Friday, December 19, 2014

Mexican wolves: you are their last chance!

You Are Their
Last Chance

I pause in my holiday preparations this morning to stand up for life in our ecosystem that has no voice in humankind's decisions regarding its welfare. Mexican wolves are among our fellow creatures in danger of extinction; they need your voice, too!

This just in from Defenders of Wildlife:

Dear Virginia,

Three Mexican gray alpha male wolves have been found dead – one a month since September.

At the last official count, there were only 83 wild Mexican gray wolves clinging to survival. Just 83.

Despite this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is still trying to move forward with a flawed management proposal they call a first step. We call it a slow walk to extinction.

FWS’ own recovery team scientists have told the agency that Mexican gray wolves will not be safe from extinction unless there are three separate populations that wolves can move between. There need to be at least 750 wolves total, and there must be fewer killings of these rare wolves.

While this proposal offers the remaining wolves a larger area to roam, FWS would make it legal to kill them for multiple reasons (including if officials think they eat too many elk). It would also put arbitrary limits on the population and keep these wolves out of the habitats they desperately need to survive.

FWS has even said they will consider killing wolves if they grow to be “too many” which they defined as being 300 to 325 wolves in the wild!

Time is running out for these wolves. Without the release of new wolves, especially breeding pairs, and the establishment of new populations, Mexican gray wolves will slowly go extinct in the wild.

With so few wild lobos left in the world, they deserve a real chance to recover – not flawed decisions that would amount to a slow and certain death sentence.

You are their last chance. It’s too late for the three dead alpha males, but there are still others we can save.

Thank you for everything you do.

Eva Sargent, Southwest Program Director  


Eva Sargent
Southwest Program Director
Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife leads the pack when it comes to protecting wild animals and plants in their natural communities »

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The United States of Depravity?

In this March 3, 2005, file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

There must be a sad dearth of compassion among many of our fellow citizens these days. In response to the CIA torture report describing the "enhanced interrogation techniques," a euphemism for the extremes of cruelty inflicted on detainees, polls show a majority of Americans "just shrugged." And as one commenter to the article cited below observed: "All this poll proves is 54% of America have decided to change the name of America to the United States of Depravity."

Aaron Blake reports at the Washington Post:

A new poll from the Pew Research Center is the first to gauge reactions to last week's big CIA report on "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- what agency critics call torture.

And the reaction is pretty muted.

The poll shows people says 51-29 percent than the CIA's methods were justified and 56-28 percent that the information gleaned helped prevent terror attacks.
The word "torture," it should be noted, isn't mentioned in the poll, but it has been associated with much of the coverage of the issue. And the numbers align nicely with polls on the use of torture, which shows that relatively few Americans are concerned about it -- especially when you bring the prospect of combating terrorism into the mix.

Read more:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What the CIA has in common with ISIS

Is it a coincidence that on Human Rights Day 2014, Joshua Holland at published The Torture Report: What You Need to Know?

Ironically, my previous post today is titled Celebrating Human Rights Day.

We need to pause in celebrating Human Rights Day and take a break from our preparations for Christmas this year as well. Let us grieve for the sorry state of our nation that allows people, who have obviously lost touch with their humanity, to brutalize detainees while claiming superiority to the likes of ISIS terrorists. We're talking about members of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.

Take a look Holland's piece:

On Tuesday, amid much controversy and after a year of political combat between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA, a long-anticipated summary of the committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program was released.

Here’s what you need to know…

Read more:

Celebrating Human Rights Day!

This just in from Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch:

Dear Virginia,

Today, on Human Rights Day, we want to recognize all that you have helped us to achieve. As the Empire State Building glows blue this evening to honor the global human rights movement, we would like to share with you just a few examples of the incredible impact you helped our researchers to achieve in 2014:
Sochi Ring After seven years of documentation and targeted advocacy on rights abuses around the 2008 Beijing and 2014 Sochi Olympics, the International Olympic Committee
has agreed to include rights protections in host city contracts. It has begun by adopting a non-discrimination clause that will require host countries to respect equality—furthering the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and supporting the rights of women to participate in sports worldwide.
Tobacco Ring Our work exposing dangerous conditions for child workers on tobacco farms in the United States helped lead two of the country’s largest tobacco growers associations to adopt new policies prohibiting
children under 16 from working on tobacco farms. By implementing these policies, tobacco growers will no longer employ young children in this dangerous work.
Syria Ring Following the horrific chemical weapons attack on the civilians of Ghouta, Syria last August, our researchers’ quick response and meticulous documentation—using video forensics, GPS data, and
remote eyewitness interviews—confirmed the likelihood that Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible. Our work helped to galvanize international support for a United Nations resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons, and global arms experts have now supervised the destruction of Syria’s stockpile.
This Human Rights Day we recognize the extraordinary efforts of Human Rights Watch researchers and celebrate all of their remarkable impact.

But we also want to pause to recognize you, our supporters. It is because of your commitment that we are able to continue to protect victims and defend the human rights of countless people across the globe.

From everyone at Human Rights Watch, we wish you a happy Human Rights Day. Thank you for standing with us.

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Human Rights Day
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Compassion and empathy

I feel fortunate in these dark days of Advent to have a nice warm home brightened by Christmas lights, plenty of food in my fridge, and a supply of good books on hand to enjoy after dinner. And in this holiday season, I'm blessed by the warmth and support of friends and family.

Easy for me to feel compassion and empathy for others, you say? Let it be known that others abound much more well off financially than I who turn their backs on those in need. That's why Dr. Karen Armstrong set out to change the world a while back with her Charter for Compassion. I subscribe to the Charter for Compassion's newsletter. Here's the Nov. 12, 2014 edition:

It's Time to Confront Our Compassion Phobia


When I was first invited to take part in Compassion Week, I had a bit of a reaction. It's not that I didn't want to get involved in next week's events in San Francisco - it's just that I have a problem with the word compassion. Maybe it's a guy thing, but compassion has always sounded a little too soft and fluffy for my liking, and I wondered whether some might just dismiss the idea of Compassion Week without stopping to find out what it was all about.

The people behind Compassion Week want to give the c-word a bit of a makeover. They have called on the City of San Francisco and the State of California "to make compassion a guiding principle for their businesses and public services", and are staging a series of gatherings and discussions from Monday to Sunday to explain what this means - and how it can be achieved.  Read more and join us at Compassion Week.

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong: Review

Dr. Karen Armstrong.
How have we ended up with the idea that religious doctrine above all is to blame for human conflict?

Islamic State is like a bad dream. Its horror flashes up on our screens, so out of place in the waking world of cities and shopping and work. Its adherents wave what looks like a pirate flag. They are crazy, incomprehensible, intoxicated.

Some kind of spell must have been cast over them to rob them of reason and compassion. But what exactly? There are those who feel confident of the answer. "A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Qur'an," writes Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith. "The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is under Christianity." He goes on: "horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim world. But there is now a large industry of obfuscation designed to protect Muslims from having to grapple with these truths."  Read more.

Alice Walker highlights empathy and compassion in historic lecture

Alice Walker.
“Friendship is really important, and not just between men and women and women and women and people you know; it’s important between countries,” Walker said.

She is a vocal social justice advocate and explained the critical potential she believes global diplomacy can have in preventing war and other atrocities.

“We in this country are in the habit of dropping bombs on people, dropping napalm on people, dropping drones on people,” Walker said. “The only way we will save ourselves, the water, the mountains that haven’t been decapitated … is if we do it as friends, on a global scale.”   Read more.

YO-MAD – Young, Ordinary and Making a Difference! 

(You don't have to be extra-ordinary to change the world!)
Fenna Martin and Sophie Coxon are two ordinary young people who feel driven to make a positive difference in the world, and to show other young people how living adventurously, in the spirit of Compassionate Action, can transform their own lives and the wider world.

The Compassionate Cornwall Initiative is part of an international movement to change the culture of communities through compassionate action and is about to put Cornwall on the map as the first county in the UK to sign the international Charter for Compassion. (Belfast is the only other UK initiative to have signed, as a Compassionate City.) Learn more about the Cornwall Initiative and the special Crowdfunding project it is sponsoring.


We invite you to help us in promoting the work of the Charter by becoming a Member. Karen Armstrong, asked in April of 2013 for her definition of a compassionate city, replied, “A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city! A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry. Uncomfortable if every child isn't loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive. Uncomfortable when any group anywhere in the world is marginalized or oppressed. Uncomfortable when as a community we don't treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.”

Please become a Member of the Charter for Compassion. Step forward to support the compassion movement materially -- with your money, your time, your connections, your special areas of expertise, and your high expectations.

Become a Member of the Charter for Compassion
This newsletter is archived at for you to send to friends and coworkers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The post-Thanksgiving adventure of making turkey soup

See all those carrots? (
In the midst of moving forward with my writing projects and attending to several must-do tasks the other day, I decided to make turkey soup from the carcass left over from Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t cook a lot at this stage of my life, and it should come as no surprise that I began the soup before checking out the recipe. So I forgot to add the seasonings to the brew when I put the carcass in a pot of water and let it simmer until the meat fell off the bones. The good news is that I saved the unseasoned broth, and I’ve got lots of turkey meat for the soup. I’m planning to backtrack some with the seasonings – heck, it’ll all work out.

Darn! I still have to chop the onions, carrots, and celery.

Discovered I had no carrots yesterday, and I stopped in at Target to get a few, plus a couple of household products; I was running out of paper towels - tragedy, yes? In the produce department, I asked a fellow in a red T-shirt and khakis where the carrots were. A loyal, well-trained employee, he showed me several options and then the pièce de résistance: a container of nicely chopped vegetables, including carrots, just right for turkey soup. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and grabbed a package of those so-called baby carrots. After paying for my stuff, I got a cup of coffee and a couple of cookies and sat down in the Target Café to rest my arthritic knees before heading home.

So here I am today stuck with chopping my own vegetables. That’s okay, though. I’ll feel pleasantly virtuous later on this afternoon as I dice those onions, carrots, and a few stalks of celery.

But first I have to post this at Katalusis and get my laundry started.

Here's the recipe that I forgot to read before starting my soup, and you'd better believe I'll not be adding any barley to my turkey soup.

Betty Crocker’s recipe for homemade turkey soup


Carcass from cooked 10- to 12-lb turkey

3 quarts (12 cups) water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning or dried sage leaves
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
3 medium carrots, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)
3 cups cut-up cooked turkey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, if desired
  • 1 Break up turkey carcass to fit 6-quart Dutch oven. Add water, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and bay leaf. Heat to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • 2 Skim off any residue that rises to the surface. Remove bones, meat and bay leaf from broth; cool. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces; set aside. Discard bones and bay leaf.
  • 3 Skim fat from broth; discard. Add turkey meat cut from bones to broth; stir in barley. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 4 Stir in carrots, onion, celery and 3 cups cooked turkey. Simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and barley are tender. Stir in parsley.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Predator killfest on Burea of Land Management lands called off

Okay, Katalusis readers, I've been annoyed once again in the run up to Thanksgiving by the custom of US presidents pardoning a turkey obviously innocent of any crime; a Facebook friend reminded me that I'm not alone. It's a custom that speaks to the arrogance of humanity thinking itself above all other forms of life. We get to pardon a bird for existing? So it's refreshing on this day before our national holiday dedicated to giving thanks to hear from Defenders of Wildlife and this time with some good news!

Dear Virginia,
Finally some good news from Idaho!

We just received word that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has withdrawn its permit allowing a “Predator Derby” to take place on BLM lands in Idaho. This was the appalling commercial derby that Defenders of Wildlife went to Federal court last week to block.

This is an important victory for wolves and other predators – and it’s one you helped achieve. The reversal came after Defenders went to court and tens of thousands of you expressed outrage over the decision to let the predator killfest go forward on BLM lands. Fortunately, senior officials at the Department of the Interior heard your voice and directed that the commercial derby permit be withdrawn.

Introduced by a “hunters’ rights organization,” the derby’s goal was to make a competitive, commercialized sport of killing wolves and other predators. This was a throwback to 19th century thinking when wolves were seen as vermin worthy only of extermination.

The BLM’s reversal is an important victory as we work around the clock to end the slaughter in Idaho. Sadly, it’s still possible that the derby could take place on federal lands elsewhere in Idaho. But we can take heart in the fact that, at least on BLM lands, wolves and other predators can breathe easier today. And we can remind ourselves that larger victories are not only possible, but inevitable, when wildlife defenders like you make your voices heard.

Thank you again. You’re making a difference, and we are so grateful!


Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife
Jamie Rappaport Clark
Defenders of Wildlife