"True, much of the dated advice ... is now amusingly camp,
but the potential thrill of being single still saturates each page."
Thursday, February 27, 2003
OTTAWA - Canada plans to kill almost a million seals over the next three years, dismissing protests from conservationists who say this will have a devastating effect on the seal population.
1. Fisheries and Oceans Minister Robert Thibault said hunters would be allowed to kill up to 350,000 seals in each year, up to a maximum of 975,000 seals over three years.
Last year hunters slaughtered a record 307,000 juvenile seals, almost all of them harp seals.
The annual seal slaughter begins off Canada's east coast next month.
Thibault said the killing was being expanded because the harp seal population had hit a record 5.2 million animals, up from 1.8 million in 1970. If all 975,000 seals were killed, the population in 2006 would be 4.7 million, he said.
"Seals are in abundance ... seal management is founded on sound conservation principles to ensure harvest opportunities now and in the future," he told a news conference yesterday.
Gory pictures of helpless young seals being beaten to death on ice floes have turned the annual ritual into a public relations nightmare for the federal government, which is also under pressure from the sealing industry.
Canada says killing seals protects depleted fish stocks and provides jobs in economically depressed Newfoundland. The provinces prosperous cod fishery collapsed a decade ago and some fishermen say seals are partly to blame.
The seal slaughter, which usually begins in mid March in the Gulf of St Lawrence and continues for another two months, is by far the largest mass killing of marine mammals in the world.
Thibault dismissed complaints from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) that killing more seals would devastate the seal population.
"There are no signs to that effect," he said, prompting IFAW campaigners to announce they would be launching a new overseas effort to focus attention on the cull.
"We are outraged," IFAW seals campaigner Rebecca Aldworth told Reuters. "He (Thibault) has turned his back on the international condemnation this slaughter has brought upon this country.
"Certainly this is not a decision based on any existing science...Were not going to stand by and watch the harp seal population wiped out for political reasons," she said, accusing the government of trying to deflect attention from Ottawas alleged mismanagement of fish stocks.
Last month the IFAW said the ice cover off the Atlantic coast, where seals give birth, was rapidly thinning and cited evidence that mortality rates were rising.
"The objective of the plan is extermination," said Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Watson, a Canadian who has campaigned against the seal slaughter since the 1970s, said the annual quotas were the largest in 150 years.
"The Canadian government believes that by wiping out the seals, that cod fish populations will be restored. Unfortunately there is no scientific justification for this position and the government is undertaking this program to appease disgruntled Newfoundland fishermen.
"The seals will be clubbed, shot or drowned in nets. It is estimated that for every seal landed, another is lost, not recovered and not included in the quota."
Sealers welcomed Thibaults decision, saying it would help bring stability to the industry.
"I think we've got something now we can really work with... this announcement is breathing some new life into where were going with the sealing industry," Canadian Sealers Association executive director Tina Fagan told reporters.
One bright spot for environmentalists was that Thibault rejected a request from sealers to scrap a 15-year-old ban on hunting some very young seals.
The market for pelts of seal pups collapsed several years ago due to European opposition to the slaughter, but some harp seal penises are sold for use in Asian aphrodisiacs.
- REUTERS, HERALD STAFF
DENVER (Reuters) - People who abuse cats and dogs could find themselves in serious legal trouble if a bill passes in Colorado that would allow pet owners to sue for up to $100,000 for "loss of companionship," the measure's sponsor says.
"I want to hold people responsible who are intentionally cruel to animals," state Rep. Mark Cloer said Monday.
Cats and dogs are now considered "property" and with most not worth more than $50, it makes no sense to sue someone who tortures or kills a pet, the Republican lawmaker from Colorado Springs said.
Local media said the companionship measure would be the first of its kind in the country. Colorado already is one of 14 states that allow pets to "inherit" from their owners.
A Break in the Movement? Let's Hope So...
As the movement towards popular demonstration grows exponentially here in America, and this weekend the turn out is expected to be truly historic across the nation, a fault-line has finally been able to be articulated -- this by Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun -- around the perception of an ugly form of anti-semitism that has been lurking within the contemporary scene. Rabbi Lerner pointed a finger at the group ANSWER (in my opinion, with some measure of justification) and then took his case public when this criticism of the group apparently prevented him from being a spokesperson this weekend.
Radicals are furious with Rabbi Lerner that he would plead his case in the mainstream media and present on the eve of the demos the representation of anything other than a united front. I can understand that -- even though the movement from below has a head full of steam, it is still paltry in comparison to state and corporate forces, and to achieve anything like a victory, it must be strategic. Anyone with any degree of grassroots political experience knows that you must choose the image you sell the media wisely and with caution.
Perhaps Rabbi Lerner should have worked closed-mouthed this time around and buried his grudge within the back-room meetings. But, even if this is so, this doesn't dismiss either his claim or what I take to be another fundamental problem with how these events were apparently organized -- the abiding rule of the various organizations was that no one would be allowed to speak who had made a public criticism of any of the organizations involved. Lerner's critique of ANSWER's praxis, thus, eliminated him on sight.
This to me is reprehensible. How is the movement to be a grassroots democratic politics if it is working at the level of an unquestionable vanguard party-lineism? Lerner's crtique of ANSWER does not weaken the movment, it strengthens it. Being able to air criticism openly and to have discussion openly has to be the guiding vision. In this case, the politics of media representation and the attempt to fashion a spectacle of grassroots power unity has worked to the detriment of what the movement really should be. Organizers provide a needed boost to organize. But they must have the courage to be hands-off enough to allow freedom within the space that they are able to temporarily liberate. Fear of criticism within that space only reproduces domination there. ANSWER and the other groups involved, now that this has happened, should lower their hackles and invite Rabbi Lerner to have his say. One would hope, in the spirit of reciprocity, that Rabbi Lerner would then make public a self-critique at the level of his own media tactics. If all this happened, this would advance the process ten-fold and turn a reactionary development into something truly constructive, furthering and positive for the social whole.
There is also the charge, however, of anti-semitism at work. ANSWER has issued a statement decrying anti-semitism in lieu of what has happened and clarified that the critique of Israeli governmental practices is not equivalent in their minds to an attack upon Jewish self-determination. Having been in the trenches with ANSWER I think that the statement is fair at the level of their general policy -- and as I am not an organizer, I leave it to Lerner and others to critique the reality of their backroom ideology (i.e. what an organization says is not always what an organization means).
Yet, it is undeniable to me (as a non-zionist Jew) that contemporary manifestations on the Left -- especially amongst the youth -- have produced explicitly one-sided critiques of the Middle Eastern situation and an unfair obsession with Israel which has led to gross stereotyping of both Israeli politics and Jewish life. I didn't need Rabbi Lerner to tell me this, I could see it and feel it for myself and I have been privately watching its recent development.
Personally, I wonder if Noam Chomsky is not more of a cause than ANSWER ever could be. I mean this without denigrating Prof. Chomsky's position and critique of Israel -- which, like just about everything else Noam says, is carefully documented with an encyclopedia of facts and references, and which is buoyed by his own history as a Jew and a radical intellectual of four decades. This is not the case of many of my compatriots in the streets or classrooms, however. There is, to the contrary, an excitement about Chomsky intellectual anarchism and a form of hero worship (to varying degrees) of both Chomskian critique of Zionist state power and Western imperial interest and of ZMag-type socialism altogether.
To my mind, this is good. The youth of today need their heroes and the long adventure into philosophy must always begin in wonder and excitement. But it has its dangerous aspects too -- youth tend to fashion superficial critiques, construct stereotypes, over romanticize their own position, and invest a greater deal of personal identity in the positions and heroes that they worship. Thus, today in America, if part of the construction of a burgeoning youth movement from below involves the critique of imperial interests in the so-called Middle East, and if Chomsky represents the ideological justification, while ANSWER represents the anti-zionist praxis, it is only to be expected that the rather sophisticated analysis of Arab-Israeli history would descend into forms of popular anti-semitism.
Announcing this, as such, seeking to nip it in the bud, and so forcing the level of political engagement and critique to a higher level of analysis and practice, in which further dialectical observations are revealed, this is the right path. Rabbi Lerner, who has shown himself to be a special person in many other respects, deserves to be thanked (and not just shunned) for highlighting the potential divides and rifts, especially around what could be a major blow to solidarity if not reckoned with.
True democracy is not media spectacle. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in...
[Table of Contents - Archives are Here]