The Candid Eye

March 30, 2010

Missionaries: the good, the bad, and the ugly

An excellent article by Professor and Hindu Monk Ramdas Lamb.

Q: Is there a problem with proselytism overseas by U.S. religious groups? Isn’t sharing one’s faith part of religious freedom? When does it cross the line into manipulation and coercion?

Missionary proselytization has been an integral part of the two main prophetic religions, Christianity and Islam, since early on in the formation of each. It is precisely the reason they are the two largest religions in the world. It is also one of the darkest and most sinister aspects of religion and one of the main reasons so many people have a negative view of anything to do with religion. The basis and justification for proselytization is an extremely narrow minded and arrogant assumption: “My religion is the only right one, I have the only truth, all other religions are wrong, and it is my duty to get others to think and believe like me.” This belief has been used by Christians and Muslims for more than a millennium to justify the seduction, coercion, torture, and even murder of countless individuals in trying to get them to convert.

This does not mean that missionaries as a group have not done many good things for people over the millennia, and some continue to have positive impacts in the lives of the poor and needy. Examples of this can be seen currently in both Haiti and Chile. However, the negative actions of those who focus is proselytization far outweigh the positive.

Monk Ramdas Lamb : Image Courtesy - http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/

Religion is simultaneously one of the best as well as one of the most destructive of human creations. Religions have inspired people like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King to selflessly serve others and work to make the world a better place. Religions have also given rise to an ideology of hatred and have provided justification for the kinds of evils perpetuated by the likes of Aurangzeb, Hitler, and bin Laden.

Proselytizers are fundamentalists whose ideology divides the world into “believers” and “non-believers.” The latter comprise all those who are different, those perceived as the “other.” One of the biggest difficulties that we face in this world is our distrust of others, a feeling that leads to fear, hate, and violence. In his 1991 documentary entitled “Beyond Hate,” Bill Moyers addresses concepts such as “insider and outsider,” “us and other,” etc. and the pivotal role this bifurcated view plays in justifying hatred and violence. Proselytizers thrive on these distinctions, these divisions, drawing sharp lines between their own beliefs and those of everyone else. Non-believers are seen as lesser, sometimes even as evil, and clearly in need to either being changed or, in the extreme, annihilated.

More wars have been fought because of narrow religious doctrine and beliefs than for any other reason, and Christians and Muslims have been at the forefront. Both their histories are punctuated with wars against people of other religions, and the paths they have followed are riddled with the bodies of millions of innocent victims. One of the more extreme examples is the case of Timur, the 14th-century Muslim conqueror. In December, 1398, he overthrow the reigning Muslim ruler in Delhi. His justification was that the ruling dynasty was too tolerant of Hindus and did not convert them. Timur happily recounts in his memoirs that in the process of taking over, his army slaughtered 100,000 Hindus in a single day.

Forced conversions continue, as is evident by events in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Egypt. Even in the Gaza strip, two western newsman were recently forced to convert at gunpoint. Just last week, two young Sikh men were kidnapped and beheaded by members of the Taliban in Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam. While such actions clearly do not represent the vast majority of Muslims, they have been condoned and even justified by fundamentalist Muslim leaders, and very few Muslims speak out in opposition, often out of fear. A recent and welcome exception is Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri, an influential Pakistani Muslim scholar, who just released a 600-page fatwa (religious edict) condemning Muslim terrorism and suicide bombings. Although it is a powerful and needed statement, it is a rarity, and Dr. ul-Qadri has unfortunately put his own life in danger in the process. Fundamentalists, irrespective of their chosen ideology, find disagreement difficult to allow, and violence has increasingly become a common reaction.

Christian missionaries in the past were not much better. In addition to the violence in the name of Christianity that was perpetuated during the Crusades and the Inquisitions, a look at the early proselytization efforts in India, the Americas, and the Pacific makes it clear that many missionaries found relatively easy justification for the torture and execution of those who refused to become Christian or who challenged their beliefs. Although nowadays most Christian proselytizers have renounced such violence, groups like the Manmasi National Christian Army in Assam, India, continue to use threats to force conversion.

Most European and American Christian missionaries during the last two centuries in Asia have found offers of food, work, education, and health care to be better methods for gaining converts. In the late 1700s, missionaries followed on the heels of the British East India Company and began a concerted effort to take over the Indian soul. Once the British government took control the country, proselytizers had a relatively free reign to pursue their objectives. Again, some missionaries did good works, but those focused on proselytization showed little actual concern for the well being of those they sought to convert.

Many Hindus had hoped that Indian Independence would help curtail the more underhanded activities of the missionaries, but this did not happen. Less than a decade after Independence, a government study conducted in central India known as the Niyogi Report brought to light many of the underhanded and cynical methods that Christian missionaries were continuing to use. The Indian government did little about it, and as a consequence, many of the same tactics remain prevalent.

Currently, Americans donate millions of dollars annually to Christian organizations that advertise charity work they do around the world. While it is true that some organizations do help many people, the assistance of many such groups comes with a price for the people being helped. That is because the real focus of most missionaries is on their proselytization efforts, for which a significant portion of the money is used. Far too often, their activities have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality or real charity, and everything to do with getting names and numbers of converts, so the missionaries can go back to their funding agencies and supporters and ask for continued finances for their claimed “successes.”

In India, missionaries tell their supporters in the U.S. that they provide free or inexpensive services to the needy. However, once initial assistance is given, then conditions are often added for subsequent help. If free education is provided, conversion may then be a requirement for its continuance past a certain point. If aid is in the form of health care, then the quality of care or type of medicine and treatment available may be determined by one’s willingness to convert. This becomes a serious and difficult issue for parents who bring a sick or injured child to a missionary hospital. They may be told that the necessary care is only given to Christians, or that the required medicines “will only work” on Christians. For those who do convert in order to receive needed care, they may well be pressured to then convert other family members or else lose whatever aid they are receiving. I have seen families torn apart by such missionary activities in Central India where I conduct research. Again, this is not what all missionaries do, but these are fairly common occurrences.

In early 2009, Pope Benedict XVI met the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and agreed to stop all conversion attempts directed at Jews. A month later, Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, president of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, visited India and was asked while there if he would offer Hindus the same respect. He refused. There is a degree to narrow mindedness in every religious tradition, but when that is coupled with fundamentalist arrogance and powerful backing, nothing good can come from it.

In his “Seeds of Contemplation,” the late Catholic Trappist monk and mystic Thomas Merton warns about those with spiritual pride who think of themselves as having the truth and humility while others do not, who think they are suffering for God’s sake but deep inside are becoming full of pride in their supposed sanctity, who think that everyone else must adhere to their truth. Merton writes that when such an individual thinks that “he is messenger of God or a man with a mission to reform the world. . . He is capable of destroying religion and making the name of God odious to men.”

I am a strong supporter of freedom of religion. Most proselytizers are not. They want the freedom to coerce vulnerable and gullible individuals into converting, and they can justify many nefarious methods to accomplish their goal. No matter how well intentioned, any attempts to push a religious belief or denomination on someone ultimately benefits no one and demeans the religion in the process. If missionaries actually have something of genuine worth and value, why do they need to seduce, coerce, or threaten people to get them to accept it? Maybe their methods suggest that what they have to offer is not that worthwhile.

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March 13, 2010

ISI keeping Osama’s whereabouts a secret: Expert

Filed under: Jihad,Pakistan — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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The Pakistani intelligence agency ISI knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden but is keeping his location a secret and wants to use the Al Qaeda chief as leverage over the US as it is wary of America’s closer ties with India, noted military historian Stephen Tanner has said.

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he (bin Laden) is protected by the ISI,” said Tanner, the author of ‘Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban.’

Osama bin Laden : Image Courtesy - http://sheikyermami.com/

Tanner says the ISI knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.The American writer along with other experts were interviewed by CNN for a blog post on the channel’s website called ‘Whatever happened to bin Laden’.

Noting that it was unlikely for bin Laden to be captured anytime soon, Tanner suggested that the ISI wants to keep him as leverage over the US because it is wary of Washington’s closer ties with New Delhi. Without the fear of a bin Laden loose in Pakistan, the intelligence agency fears that the US would lose interest in the country.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner said. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Another expert, Thomas Mockatis, who is the author of ‘Osama bin Laden: A Biography’ was also quoted on the CNN blog suggesting that killing bin Laden would probably not be the best idea. “Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

Mockatis recommends that dismantling the terror infrastructure is more important than catching bin Laden. There have been alleged sightings of bin Laden in Pakistan, and he is believed to be in North Waziristan, constantly slipping back and forth from the Af-Pak border.

An associate professor of international security studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School in Massachusetts, William Martel, even suggests that it would be better if bin Laden would not be captured as the debate on how the Al Qaeda chief should be treated after his capture would create a firestorm.

“Do we read him his rights; do we run him through a military tribunal or civilian courts?” Martel says. “Capturing him would pose more problems than not.”

Source: Yahoo News

March 12, 2010

‘Jihad Jane’s’ Arrest Raises Fears About Homegrown Terrorists in USA

Filed under: Islam,Jihad,USA,Wahabism — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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The arrest of a suburban Pennsylvania woman known by the alias Jihad Jane, who allegedly plotted with Islamic radicals abroad to kill a Swedish cartoonist, has raised fears about homegrown terrorists in the United States who may be difficult to spot.

“This woman might as well have advertised in the Washington Post,” former White House counterterrorism official and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said on “Good Morning America” today. “It was easy for the FBI to find her, but there are other people who are much more covert.”

Jihad Jane : Courtesy - ABC News

“There will likely be more attacks,” Clarke said. “Hopefully, they will be small, and hopefully, we can catch them early.” Colleen R. LaRose, 46, of Montgomery, Pa., was arrested in October 2009 and charged with trying to recruit Islamic fighters and plotting to assassinate a Swedish cartoonist who made fun of prophet Mohammed, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The FBI had kept the case secret while it looked for more suspects in the United States and abroad. The case was made public after seven men were arrested in Ireland this week, suspected of plotting to kill the Swedish cartoonist.

LaRose’s case is rare, Clark said, but it shows the capability of international dissident groups to reach out to Americans via the Internet.”This is a very rare case of a disturbed woman,” he said, but it signifies how “the Internet not only allows them to communicate, it allows them to recruit.”

Their persuasive speeches and sermons, which have been effective in recruiting men and women in the Middle East, are “beginning to work for some misfits in the United States,” he said.LaRose was arrested in Philadelphia Oct. 16, 2009, and has been in federal custody ever since, without bail. She has not entered a plea. If convicted, she faces a potential sentence of life in prison and a $1 million fine.

Her three federal public defender lawyers have yet to return calls from ABC News.LaRose could easily fit the part of a soccer mom. She was described by neighbors as an average housewife.”Oh, my God, unbelievable, I can’t believe that,” one neighbor told ABC News.

Another said the news was an “amazing, shocking surprise.”Clarke said there is likely a small group of people like LaRose. But their numbers are less of a concern than the idea that radical groups can convey their ideology via this “remote control through cyberspace,” he said.”I think it’s very small but it doesn’t have to be very large,” he said. “So it’s not so much a matter of size. It’s the fact that it’s going on.”

Authorities said LaRose’s U.S. citizenship and appearance made her appealing to the Islamic radicals she first contacted on the Internet.”The terrorists figured out that they can’t all look like Middle Eastern people, whether they be male or female,” former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said. “And so they’ve put a lot of time and energy particularly into the Internet, of recruiting people.”

LaRose is better known to federal authorities as Fatima Rose or Jihad Jane. On June 20, 2008, LaRose allegedly posted a video on YouTube calling herself JihadJane and stating she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” ease the suffering of Muslims, according to news station WPVI.

The indictment, obtained by ABC News, charged LaRose with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, and making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft.

Alleged Traget Identified as Lars Vilks

LaRose is also accused of making false statements to a government official and of attempted identity theft, a passport she allegedly stole with the intention of giving to an Islamic fighter. The court papers alleged that LaRose reached out through the Internet to jihadist groups saying she was “desperate to do something to help” suffering Muslim people, and that she desired to become a martyr. She stated in her e-mails “that her physical appearance would allow her to ‘blend in with many people’ which ‘may be a way to achieve what is in my heart,'” the indictment stated.

In her e-mails with five unindicted co-conspirators in South Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, LaRose allegedly agreed to recruit men and women for jihad, to raise money for Islamic fighters, and agreed on the Internet to one jihadist’s request to “marry me to get me inside Europe.”

In March 2009, the indictment stated, she allegedly received a directive to “got to sweden… find location of [Resident of Sweden] … and kill him … this is what i say to u.” LaRose was instructed to kill Vilks in a way that would frighten “the whole Kufar [non-believer] world.”Federal officials identified the target as Lars Vilks, who had drawn Muhammed with the body of a dog.

Source: ABC News

February 28, 2010

The World According to Monsanto

Filed under: Food,India,USA — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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Source: The Top Documentary Films

There’s nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it – it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world. The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the “revolving door”. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market. Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

Watch the full documentary now

January 7, 2010

Bureaucracy and Corruption holds India back

Filed under: India,Indian Politics — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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This article is little older one by Addison Wiggin which appeared on “The Daily Reckoning”.

Excerpts from the article.

There is a crazy, night-and-day difference between Dubai and Mumbai. We were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, the most notable target of terrorist attacks this time last year. Much to their delight, the mastermind of those bombings – Hafiz Mohammad Saeed – was released to house arrest this morning after an odd trial in Pakistan.

What strikes me first is demographics. Dubai’s indigenous culture is small and practically invisible to the casual tourist. In Dubai, the ambient noise you hear is construction equipment. Almost no smells stand out. Everything is modern, new and arid.

Mumbai Gate way of India

In India, there are people everywhere…living everywhere…sidewalks, riverbanks, parks, monuments. There are shanties built on any available spot. You hear the sound of people…the murmur of voices, bicycles, car horns. Even today, when the weather is a beautiful 30 or so and the breeze steady, the air is tropical, dank and full of all manner of indescribable odors.

Soon after we arrived at the Taj, a sarapi-wrapped young lady delivered Chris and I personalized letters. Each informed us that due to state elections being held, it would be illegal for the hotel to serve us alcohol of any kind beginning at 5 PM on that day, ending 48 hours later. We found out later too that if our partners here in India were to keep the office open for work on Election Day, they risked being arrested, fined and possibly put in jail.

“Can a democracy be a dictatorship at the same time?” an op-ed asked in this morning’s Times Of India in response to the draconian efforts the Maharashtra state had taken to boost voter turnout. The idea simply: if people weren’t allowed to work and didn’t have the option to spend the day drinking… they might turn out and vote. Right.

In Mumbai, voter turn out was just over 40% – respectable by some US standards – but down a bit from the last election in 2004. “Worth 2 days without the hooch?” might have been our op ed title, had we been asked to submit one.

Mumbai Train Commuters

When we asked one of our colleagues here if he voted or not, he said ‘no’ and laughed. “Maybe if there were a category that gave me the option to choose ‘none of the above’, I would do so. But there isn’t.”

Bureaucracy and corruption, are the two words we’ve heard most this week when asking what’s holding India back. In one example, a national auction for oil and drilling rights held on Monday closed with only half of the contracts even receiving bids. A conflict between the Oil and Energy Minister and his brother have left many would be suitors for the rights contracts unsure who’s calling the shots. This week, no one wants to put their own money down in fear of losing it unceremoniously.

Upon entering one of the security firms we visited we faced a door, but no walls. It looked every bit as if an architect had gotten carried away with “form” and completely forgotten “function”… Or a cubicle concept plan for “open space” office design gone horribly awry. Later we learned they’d planned to install glass walls several years ago during a renovation, but had never received permits to erect walls higher than 7 feet in their own office space. Huh?

“If we were willing to bribe the local building authority,” our host suggested, “the walls could go up this afternoon.”

Bribes, corruption and bureaucracy are part of the culture. But it’s also part of what makes Mumbai work. “This is a ‘make do’ city,” our travel compatriot Chris Mayer observed while we were driving around the city shooting video for a documentary short we hope to produce on the opportunities in the Indian market. We’d stopped in front of the state Police Headquarters for Maharashtra. It’s a formidable colonial era building. But apparently they don’t like you taking pictures… or stopping at all… in front of the building. An angry police officer began yelling at our driver in Hindi. Several officers carrying impressive weapons were standing behind him.

“Uh, maybe they don’t like us shooting here?”

The driver got out and disappeared around the corner behind a truck followed by two of the police officers. One stood watching us in the back of the car. A few minutes later the driver returned.”It’s okay,” he said and we carried on about our business.

Later we learned a quick 100-rupee note had saved us from a trip inside the police headquarters, rather than just gawking at its façade.

With 16 million residents here, many whom live below the poverty line, the roles defined over the millennia help ensure every mouth gets fed. The only part of the city that gets consistent electricity and water is Southern Bombay. The other parts of the city, and everywhere else in the country, go through regular interruptions in basic power.

Traffic is really a sight. Harsh, a twenty-two year old graduate of Northwestern in Chicago, explained that the population has been trained by years of scarcity to try to push their way to the front of the line. It used to be because they didn’t have rice, bread or food; but now, they’ve been doing it for so long, it’s a cultural thing. So, for example, when a train pulls up to the station everyone tries to get on at once. That’s the way they drive, too.

“Harsh represents the future of India,” his father Jayesh told us proudly. Jayesh and his family have been stockbrokers since 1954 when his grandfather founded KC equities “For years Indians have felt like second class citizens of the world. But not these guys. They grew up with the Internet. They’re highly educated, motivated, confident. Rather than striving to stay in the United States after university, they’re coming back to India to participate in the development of the economy, the markets here.”

Having been to Dubai and meeting Moe, we were struck that a trend seems to be underway. In 1976, Richard Dawkins authored a book called The Selfish Gene, in which he identified a cultural unit – called a meme – that evolves and transforms as it gets passed from one human being to another.

Today, the “capitalist meme” is still actively cultivated here in the US. But because of access and speed of modern communications … coupled with the crisis in markets and entitlement programs in the West… that meme is being carried by young, intelligent, educated, active and motivated youth to the far corners of the earth. Indeed, in today’s Wall Street Journal’s op ed pages, Susan Hockfield, the president of MIT, laments that the current immigration policy in the US is actively aiding and abetting the return of science and engineering students to their home countries.

But more so, opportunities in Dubai, Mumbai… Shanghai… are inviting students back home in droves as well. At dinner one night, Jayesh made this suggestion to his son: make a list of all the things you take for granted in the US and start businesses to provide them to the Indian market. Refrigeration, for example, or electricity and roads. India is the world’s second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, but it loses 30-40% of them because lack of refrigeration.

Indeed, the small cap companies we looked at while working with our partners at Equitymaster.com included:

India’s largest financier of trucks and construction equipment The company leading the introduction of RFID and AIDC technology into retail purveyors. The leading LED displays and light bulb maker in India.The world’s second largest steelmaker

Largest producer of roses in the world

Foreign direct investment into the Indian stock market is still restricted and won’t be ava ilable until the rupee and dollar become fully convertible. And that won’t likely happen for several years. India is a net importer of grains etc. If the rupee were to float openly on the world’s forex exchanges speculation alone could cause major disruptions in India’s ability to feed itself.

For now, there are several companies available on the NYSE via ADR. And People of Indian Origin (PIOs) can invest in special accounts directly in the Indians markets. Likewise, Indians are now able to invest $250,000 a year outside the US. But progress in opening the flow of capital between India and the West remains a question for the future.

Bureaucracy, corruption and regulation are indeed impediments to short term growth. And reforms in a democratic society may come slowly… but the long-term opportunities are abundant. We intend to be there when they break.

November 23, 2009

Is eating personal?

James E. McWilliams, an associate professor of history at Texas State University at San Marcos and a recent fellow in the agrarian studies program at Yale University, is most recently the author of “Just Food.” Excerpts from his recent article that appeared in “The Washington Post”.

James E.McWilliams : Image Courtesy - http://www.txstate.edu/

I gave a talk in South Texas recently on the environmental virtues of a vegetarian diet. As you might imagine, the reception was chilly. In fact, the only applause came during the Q&A period when a member of the audience said that my lecture made him want to go out and eat even more meat. “Plus,” he added, “what I eat is my business — it’s personal.”

I’ve been writing about food and agriculture for more than a decade. Until that evening, however, I’d never actively thought about this most basic culinary question: Is eating personal?

We know more than we’ve ever known about the innards of the global food system. We understand that food can both nourish and kill. We know that its production can both destroy and enhance our environment. We know that farming touches every aspect of our lives — the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we need.

So it’s hard to avoid concluding that eating cannot be personal. What I eat influences you. What you eat influences me. Our diets are deeply, intimately and necessarily political.

This realization changes everything for those who avoid meat. As a vegetarian I’ve always felt the perverse need to apologize for my dietary choice. It inconveniences people. It smacks of self-righteousness. It makes us pariahs at dinner parties. But the more I learn about the negative impact of meat production, the more I feel that it’s the consumers of meat who should be making apologies.

Here’s why: The livestock industry as a result of its reliance on corn and soy-based feed accounts for over half the synthetic fertilizer used in the United States, contributing more than any other sector to marine dead zones. It consumes 70 percent of the water in the American West — water so heavily subsidized that if irrigation supports were removed, ground beef would cost $35 a pound. Livestock accounts for at least 21 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions globally — more than all forms of transportation combined. Domestic animals — most of them healthy — consume about 70 percent of all the antibiotics produced. Undigested antibiotics leach from manure into freshwater systems and impair the sex organs of fish.

It takes a gallon of gasoline to produce a pound of conventional beef. If all the grain fed to animals went to people, you could feed China and India. That’s just a start.

Meat that’s raised according to “alternative” standards (about 1 percent of meat in the United States) might be a better choice but not nearly as much so as its privileged consumers would have us believe. “Free-range chickens” theoretically have access to the outdoors. But many “free-range” chickens never see the light of day because they cannot make it through the crowded shed to the aperture leading to a patch of cement.

“Grass-fed” beef produces four times the methane — a greenhouse gas 21 times as powerful as carbon dioxide — of grain-fed cows, and many grass-fed cows are raised on heavily fertilized and irrigated grass. Pastured pigs are still typically mutilated, fed commercial feed and prevented from rooting — their most basic instinct besides sex.

Is meat eating, a cause for Global warming?

Issues of animal welfare are equally implicated in all forms of meat production. Domestic animals suffer immensely, feel pain and may even be cognizant of the fate that awaits them. In an egg factory, male chicks (economically worthless) are summarily run through a grinder. Pigs are castrated without anesthesia, crated, tail-docked and nose-ringed. Milk cows are repeatedly impregnated through artificial insemination, confined to milking stalls and milked to yield 15 times the amount of milk they would produce under normal conditions. When calves are removed from their mothers at birth, the mothers mourn their loss with heart-rending moans.

Then comes the slaughterhouse, an operation that’s left with millions of pounds of carcasses — deadstock — that are incinerated or dumped in landfills. (Rendering plants have taken a nose dive since mad cow disease.)

Now, if someone told you that a particular corporation was trashing the air, water and soil; causing more global warming than the transportation industry; consuming massive amounts of fossil fuel; unleashing the cruelest sort of suffering on innocent and sentient beings; failing to recycle its waste; and clogging our arteries in the process, how would you react? Would you say, “Hey, that’s personal?” Probably not. It’s more likely that you’d frame the matter as a dire political issue in need of a dire political response.

Vegetarianism is not only the most powerful political response we can make to industrialized food. It’s a necessary prerequisite to reforming it. To quit eating meat is to dismantle the global food apparatus at its foundation.

Agribusiness has been vilified of late by muckraking journalists, activist filmmakers and sustainable-food advocates. We know that something has to be done to save our food from corporate interests. But I wonder — are we ready to do what must be done? Sure, we’ve been inundated with ideas: eat local, vote with your fork, buy organic, support fair trade, etc. But these proposals all lack something that every successful environmental movement has always placed at its core: genuine sacrifice.

Until we make that leap, until we create a culinary culture in which the meat-eaters must do the apologizing, the current proposals will be nothing more than gestures that turn the fork into an empty symbol rather than a real tool for environmental change.

November 15, 2009

USA – Washing its hands of climatic control!!

Filed under: Global Warming,USA — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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In the clearest enunciation of what was being talked about in the last few weeks, the United States has said it will not make any commitments to cut its greenhouse gases until its domestic legislation on climate change is passed in the Senate — effectively ruling out any US offer at the Copenhagen summit in December.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu : Image Couresy - http://www.indianexpress.com/

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu : Image Couresy - http://www.indianexpress.com/

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said his country wanted to make sure that the story of the Kyoto Protocol — which Washington had put its signature to but could not ratify as the Senate refused to clear it in 1998 — was not repeated this time around.Chu said Washington wanted to complete the “political process” before declaring its targets for reducing its greenhouse gases.

“It (the US targets) has to go through the political process. We want to make sure that a situation like Kyoto does not happen again,” he said, while speaking at IIT Delhi.

The Copenhagen summit is supposed to finalise a global climate framework beyond 2012 when the first commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. The developed countries are expected to declare their emission cut targets for a period beyond 2012.

The US Senate is currently debating what is known as the Kerry-Boxer legislation that proposes 20 per cent reductions by the United States by 2020 compared to 2005 levels and 83 per cent by 2050. It also has an intermediate target of 42 per cent cuts by the year 2030.The Democrat-sponsored bill faces stiff resistance from the Republicans who boycotted the most recent hearing last week.

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