News for progressives

RT Television DARES to Challenge the French Intelligentsia!

by Phil Butler for the Saker blog Unprecedented, is the only word to describe the assault on the Russia Today (RT) networks abroad. The U.S. backed liberal world order has
Categories: News for progressives

Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/12/23 … Open Thread

2017/12/23 03:00:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
Categories: News for progressives

babbling all the way through 2017: Highlights from rabble's discussion forum

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-23 02:38
Meg Borthwick

As 2017 comes to a close, it's time for our annual babble roundup. We asked babblers what their favourites threads were for the year and we've collected them below. Whether it's our long-standing cooking thread (Hey good lookin', what's cookin'), our 2017 polling thread (what is it about polls that so captivates people?) or the trainwreck that is the Trump administration, babblers have a lot to say, and we value their thoughts, opinions and analysis. Never popped by babble? Come have a look at what progressives have to say, engage in debate and learn more about what's going on in the world.

 

North Report: Hey good lookin', what's cookin'?               

WWWTT:  NDP leadership race         

Pogo: United Kingdom

           British election June 8, 2017

         

babble staff: All hail the peacemakers 20           

                    Trump administration

                    Alberta politics

                    2017 polls

Meg Borthwick is the moderator for rabble's discussion forum, babble.

Photo: David Strom/flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

The last-minute progressive gift you've been looking for!

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-23 00:10
rabble staff

Dear rabble readers:

Gift shopping getting you glum? Have we got a gift idea for you! 

As 2017 comes to a close, you can give everyone on your list the gift of media democracy and support news for the rest of us.

Take a moment and make a gift of $10, $25 or more now.

As a community-supported non-profit media, rabble depends on generous donations from individuals and groups to survive and thrive. rabble has no corporate parent or primary foundation support. We have you. 

What do you spend on TV, newspapers and magazines? What about Internet costs? If each of the more than 250,000 people who visited rabble last month contributed just a fraction of what they spend on mainstream media, we could do so much. Can you donate at least a month's cost of your newspaper subscription, cable, satellite, mobile or Internet costs to independent media? It is a small gift that will go a long way. 

Plus, if you can give $8/month you could choose to receive this vital read:

   

The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, with a preface by Naomi Klein

This compelling book does what rabble works to do every day - shine a light on key issues that we collectively need to address. Independent media like rabble depends on collective support so please visit rabble.ca/donate and make a difference. And feed that bookworm while you are at it.

Thank you for reading rabble - and for your support

Warmest wishes for a joyous and peaceful holiday, 

Kim Elliott, Publisher, and all of the workers at rabble.ca 

Categories: News for progressives

Net neutrality masks the threat of tech monopolies

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-23 00:07
Civil Liberties WatchTechnology

Communications technologies have always been prone to overstatement. The creation of semaphore during the French Revolution -- those flag signals you once got Boy Scout badges for -- was going to unleash humanity's full potential for freedom! Right.

The first King's Christmas Speech on radio in 1932 (by George V, the one before Colin Firth) was hailed as: "King George Greets Whole Empire by Radio. Distant Lands Thrill to His 'God Bless You.'" It was, in other words, a new instrument of imperial domination. Canada wasn't immune. In 1935 CBC radio hit the "apogee" of broadcasting by "forging a choral chain from Halifax to Vancouver" to sing successive verses of Good King Wenceslas.

The sheer thrill of the tech often masked its darker elements. But the age of mass media, such as radio, TV and newspapers, which we're still exiting, also allowed unprecedented manipulation, and not just by Nazis. The few who ran or owned those media enjoyed one-way messaging to the masses, who had no real way to resist or reply. Those on top were the gatekeepers of information and attitudes, but few even noticed there were gates being opened and closed. It fell to marginalized critics like Noam Chomsky to make the point.

In this sinister light, the internet arrived as an incredible bounty. Why? It gave the "masses" a way to answer back, instantly, beyond puny letters to the editor. It was many-to-many communication, not just few-to-many. It would, thereby, crack the power of those infernal media gatekeepers! It would be free ranging, wide open to all opinions, not just "established" ones. It was, in the normal way, overpraised as, for instance, the greatest invention since fire!

But the internet also has dark sides: fake news (in a crasser way than Chomsky's "propaganda"), bullying, even the loss of identifiable villains, like those mass media gatekeepers. It was comforting to know who was out to manipulate you, especially if they're obvious black hats like Rupert Murdoch.

Net neutrality has become the banner waved by those trying to save the unique virtues of the internet and its heart is in the right place. The dodgy characters on the internet were always the internet service providers (ISPs). They were once smallish -- my first was Astral, or Magic, I forget.

But they're now mainly huge telcos -- Rogers, Bell etc. -- and they're the new gatekeepers. They can choke off or expedite traffic and sources -- as Russia and China do -- in the name of the common good, which they alone determine. All that diversity and wildwestiness can vaporize as it passes through the gate that is your mild-mannered ISP. It's where censorship can occur, as it did in mass media. There wasn't much that could be done then, aside from some naming and shaming.

Net neutrality aims higher: to legally forbid ISP gatekeeping, though not the gatekeepers. Let them make billions, but keep our internet open to all. This policy is what the U.S. recently abandoned, and Canada promises to maintain.

So what's not to like in net neut? Unfortunately, there's more gatekeeping on the internet than just by ISPs. Net neutrality is overstated as a battle cry because it doesn't deal with, say, the controlling, monopolistic role of the (adorably named) FANGs: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google.

They're probably scarier than the ISPs. With their algorithms they decide the news you get, from which sources -- and most news now reaches people via social media. (If you're ever puzzled about why you suddenly got flooded by Star Wars stories, like 26 Things You Didn't Know About Darth Vader …) This outranks, IMO, angst about choking and throttling by ISPs.

FANGs are also the ones collecting your personal data and preferences, preparing a universe more pervaded and controlled than anything Orwell foresaw. Net neutrality doesn't attempt to address their power, or in a way, power itself as it exists in its rawest forms, on the net.

It's almost as if net neutrality is a rhetorical device to reassure us that all will be fine if we do this one thing, and thus take our eye off the (wrecking) ball of the FANGs and other terrifyingly mighty, so far unrestricted forces.

The indefatigable internet crusader, Michael Geist, says it at least "signals a clear commitment to placing consumers and creators in the internet driver's seat." But is a "signal" enough? To me it sounds a bit like comfort food.

This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr

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internet neutralitynet neutralityOpen Internetdigital technologyinternet freedomRick SalutinDecember 22, 2017In the era of Newsflix, public funding matters more than everAs news outlets struggle to survive, the obvious solution is public funding.Canadians need to plan now to fund and develop dependable media for the futureThe best solution to our growing news crisis is for governments to provide the financial support needed so that community-based online news sites will be sustainable.Net neutrality: Fighting for an Internet that has never been neutralThousands of people feel the fight for net neutrality is an essential struggle. However, it is obscuring the fundamental reality that the Internet hasn't been 'neutral' for years.
Categories: News for progressives

Trump doubles down, praises Nikki and makes a fool of himself

Arms crossed, like he is pouting.  Thinks being rich puts him above the (in this case, international) law. Pathetic. Here are the results of the vote:
Categories: News for progressives

Jonathan Jackson “How I became Orthodox”

Jonathan Jackson “How I became Orthodox” Holywood actor, recipient of five Emmy Awards, at an interview given in “Pemptousia” during his recent visit to the Monastery of Vatopedi – Mount
Categories: News for progressives

Trump's new tax bill marks the darkest day of the year

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-22 22:43
EconomyUS Politics

President Donald Trump is being credited with achieving the first legislative accomplishment of his presidency, pushing the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" through Congress. He described it as "an incredible Christmas gift for hardworking Americans," but in reality it's the largest wealth transfer from the bottom to the top in American history.

Congressional Republicans, bused in from Capitol Hill, gathered at the White House for a photo op with the president, where the serial adulatory statements showered on Trump were described by one political commentator as "nearly pornographic." Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made a very important statement, perhaps unwittingly, congratulating the president by saying, "This is a very historic day, of course, but it's also the beginning of winter solstice … the shortest day, the darkest day."

This is a dark day for the United States. A country's annual budget is often described as a moral document, defining the nation's values. Its tax system codifies its fairness. Who pays into the system, and who reaps the rewards? Clearly, Trump, his family and his businesses will profit enormously. One essential element of this new law is that the tax breaks given to corporations and the wealthy are permanent; those given to the working and middle class are temporary.

"This tax bill is a moral and economic obscenity," Vermont's independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said. "It is a gift to wealthy Republican campaign contributors and an insult to the working families of our country. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality this bill would provide the majority of benefits to the top 1 percent and the largest corporations. Unbelievably, at the end of 10 years it would actually raise taxes on millions of middle-class families and, by creating a $1.4 trillion deficit, would pave the way for massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other important programs."

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan essentially confirmed Sanders' fear when he said in a radio interview in early December, "We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit." Undermining, eliminating or privatizing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have been central pillars of the conservative movement for decades. By slashing federal tax revenues, Republicans are setting the stage for future deficits that will fuel their jihad to slash these programs, which are vital to middle-class and poor Americans.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, issued a scathing report, stating, "The tax reform package is essentially a bid to make the U.S. the world champion of extreme inequality."

One person who fears that the tax cuts will kill him is Ady Barkan. He traveled to Washington to oppose the tax bill. On his return flight, he saw Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who has opposed Trump on a number of issues. The video of Ady peppering Flake with questions on board the flight went viral. Ady started by describing how he was recently diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease:

"I was healthy a year ago. I was running on the beach. I'm 33, I have an 18-month-old son, and out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with ALS, which has a life expectancy of three to four years, no treatment, no cure. I probably will need to go on a ventilator to live. This tax bill is probably going to force $400 billion in automatic … cuts, and Mick Mulvaney of the Office of Management and Budget is individually responsible for choosing how to implement those cuts. He thinks people on disabilities are just slackers. So, what happens, what should I tell my son, or what should you tell my son, if you pass this bill and he cuts funding for disability and I can't get a ventilator?"

The Senate passed the bill after midnight Wednesday, interrupted by protesters, many in wheelchairs, chanting, "Kill the bill! Don't kill us!" Barkan later tweeted: "Last night after the Senate vote, peaceful protesters in the gallery were telling personal stories about how this bill will hurt them and their families. And Republican Senators were laughing at them. It explains everything. They do not see our humanity."

Ady Barkan's fate is uncertain, but one thing is clear: He will continue to fight for a fair, just and equitable society. After the winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year, each day grows longer, each day becomes lighter.

This column was first published on Democracy Now!

Photo: Adrian Gray/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism.

trump administrationcorporate tax cutseconomic inequalitywealth distributionAmy GoodmanDenis MoynihanDecember 22, 2017A full inquiry into Donald Trump should cover his real crimes and misdemeanoursWhat if Donald Trump were actually held responsible for real crimes: killing civilians in drone strikes, forcing refugees to suffer or die, or driving the planet into climate change?Alabama was a good reminder of what democratic politics looks likeIn the U.S., almost everything ends up in litigation because too many Americans lack faith in social or political forces, such as elections, government, unions, parties, social movements.The problem with shiny liberalismWhat three years in the ubiquitous "West" has taught me.
Categories: News for progressives

Pushing back against injustice: The year in rabble columns

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-22 21:02
Politics in CanadaUS Politics

In 2017, Canada looked back on 150 years rooted in colonialism, while our neighbours to the south ushered in a troubling new era with Donald Trump in the Oval Office. It was a year darkened by uncertainty and fear, as the Trump administration wreaked havoc on democracy, human rights and the planet.

The frightening politics of the U.S. regime fostered new forms of reflection -- and reaction -- as citizens galvanized together against injustice. Calls for justice rang out at women's marches; in the aftermath of environmental disasters; at far-right hate rallies; in front of statues and institutions upholding a colonial legacy. This year more than ever saw the calling out of the systemic injustices that run through our social fabric.

It was also a year of pushback. Citizens pushed back against the colonialism embedded in the foundation of our country. Activists challenged the white supremacy fuelling the actions of hate groups. The #MeToo movement resisted the misogyny underpinning sexual assault and gender-based violence. People around the world united against the corporatism that is the driving force of Trumpism.

What meaning can be found in a year when the world was continuously on the brink? Where can we find glimmers of hope in the darkness? In this difficult year, rabble columnists looked to community as the site where transformative change begins. Hope is found in laws which protect human rights. It can be uncovered in re-imaginings of history through a compassionate, just lens. Most of all, it resides in all of us, catalyzed through solidarity.

Through their reflections, analysis and critiques, rabble columnists brought fresh perspective -- and yes, hope -- to the challenges of a painful year. Read highlights from the best of our columns writing below. For a complete selection, check out our columns section.

  • What is the antidote to Trumpism? How do we create a new politics that builds the basis of a citizen-based democracy to replace our hollowed-out institutions? For Murray Dobbin, the key lies in first understanding the roots of Trump's popularity.
  • It's been 150 years of Canadian politics. What comes next? Canada acquired its identity as a federal state 150 years ago. Whatever the public relations designs for marking this anniversary, we should also allow for extended critical reflection on what history has to suggest for Canadian politics today. Duncan Cameron sets the stage for looking back.
  • On independence and the niqab. Quebec's shameful embrace of a niqab ban grew out of the identity politics that followed the failed 1995 referendum to separate from Canada. Monia Mazigh unpacks the politics and the history.
  • The collapse of Sears Canada should bring change. The downfall of Sears Canada seems tragic and unnecessary, and the devastating blow to its employees should not have been allowed to happen. Linda McQuaig explains why a billionaire American hedge fund manager should personally pay benefits of terminated Sears workers.
  • Liberals' pension reforms fall woefully short for Canadian workers. While changes to the Canada Pension Plan recently adopted by the Liberal government offer some improvement, they do not go far enough. We need to revisit how retirement income is going to be funded on a secure basis, advises Doug Macpherson, so that no senior is doomed to end their life in poverty. 
  • Trudeau's torture policies no different than Trump's. The Trump administration sets the bar so low that anything which is not Trump is deemed praiseworthy and acceptable. Giving Justin Trudeau a pass just because he is not Trump creates a yawning gap between the government's lofty rhetoric and its actual policies, cautions Matthew Behrens.
  • Why we need to talk about climate change when covering Hurricane Harvey. Now is exactly the time to talk about climate change, and all the other systemic injustices -- from racial profiling to economic austerity -- that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes. Naomi Klein explains why avoiding talk of the climate at these moments comes at the expense of telling the truth.

Michelle Gregus is rabble.ca's managing editor.

Photo: Liz Lemon/flickr

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year in reviewbest of 2017best of rabblecolumnsMichelle GregusDecember 22, 2017A year of rabble: 2016 editionHere's the best of our coverage from 2016, to get inspiration for fighting back in 2017.The year that was: Collective wisdom from rabble columns in 2016Make no mistake. It was a challenging year for progressives and everyone working for a better world. Fortunately, rabble's columnists were there to bring perspective to the year's events.2015's best in rabble columnsIt was a year of commentary in rabble columns, with insights from the leading progressive voices in Canada. We look back at the year in columns and highlight some of our top picks.
Categories: News for progressives

<I>Washington Post</I> Calls For Outrage About War On Yemen - Hides U.S. Role In It

Just in time for Christmas the Washington Post laments the cholera epidemic in Yemen caused by the U.S.-Saudi war on the country: One million people have caught cholera in Yemen. You should be outraged. The International Committee of the Red...
Categories: News for progressives

Sunny ways, rainy days

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-22 15:17
December 22, 2017Politics in CanadaJustin Trudeau had to apologize for good reasonThe PM vacationed at the expense of a person involved with a large NGO. Other NGOs should not be disadvantaged because they lack private islands to which to invite Justin Trudeau and family. Aga Khan
Categories: News for progressives

When sanity fails – the mindset of the “ideological drone”

[Notes: This article, written by me, the Saker, is temporarily placed in the “Guest Analyses” section due to my current fundraiser.  It will be placed in the correct section when
Categories: News for progressives

Blogging the resistance: 2017 in rabble blogs

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-22 11:15
Sophia Reuss

2017 is over. Almost. Give yourselves a pat on the back everyone, we've somehow managed to make it through another year. And what a year it's been. But you know what they say, no rest for the weary. (Don't forget to head over to our Activist Toolkit so you can figure out how to ahem, not rest.) But for those of you who, like me, need a bit of a memory jog as we enter the new year and continue to reflect, reassess, and resist... let's recap. 

January: The day after Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. President, millions of women took to the streets to protest misogyny, sexism, racism, and all intersecting forms of oppression and violence. Our very own Samaah Jaffer spoke at the Vancouver Women's March. Read her remarks here. Read Tessa Vikander on how Black and trans folks were frustrated by lack of inclusion in the Vancouver march here. And read my own thoughts from the Washington, D.C. march here.  

February: (Well, the end of January really.) Six men were murdered by a white nationalist in a violent attack at the Islamic Centre in Quebec City. In the aftermath of the attack, Muslims across Quebec and Canada reported heightened levels of fear, given the rise of violent Islamophobic acts. 

March: We at rabble didn't hesitate to stand up to Islamophobic violence and racist organizing in Canada. In March, rabble launched the campaign to document hateful acts and engage folks in the anti-racist organizing. Since then, rabble has published 36 stories with the hashtag. Read them here

April: Earth Day isn't the only day you should care about the environment, as David Suzuki's blog reminds us each week. This Earth Day, Suzuki marched for science! Read about Washington, D.C.'s March on Science and how collective action can save the planet. 

May: The question of whether activism and journalism can go together is one that rabble rousers don't lose much sleep over. Not so for the mainstream media establishment. Read John Miller's tale of two columnists, the story of Desmond Cole's decision to leave the Toronto Starhere. And find out how all of us at rabble are doing our part to centre activist-invigorated journalism here.

Also in May, Sarah Miller reflected on the B.C. elections. Full disclosure, she voted for the NDP, read about why here.

June: Let us not forget about Canada's foreign policy decisions. Foreign policy seems to be the realm where hypocrisy looms large, thanks to that good ol' Liberal doublespeak. Read about how Justin Trudeau's foreign policy is reminiscent of Stephen Harper, and why (and how) Canada needs to do more to help the global refugee crisis. (You can talk the talk while running in exactly the other direction, apparently).

July: This year was Canada's 150th colonial birthday. But not everyone was celebrating.

Indigenous communities uncelebrated the country's unbirthday with a focus on unsettling Canada. Read about how members of the Okanagan-Syilx Nation led the Rethink 150 collective to remind everyone of the country's history of colonial oppression and violence. 

Also in July, the Ontario government finally committed resources to the tune of $85 million to clean up mercury in Grassy Narrows, where the Grassy Narrows First Nation and the nearby Whitedog First Nation have been struggling for years against environmental racism. 

(Oh yeah, and Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature...) 

August: In Charlottesville, Virginia, members of the far-right gathered for the "Unite the Right" protest. When a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-racist activists, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, Nora Loreto reported that many were reminded of the rise of terrorist attacks involving vehicles. But workers were also reminded of the routine danger they face while walking a picket line. Read about the labour movement's anti-fascist roots here, and access our Charlottesville coverage here

September: The race for the leadership of the New Democratic Party was a hot topic across rabble this September. Why did it matter? Read Dennis Gruending's take on the election.

October: In a big win for the tireless activists, Indigenous communities, and grassroots groups on the frontline of the fight for climate justice, the TransCanada Energy East pipeline was shut down. Hear voices from that fight here.

And read about how misogyny and anti-environmentalist campaigning go hand in hand.

And importantly, read about the watershed #metoo movement here.

November: The best blog headline this year ("The real pirates of the Caribbean") is awarded to Ed Finn, who glares down the three thousand Canadian entities named in the "Paradise Papers," the name given to a leak of documents revealing the extent of transnational tax evasion using offshore tax havens. It's not pretty, but you should read about it here.

December: Despite the government's release of its much anticipated National Housing Strategy, the country's housing and homelessness crisis remains largely unaddressed. Especially in urban centres like Toronto, where all three levels of government continue to fail the city's homeless population by ignoring requests to open the federal armouries and expanding inadequate, volunteer-run programs instead of instituting meaningful change. Read Cathy Crowe's take on how the city is failing its homeless population. 

Phewf! That's all folks. Well, that's not all. A whole lot of other stuff happened that somehow couldn't make it in here, not for lack of significance or impact. Help us remember by commenting below. And Happy New Year, everyone! On to the next. 

Sophia Reuss is rabble.ca's assistant editor. 

Image: Instagram/michelle_crowe

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Categories: News for progressives

The Saker poses a legal question to Alexander Mercouris (email exchange)

[Note: today I emailed my friend Alexander Mercouris to ask him a question about the UN General Assembly vote on the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 
Categories: News for progressives

Sounds of hope from rabble podcasts in 2017

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-22 10:23
Victoria Fenner

Are things getting better yet?

Last December, we were looking ahead to the year to come with some fear and trepidation. We were still in shock after Donald Trump's win in the U.S. What were we in for? 

Well, now we know. To say it's been a challenging year is the understatement of the still-new century. But, a lot of people rose to the challenge. And though it looks like Peace on Earth is a concept which seems more elusive than ever, there are lots of people out there working to reverse the damage that has been done over many years of globalization, corporate control, and the actions of demagogues who use "democracy" as a synonym for "capitalism."

For your holiday listening, some wise words from people who believe that all is not lost. The struggle continues, and is far from over. 

1.  The sound of resistance: Three women's marches (January 26, rabble radio). Voices from a trio of women's marches on January 21, 2017, starting in Washington, and then moving up to Vancouver and Toronto. 

2. Re-evaluating Sanctuary Cities (February 28, rabble radio). Sanctuary Cities are under fire from the Trump administration and have been controversial in Canada too. Sophia Reuss and Braden Alexander talk to Jaggi Singh and Nigel Bariffe about the effectiveness of Sanctuary City motions and how they can be fixed.

3.  Surviving the gig economy -- three women's experiences (April 6, rabble radio). The gig economy is a fact of life whether we like it or not. We hear three women's perspectives - what works, what doesn't and some ideas for change.

4.  Universal basic income: Yea or nay? (Apr 20, Needs No Introduction). Will a guaranteed basic income release people from the poverty trap or keep them in it? A spirited debate exploring the issues from both sides and all points between.

5.  Bold ideas for health-care reform (May 18,  rabble book lounge). Dr. Danielle Martin talks about her book, Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All, at Progress Summit 2017.

6.  The World is Not a Machine: Redefining Power Structures (June 15, Needs No Introduction). A talk by eco-feminist, scholar and author about undoing the power structures which are destroying our world. From the 5th Annual Tommy Douglas Institute on May 31, 2017.

7.  Who am I? Bridging identities for people of both settler and Indigenous heritage (August 2, rabble radio). The issue of identity can be difficult for people of mixed Indigenous and settler heritage. With Braden Alexander, Heather Majaury, Myrriah Gomez-Majaury about integrating those two solitudes.

8. Continuing the fight for the Dreamers (October 16, rabble radio). A conversation with Christopher Torres, former National Organizer for United We Dream, the campaign that pushed Barack Obama to introduce the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

9. Reporting Democracy, Resistance and Hope: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (October 5, Needs No Introduction). One of the high points of rabble's year was the appearance of Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, speaking at a special rabble.ca event on October 1 in Toronto.

And, to make it an even dozen, listen to the year-end rabble radio for excerpts of three other rabble podcast bests: 

Chris Hedges: Writing as resistance

Angela Davis: Disruption is power

Gerry Caplan: Hope and despair in a mixed up world

Wishing all of you a peaceful 2018 and a year of collectively finding solutions to the challenges we're facing.

Victoria Fenner is the executive producer of the rabble podcast network.

 Photo: Max Pixel

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. 

Categories: News for progressives

It's time to confront the invisible suffering of animals

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-22 04:31
Food & Health

At a giant pet store in west-end Toronto last week, people loaded up on gifts and stocking stuffers for their pets, and posed with them for a "family Christmas photo."

This cheerful scene only highlighted the odd disconnect between the way we embrace our pets as family while allowing animals that are similarly sweet and endearing to live miserable lives on factory farms -- and to endure horrific deaths (more on that in a minute).

Indeed, only a stone's throw from that west-end Petsmart -- where you can buy a cute pair of fuzzy antlers for your dog -- are two slaughterhouses where a daily stream of trucks arrive carrying cows, calves and sheep.

We've all seen such trucks on the highway, probably caught a glimpse of animal snouts and eyes through the narrow slats. But no one driving on the highway seems alarmed, making it easy to conclude everything is fine, that the animals aren't suffering and that their deaths will be swift and painless.

I've recently come to believe that none of these comforting thoughts is true.

At the root of our numbness to animal suffering is the notion -- unwittingly accepted by lifelong meat-eaters like myself -- that animals don't feel emotions like we do.

But Joseph Stookey, a veterinary professor at the University of Saskatchewan, maintains that a cow's love for her offspring pretty much resembles that of a human mother: "I can't see any difference," he notes.

In recent years, scientists have come to see remarkable similarities between animal and human behaviour. "Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear and pain," writes the renowned ethologist Jane Goodall. "They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined."

 This shines a very different light on what animals are experiencing in the back of those transport trucks.

A group of activists calling themselves "Toronto Cow Save" gathers every week for a vigil in front of those two west-end slaughterhouses to comfort the animals and to "bear witness" to their suffering.

The group is an offshoot of Toronto Pig Save, which captured widespread attention after activist Anita Krajnc was charged for providing water to thirsty pigs being transported on a hot June day in 2015. Her case -- and eventual acquittal -- prompted a wave of public support, spawning the creation of like-minded groups, now numbering more 200 across North America and as far away as Brazil and Hong Kong.

Last week, to get a look for myself, I took part in a Toronto Cow Save vigil.

As each truck slowed to enter the loading dock, we could briefly reach through the slats and pat the animals, who were skittish and trembling; some were stomping. One cow eagerly licked an activist's hand.

What happens next has been captured in a powerful video filmed last summer by Toronto activist Len Goldberg through an open window at the back of the Ryding-Regency slaughterhouse.

One expects the scenes to be unpleasant. This is a slaughterhouse, not a petting zoo. Still, the video is shocking and difficult to watch.

Previously unreleased, the video clearly shows a large brown cow thrashing about on the floor, trying to get up, as blood gushes out of a gaping wound on her neck. A black-and-white cow similarly struggles on the floor, while a worker bends over and cuts her throat. Cows hoisted upside down, dangling from one leg, appear to be still moving while workers tear off their skin with knives. Blood is everywhere.

Armaiti May, a California-based veterinarian who watched the video, commented: "I was horrified to see fully conscious, alert cows writhing and flailing in agony as the blood drained from their slit throats."

The suffering visible in the video makes an eloquent case for not eating meat. Then there's the fact that the livestock industry -- processing billions of animals globally each year -- generates massive greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming.

But meat-eating is deeply embedded in our culture and the multi-billion-dollar cattle and dairy industries are powerful and politically connected, making change difficult.

At the very least, however, our systematic, largely invisible mistreatment of animals deserves much more scrutiny in the media and in Parliament than it currently gets.

After the vigil, I wander back to Petsmart, trying to return to the spirit of Christmas. I buy a nice warm coat for my dog, and struggle to put out of my mind the sweet face of a calf I petted, minutes before the truck delivered her for slaughter.

Linda McQuaig is a journalist and author. Her book Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Mythswas among the books selected by the Literary Review of Canada as the "25 most influential Canadian books of the past 25 years." A version of this column originally appeared in the Toronto Star.

Photo: Vladimir Morozov/flickr

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livestockanimal rightsanimal rights activismanimal crueltyLinda McQuaigDecember 21, 2017Trudeau and Morneau play a risky pensions gameWorkers and retirees from federally regulated industries may be pushed into insecure pensions programs that are market dependent.Toronto Pig Save 'bears witness' to animal suffering and seeks to inspire changeAnita Krajnc, founder of Toronto Pig Save, talks about her ongoing trial and the Save Movement.Toronto Cow Save bears witness of a crippled cow at St. Helen's slaughterhouseToronto Cow Save bears witness of a crippled cow, known as a "downer" in the animal exploitation industry, at an early vigil on Monday, February 24, 2013 at St. Helen's "Meat Packers" slaughterhouse.
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