Archive for January 4, 2012

With apologies for the anthropocentric and speciesist subtext, here is a classic speech by Charlie Chaplin, which comes at the end of “The Great Dictator” (1940), his first sound movie and greatest commercial success. In this film, quite daring for its time, Chaplin satirizes Hitler, Nazism, anti-semitism, and docile people controlled by totalitarian orders. In this scene we see Chaplin playing the character of a Jewish barber who, mistaken for the dictator of Tomainia (modelled after Hitler) takes the stage before a large audience and live radio broadcast, to deliver a stirring call for humanity to smash all dictatorial systems and build democratic societies. The sentiments expressed here are widely believed to be those of Chaplin himself and are of direct relevance today, at a time when Obama makes agressive moves to transform the US into a full-blown fascist society and the American military machine continues to wage war against peoples throughout the world.

As the US and Iranian governments escalate tensions in the already volatile Straits of Hormuz, and China and Russia begin openly questioning Washington’s interference in their internal politics, the world remains on a knife-edge of military tension. Far from being a dispassionate observer of these developments, however, the media has in fact been central to increasing those tensions and preparing the public to expect a military confrontation. But as the online media rises to displace the traditional forms by which the public forms its understanding of the world, many are now beginning to see first-hand how the media lies the public into war.

The world’s attention is increasingly focused on Syria and Iran as the region continues to move toward military confrontation. Less noticed, however, is that the pieces are being put into place for a truly global conflict, with military buildup taking place in every region and threatening to draw in all of the world’s major powers.

I have long maintained that the human assault on animals that began with the invention of the spear and organized hunting some 60,000 years ago can only be adequately characterized as a war — a metaphor banned from the vocabularly by extreme pacifists who argue it reproduces that violence that spawned it. Nonsense.

The longest, bloodiest, and most viscious war in history is what humans have waged against animals, and now this demented species is using predator drone technologies to hunt down wolves! Militant liberationists have waged war and exploiters, and now the state has waged war against us.

Wake up: This is war! And should be fought accordingly……,0,822158.story

“What is happening to wolves now, and what is planned for them, doesn’t really qualify as hunting. It is an outright war … if hunting fails to reduce the wolf population sufficiently — to less than 150 wolves — the state says it will use airborne shooters to eliminate more.”

Congress removed wolves in Montana and Idaho from the protection of the Endangered Species Act in April. And this fall, the killing began.

As of Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported that 154 of its estimated 750 wolves had been “harvested” this year. Legal hunting and trapping — with both snares to strangle and leg traps to capture — will continue through the spring. And if hunting fails to reduce the wolf population sufficiently — to less than 150 wolves — the state says it will use airborne shooters to eliminate more.

In Montana, hunters will be allowed to kill up to 220 wolves this season (or about 40% of the state’s roughly 550 wolves). To date, hunters have taken only about 100 wolves, prompting the state to extend the hunting season until the end of January. David Allen, president of the powerful Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, has said he thinks hunters can’t do the job, and he is urging the state to follow Idaho’s lead and “prepare for more aggressive wolf control methods, perhaps as early as summer 2012.”

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead recently concluded an agreement with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to save 100 to 150 wolves in lands near Yellowstone National Park. But in the remaining 80% of the state, wolves can be killed year-round because they are considered vermin. Roughly 60% of Wyoming’s 350 wolves will become targeted for elimination.

What is happening to wolves now, and what is planned for them, doesn’t really qualify as hunting. It is an outright war.

In the mid-1990s, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 66 wolves in Yellowstone and central Idaho, most of the U.S. celebrated. The magnificent wolf, an icon of wilderness that humans had driven to extinction in the United States, would now reoccupy part of its old range. But in the region where the wolves were introduced, the move was much more controversial.

Part of the reason was the increase, particularly in Idaho and Montana, in paramilitary militia advocates, with their masculine ideal of man as warrior who should fight the hated federal government, by armed force if necessary. They were outraged by what they saw as federal interference in the region spurred by environmentalists, and their ideas found a willing reception among ranchers, who view wolves as a threat to their livestock — even though they ranch on federal land — and hunters, who don’t want the wolves reducing the big game population.

The factions have reinforced one another, and today a cultural mythology has emerged that demonizes the federal government, the environmental movement and the wolves themselves. Many false claims have been embraced as truth, including that the Fish and Wildlife Service stole $60 million from federal excise taxes on guns and ammunition to pay for bringing wolves back; that the introduced wolves carry horrible tapeworms that can be easily transmitted to dogs, and ultimately to humans; that the Canadian wolves that were brought in are an entirely different species from the gray wolves that once lived in the Rockies, and that these wolves will kill elk, deer, livestock — even humans — for sport.

The false claims may have had particular resonance because they built on a long tradition in Western culture. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church ruled that wolves belonged to the devil: Demons could take the shape of wolves, as could witches. Puritans brought similar ideas to America. Cotton Mather called New England before it was settled a “howling wilderness.” Asked to investigate Salem’s alleged witches, Mather concluded in his book, “On Witchcraft” (1692): “Evening wolves” (werewolves and witches) were but another of the devil’s tests as New England passed from “wilderness” to the “promised land.”

And that attitude has persisted. Gary Marbut, president of the influential Montana Shooting Sports Assn., wrote in 2003 that “one might reasonably view man’s entire development and creation of civilization as a process of fortifying against wolves.”

Politicians from both parties in Western states have been eager to help with the fortifications. In Idaho, Republican Rep. Mike Simpson and the state’s governor, Butch Otter, made removal of wolves from the Endangered Species Act a political priority. In Montana, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg has made delisting wolves central to his 2012 Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. In April, Tester in turn persuaded fellow Democrats in the Senate to approve his inserting a rider in a budget bill that delisted wolves.

In early November, Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, made his own political contribution. Thrilled at the testing of a drone aircraft manufactured in Montana, Baucus declared: “Our troops rely on this type of technology every day, and there is an enormous future potential in border security, agriculture and wildlife and predator management.” A manufacturer’s representative claimed his company’s drone “can tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote.” Pilotless drone aircraft used by the CIA and the Air Force to target and kill alleged terrorists now appear to be real options to track and kill “enemy” wolves.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone)

How far we have fallen since the mid-1990s, when we celebrated the wolves’ reintroduction. During the 2008 presidential election, candidate Barack Obama declared: “Federal policy toward animals should respect the dignity of animals and their rightful place as cohabitants of the environment. We should strive to protect animals and their habitats and prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect.”

The president now should make good on that promise.

For everyone who is dispirited and down, Gulumer shows us the way … what a cat can teach us all about perservering amidst challenges and adversity …

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