Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for January, 2014

Stop Killing Whales Iceland

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Sadly our planet’s whales face more threats today than ever before, including the cruelty of commercial whaling. There is no humane way to kill a whale and little market for whale meat. Despite this, the Icelandic government issued new quotas for hundreds of minke whales and endangered fin whales to be harpooned annually for the next five years.

I’m sure you agree that commercial whaling has no place in the 21st century. Responsible whale watching is a cruelty-free and profitable alternative to the cruelty of whaling.

Please send a message to the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture asking him to cancel these quotas immediately and call an end to whaling in Iceland once and for all.

Because we know that you care about future generations of whales, we have worked alongside Icelandic whale watch operators for many years to promote responsible whale watching. Iceland is one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching and last year attracted 175,000 whale watchers.

By contrast, recent Gallup polling, that we commissioned, found just 3 percent of Icelanders have bought whale meat six times or more in the last 12 months. The survey also revealed 75 percent of Icelanders never buy the meat, with women and young adults even less likely to buy whale meat.

Whaling damages Iceland’s reputation, attracting criticism at home and abroad. In summer 2013, both ports and carriers in Europe publicly rejected the whale meat trade when containers opened at ports in Rotterdam and Hamburg were returned to Iceland and met with public protests at the killing of whales for products such as dog food.

Despite this, the latest whaling quotas allow 229 minke whales and 154 fin whales to be slaughtered every year for five years.

Please join me in calling on the Icelandic government to stop supporting the efforts of Iceland’s whaling crusader, businessman Kristjan Loftsson, and a few others, and instead halt this cruel, outdated and uneconomic practice.

Thank you for your support for whales.

Patrick Ramage
IFAW Program Director, Whales

The Midnight Flame

The Midnight Flame
by Gabriel Constans

Guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush and keep you awake to finish those last-minute projects or term papers due first thing in the morning. To live dangerously, substitute double espresso for the coffee, and prepare to stay up all night watching the late movies with a friend.

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Yield: 4 cups

1/2 cup chocolate syrup
3 frozen bananas*
1 tablespoon protein powder
2 cups strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon mint syrup
1 small brownie
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into coffee or tea cups and swig away.

*To freeze frozen bananas, peel and chop the bananas, seal in plastic bags and place in the freezer until frozen.

Elephant Families Stranded

We need your help with one of our most challenging animal rescues ever.

We have to relocate three elephant families immediately. The 12 elephants are stranded in small patches of forest in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa.

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These elephants are in immense danger of being killed due to clashes over crops with surrounding townspeople. Some have already been seen with bullet holes in their ears. They are also threatened by poachers, who are relentlessly hunting them for their ivory tusks. Babies and parents live every day at risk of being killed.

With your help, our elephant transport experts will move them family by family 250 miles south to Azagny National Park. There they will have 55,000 acres of forest and rivers to live in safety and freedom.

You have been generous in helping animals, and I thank you for that support. Now I am asking you to show how much you care about animals by helping with this urgent matter. You can help give 12 elephants a safe new home. These elephants are running out of time, and they need you now.

We have successfully relocated elephants in Africa and India. But as the video shows, this move is more difficult, as these are forest elephants. They are shy and reclusive and live in deep thickets where there are only dirt tracks leading in and out.

With your gift, you will help cover the expert veterinary care needed to ensure the health and safety of the elephants while they are captured and moved to their new home. You also will help prepare the special vehicles needed to move the elephants (some of them weigh over two tons).

You can help with this historic elephant move.

Thank you for all you do to protect elephants and other animals.

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu
IFAW Regional Director, France and Francophone Africa

I Like Writing About Sex

Donna Minkowitz: Growing Up and Writing It All Down
Posted on 15. Dec, 2013 by Sarah Burghauser
From Lambda Literary

Donna-MinkowitzThis past October, former Village Voice contributor and activist journalist Donna Minkowitz released her hot-blooded new memoir, Growing Up Golem (Magnus), about her struggle with the inhibitive physical condition RSI, her injurious family history, and the intimacy of abuse.

In an email exchange with the Lambda Literary award winner, Donna discussed the roles of fantasy, identity, and writing sex in Growing Up Golem.

I’d like to start with a quote from your book: “I have never felt particularly Jewish or lesbian. I identify much more, I say, as a sort of sexy, holy kid on a motorcycle. The kid may be male. He’s an effeminate boy with long hair. I think he has pork remnants on his fingers.”

When I read these lines I began to wonder if you consider your book to be more of a queer memoir? A Jewish memoir? A disability memoir? Or something else entirely? In other words, is there a particular part of your story that you see as the northern star? A theme more naturally fertile or interesting to you as a writer?

The reader should bear in mind that I’m saying these words at a very particular moment in the book; this is not always how I feel. (In the book, I’m saying those words as a member of a panel on “Jewish Lesbian Writers,” and of course I immediately feel the ways I don’t fit in that box.) Actually, I find I’m feeling both more “Jewish” (in terms of culture, not religion) and more “lesbian” as I get older. As to the rest of your question, the book is all of them and more! It’s also a memoir mixed with Tolkien-style fantasy. It’s impossible to separate the different aspects of it, just as it would be impossible to separate me into the queer Donna, the working-class Donna, the fantasy geek Donna and so on. Which is appropriate, because it’s a book about becoming whole.

When you read your book now, do you still see the Donna Minkowitz in the book as yourself or as a character? How much distance do you have now, or did you have during the writing process, from the “protagonist”?

Someone said about memoir, the writer must know more than the narrator, and the narrator must know more than the character. So there are really three Donnas here, the writer, the narrator (the voice telling the story), and the character (the person described as going through the events in the story).

I needed to have a great deal of distance during the writing process, because I think the whole point of doing a memoir is to really observe yourself and attempt to write about yourself with some insight. That’s only possible if you try to step away and really look at the things you do.

But of course, it’s also me. The Donna in the book does all the things I did, and goes through the same travails.

The sex scenes in the book are very powerful–the writing really stands out in these scenes. Can you talk a little bit about the experience of writing sex, specifically with this character?

I like writing about sex, and in particular, writing about real sexual and sensual experiences. Partly because I think the reality of sexual experiences is often elided in writing into something less ambiguous or ambivalent than sexual experiences often feel. All of the emotions and sensations you may feel at a particular time of having sex – fear, discomfort, and annoyance or anger, as well as excitement, ecstasy, connection and fullness – need to be written about. The other piece of it for me is that I just really like to convey sensual experiences of all kinds through words. I think descriptions of touch and smell can be some of the most lyrical writing there is, and I think they can give memoir more of a concrete base; a base in the physical world.

In reading, it seemed as though a lot of your healing and processing through your abuse happened during the actual writing process. As a reader I felt like I was watching your thoughts unfold before me. In the moment. Did it feel raw writing it? Does it still feel raw now? Or was this the effect of a highly calculated and arranged tone/approach to give readers that illusion?

I would say it’s almost entirely an illusion. I’m glad you felt like you were watching my thoughts unfold before you in real time, but that was definitely an illusion! I worked on the book for eight years, and almost all the events in the book had been over for a long time before I wrote about them. I mean for the book to feel raw – that was my goal. It is almost a book about feeling raw, as though you don’t have a protective outer layer. The main character doesn’t, or at least she starts out that way. One of the many meanings for “golem” in Hebrew is embryo… one of the newest, rawest and most vulnerable things there is. “Golem” also means fool, and it is partly a book about starting out not knowing how to run your own life, and then perhaps gradually learning how.

Read entire interview and much more at Lambda Literary.

Science of Indigenous Wisdom

Scientific Discoveries Play Catch-Up To Indigenous Wisdom
October 11th, 2012 By Alan Pierce
The Pachamama Alliance

Indigenous knowledge predates the scientific method by countless generations. Perhaps it’s unfair then to fault science for still being in catch-up mode when it comes to understanding Nature as an emotionally intelligent, deeply interconnected organism.

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Curiosity Prevails Over Scientific Dogma

An alive and aware natural world is and has been an ancestral truth amongst the world’s indigenous knowledge systems for centuries.

In its necessity for a structured, empirical approach to describing Nature, it is understandable that science has dismissed ideas like plants whispering to each other, animals grieving for their dead, or the illusion of separateness as merely quaint fables, metaphors rather than reality.

However, recent studies and theoretical models suggest such dismissal might be unjustified and, quite frankly, unscientific.

Ideas such as human-like consciousness in animals, extended awareness and communication in plants, or the emotional toll of death on other non-human species are now being given serious scientific thought. Thankfully, the only thing ultimately stronger than human arrogance is human curiosity.

The Science of Indigenous Wisdom

Here is a list of scientific breakthroughs which demonstrate the profound substance of indigenous wisdom, which understands Nature to be more alive and interdependent than science has given it credit for.

In a very formal affair, scientists recently convened to declare that both animal and human consciousness are alike.

Apparently, a grieving process is not unique to humans either. Death rituals have been observed in species ranging from dolphins, to elephants, to scrub jays, and more.

In this informative video, an ecologist provides thoughtful insight into the amazing way in which trees communicate in a deeply interconnected system, which sustains each individual tree and the forest as a whole.

Researchers in Australia have found a way to document a fascinating communication system between plants, one in which the human ear can actually hear the conversation underground.

Perhaps the most universal indigenous perspective is the idea of a world inextricably interconnected, on all levels, and across time. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaks from a scientific viewpoint as he offers very similar sentiments.

Read rest of article and more at Pachamama Alliance.

Religions for Peace World Assembly

Every 5-6 years, Religions for Peace convenes a World Assembly of senior-most religious leaders for the purpose of forging a deep moral consensus on contemporary challenges, electing a new World Council, and advancing multi-religious action across and beyond the Religions for Peace network. Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed and Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi represented ISNA at the World Assembly. Dr. Syeed was elected Vice President for the World Council along with Shaikh Ben Beyyah to be the new Muslim representatives on the Council.

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During the Assembly, Syeed served on the Committee to draft the final declaration which was approved by the general assembly. Here is the declaration:

The Vienna Declaration
Welcoming the Other – A Multi-Religious Vision of Peace

Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America
Phone 202-544-5656 Fax 202-544-6636
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 304
Washington DC 20002
www.ISNA.net

Eggnog Fog

Eggnog Fog
by Gabriel Constans

Eggnog, originally from Great Britain, is now a favorite winter drink for the holidays throughout much of the world. It has a distinct taste that one either loves or loathes.

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Yield: 4 cups

3 cups eggnog
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 banana
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Pour into tall glasses or mugs with a touch of cinnamon on top.

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