turned out surprising well. I gave a small presentation to people at my workplace.

Long story short, they were receptive and interested! Not threatened! And I wondered if it was PRECISELY BECAUSE it wasn't in a religious setting. I don't have much of an idea about any of their religious leanings or practices, so I'm assuming they are as varied as the normal population. But their defenses weren't up - there was measurably less resistance........holy moly!! What a shock. So much less resistance than what I encountered in church settings.

Shortly after that my mother-in-law came to live with us, I quit my job to take care of her and I haven't returned to the work force. But I have continued to ponder that experience and wonder if we wouldn't be better off going that route first - the "workplace" route.

What's your thought?

[*** I think we should try to work with all types of groups and consider a wide variety of approaches.]

All the best to you,
Martha Sullivan, Rochester, NY

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6. Israel's Worst Drought Ever Continues

Kinneret drops two meters this year


Jerusalem Post 10/3/08


The water level in Lake Kinneret dropped two meters this year, the Water Authority said Thursday, a steeper annual drop than in any previous year.

The hydrological year ended on September 30 with the Kinneret at 214.05 meters below sea level, down from its height of 212.05 meters below sea level reached on April 3.

The Kinneret's "black line," newly coined this year, is 214.87 meters below sea level. When the black line is reached, the pumps in the lake are exposed to the air, and they can no longer send water into the National Water Carrier.

In July, the lake dropped below the "red line," at which the concentration of pollutants rises to undesirable levels.

Since spring 2004 the Kinneret has lost 5.13 meters, which is equivalent to 850 million cubic meters of water, the authority said. That is roughly equivalent to an entire year's worth of household water use.

This was the fourth consecutive year of dwindling rainfall and the forecast for the next couple of years is just as bleak.

The Water Authority has focused its efforts on two main goals. In the short term, a massive water conservation PR campaign has been launched. "Going from red to black" - a reference to the lake's dropping water levels - has appeared on billboards, on the Internet and on TV.

The Water Authority has also produced a series of commercials which depict a woman and her house drying up and cracking to hammer home the point. The authority says the campaign has achieved significant results since its launch over the summer.

In the medium to long-term, funds have been allocated to expand desalination efforts from the current level of 130 million cubic meters per year to 750 million cubic meters per year by the middle to end of the next decade. Plants in Ashkelon and Palmahim will soon be joined by one in Hadera next year and two more by 2012.

Desalination represents Israel's best hope for drinking water as rainfall has been diminishing. Environmentalists have raised concerns because desalination plants require a fair amount of electricity.

However, as more and more of Israel's electricity comes from renewable sources like solar power, that concern might be mitigated. Moreover, the desalination plants in Ashkelon and Palmahim employ reverse osmosis - the most efficient and least intrusive desalination method in the world. The plant in Hadera and likely all future plants will also use this method.

Additional efforts include reclaiming almost all of the country's sewage for agricultural purposes. Right now, 75 percent of sewage water is treated and the authority aims to bring that to close to 100%.

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7. Does the Current Economic Crisis Indicate the Need for a New Way of Life (that Includes Vegetarianism?

Spirituality and Ecological Hope

Economic crisis: invitation to a new way of life

Posted: 05 Oct 2008 08:14 PM CDT

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Can the economic crisis be perceived as an opportunity to change how we live? Of course it can. And whether one sees that as scary, or with relief, or with an “about time,” or with sadness or joy, depends upon what one values.

Humans are living in a way that is rapidly depleting the planet of all that we need to sustain rich and abundant life. As we have noted before, to continue human consumption at current levels would take more than 1.3 Earths, and that's only if we maintain the current population of 6.8 billion. But we are not going to do that. We are going to add 2-3 billion more humans over the next 4 decades.

Keep in mind that it took the 59 years that I've been on this planet for the population to get from 2.5 billion to 6.8. It is no wonder that we are seeing and feeling the collapse or endangering of ecosystems everywhere. It is no wonder that we are feeling a bit crowded. It is no wonder that one local community after another is struggling with issues of water, sewage, energy, crowded transit, and more.

The predominant mode of development has been to take from the planet whatever we need to drive the engine of 'growth.' But the planet is finite and its resources and precious gifts limited. If we are well beyond sustainability, much less the planet's ability to evolve life with greater diversity and abundance, then sane minds might suggest that something pretty basic and profound needs to change - like the economic model.

Humans in general have a great reluctance, it seems, to accept this reality of our existence because it means changing how we think of ourselves and of the meaning of life. If we think of ourselves as on top of the planet, floating on its surface, and not part of its ecosystems, its biosphere, then it is there for us to exploit for our benefit - though soon the fact that we have taken way too much means that those benefits are about to run out.

If we think of ourselves as deeply interwoven with those systems, part of the story of the evolution of life, then the situation we are in ought to raise alarm, and I mean, alarm.

What can bring about a new way of life that might salvage the human project within the evolutionary story? One thing is to challenge our sense of identity as something outside the web of life and independent of natural forces. While our technology has allowed us great ability to manipulate those natural forces, that has not put us outside them. While we can put a roof over our heads to keep out the rain, that does not mean it is not raining.

And while we build houses on stilts along the seashore, that does not mean that ocean surges will not simply wash them away in a storm. That we can build fires to cook food does not make us less dependent on food.

However, buying packaged food and sticking it in the microwave can cut us off from an experience of our dependence on what grows out of the Earth. It can keep us from experiencing that what we take in becomes part of us, part of our body's ability to be healthy and strong, or not. This alienation can keep us from realizing the threat we take in when we eat processed foods grown with chemicals in depleted soils with additives and artificial colors and flavoring.

Same with the air we breathe, the water we drink.

By the same token, our behavior can be toxic or benevolent for the planet, depending on what we put back into the soil, water, and air.

In this project, we speak of spirituality (not religion, which is different - not irrelevant, obviously, but different), meaning in broad terms our meaning frameworks, our values, our inner motivations, our raison d'etre, our reason to get out of bed in the morning. Right now, the 'spirituality' of economic growth has us entangled in a deeply dysfunctional way of life that has caused alienation from nature and in many ways within the human community.

What we know now is how bonded we all are in the ecological crisis that faces this planet. I will write more about this in next month's first issue of our online Zine. Western society has tended to focus an global climate change as the preeminent ecological threat of our time. I would argue that, even if we were not dangerously warming the planet, we face an unprecedented threat caused by our over-consumption of the natural goods of the Earth and the amount of waste we spew into its air, waters and soils which it can no longer absorb. Global warming caused by our greenhouse gas emissions is only one aspect of that crisis.

Which is one reason why, sadly, we are and will be unprepared for the collapses to come. I mean, even knowing what hurricanes can do, people still build houses on stilts on the beach, some still decide to ride out the storm, and then many can still be shocked by the destruction after. This is how we tend to approach so many of these threats. I suppose that people will be equally shocked out west when water no longer comes out of their taps - despite a generation of warnings about the depletion of water sources caused by overdevelopment and overuse.

The economic crisis that confronts us now can be, if we make it so, an invitation to change how we live. The economics of consumption and waste on which our way of life in my generation has been built is crumbling for multiple reasons, including our own selfishness and addiction to shopping and possessing - on credit for the most part in recent decades. Now the wealth of the rich and the jobs of the not-rich depend on this way of life, which means, we are wholly dependent on an unsustainable way of life for our mortgage payments, rents, tuitions, paychecks, life savings, home entertainment centers, and iPods.

That's the world we created. It seems to me the worst thing we could do right now is try to put all that back in place as corporations and government agencies use the bailout in an attempt to put some of these pieces back together. Instead, we could use the moment to begin reimagining a new way to live, a way with justice and compassion at its core, and a renewed relationship with the natural world that holds us, in which we are embedded and from whose fate we cannot separate ourselves.

Maybe we can start paying down our debts, throw away the credit cards, spend more time with family and friends, spend more time caring for the needs of others, start cooking home dinners again, take the plugs out of ears and our brains, and start actually feeling and experiencing life again, the essential relationships of life, the vibrations of the planet, all that makes us human and alive instead of robotic and numb.

Crises can paralyze us with fear, or open a door to something new. I am opting for the latter.

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8. NEW USGS (Geological Survey) Climate Change Website Established

Forwarded message:

With climate change becoming a more prominent aspect of ecological research questions, and given the USGS science strategy emphasis on the topic, FORTWeb has a new site, "Climate Change: The Science of Impacts." This site draws from the research and publications databases to consolidate FORT tasks and products that address climate change. It also features a home page and a page of related resources, comprising links to similar federal sites. See http://www.fort.usgs.gov/ClimateChange/

Dave Hamilton
Acting Director, Fort Collins Science Center
2150 Centre Avenue, Bldg C
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8118
Email: dave_hamilton@usgs.gov

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9. Nearly a Quarter of World's Mammals Face Extinction, Annual "Red List" Reports

Ian Sample, The Guardian UK: "Nearly a quarter of the world's land mammal species are at risk of extinction, and many others may vanish before they are even known to science, according to a major annual survey of global wildlife. At least 1,141 of the 5,487 known species of mammal are threatened, with 188 listed in the highest-risk 'critically endangered' category. One in three marine mammals are also threatened, according to the five-year review."

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10. Petition Urges Vegetarianism as a Response to Global Hunger

Forwarded message:

Please sign: http://un.evana.org/

It is important to confront the UN with the benefits of vegetarianism for
the world.

Best regards
Renato Pichler

European Vegetarian Union (EVU)
c/o Swiss Vegetarian Union
Bahnhofstr. 52, CH-9315 Neukirch (Egnach)
Tel.: +41 71 477 33 77, Fax: +41 71 477 33 78
Homepage: www.euroveg.eu

Here is the text of above page:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

FAO - Director General Dr. Jacques Diouf
WHO - Director General Dr. Margaret Chan

Launched by:

* Jens Holm, Swedish Member of the European Parliament
* Swiss Union for Vegetarianism
* European Vegetarian and Animal News Alliance (EVANA)


Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

In 1996, the "Rome Declaration of World Food Security" reaffirmed "the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food". The signatories also pledged their political will "to eradicate hunger in all countries."

In 2008, malnutrition and starvation in many parts of the world are not only increasing but are set to reach new peaks of suffering. Dwindling and wasted crops, soaring prices, unsustainable farming practices are just some of the factors which combine to put vulnerable people at life-threatening risks.

It is not acceptable that even in a grim situation with hunger and malnutrition killing nearly six million children each year, huge percentages of available crops are still being fed to farm animals.

In the name of humanity, a responsible global community can no longer afford to invest 7-16 kg of grain or soya beans, up to 15,500 liters of water, and 323 m2 of grazing land in the production of just one kilo of beef for those with the means to pay for it. More accessible and sustainable avenues to secure food for all are desperately needed.

Unfortunately, even though the experts of the FAO consider 'Livestock a major threat to environment', they merely recommend different farming techniques, some of which entail the risk of damaging an already vulnerable environment even more, perhaps beyond repair.

All hungry people, many million of vegetarians and those looking for wholesome alternatives to destructive traditions have the right to expect from decision makers, governments and international bodies a scientific investigation of all available options, including vegetarianism. This resource- and life-saving lifestyle is worthy of unbiased research and promotional effort, not last because of its potential to decide the raging battle of 'food vs feed' in favour of humanity.

For this reason, we appeal to the United Nations and its agencies to stop ignoring vegetarianism and instead study its multi-faceted benefits, with the aim of incorporating them into future strategies for a world without hunger.




1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to a
standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of
his family, including food ."
2. Rome Declaration of World Food Security: "We consider it intolerable that more than 800 million people throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries, do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs. This situation is unacceptable.
3. FAO: Livestock a major threat to environment


1. Jens Holm: The livestock industry and climate - Over a third of all
grain harvested becomes fodder. Is that rational?
2. Swiss Union for Vegetarianism: The Ecological Consequences of Meat

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11. California Ballot Proposition Supports Improving Conditions for Farmed Animals

Forwarded message from Lewis Regenstein:

Thanks, Lew. We have been getting a lot of religious endorsements for Prop 2:



Dear Friends: [Message from Lewis Regenstein]

Thanks for this excellent news release, and congratulations on the amazing progress we are making on Prop 2.

it is good we have folks from the faith community on board with us.

The teachings of the Bible can be a big help to us in this campaign.

Many people do not realize that the holiest of the laws, The Ten Commandments, given by the Almighty to Moses, require that farm animals be treated humanely.

It is specifically ordained that they be allowed a day of rest on the sabbath, so kindness to domestic animals must have been an important thing to the Lord.

This is, of course, impossible under the conditions in which farm animals are raised today.

There are many other passages teaching and requiring kindness to animals in the Bible, which are cited in our HSUS literature, such as, Proverbs 12:10, "A righteous man has regard for the life of his best...".It might be effective to promote these passages as widely as possible, especially with the millions of people who take the Bible seriously and even literally..

Please let me know if I can be of help.

Thanks, Lew
= = =
Past President of California Veterinary Medical Association and UC Davis Professor of Veterinary Medicine Urge YES! on Prop 2 to Stop Animal Cruelty

SACRAMENTO - Today the YES! on Prop 2 campaign launched its first television ads of the election season, urging California voters to stop animal cruelty and improve food safety. Prop 2 is a modest measure that would allow breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens enough room to stand up, turn around and stretch their limbs.

The ads show viewers first-hand the abuses of industrial factory farms, and includes a series of scenes from California factory farms where veal calves are chained by the neck and confined in tiny crates, pigs are kept in metal cages barely larger than their bodies, and hens are crammed together in wire cages, each with less space than a letter-sized sheet of paper.

Two versions of the 30-second spot feature Dr. Jeff Smith, a Middletown veterinarian and the immediate past president of the 5,500-member California Veterinary Medical Association, and Dr. Kate Hurley, a Davis veterinarian and a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Smith and Dr. Hurley each say:

“I am a California veterinarian and I am voting YES on Proposition 2. It is simply wrong to tightly confine animals in small spaces where they can barely move. We would not force our pets to live in cramped cages for their whole lives, and farm animals should not suffer this misery either. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment. Join me and hundreds of other California veterinarians in voting YES! on Prop 2.”

Click on http://tinyurl.com/yesonprop2-ad to view the ads.

Prop 2 is supported by The Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Center for Food Safety, the ASPCA, the Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the United Farm Workers, Farm Sanctuary, the Sierra Club, Cesar Chavez Foundation, Republican and Democratic elected officials, hundreds of California veterinarians, family farmers, religious leaders, and many others.

Yes on Prop. 2 - Californians for Humane Farms, sponsored by The Humane Society of the US, Farm Sanctuary and other animal protection groups, family farmers, veterinarians and public health professionals. For more information, visit YESonProp2.com.

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12. 10 reasons for NOT drinking cow's milk

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 10:40:00 10/08/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Cow's blood, pus, hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics plus heaps and heaps of cholesterol -- these are just some of the things you can find in cow's milk, according to an official of an animal rights' group.

The recent melamine milk crisis that spilled over from China to the rest of the world has prompted PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to come up with 10 reasons why cow's milk should not be taken.

Cow's milk - whether there's the poisonous melamine or none - is still a bad mix of poison, cholesterol, and fat …,” said Rochelle Regodon.

Regodon says:

o Cows are not milk-producing machines. After years of living in a dirty environment, constant reproduction of offspring, and forced milking, these cows are then slaughtered;
o You and your child are not animals to drink animal milk, so why do we have to treat them like baby cows]?”;
o Studies have shown that as much as 90 percent of Filipinos are lactos intolerant. That's why drinking cow's milk might cause diarrhea and stomach pains;
o Cow's milk is contaminated with bacteria like blood, pus, pesticides, and antibiotics.
o “You have baby cow for breakfast. Its milk is the reason why there is an industry for veal. This is a product of the milk industry, they would force baby cows inside cages even if they were born only a few hours ago.”
o High levels of protein found in milk often result to poor bone structure and weak bones. “Milk is bad for the bones. According to research, milk is the reason why our bones get brittle and as a result, we develop osteoporosis.”
o Milk is allegedly bad for the environment. Cows reportedly excrete more than 120 pounds of fecal matter daily and these go straight to the environment;
o Cow's milk is supposedly not right for humans because its nutritional content does not match the nutritional needs of humans;
o Cow's milk is a waste of palay. “Rice grains that should be fed to people are instead given to cows. A lot of rice grains are fed to cows so that they can produce milk.”
o There are reportedly no fiber and complex carbohydrates found in cow's milk, only saturated fat and cholesterol. These can result to high blood, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Instead, PETA is pushing for organic milk or milk made from either soy, almond, or rice, said Regodon.

Regodon is hoping that these 10 reasons that she has cited will discourage people from drinking cow's milk

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13. Yom Kippur Teaching on Compassion

Yom Kippur's Prohibition Against Leather

Blog Post from Vegetarian Axtivist and Blogger Michael Croland


I will be wearing white, nonleather athletic sneakers to synagogue tonight and tomorrow for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). I have dress shoes that are nonleather-all my shoes are. But I choose to make the point as glaringly as possible: Jews are prohibited from wearing leather on Yom Kippur.

On Yom Kippur, Jews beg for G-d's mercy. We pray for atonement. We recognize that we have sinned, and we repent for it. And to walk the walk, we realize that it'd be hypocritical to plead for forgiveness and compassion when dressed in the clothes of suffering. Jewish Vegetarians of North America President Richard H. Schwartz explains, “One reason is that it is not considered proper to plead for compassion when one has not shown compassion to the creatures of G-d, whose concern extends to all of His creatures.”

Many rabbis through the ages have shared this view. Rabbi Moses Isserles (c. 1528-1572), aka the Rema, said, “How can a man put on shoes, a piece of clothing for which it is necessary to kill a living thing, on Yom Kippur, which is a day of grace and compassion, when it is written 'His tender mercies are over all His works'?” (Psalms 145:9). Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, a Conservative rabbi in Maryland, adds:

Many people abstain from wearing leather on Yom Kippur, as required by tradition, since an animal died in order that the leather garment could be produced. Yom Kippur is a time for being especially sensitive to life and death concerns, including the lives of animals.

Leather is not a byproduct of the meat industry but rather a coproduct. Cattle killed for leather are the same animals raised by the beef and dairy industries. They are subject to the same routine branding, dehorning, tail-docking, and castration-all without any painkillers. Cows in the dairy industry are forced to give 10 times as much milk as they did a mere half-century ago, and many suffer from mastitis, a disease in which their udders have become so swollen that they hang toward the ground. Annually in the U.S., more than 41 million cows are slaughtered-usually by being stunned, hung upside-down, bled to death, and skinned. The leather industry warrants opposition all 365 days of the year, not just when we are most desperate for forgiveness.

On Yom Kippur, we apologize for our sins in the previous year, and we hope not to repeat our mistakes. So why is it that after today, most Jews consider it permissible not to show “compassion to the creatures of G-d”? If we are honest with ourselves on Yom Kippur and seek to avoid sins-and if we aspire to be compassionate beings so that G-d may treat us with compassion-we should cease promoting suffering in our attire and daily decisions on a regular basis, not just one day a year. I hope my nonleather sneakers help call attention to that.

-Posted by Michael Croland, Guest Blogger. Michael runs heebnvegan, a Jewish blog about animal rights.

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14. Rising Seas/Severe Storms Threaten Humanity

Earth Policy Institute
Plan B Update
For Immediate Release
October 9, 2008



Janet Larsen

Standing before the United Nations General Assembly in October 1987, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Maldives, made an appeal representing “an endangered nation.” That year for the first time, “unusual high waves” in the Indian Ocean inundated a quarter of the urban area on the capital island of Male', flooded farms, and washed away reclaimed land. Gayoom cited scientific evidence that human activities were releasing greenhouse gases that warm the planet, ultimately raising global sea level as glaciers melt and warmer water expands. The trouble extended beyond small islands; studies showed that rising seas would wreak havoc on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Netherlands, and the river deltas of Egypt and Bangladesh.

Fast-forward through two decades of swelling seas and more powerful storms and the call has moved from the need to study global warming to the necessity of dramatic action to stabilize climate. With small island nations in peril, these days President Gayoom evokes the vision of a United Nations where “name plates are gone; seats are empty.” He does not speak alone: this fall, some 50 countries, including a number of small island nations along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union, are planning to put a resolution before the U.N. General Assembly requesting that the U.N. Security Council address “the threat posed by climate change to international peace and security.” As Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau has asked, “Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

Without a dramatic reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, the global average temperature is projected to increase by up to 12 degrees Fahrenheit (6.4 degrees Celsius) and sea level could rise some 3 feet (1 meter) by the end of this century. Alarmingly, recent accelerated melting on the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets--which together contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 39 feet--means that seas could rise even faster than predicted.

The warming of the globe also provides more energy to fuel stronger storms. More-powerful storms can combine with even a modest rise in sea level in a dangerous synergy, allowing for ever larger storm surges that can flatten coastal communities. Because much of humanity, including many residents of the world's major cities like Kolkata (Calcutta), London, Shanghai, and Washington, DC, are located in vulnerable coastal areas, hundreds of millions of people are directly at risk. A large part of the New York metropolitan area is less than 15 feet above sea level; a Category-3 hurricane could easily swamp a third of lower Manhattan.

All together, one out of every 10 people on the planet lives in a coastal zone less than 33 feet above sea level. If higher seas and extreme weather render these areas uninhabitable, more than 630 million people could be left searching for safer ground. Yet no place in the world is equipped to deal with mass population movements or can accommodate millions of climate refugees. Fragile countries already stretched to their limits could be pushed past the breaking point into complete state failure. As British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett warned the U.N. Security Council, the risk of massive economic disruption and “migration on an unprecedented scale” make climate change a true security threat.

Already the exodus has begun. On Vanuatu's Tegua island in the South Pacific, a coastal village of 100 people has been relocated inland as erosion and rising seas raised the underground water table, flooding dwellings and overflowing pit toilets. Papua New Guinea's Carteret Islands, with maximum elevation 5 feet above sea level, are set to transplant their 2,000 residents, 10 families at a time, to Bougainville Island, a four-hour boat ride away. The Maldives and Kiribati, both under siege by the inland creep of the tides, have plans to move people from the more vulnerable small islands to larger islands.

Beyond small islands, river deltas are particularly at risk. Category-3 Cyclone Nargis made this clear when it hit Burma's Ayeyarwady Delta in May 2008. The storm brought fierce winds and a 12-foot storm surge that killed 135,000 people and damaged 9,000 square miles (23,500 square kilometers), including over 60 percent of the country's rice fields. More than 2 million people felt the impact; five months after the event, close to half of them were still relying on food aid.

Viet Nam is directly exposed to sea level rise, with some 18 million people--one fifth of the population--living in the susceptible Mekong Delta. The production of more than half the country's rice and most of its fish and shrimp depends on seasonal flooding in this area; the risk, however, is that higher seas could alter the regular flooding regime, expanding the area inundated with salty water and rendering cropland unusable. A 3-foot rise in sea level would cover close to half the delta's land area. Since 2000, when the worst flooding in at least two generations raised the Mekong waters more than 16 feet, the Vietnamese government has embarked on a program to resettle at least 33,000 families out of the most flood-prone areas.

For Egypt's Nile Delta, a 3-foot rise in sea level could displace close to 8 million people and flood 12 percent of the country's agricultural area. Natural barriers to the encroaching sea are being lost because the Aswan Dam blocks sediment deposits that otherwise would sustain the delta. Salty ocean water already makes its way onto farmland, hampering wheat production. Concrete barriers line the harbor of the ancient city of Alexandria, but they cannot always keep the waves at bay.

Higher seas could also prove disastrous for densely populated Bangladesh's 161 million residents, many of whom already suffer from annual flooding. A 3-foot sea level rise would submerge close to half the country's rice fields and displace tens of millions of people. India has built a fence on the border with Bangladesh to stave off illegal migration, but if the rise of the ocean is not stopped, concrete and barbed wire are unlikely to prevent the flows of climate migrants.

While small islands and low-lying developing countries seem the likely first fronts for environmental evacuation, industrial countries are not immune. Hurricane Katrina, which hit the already-subsiding Louisiana coast in late August 2005 with heavy winds and a 28-foot storm surge, forced the evacuation of close to 1 million residents of New Orleans and the surrounding area. Of those who left, more than 200,000 never returned. They took up permanent residence elsewhere, becoming the first major wave of U.S. climate refugees.

Following Katrina, a $125 billion disaster, major U.S. population centers have largely dodged the bullet of tropical storms. In September 2008, Hurricane Gustav urged the temporary evacuation of New Orleans before it changed course and softened its blow. Hurricane Ike, a storm remarkable in size and wind speed, fortunately weakened before making U.S. landfall, but still ravaged Galveston, Texas. The two storms arrived after tearing through Cuba (long a paragon of evacuation and return), damaging more than 440,000 homes and temporarily displacing more than 1 million people.

With climate change fueling stronger storms and taking them outside of their traditional zones and seasons, people face the difficult choice of rebuilding or moving to safer territory. In the United States, while more and more people are moving to vulnerable coastal areas, insurance companies are retreating, unwilling to pick up the hefty tab of future weather devastation.

If we allow global warming to spiral out of control, at what point could disaster fatigue completely overwhelm financial and social systems? Today we measure the early waves of rising sea refugees in the thousands, but unless we can quickly check the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, we may one day measure them in the millions.

# # #

To read Earth Policy Institute's plan to stabilize climate see Time for Plan B: Cutting Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2020 at www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/80by2020.htm.

For information contact:

Media Contact:
Reah Janise Kauffman
Tel: (202) 496-9290 x 12
E-mail: rjk@earthpolicy.org

Research Contact:
Janet Larsen
Tel: (202) 496-9290 x 14
E-mail: jlarsen@earthpolicy.org

Earth Policy Institute
1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 403
Washington, DC 20036
Web: www.earthpolicy.org

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15. Action Alert: Getting Vegetarian Options into Schools

Forwarded message from the PCRM:

[I signed to support, and I hope you will also. Thanks.]

Dear Mr. Schwartz,

Hello and happy Yom Kippur from PCRM! I apologize for sending this on a holiday. I received your contact information from my colleague, Kyle Ash. We are hoping you can help us improve vegetarian options in schools, and the last day to participate is Wednesday.

Will you join us in asking the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve vegetarian options in schools? The USDA is accepting public comments related to the Child Nutrition Act, which is scheduled to be reauthorized next year. The deadline to submit comments is Wednesday, Oct. 15. Many children do not consume animal products due to ethical, religious, or health reasons. Children of color are especially likely to need an alternative to regular cow's milk, due to lactose intolerance. It is essential that the National School Lunch Program accommodate all students.

Will SERV help us by writing the USDA and asking for these options? There are a few ways you and your members can submit comments. Please see the information below.

You can sign PCRM's form letter to the USDA at this link: https://secure2.convio.net/pcrm/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=201&JServSessionIdr001=e5wpeccsc2.app14a

Send your own letter (by mail, fax, e-mail, or electronic submission) with the following information:

~Your name, address, and any relevant credentials

~“Request for Public Comments for Use in Preparing for 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs and WIC”

~Attn: Mr. Robert M. Eadie

Policy and Program Planning Branch Chief U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

3101 Park Center Drive, Room 640

Alexandria, VA 22302-1594

~Fax: 703-305-2879

~E-mail: robert.eadie@fns.usda.gov

~Electronic Submission to Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=SubmitComment&o=09000064805f47dd

Thanks so much for your work, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Katie Strong, MS, RD
Staff Dietitian
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-686-2210 ext. 338
Fax: 202-686-2216

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16. Article Re Kosher Slaughter In NY Times Magazine Section


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