Friday, May 29, 2009

Baskin-Robbins heir speaks out against dairy and meat

I love the irony. Ecorazzi reports:

Robbins is the heir of the Baskin-Robbins fortune and bravely gave up hundreds of millions of dollars to devote his life to speaking out against meat and dairy. His books have changed lives (including this guys) and his words continue to inspire.

In Processed People: The Documentary John talks specifically about what’s wrong with the meat industry. He says:

“Modern factory farming treats animals without any level of respect — in fact with contempt for their needs, for their instincts, for their well being on every level. And the degree of cruelty that’s involved in modern meat production is so severe. You don’t have to a vegetarian, you don’t have to be an animal rights activist to find it deplorable – to find it appalling — if you actually see what it is, how far it’s gone, how grotesque. ” full article

How soft will Obama go on cap-and-trade?

Needless to say, I have been less than thrilled with Obama's environmental action. But it's just getting worse.

Now, the White House is softening up on its proposed cap-and-trade system, and is opening up the possibility of giving industries some emissions permits for free.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

President Barack Obama last month backed away from pressing for 100% auction of emission credits, telling the Business Roundtable that it wasn't politically feasible. The president's science adviser said in an interview with the Washington Post Wednesday that a climate bill didn't necessarily have to start with 100% auction, but could work its way there over time. full article

Is a sub-par system better than no system? Will an 100% auction be achieved over time? I'm very skeptical. While I am upset with Obama, let's also consider his position.

Michael Barone from US News considers the percentage of electricity produced by coal in each state above the national average and concludes:

Do the math. That leaves only 32 Democratic senators from less-than-average coal-reliant states and only 157 Democratic House members from less-than-average coal-reliant states. Now I'm not saying that every member from such states will vote against cap-and-trade, but I think an awful lot would. And I don't think many Republicans are going to vote for cap-and-trade. In his press conference last night, Barack Obama seemed to accept the Senate Budget Committee's Democrats' decision to jettison the money for cap-and-trade and expressed a wistful hope that something might be done later. But even in better economic times, the numbers tend to work against any such proposal. full article

Considering the complications of this environmental mess, the legislative process, state variance in energy reliance, and Obama's eco-performance that continues to miss the mark, The Colonic will begin an Obama Watch: The Environment. (Note: I'm still traveling, this won't be up and running at my usual pace)

While pointing the finger is difficult in this situation, considering the environment and the recent gay marriage uproar sparked in California, it's clear that the only thing Obama will take a strong stance on is giving away billions of dollars to failing industries and "stimulating" the economy.

a scary turn in the green movement: redefining "renewable"

Green Green Green. Sustainable. Renewable. Environmentally Efficient.

These words are soothing for the eco-friendly, but nuclear and coal industries are fighting to be labeled as renewable.

Friday, May 22, 2009

please excuse

The Colonic is a little hectic with moving and some traveling. Things will be up and running again shortly. Thanks for your patience.

The Colonic

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama and cars of the 21st century

Check out the White House fact sheet

I've been moving and am exhausted and can't really dive into this. More later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

DC Vegan Drinks!

What could sound any more delightful than DC professionals and students getting together once a month for cocktails, social networking, and animal rights. Can't wait to move to DC and get involved.

Check out DC Vegan Drinks

on the edge of my seat to hear Obama's plan

Obama will announce Tuesday his plan for a national fuel economy. He better make up for his prior environmental disgraces.

Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles

I am very excited that the Animal Rights National Conference 2009 will be held in Los Angeles on July 16-20.

Look forward to panels, workshops, networking and many speakers (including Elizabeth Kucinich whom I love)

More info here

Saturday, May 16, 2009

racing their deaths

All my readers know that I take deep issue with PETA marketing tactics, but still respect the information that PETA provides.

PETA reports:
A little over a year ago, people watched in horror as Eight Belles was ridden to her death at the Kentucky Derby. Her jockey whipped her as she ran flat out on the hard dirt track before finally collapsing after crossing the finish line and immediately snapping both her front ankles. She was euthanized in the dirt where she lay, wracked with pain, a victim of the dirty business of thoroughbred racing.

Eight Belles' tragic breakdown was no freak accident. Rather, it was a glimpse into an industry quietly responsible for more than 1,000 fatal horse breakdowns on U.S. tracks each year.
Reform attempts by PETA include:
  • A ban on all drugs designed to push horses beyond their limits
  • Softer track surfaces to protect vulnerable horses' bones and joints
  • A ban on the use of whips
  • An end to the racing of young horses before their legs are fully formed and strengthened.
  • An end to the practice of shipping thoroughbreds overseas, where most end up in a dog-food can
You can make a donation to this campaign here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

yoga for all sizes

I never thought about this, but the typical yoga experience is designed for smaller, more fit people.
Poses considered standard for those who are fit or slim — standing with the feet together in mountain pose, kneeling with the forehead on the mat in child’s pose — are often difficult or even impossible for heavier students. Forward bends and twists are hindered by extra girth. Weight-bearing exercises like arm balances can also be more difficult.
Yoga studios like Buddha Body Yoga are springing up and catering to plus-size clients only.

“I’m not interested in teaching small people,” said Mr. Hayes, 49, who has been teaching the Manhattan class for five years. “There are so many other classes for them.”

Mr. Hayes, who is 5-foot-11 and weighs 250 pounds, said that the concern goes beyond feeling bad because you don’t look like the 22-year-old actress on the next mat. Most yoga classes, even beginner courses, don’t address the needs of big bodies, he said. Check out the full article

marriage equality

sign the petition here

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama puts politics over polar bears

First, let's not forget that Obama just said NO to international action to protect the ozone layer.

And now, in short:
The Obama administration said Friday that it would retain a wildlife rule issued in the last days of the Bush administration that says the government cannot invoke the Endangered Species Act to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases threatening the polar bear and its habitat. Full article from NY Times.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar claims that polar bears are better protected overall climate and energy policy, and adds:
“The single greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice due to climate change.” But, Mr. Salazar said, the global risk from greenhouse gases, which are generated worldwide, requires comprehensive policies, not a patchwork of agency actions carried out for particular species.
Some critics of the decision said it contradicted the approach the administration took when it chose to pursue restrictions on greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. That measure, which applies to national air pollution standards, is also not a perfect fit for a globally dispersed gas like carbon dioxide, they said.
Pragmatically speaking:

John Kostyack, executive director for wildlife conservation and global warming at the National Wildlife Federation, criticized the decision to retain the rule, which he said falsely asserted that there was no direct link between specific greenhouse gas emissions and the decline in the polar bear’s habitat.

But Mr. Kostyack said there was no way that the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Interior Department agency responsible for carrying out the Endangered Species Act, could handle the burden of trying to police emissions.

Just because emissions are currently not able to be regulated does not mean that the implications of a changing climate on vulnerable animal populations should be ignored. Even if this gesture could only be symbolic for the time being, America is allegedly on a route to capping and regulating emissions.

I used to feel that the reluctance was part of a larger political scheme to play games and do the right thing at the right time and make the right compromises. This excuse is wearing off. I'm feeling less and less confident sufficient environmental action will happen.

I would rather enrage opponents through fast and drastic environmental protections than enrage through wasting billions of dollars bailing out banks and failing automobile industries.

suburb designed for life without cars

The New York Times reports on an up-scale German suburb built for a life without cars:

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the Swiss border. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

Saturday, May 9, 2009

love Greenpeace. love nonviolent direct action.

Obey eliminates funding to close Gitmo this year

Real Clear Politics reports:

On Wednesday, while Mr. Obama was holding a photo op at the White House with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, quietly deleted funds for closing Gitmo from the fiscal year 2009 supplemental spending bill. The O-Team had requested $80 million for this fiscal year and an equal amount for next year to cover the expense of shuttering the detention facility and relocating the terrorists housed there. Obey, one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill, justified eliminating the FY '09 funds by noting, "I personally favor what the administration is talking about doing, but so far as we can tell, there is yet no concrete program for that." Just in case the nice folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. didn't get the message, Obey added, "While I don't mind defending a concrete program, I'm not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Obama declines immediate action to protect the ozone layer

Obama declined an immediate phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (a powerful climate-warming gas) under a treaty designed to protect the ozone layer:
A number of lawmakers, foreign governments and environmental advocates had urged the administration to offer an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty on ozone-depleting substances, calling for the rapid elimination of HFC’s. Some officials at the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency had pushed for such a course, but the White House decided on a more moderate approach to give it negotiating room in upcoming rounds of climate and environmental talks.

...The treaty is considered a model of international comity and scientific success. Some within the administration, as well as several Democratic committee chairs on Capitol Hill, urged that the United States take the lead in calling for the elimination of HFC’s under the treaty. But White House officials blocked the move, saying they needed more time to study the issue and instructing the State Department to stall.

A White House official said that the climate and energy bill now before the House of Representatives provides for a phase-out of HFC’s. In addition, the chemical is among the six greenhouse gases that the E.P.A. is proposing to regulate under its recent finding that carbon dioxide and other substances pose a risk to human health and the environment. FULL ARTICLE

How about take your politics, your bartering strategies, your tit-for-that, and shove it. Does Obama want to hold out on this so the raging climate skeptics think that there is something to negotiate?

I'll wait and play games with health care reform. I've already had to swallow obscenely wasted tax dollars spent bailing out banks. Beating around the bush with gay marriage to appeal to a wide electorate? I'm coping (begrudgingly).

But there is only one (quickly diminishing) environment. There are no compromises.

the vaginal sling and slumping FDA efficacy

The failure of ObTape is a reminder of another failure: the FDA.

A vaginal sling inserted under the urethra, ObTape is designed to eliminate urine leakage in women who suffer from urinary incontinence. Turns out, the sling can work its way up into the vaginal wall, create painful and bloody discharge, and must be removed piece by piece through a series of surgeries. One victim is unsure that she will ever live a life without pain, or have enjoyable sex with her husband, ever again.

The New York Times reports:

The lawsuits raise new questions about the process by which the F.D.A. reviews new medical devices. While it “approves” drugs, it merely “clears” medical devices with minimal testing if they are deemed “substantially equivalent” to devices already in use.

The process has been criticized by the agency’s scientists and in a recent Government Accountability Office report concluding that most devices on the market have never been proved safe and effective.

In ObTape’s case, the chain of similarity claims can be traced back to an older product that caused so much harm it was taken off the market. That recall did not stop the F.D.A. from clearing a new generation of vaginal slings whose only claim to safety was their similarity to the flawed device. FULL ARTICLE

heifer escapes slaughterhouse

Animals aren't dumb. They know what's cooking--it's soon to be them. This poor heifer busted out of a slaughterhouse in New York.

I'm glad that the animal will be given to a sanctuary, but this whole issue just baffles me. Why are meat-eaters granting salvation to this one arbitrary animal as they continue to eat others? Seems to me that if an omnivore catches food that has escaped, then it should go back to the slaughterhouse. If it takes a sob story to think twice about eating tortured animals, then enjoy:

Monday, May 4, 2009

beyond the binary: stop blaming it all on credit card companies

I enjoyed this article in the Los Angeles Times that operates much in the spirit of The Colonic--complicating binaries. Positing credit card companies as the evil villain is offensively reductivist at least, and blatantly inaccurate at most. Here's a quick overview of the article.

First, the author makes concessions:

I'll stipulate that they've been guilty of genuinely sleazy behavior -- much of which is properly targeted by the measures in Washington

They shouldn't be allowed to jack up the interest rate on card balances retroactively, except in rare cases. They should apply your payments to balances with the highest rates first. They shouldn't accept charges that put you over your credit limit and trigger a fee, if you request such a hard cap.

But then he brings it back home:

But we routinely berate card issuers for actions that are actually prudent and wise. Certain purported sins, such as raising rates and cutting credit limits for some borrowers, merely ratchet back the loose standards that helped lead us to economic perdition. For years we cursed the banks for showering Americans with easy credit. Now we curse them for tightening up.

Because of their unsavory past, the issuers are unable to make this case for themselves. They remind me of some frat guys at my college who were guilty of only about half the things they were accused of, but what was true was bad enough.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hydroxycut Recalled

Hydroxycut is recalled after reports of liver failure, raising the question as to whether or not the FDA is adequate enough to regulate the supplement industry and protect public health.

At issue is the difference in the way the agency oversees drugs — defined as products that prevent or cure disease — and dietary supplements, which can offer general health benefits but cannot claim to treat specific diseases or symptoms.

Unlike drugs, whose manufacturers must provide safety and effectiveness data before receiving federal approval to sell the products, dietary supplements do not need prior F.D.A. sanction to go on sale. Manufacturers of dietary supplements are themselves responsible for ensuring and documenting the safety and efficacy claims of their products.

According to the law governing dietary supplements, the F.D.A. is empowered to act only in cases when it identifies a harmful or adulterated product that is already on sale. READ FULL ARTICLE

aged pipes leak in nuclear power plant

Corroded pipes remind the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that--shocker--infrastructure that is decades old must be monitored.
Indian Point 2, whose 40-year operating license expires in 2013, already faces harsh criticism from New York State and county officials who want it shut down.

...One argument raised by New York State in opposing extension of the license of Indian Point 2 or the adjacent Indian Point 3 reactor is that crucial components are aging in ways that the operators may not anticipate or understand. Read full article

Souter retiring form Supreme Court

This will be a fun nomination process to watch. Read article