Thursday, March 30, 2006

Black. White. Part 4

As everyone is seen gaining understanding and knowledge about themselves as individual and others in different races, there is one glaring stalwart, stone, immovable figure. Bruno.

Oh, Bruno.

At the end of last night’s episode, he presents a DVD that he had made months before the whole project had even presented itself because of his frustration with the whole “rap video” thing.

Oh.

My.

Gawd.

To say it was probably the most discomforting display of white stereotyping and disrespect I have ever seen would be an understatement. He talks about disrespecting women, getting in trouble with the police, being inarticulate, etc.

I don’t really understand why he did this project. There’s Nick, the son of the black family, who allows kids to say the n-word around him, because he doesn’t care. Mom and dad hit the roof, realizing that their son does not get it. Dad takes him to a barbershop so that the barber can give his son a talking to. Nick is open to this and changes.

He changes.

Rose, the white family’s daughter, realizes that as much as her skin color includes her into a familial community that she loves, she is still excluded because she does not have the experience.

And this is key.

When we talk about immigrants, people from other countries, Chinese, Korean, Irish, Mexican, we can talk about certain things in regards to going through proper channels of immigration etc. And they can talk about an experience and a culture within their community – talking about areas in which their ancestors still reside, genealogy, etc. But the black experience is so different to anyone else’s. Their collective experience is slavery. It is what they all know their ancestors went through. They don’t know their family trees and names. They don’t know from which area of the world they originated. They have names, for God’s sake, that were allotted to them. Names that the slave traders couldn’t or wouldn’t pronounce so they were changed to European names. How can anyone not in that exclusive group ever begin to grasp that experience? Saying – I’m not responsible for what my forefathers did. I didn’t own slaves. Get over it. – is missing the point altogether. This mindset misses the point that this is a history that exists. You don’t “get over” your collective history. As Americans we do not get over the revolution. We do not get over our civil war. It is a part of our cultural fabric. And slavery is the cultural fabric that every African American shares. It is their history. Having such a barbaric and horrific thread connecting you to everyone else in your race is something only they can understand. As compassionate and empathetic as I am, I will never ever understand it. And Rose cried because she realized that the warmth she felt being called a “queen” and a “sister” while walking in the community of one of her poetry classmates was superficial, it was not hers to feel as she did not have a hold of the thread that binds the African American community.

But these guys are all growing and doors are flying open in their minds, which is a great thing to see.

Then we see our little vault man, Bruno.

He goes to an “affluent” black man’s home hoping to find out what it is that he was able to do differently. Bruno immediately steps in it by talking about black fathers leaving the family, and spouting continuous stereotypical commentary and the guy is looking at him like “are you crazy?”

Even Carmen, Bruno’s wife, believes that this will change their relationship. She realizes that he is completely shut off; with his opinions and views making him so tunnel visioned that she cannot see how this will not dramatically affect their marriage.

Carmen, to be honest, reminds me a little of myself, in that if I was able to somehow mix into the black community as a black woman, I would want to go all out – wearing those beautiful tribal colors that look so horrid on white skin but look beautiful with darker skin – absorbing the culture. But she pushes too hard. She reminds me of my puppy, all eager and gung-ho but inappropriate and somewhat annoying – mostly because she’s not a puppy, she’s a forty year old woman who is acting like a teenager. Rose has more decorum than her mom. But she wants to understand. For all her mistakes, I honestly believe she wants to embrace the experience and grow.

And then we have our little closet plant, Bruno.

Sigh.

I hope all this boxed-in Bruno portrayal leads to a final show of him saying – whoa. I get it. I completely missed all that because, I don’t know. I thought everyone could just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I didn’t realize that some people don’t even have boots.

We’ll see.

Can I just say that I am sick to death of these blanket statements about Mexicans? Gangs. Drugs. Welfare. Poverty. Too many kids. Lazy. Stupid.

Anyway, I am repulsed by this constant bombardment of vile erroneous depictions of an entire group of people. Every day, especially in an area so close to the border, I have interactions with Mexican immigrants countless times a day. Have I ever been assaulted? Have I ever been offered drugs? Disrespected in any way? Have I ever had even one minor altercation with a Mexican immigrant? No. And I have had plenty of opportunities. All I see are people who work their butts off, learn the language and the customs, smile at me, hang out with their family, love their community, and are a growing force to be reckoned with. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe there is too much influence and it bothers the insecure. What is the percentage now of Latin American/south American/ Hispanic people in this country? Over 50%.

Yes, we need to do something smart with our borders.

Yes, criminal checks for people coming in is probably good idea.

But since when is knowing what the stripes on the flag stand for a good indicator of dutiful citizenship? My oldest son said that’s like going for a job interview and the guy saying – what do the circles around the M in our logo stand for? It has nothing to do with how you will do your job, it’s just stuff you learn. I know plenty of people who aren’t all that good at memorizing facts, but are excellent people. Likewise, I know people full of facts and full of something else too. A civics test is not a good indicator of model citizenship.

But of course something must be done.

It embarrasses me that we squint our collective eyes at people who are the backbone of this country. It embarrasses me that we are looking at people and labeling them criminals and people who want to suck the system dry when in fact the opposite is true.

Minor Musings

Woohoo! Little Christian Science Monitor reporter girl released after three months. Jill, is it? Jill Wheelen? Or is that the daughter of the captain on The Love Boat? Oh, well, nevermind. I’m happy she has been released.

Real quick about the kids protesting immigration. School district authorities say - You protest you will get either suspended or ISS. Being the parent of a two teenage boys I know ISS rilly, rilly well. In school suspension – where you sit in a room and miss instruction time but get handed a packet of work that is being done in class.

Here we go again with the BRILLIANCE of our modern school system.

Miss instruction time because you left school to go and protest a government action that might monumentally affect you and your community? Punishment? Miss more instruction time! HAHAHAHAHAHA! That’ll teach ya! Or not. Idiots.

And something that has become a bit of ritual – on my way to pick up my son in high school I tune in to Yawn Hannity to hear what he is railing about now. He was just moving to a piece that had “just been put on his desk!”

NEWS BULLETIN BREAKING NEWS!!!

Five, count’em, five ex-secret court judges speaking to congress yesterday said that bush did nothing wrong in the “terrorist surveillance” aka warrantless wiretapping. HA! Yawn bellows! Where’s Russ F. now? Where are all the people who have hounding our commander in chief during wartime, screaming for censure, impeachment, even? This should be at the top of every hour on every station on television and radio and on the front page of every newspaper in the country. But is it? Nooooo. Bias liberal media keeps the real news suppressed away from my fine audience. Thank goodness you can get the truth here.

Interesting.

Because I had just finished reading the New York Times article on that very subject. The judges, one of whom had resigned from the court in PROTEST to the warrantless wiretaps, all refused to comment on the political hot button subject of illegality etc. but did say that the president is subject to the laws just like every other citizen in the US. I have a serious problem with people who twist the facts to fit their agenda. We all pick information out to emphasize our point, de-emphasizing the points that don’t support our cause as well. I think that’s pretty normal. Middle of the road, both sides equally represented, does not incite emotional responses. It’s boring. It’s blah. But making crap up is just plain wrong.

Whatever happened to those three guys who were arrested as terrorists in an O state a month or so ago? Haven’t heard anything on that.

And finally the big news. Cody, my youngest, with hair that touches his shoulders and covers his eyes is going for a haircut today. Yippee. His hair is the richest color of red/auburn that you have ever seen, but we started talking and I said the golden words – you can get it cut like one of those Abercrombie and Fitch models. All the girls in the seventh and eighth grade go on and on about these guys, have them plastered all over their “my space” places, and lockers. We went online and looked up AF models and voila! All of them have short hair. We are going after school. I can’t remember the color of his eyes….blue I think. I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Multiple Musings

I have been rolling something around in my mind for about a week or so, that I just can’t seem to shake. It’s creepy how it keeps popping into my head at the most inopportune times. The question is:

Is Rush Limbaugh….gay?

Now before you think this is some Rush bashing, give me a minute. It all started with the big deal he made about some guy who was center court during this whole basketball shindig that’s going on right now that I am not paying any attention to that, when the game ended, sat down, head to knees and cried. Rush said he was embarrassed by this display. One caller said – I played college ball and I have to say, it’s an emotional time. You have put all this time and energy and effort into this team, with these guys and it’s over. Hey, I did the same thing in high school, it’s the end of an era.

Rush’s comeback was – does this guy have a pro future?

The caller said – I think so.

Rush then blustered on and on about how it wasn’t over and “be a man!” go to the locker room, go somewhere private and express yourself emotionally.

Hum.

Displays of emotion are “embarrassing” to him? Is that weird? I mean, this is a very scary time for boys and men. There is this ridiculous expectation to be almost robotic in their approach to life, not getting excited, happy, joyful, sad, angry, resentful. I suppose one must consider the source. Rush couldn’t have been any kind of an athlete and he couldn’t possibly know the camaraderie that exists on an elite team, how the hours of practice, the hours of co-ordination amongst players to deliver perfect plays, to develop trust and respect, all of this cannot be done without some kind of emotional investment. Getting “pumped up” before a game is crucial. Putting your “heart” into the game. There are so many phrases that are used when referencing sports that reveal the depth of emotion one must invest in order to be the best. Think of all the things a kid has to sacrifice if he has his eye on going pro. This all starts in elementary school, so parties and hanging out with your friends is severely limited. Many of the athletes who want to make a serious run for a scholarship have to keep their grades up and go beyond expectation. Have the heart of a champion, learning how to deal with loses, bad calls, unfair advantages, trash talking, injuries, etc. all entail having a deep emotional investment in something that you are working for years to attain. Usually these guys in high school work with the same group of guys for four years. They depend on each other. They “bond” as a unit and usually develop friendships. Isn’t it natural that when something is over, in essence something has died, you enter a grieving process? Regardless of whether you are male or female? You cannot spend ever single day with the same group of people for four years towards the same goal and not have some kind of emotional upset when that connection ends. I would find it odd if my sons didn’t get upset. I find that the ones that get sad are the ones that invested the most. Embarassing? God no! Proud! I am proud of any man that has the fortitude to express a sadness from loss any day.

So there’s the whole “crying is weak” thing.

And then, he does an incredibly accurate depiction of an effeminate liberal. A little…too accurate. He does it every opportunity he gets, this lisping silliness, which I find kind of strange.

So again, I wonder, is he gay? It has been my experience that only the guys who aren’t all that sure of their sexuality are the most homophobic. I think he needs to come out. Come out, Rush, don’t be afraid. We won’t laugh when you cry.

And now, again, with the references to WWII and this war’s activities.

Sheesh.

This time it was about Gitmo Bay. At a republican convention of sorts in an I or O state, I can’t remember which, the question was asked “what are your feelings about the situation in Guantanamo Bay?”

Feelings? What are these things “feelings” of which you speak?

No. They didn’t say that. But the guy did say “feelings” like “huh? Whut?”

And the interviewer guy said “There are close to five hundred people, some who have been held for over four years without any charges. What do you think should be done?”
Republican guy: “Well, what should be done with terrorists? I mean, what do you do with the people that if released will walk amongst you and blow up themselves and as many of us as they can get? You keep’em there until the end of hostilities.”

Interviewer: “that could be a long time.”

Redneck: “well, what about all those German fighter pilots they captured during WWII? Were they supposed to get a trial? There’s a war going on. This is what you do to prisoners of war. You hold them so they can’t do anything to you. And if they have information, you get it from them.”

Oh wow. Where oh where to begin with this!

  1. These are people who were not on “missions” captured during “military” operations. These are people who were driving taxis in Egypt, traveling to Pakistan for weddings, shop-owners in Turkey. These were people that had similar names to people on lists that are considered to be bad. There is NO parallel between these people and captured fighter pilots. No charges have been brought against ANY of them. If there’s something there, let’s get to it, if not LET THEM OUT! OMG!
  2. If these guys are prisoners of war they would be protected under international laws, the ones that we signed on to. However, we being somewhat elevated ABOVE the law feel that we should be able to hold anyone at any time for as long as we want because, well, we’re the biggest, we’re the strongest and no one can tell us otherwise. So, we call them enemy combatants to sidestep all those pesky regulations. It’s what we do.
  3. You cannot chastise others for doing things that you are doing. We can no longer judge anyone in regards to human rights, to anything because we have seriously lost our way in regards to being the example by which others should pattern.

This is the natural segway into immigration, don’t you think? Ha. Probably not, but that’s where we’re going.
I have strong feelings on this subject, surprisingly, being an immigrant myself. I am nauseated by this sentiment of go back the way you came in and the criminalization of an entire group of people. I have always found it despicable when others demonize people as a whole instead of seeing the individual and all of his or her possible attributes and contributions to our society.

But that’s not what I want to address. I want to address the absolute anti-Christian portion of this new legislation, added in by the purportedly most fundamentalist on the right. Everything about the anti-good Samaritan action to make illegal the act of helping illegal immigrants grates against my beliefs and values. It sickens me to the core, if truth be told. Doesn’t this go against everything we as individual Americans stand for? Helping those in need? Don’t those guys who put water out in the desert just make your heart sing with joy at the thoughtfulness and kindness of the human spirit to complete strangers? These guys do this of their own accord, never to get a thank you or a pat on the back. It’s a need fulfilled. And soon, if caught, a punishable offense. Who are we? It makes me want to make it a summer vacation to go and find paths of illegal immigrants to hand them a freakin’ granola bar, a bed roll, and a gallon of water. Seriously, I cannot fathom those who scream about abortion, right to life, family values and morality thinking that this is an acceptable idea. This holier than thou “there are legal ways into this country. You are a criminal if you entered illegally.” Oh! Blah blah blah! You self righteous hypocrite! Stop focusing on those that are trying to better their lives, who are escaping abject poverty (wasn’t NAFTA supposed to raise the standard of living which in turn would curb the flow of immigrants? Well, that was a roaring success obviously.), who come into this country and work their asses off for dollars a day, doing things we don’t want to do, for less than minimum wage, who get fake social security cards that will never be of benefit to them personally but fill the national coffers. Stop focusing on these guys and focus on the real threat. The people with money funding the guys who fly planes into buildings! I personally don’t think that there has been a Hispanic tie to 911, even though I am sure someone somewhere is desperately trying to find one. Give the people here, who have been here for years, who’s kids are going to college and contributing to our society – give them citizenship. Not for 1000 dollars. Not for 6000 dollars. No criminal check. No mandatory civic understanding or ability to speak English (God! How incredibly racist can you get). Just give it to them. They’ve earned it. It’s not like we have to make any changes, we just have to stop pretending that they aren’t there. Remove the “ghost” existence they live. They don’t want anything handed to them. They just want the same rights as any other citizen. We are so good at the “ignore and it’s not there” mentality that it has become an American affliction.

And don’t you dare tell me that I can’t go and give water, food, shelter, compassion and care to someone in need, you greedy self-righteous bastards. I am the good Samaritan as is the majority of the citizens of this country.

This whole “guest worker” program is crap too. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. If you want to work here, go back, pay up to six thousands bucks, have criminal checks and if you’re lucky you get a temporary menial job. Gee thanks. The usual understanding is that people will cheer and accept something that is BETTER than what they already have. Let’s stop adding insult to injury. There is going to be a huge political backlash on this issue. The Hispanic community voted in droves for republicans in 2000 and 2004, but now they will know who has the track record when it comes to equal and human rights issues. This was a tremendous political faux pas.

The thing is, I do not feel that “haha!” feeling I have gotten over the past five years when this administration and its minions stepped in the dog poo. Because as I watched them track it all over the country’s carpeting, when I watched with horror as they repeated stepped in the dookie and step onto foreign soil and soil their carpets, I repeatedly saw people making the “dog poo smell” face and even witnessed people point and say – hey! You have poop on your shoe. And over and over and over again I saw them look people square in the eyes and say – no. not me. Him. Not him? Her. Not her? Shut up. You’re a loon. You’re crazy. Your wife is a CIA operative. Good job Brownie. WMDs. Toxins ok! Clear cut. Drill. War. Climate Change Theory at best. Conglomerates and Corporate corruption. Tax breaks. – over and over. As the trail of poo leads directly to the shoe of Rove. Cheney. Rice. Bush. Frist. Libby. On and on. Each and every one of them is able to dismiss the reality that there is crap firmly adhered to the bottom of his or her shoe that we can physically see as they walk away, that leaves imprints that if CSI came and did test they would discover that YES! That poo came from that shoe! Absolutely! No doubt! Forensics don’t lie.

And every time, they walk away unscathed. Unhindered. Unobstructed to continue to drive our country into a hole that possibly we will never be able to get out of.

My smugness has diminished. I watch all this with a weary, skeptical eye. Because if some joker can ban all abortions including those needed due to rape or incest, then anything can happen. The only shining and brilliant light in all this is the beautiful and brilliant light of those protestors. Those that for possibly their entire lives have been afraid to speak out for fear of retribution. For fear of deportation. Who are so busy working their three jobs to get involved. Hundreds of thousands of people coming out, walking out of jobs and schools and homes to say – No. This country has taken us for granted for long enough. I am not a criminal. I am not lazy. I have never been to an emergency room. We are learning English but we will speak Spanish at home and in our community and you cannot stop us. We have rights as human beings. Stop labeling us and treat us with the same dignity and respect that every other human being on this planet deserves. That’s what’s missing. Because if you subbed in “human being” for all the other labels, you would see the ludicrousness of this entire mess. Guest “human being” program. “Human being” reform. And the central question here is – does this just apply to those south of the border?

Last night on the news I heard this police officer, obviously frustrated by the thousands of students marching and not following instructions, shout out to a group “why don’t you get back into school and get an ed-u-ca-tion!?”

What can be more educational? What can be more of a learning experience? I remember my first protest. There is nothing more exhilarating than going out and risking everything to speak out for what you believe in. These guys didn’t know what was going to happen when they started marching. They didn’t know what would happen when they tried to leave the schools in their organized “walkout”. “Risking everything” is not an overstatement. You have no idea, until you have been involved in a demonstration how people will respond to you, including the police. It takes incredible strength of character and will to go and put yourself out there for what you believe. Especially when you are being demonized and deemed criminals by the right and the most powerful in this country. I think they are all rock stars. Rock on Latinos I am behind you all the way!

And finally. Boycott Prada. Boycott Versace. Boycott Red Lobster. Boycott Canada. The seal hunt is a disgusting barbarous display of human greed that leaves harp seal pups choking on their own blood for up to an hour and a half only to be skinned alive. The 365,000 quota doesn’t even include the ones that manage to drag themselves to the waters edge and escape. There is no excuse for this. It has to end. Please write to Red Lobster. They import Canada’s seafood. Cut the funding and the seal hunt will end. They have a program in place to compensate the off-season fishing guys for NOT killing these little guys. These are mammals. Innocent, days old mammals. Contact national news outlets – CBS, NBC and ABC, as well as MSNBC and CNN – ask them to cover the hunt. Contact Prada and Versace and tell them to stop using seal skin – for crying out loud. Diminish demand on this product. Go to Harpseals.org and HSUS.org to see what else you can do for these little guys.

END THE HUNT!!!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and BritainUnited Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war. pressed for a second

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Those proposals were first reported last month in the British press, but the memo does not make clear whether they reflected Mr. Bush's extemporaneous suggestions, or were elements of the government's plan.

Consistent Remarks

Two senior British officials confirmed the authenticity of the memo, but declined to talk further about it, citing Britain's Official Secrets Act, which made it illegal to divulge classified information. But one of them said, "In all of this discussion during the run-up to the Iraq war, it is obvious that viewing a snapshot at a certain point in time gives only a partial view of the decision-making process."

On Sunday, Frederick Jones, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said the president's public comments were consistent with his private remarks made to Mr. Blair. "While the use of force was a last option, we recognized that it might be necessary and were planning accordingly," Mr. Jones said.

"The public record at the time, including numerous statements by the President, makes clear that the administration was continuing to pursue a diplomatic solution into 2003," he said. "Saddam Hussein was given every opportunity to comply, but he chose continued defiance, even after being given one final opportunity to comply or face serious consequences. Our public and private comments are fully consistent."

The January 2003 memo is the latest in a series of secret memos produced by top aides to Mr. Blair that summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister. Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.

The latest memo is striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair about the most serious subjects. At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. "As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," the prime minister is quoted as saying.

"Bush agreed," Mr. Manning wrote. This exchange, like most of the quotations in this article, have not been previously reported.

Mr. Bush was accompanied at the meeting by Condoleezza Rice, who was then the national security adviser; Dan Fried, a senior aide to Ms. Rice; and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff. Along with Mr. Manning, Mr. Blair was joined by two other senior aides: Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and Matthew Rycroft, a foreign policy aide and the author of the Downing Street memo.

By late January 2003, United Nations inspectors had spent six weeks in Iraq hunting for weapons under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 1441, which authorized "serious consequences" if Iraq voluntarily failed to disarm. Led by Hans Blix, the inspectors had reported little cooperation from Mr. Hussein, and no success finding any unconventional weapons.

At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable. The two leaders discussed a timetable for the war, details of the military campaign and plans for the aftermath of the war.

Discussing Provocation

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

Mr. Sands first reported the proposals in his book, although he did not use any direct quotations from the memo. He is a professor of international law at University College of London and the founding member of the Matrix law office in London, where the prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, is a partner.

Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, "We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders."

At several points during the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, there was palpable tension over finding a legitimate legal trigger for going to war that would be acceptable to other nations, the memo said. The prime minister was quoted as saying it was essential for both countries to lobby for a second United Nations resolution against Iraq, because it would serve as "an insurance policy against the unexpected."

The memo said Mr. Blair told Mr. Bush, "If anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning the oil wells, killing children or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq, a second resolution would give us international cover, especially with the Arabs."

Running Out of Time

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

The leaders agreed that three weeks remained to obtain a second United Nations Security Council resolution before military commanders would need to begin preparing for an invasion.

Summarizing statements by the president, the memo says: "The air campaign would probably last four days, during which some 1,500 targets would be hit. Great care would be taken to avoid hitting innocent civilians. Bush thought the impact of the air onslaught would ensure the early collapse of Saddam's regime. Given this military timetable, we needed to go for a second resolution as soon as possible. This probably meant after Blix's next report to the Security Council in mid-February."

Mr. Blair was described as responding that both countries would make clear that a second resolution amounted to "Saddam's final opportunity." The memo described Mr. Blair as saying: "We had been very patient. Now we should be saying that the crisis must be resolved in weeks, not months."

It reported: "Bush agreed. He commented that he was not itching to go to war, but we could not allow Saddam to go on playing with us. At some point, probably when we had passed the second resolutions — assuming we did — we should warn Saddam that he had a week to leave. We should notify the media too. We would then have a clear field if Saddam refused to go."

Mr. Bush devoted much of the meeting to outlining the military strategy. The president, the memo says, said the planned air campaign "would destroy Saddam's command and control quickly." It also said that he expected Iraq's army to "fold very quickly." He also is reported as telling the prime minister that the Republican Guard would be "decimated by the bombing."

Despite his optimism, Mr. Bush said he was aware that "there were uncertainties and risks," the memo says, and it goes on, "As far as destroying the oil wells were concerned, the U.S. was well equipped to repair them quickly, although this would be easier in the south of Iraq than in the north."

The two men briefly discussed plans for a post-Hussein Iraqi government. "The prime minister asked about aftermath planning," the memo says. "Condi Rice said that a great deal of work was now in hand.

Referring to the Defense Department, it said: "A planning cell in D.O.D. was looking at all aspects and would deploy to Iraq to direct operations as soon as the military action was over. Bush said that a great deal of detailed planning had been done on supplying the Iraqi people with food and medicine."

Planning for After the War

The leaders then looked beyond the war, imagining the transition from Mr. Hussein's rule to a new government. Immediately after the war, a military occupation would be put in place for an unknown period of time, the president was described as saying. He spoke of the "dilemma of managing the transition to the civil administration," the memo says.

The document concludes with Mr. Manning still holding out a last-minute hope of inspectors finding weapons in Iraq, or even Mr. Hussein voluntarily leaving Iraq. But Mr. Manning wrote that he was concerned this could not be accomplished by Mr. Bush's timeline for war.

"This makes the timing very tight," he wrote. "We therefore need to stay closely alongside Blix, do all we can to help the inspectors make a significant find, and work hard on the other members of the Security Council to accept the noncooperation case so that we can secure the minimum nine votes when we need them, probably the end of February."

At a White House news conference following the closed-door session, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair said "the crisis" had to be resolved in a timely manner. "Saddam Hussein is not disarming," the president told reporters. "He is a danger to the world. He must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said — and the prime minister has constantly said — this issue will come to a head in a matter of weeks, not months."

Despite intense lobbying by the United States and Britain, a second United Nations resolution was not obtained. The American-led military coalition invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, nine days after the target date set by the president on that late January day at the White House.

Read it and Weep

Vague Law and Hard Lobbying Add Up to Billions for Big Oil
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS

WASHINGTON, March 26 — It was after midnight and every lawmaker in the committee room wanted to go home, but there was still time to sweeten a deal encouraging oil and gas companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"There is no cost," declared Representative Joe L. Barton, a Texas Republican who was presiding over Congressional negotiations on the sprawling energy bill last July. An obscure provision on new drilling incentives was "so noncontroversial," he added, that senior House and Senate negotiators had not even discussed it.

Mr. Barton's claim had a long history. For more than a decade, lawmakers and administration officials, both Republicans and Democrats, have promised there would be no cost to taxpayers for a program allowing companies to avoid paying the government royalties on oil and gas produced in publicly owned waters in the Gulf.

But last month, the Bush administration confirmed that it expected the government to waive about $7 billion in royalties over the next five years, even though the industry incentive was expressly conceived of for times when energy prices were low. And that number could quadruple to more than $28 billion if a lawsuit filed last week challenging one of the program's remaining restrictions proves successful.

"The big lie about this whole program is that it doesn't cost anything," said Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who tried to block its expansion last July. "Taxpayers are being asked to provide huge subsidies to oil companies to produce oil — it's like subsidizing a fish to swim."

How did a supposedly cost-free incentive become a multibillion-dollar break to an industry making record profits?

The answer is a familiar Washington story of special-interest politics at work: the people who pay the closest attention and make the fewest mistakes are those with the most profit at stake.

It is an account of legislators who passed a law riddled with ambiguities; of crucial errors by midlevel bureaucrats under President Bill Clinton; of $2 billion in inducements from the Bush administration, which was intent on promoting energy production; and of Republican lawmakers who wanted to do even more. At each turn, through shrewd lobbying and litigation, oil and gas companies ended up with bigger incentives than before.

Until last month, hardy anyone noticed — or even knew — the real costs. They were obscured in part by the long gap between the time incentives are offered and when new offshore wells start producing. But lawmakers shrouded the costs with rosy projections. And administration officials consistently declined to tally up the money they were forfeiting.

Most industry executives say that the royalty relief spurred drilling and exploration when prices were relatively low. But the industry is divided about whether it is appropriate to continue the incentives with prices at current levels. Michael Coney, a lawyer for Shell Oil, said, "Under the current environment, we don't need royalty relief."

The program's original architect said he was surprised by what had happened. "The one thing I can tell you is that this is not what we intended," said J. Bennett Johnston, a former Democratic senator from Louisiana who had pushed for the original incentives that Congress passed in 1995.

Mr. Johnston conceded that he was confused by his own law. "I got out the language a few days ago," he said in a recent interview. "I had it out just long enough to know that it's got a lot of very obscure language."

A Subsidy of Disputed Need

Things looked bleak for oil and gas companies in 1995, especially for those along the Gulf Coast.

Energy prices had been so low for so long that investment had dried up. With crude oil selling for about $16 a barrel, scores of wildcatters and small exploration companies had gone out of business. Few companies had any stomach for drilling in water thousands of feet deep, and industry leaders like Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell were increasingly focused on opportunities abroad.

"At the time, the Gulf of Mexico was like the Dead Sea," recalled John Northington, then an Energy Department policy adviser and now an industry lobbyist.

Senator Johnston, convinced that the Gulf's vast reservoirs and Louisiana's oil-based economy were being neglected, had argued for years that Congress should offer incentives for deep-water drilling and exploration.

"Failure to invest in the Gulf of Mexico is a lost opportunity for the U.S.," Mr. Johnston pleaded in a letter to other lawmakers. "Those dollars will not move into other domestic development, they will move to Asia, South America, the Middle East or the former Soviet Union."

Working closely with industry executives, he wrote legislation that would allow a company drilling in deep water to escape the standard 12 percent royalty on up to 87.5 million barrels of oil or its equivalent in natural gas. The coastal waters are mostly owned by the federal government, which leases tens of millions of acres in exchange for upfront fees and a share of sales, or royalties.

Mr. Johnston and other supporters argued that the incentives would actually generate money for the government by increasing production and prompting companies to bid higher prices for new leases.

"The provision will result in a minimum net benefit to the Treasury of $200 million by the year 2000," Mr. Johnston declared in November 1995, denouncing what he called "outrageous allegations" that the plan was a giveaway.

He won support from oil-state Democrats, Republicans and the Clinton administration. Hazel O'Leary, the energy secretary at the time, said the assistance would reduce American dependence on foreign oil and "enhance national security."

Representative Robert Livingston of Louisiana, then a rising Republican leader, declared that the inducements would "create thousands of jobs" and "reduce the deficit."

Many budget experts agree that the rosy estimates were misleading. The reason, they say, is that it often takes seven years before a new offshore field begins producing. As a result, almost all the costs of royalty relief would occur outside of Congress's five-year budget timeframe.
Opponents protested that the cost estimates were wrong, that the incentives amounted to corporate welfare and that companies did not need government incentives to invest.

"They are going to the Gulf of Mexico because that's where the oil is," said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, during a House debate. "What we do here is not going to change that. We are just going to decide whether or not we are going to give away the taxpayers' dollars to a lot of oil companies that do not need it."

Industry executives and lobbyists fanned out across Capitol Hill to shore up support for the program, visiting 150 lawmakers in October 1995. The effort succeeded. A month later, Congress passed Mr. Johnston's bill.

A Missing Escape Clause

To hear lawmakers today, they never intended to waive royalties when energy prices were high.

The 1995 law, according to Republicans and Democrats alike, was supposed to include an escape clause: in any year when average spot prices for oil or gas climbed above certain threshold levels, companies would pay full royalties instead.

"Royalty relief is an effective tool for two things: keeping investment in America during times of super-low prices, and spurring American energy production when massive capital and technological risks would otherwise preclude it," said Representative Richard W. Pombo, Republican of California and chairman of the House Resources Committee. "Absent those criteria, I do not believe any relief should be granted."

But in what administration officials said appeared to have been a mistake, Clinton administration managers omitted the crucial escape clause in all offshore leases signed in 1998 and 1999.

At the time, with oil prices still below $20 a barrel, the mistake seemed harmless. But energy prices have been above the cutoff points since 2002, and Interior Department officials estimate that about one-sixth of production in the Gulf of Mexico is still exempt from royalties.

Walter Cruickshank, a senior official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, told lawmakers last month that officials writing the lease contracts thought the price thresholds were spelled out in the new regulations, which were completed in 1998. But officials writing the regulations left those details out, preferring to set the precise rules at each new lease sale.

"It seems to have been a massive screw-up," said Mr. Northington, who was then in the Energy Department. No one noticed the error for two years, and no one informed Congress about it until last month.

Five years later, the costs of that lapse were compounded. A group of oil companies, led by Shell, defeated the Bush administration in court. The decision more than doubled the amount of oil and gas that companies could produce without paying royalties.

The case began as a relatively obscure dispute. Shell paid $3.8 million in 1997 for a Gulf lease and soon drilled a successful well. But the Interior Department denied the company royalty relief, saying that Shell had drilled into an older field already producing oil and gas. The decision hinged on undersea geography and the court's interpretation of language in the 1995 law.

A typical field, or geological reservoir, often encompasses two or three separately leased tracts of ocean floor. Interior Department officials insisted that the maximum amount of royalty-free oil and gas was based on each field. Shell and its partners argued that limit applied only to each lease.

Perhaps shrewdly, the oil companies sued the Bush administration in Louisiana, where federal courts previously had sided with the industry in spats with the government.

The fight was not even close. In January 2003, a federal district judge declared that the Interior Department's rules violated the 1995 law. If the department "disagrees with Congress's policy choices," Judge James T. Trimble Jr. wrote, "then such arguments are best addressed to Congress."

What might have been a $2 billion mistake in the Clinton administration suddenly ballooned into a $5 billion headache under Mr. Bush.

But even as the Bush administration was losing in court, it was offering new incentives for the energy industry.

Mr. Bush placed a top priority on expanding oil and gas production as soon as he took office in 2001. Vice President Dick Cheney's task force on energy, warning of a deepening shortfall in domestic energy production, urged the government to "explore opportunities for royalty reduction" and to open areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

Gale A. Norton, who stepped down this month as interior secretary, moved quickly to speed up approvals of new drilling permits. Starting in 2001, she offered royalty incentives to shallow-water producers who drilled more than 15,000 feet below the sea bottom.

In January 2004, Ms. Norton made the incentives far more generous by raising the threshold prices. Her decision meant that deep-gas drillers were able to escape royalties in 2005, when prices spiked to record levels, and would probably escape them this year as well.

She also offered to sweeten less-generous contracts the drillers had signed before the regulation was approved.

"These incentives will help ensure we have a reliable supply of natural gas in the future," Ms. Norton proclaimed, predicting that American consumers would save "an estimated $570 million a year" in lower fuel prices.

Ms. Norton's decision was influenced by the industry. The Interior Department had originally proposed a cut-off price for royalty exemptions of $5 per million British thermal units, or B.T.U.'s, of gas. But the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents smaller producers, argued that the new incentive would have little value because natural gas prices were already above $5. Ms. Norton set the threshold at $9.34.

Based on administration assumptions about future production and prices, that change could cost the government about $1.9 billion in lost royalties.

"There is no cost rationale," said Shirley J. Neff, an economist at Columbia University and Senator Johnston's top legislative aide in drafting the 1995 royalty law. "It is astounding to me that the administration would so blatantly cave in to the industry's demands."

Incentives Keep Growing

Last April, President Bush himself expressed skepticism about giving new incentives to oil and gas drillers. "With oil at $50 a barrel," Mr. Bush remarked, "I don't think energy companies need taxpayer-funded incentives to explore."

But on Aug. 8, Mr. Bush signed a sweeping energy bill that contained $2.6 billion in new tax breaks for oil and gas drillers and a modest expansion of the 10-year-old "royalty relief" program. For the most part, the law locked in incentives that the Interior Department was already offering for another five years. But it included some embellishments, like an extra break on royalties for companies drilling in the deepest waters.

Lee Fuller, vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said smaller companies wanted to prevent future administrations from cutting back on incentives. "Having a clear, stable royalty policy was of value to independent producers," he said.

And energy companies, whose executives had long contributed campaign funds to Republican candidates, pushed to block any amendments aimed at diluting the benefits.

The push to lock in the royalty inducements came primarily from House Republicans. The only real opposition came from a handful of House Democrats, in a showdown about 1 a.m. on July 25, according to a transcript of the session.

"It is indefensible to be keeping these companies on the government dole when oil and gas prices are so high," charged Representative Markey of Massachusetts, who proposed to strip the royalty provisions. "We might as well be giving tax breaks to Donald Trump and Warren Buffett."

Mr. Barton, the Texas Republican, brushed aside the objections. He reassured lawmakers that the new provisions would not cost taxpayers anything.

When Mr. Markey proposed a more modest change — having Congress prohibit incentives if crude oil prices rose above $40 a barrel — Republicans quickly voted him down again.

"The only reason they waited until after midnight to bring up these issues is that they couldn't stand up in the light of day," Mr. Markey said in a recent interview. "They all expected me to give up because it was so late and I didn't have the votes. But if nothing else, I wanted to get these things on the record."

A Royalty-Free Future?

It is still not clear how much impact the reduced royalties had in encouraging deep-water drilling. While activity in the Gulf has increased since 1995, prices for oil and gas have more than quadrupled over the same period, providing a powerful motivation, experts say.

"It's hard to make a case for royalty relief, especially at these high prices," said Jack Overstreet, owner of an independent oil exploration company in Texas. "But the oil industry is like the farm lobby and will have its hand out at every opportunity."

The size of the subsidies will soar far higher if oil companies win their newest court battle.

In a lawsuit filed March 17, Kerr-McGee Exploration and Production argued that Congress never authorized the government to set price cut-offs for incentives on leases awarded from 1996 through 2000. If the company wins, the Interior Department recently estimated, about three-quarters of oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico will be royalty-free for the next five years.

Mr. Markey and other Democrats recently introduced legislation that would pressure companies to pay full royalties when energy prices are high, regardless of what their leases allow.

But Republican lawmakers and the Bush administration have signaled their opposition.

"These are binding contracts that the government signed with companies," Ms. Norton recently remarked. "I don't think we can change them just because we don't like them."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

this is from harpseals.org a comprehensive, all volunteer site dedicated to ending the seal hunt.

MARCH 25, 2006 The massacre has begun:

THE SEALERS OF THE MAGDALEN ISLANDS AND PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND HAVE STARTED SLAUGHTERING HARP SEAL PUPS TODAY. THAT IS, THEY HAVE BEGUN KILLING THE FEW SEALS WHO SURVIVED THE WORST ICE CONDITIONS IN RECORDED HISTORY.


We sounded the alarm in early February: Where is the ice?

The year 2006 was declared the worst ice year in recorded history.

In late February and early March, the seal pups were born around the Magdalens and Prince Edward Island. The tour groups saw them. Paul and Heather McCartney saw them at the beginning of March. But where are they now?

Rebecca Aldworth of HSUS is there now to document the massacre. She was there with the McCartneys. Now, she finds broken up ice floes where there were large floes supporting newborn pups. She has seen mother seals but is struggling to find any babies. Few groups of pups have been found, most in the eastern Gulf around Cape Breton. It appears that our fears were realized: the thin ice has broken up, and many, if not most of the babies have drowned! Read the March 21st report here . Read the March 23rd report here.

Yet Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn is still allowing the slaughter of whatever seals remain to proceed?! News reports suggest that sealers may have to shoot them in the Gulf this year due to the lack of sturdy ice floes. The determination of the baby seal killers is truly remarkable.


It is interesting that Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn chose the International Day of Action to make his 2006-2010 Seal "Management Plan" announcement.

The planned slaughter for 2006 is 325,000 harp seals.

Read the details here. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) continues to claim that seals are "abundant." They use as a basis of comparison the 1970's, just after those years when the killing rates were about as high as they are now, and as a result, the seal population declined so severely that conservationists and marine scientists worried about extinction.

The DFO continues to claim that the slaughter is humane, despite video and eye-witness testimony to the contrary. Read Rebecca Aldworth's journal for details.

The DFO continues to claim that the "hunt" is well-regulated, despite video and eye-witness evidence of hundreds of violations of their own "humane" regulations
, such as the "blinking-eye" test which is supposed to be conducted before the baby seal is skinned. The DFO has failed to prosecute any of these crimes.

Now, the famous, beautiful white babies who have been born on the sparse ice near the shores of the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, have shed that fuzzy white coat. They have no idea what the next weeks bode for them, as they become targets for the sealers of the Magdalen Islands and the North Shore of Quebec.

Now is the TIME FOR ACTION for seal defenders.

The ice situation for 2006

So far, it seems that the seal pups are surviving the poor ice conditions. This year, ice has been over a month late in developing, compared to normal years. In February, the year 2006 was declared the worst ice year in recorded history by Environment Canada.

Read the ice report now for details.

We demanded a moratorium on the "hunt" in 2006 on the basis of this dangerous ice situation, that could have resulted in death by drowning for hundreds of thousands of seal pups.

The DFO didn't heed this demand.
Though the DFO claims to be taking the Precautionary Approach, there is no evidence of this. The poor ice conditions this year may be "the new normal." How this will affect the seal population should be a serious concern of a government agency that applies the Precautionary Approach. Read a report on the uncertainty in the DFO "management" models.

Let Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn know what you think about the 2006-2010 Seal slaughter plan today.



Join the opposition momentum and show your disgust at the seal hunt on the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR THE SEALS!

Harpseals.org will be actively involved again in the Los Angeles and south Florida street demonstrations. We want to better our last year's efforts with even bigger and more animated demonstrations this year.

Get involved: Create or join an event in your hometown!

(It's time to kick some Canadian politician butt and show Darden restaurants our resolve to boycott Canadian seafood and steer their customers elsewhere.)

Last year's event was the largest ever assemblage of protests for the seals in the history of the seal hunt!
Between March 13th and 15th, 2005, less than 2 weeks before the mass killing started, WORLDWIDE SEAL HUNT PROTESTS were simultaneously staged in over 50 cities and 23 countries around the world...

See the follow up and summaries of the 2005 events!


2005 CANADIAN SEAL HUNT REPORT:

With an official start date of March 29th, the annual Canadian harp seal massacre ("hunt") for 2005 was finally over by July...

Although harsh weather played to the seal's advantage early on in both phases of the massacre, (read details below of Quebec's "Gulf Front" and the Newfoundland Front), the seals ultimately lost the battle to the ever pursuing killers. As is always the case, they never really stood a chance...

The "official" public report from the government declaring the final "harvest numbers" for the 2005 season indicates the ridiculous quota of 319,000 baby animals (overall) had been reached. (because there is no official end date for obtaining the quota, it is always reached as long as the ice conditions permit.)

And of course, the always plentiful "struck and lost" numbers weren't, and never are, figured in these final "official" quota numbers.
(see note below)

But none of this was unexpected...

With the support of the government's continuous and ever impressive efforts to help the sealers reach their bloody quota, it was just business as usual for the sealers.

Adding this years numbers to the previous 2 years of killing, the 2005 season ended the record breaking 3 year quota of 975,000 animals, with more than a MILLION seals killed overall...

Why and how can this continue?
The absurd amount of seal killing that continues year after year in Canada occurs for the same reasons it always has: vanity, greed, politics, and Newfoundland "lifestyle" choices.

And once again, as we reflect upon all aspects of the insane carnage of 2005, Harpseals.org vows to continue fighting until the government declares the killing finally over!

LEARN ABOUT THE STRATEGY TO MAKE THE 2005 MASSACRE THE LAST ONE EVER AND HOW YOU CAN HELP THE SEALS!

In the meantime, we anxiously await the next announcement of the new quota.
Originally expected to be released in October, the timing of the announcement of the new quota numbers is a political hot potato for the Canadian government. The delay is not surprising due to the negative political pressures of the seal hunt. (That would be us!)

The government used to announce the quotas every year, but due to the massive public outcry it received after each announcement, decided it best to make the new quotas 3 year deal's so as to limit the public exposure.

As of January 10th, we're still waiting to hear the news, and now expect it to be announced in late February or just before the killing resumes in March, 2006.



Phase one: Quebec's Gulf Front: The "hunt" in this region was only open 5 days this year and most of the killing took place in the space of just 3.

Although harsh weather had prevented the sealers here from killing for the first few days, the total quota for the Gulf this season ended up being 107,000 seals.

Phase 2: The Newfoundland/ Labrador Front:
Reportedly, there were over 320 different sealing boats in the area for the second phase of this year's Canadian seal slaughter. The boats here are typically larger than in Quebec's Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and the area is more remote and has thicker ice.

But the predominent difference between these 2 phases of the slaughter is the method of killing: in the Gulf they mostly use hakapiks and shoot only a few, whereas on "The Front" they mostly use guns to kill the seals, then scoop them out of the water using hooks.

As a result, the "struck and lost" numbers (seals they shoot, but merely injure, or can't hook quickly enough, who then slip away under the ice to die), in this area are always higher than in the Gulf.

As for the killers themselves, our guess is the Newfie sealers are pretty much cut of the same cloth as the Gulf sealers: I'm sure they kill the seal babies with the same zealousness the Gulf killers exhibited.


In an attempt to play a more effective role in ending the killing, I witnessed the horror first hand this year, having had a surreal experience onboard the Sea Shepherd boat, Farley Mowat...

Read the story...Read my exclusive: Tales and insight from the killing floes


My heart remained with the boat and its new crew as it left the port of Saint Pierre (my port of leave) on 4/09 and traveled to the Newfoundland front.

Read the 2004 seal kill summary.

THE STORY OF THE FAMOUS WHITE BABIES:
Harp seals are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and gentle creatures on earth. Sadly, it seems, this gentle nature also plays a part in the animal's demise as the Harp seals own the unfortunate status of ANNUALLY SUFFERING THE LARGEST SLAUGHTER OF ANY MARINE MAMMAL SPECIES ON THE PLANET.

Every spring, great numbers of Harp seals gather together on the stark ice floes off the Canadian Atlantic coastline of Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec to give birth to their babies.

Commonly referred to as "whitecoats", these famous babies are indescribably astounding in their innocence, individuality, and beauty.
Their images have been captured in a thousand ways and distributed around the world to become one of the world's most recognizable and well known symbols of "cuteness" and innocent beauty.

It is ironic and sad to note that all this recognition does nothing to help their plight or future as these babies are the victims of a brutal annual massacre of their species by a politically driven, propaganda spewing government.

Every year, when the time is "right" (as soon as the ice conditions permit), a small group of caucasian "hunters" find their way to the floes and proceed to club, bludgeon, stun, shoot, and dismember thousands of young and adult Harp seals in a brutal manner of which most people can hardly imagine.

As many as 45% of the animals are skinned alive and the males are routinely dismembered for their penis bone alone. ("illegal" by the ridiculously unenforced set of "government standards and rules overseeing the hunt").

Moreover, independent observers have noted that as many as 1 out of 3 "targeted" seals slip away wounded into the ice holes and sea leads to be uncounted, unnoted, and unused in any way, shape, or form.

This annual killing of the innocents is not only unbelievably cruel and brutal but also makes no economic sense.
See an economic examination to learn how and why the seal hunt is a yearly financial loser for the economy of Canada.

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MEAT:
Only small amounts of the seal's meat is processed and utilized in any manner. (DFO regulations state that "either the pelt OR the meat must be used for each animal.") It is rarely eaten by non indigenous peoples for food due to its relatively heavy fatty and oily composition.
Small amounts are used for the pet food trade or fur farms, while the rest is simply left to rot on the ice.

IT'S NOT ABOUT "SUBSISTENCE":
Few natives or indigenous peoples are involved in the taking of the seals off the coastlines of Newfoundland, Quebec, and Labrador. Learn more.

AND IT'S NOT ABOUT SEAL OIL PRODUCTS:
Buyers from around the world continue to shun many seal oil products produced by pro-hunt businesses. This makes perfect sense as many of these oil products are produced for the vanity and health markets and it seems most consumers can't get excited about using a face cream or "healthy" skin supplement made from horrifically murdered baby seals.

Though the industry tries to hide the fact that their omega-3 oil supplements come from young seals by calling them "marine oils," many consumers are savvy enough to read the fine print and purchase flax seed or hemp seed oil instead.


SO WHY DOES THE HUNT CONTINUE?

Although the complete answer as to why the massacre still continues year after year without the support of the Canadian public is complex, the main reasons are:
1) the continuing (and rising) price for SEAL PELTS
(see explanatory paragraph below), and,

2) the government SUBSIDIES that artificially prop up the market value of the seal "hunt" .

3)
The way the government rationalizes these subsidies to their people and the rest of the world is through the use of an extensive and continuous (at taxpayers expense) PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN that seeks to blame the seals for the decline of the cod fishery.


SO WHAT ABOUT THE PELTS?
Although the past has always seen fluctuations in the world demand for seal pelts, today's modern times indicate there is a CURRENT GROWING MARKET for baby and adult Harp and hooded seal pelts in some parts of the world.

Keep in mind: SEAL PELTS ARE OUTLAWED IN THE UNITED STATES and WHITECOAT PELTS ARE ILLEGAL IN EUROPE... (although non-whitecoat seal pelts are still legal)

Although it is a fact that certain individuals and corporations do profit from harp seal pelts, it is also true that the pelt business is NOT ECONOMICALLY VIABLE as the actual market value of the pelts (when factored in with all the expenses that go along with hunting seals), is not sustainable on its own.

Learn more information and details about the seal pelt industry.