Day: December 28, 2018

EU: Finally It Does Something Useful and Takes Action Against Plastic.




EU action to restrict plastic pollution: Council agrees its position.

The EU is taking action to reduce plastic pollution by setting tough new restrictions on single-use plastic products. Today’s meeting of member states’ ambassadors in the Permanent Representatives Committee agreed the Council’s position on a proposal for a new directive which is part of the EU’s efforts to protect the environment and clean up the oceans.

The new rules will ban the use of certain throwaway plastic products for which alternatives exist. In addition, specific measures will be introduced to reduce the use of the most frequently littered plastic products, especially those that are often found on European beaches.

Plastic waste is polluting our rivers, our beaches and our oceans. This is why we will ban plastic products for which good alternatives exist. And we will make plastic producers pay for cleaning up. Today’s decision is an important step towards protecting our environment.

Elisabeth Köstinger, the federal minister of sustainability and tourism of Austria which currently holds the presidency of the Council

plastic whale trash

The Council has made the original draft directive clearer by being more specific in the listing of the products affected:

  • On the definition of single-use plastic products, the Council clarifies that these products are typically intended to be used just once or for a short period of time before being disposed of.
  • In determining whether a particular item is considered to be a single-use plastic product, the tendency for the item to be littered will play a decisive role. The Council wants the Commission to publish guidelines, in consultation with member states, on examples of what is to be considered a single use plastic product.
  • The Council agrees with the Commission proposal to design single-use beverage containers so that their lids and caps stay attached to the bottle. In this regard, the Council specifies that bottles made of glass or metal are not covered by this directive but that it shall apply to plastic bottles and composite beverage packaging.
  • Up to 2023, paper plates with plastic linings are included in the list of products for which there will be a reduction in consumption. Plates made wholly of plastic will be banned.
  • The Council proposes ambitious extended producer responsibility schemes and an obligation on producers to cover clean-up costs and the costs of awareness raising measures, including for products which no such obligation exists currently, namely wet wipes and balloons.

The Council also wants the legislation to be more ambitious:

  • The Commission has proposed that producers of plastic items cover the costs of litter cleanup. The Council wants this obligation to be extended to apply also to companies which import or sell such single-use plastic products or packaging in Europe.
  • The Council adds expanded polystyrene cups for beverages to the list of items for which there will be a restriction on placing them on the market.
  • There are certain single-use plastic products for which no suitable alternatives currently exist. However measures will be taken at national level to prevent an increase in the consumption of such products through the setting of national targets. The aim is to achieve a measurable and sustained reduction over a set period of time.

plastic beach 2

The Council has introduced provisions to improve the implementation of the directive:

  • The Commission proposed an improved product design for caps and lids made of plastic for beverage containers in order to prevent their leakage into the environment. The Council has underlined the need for the rapid development of harmonized standards to ensure that this part of the proposal is implemented effectively.
  • The Council has been more specific about the markings on those single-use plastic products which are most frequently thrown away inappropriately to allow consumers to make better choices.
  • While the obligation to separate waste requires that different types of waste be kept separate, the Council’s position is that it should be possible to collect certain types of waste together, provided that this does not impede high-quality recycling. The setting of collection targets for plastic bottles should be based on the number of plastic bottles placed on the market or the number of waste bottles generated in any member state. The calculation of the weight of waste should take account of all waste plastic bottles, including those which are littered outside waste collection systems.

Finally, the Council has also taken measures to reduce the administrative costs of the directive:

  • On extended producer responsibility schemes, the Council stresses that the calculation methodology for the costs of cleaning up litter should be proportionate. To reduce administrative costs member states may set financial contributions for cleaning up litter by agreeing multiannual amounts.
  • Provided that the targets and objectives of the legislation are achieved, member states may transpose the provisions on consumption reduction and extended producer responsibility schemes through agreements between the relevant authorities and the sectors concerned.

Member states broadly supported the mandate at today’s meeting, and some member states indicated that the interlinkages between this directive and the existing waste legislation need further consideration in the upcoming negotiations.

give a shit

Background and next steps

The proposal under discussion is part of the EU’s plastics strategy. The Council Working Party on the Environment has been working on the draft directive since it was presented by the Commission in late May 2018. Environment ministers discussed the proposal at their meetings on 25 June and on 9 October.

The European Parliament voted its position on the proposal on 24 October.

Today’s mandate means that the Austrian Presidency of the Council can begin talks with the European Parliament. A first trilogue meeting will take place on 6 November.


South Korea: Korean Dogs December 26th Newsletter.




Thank you for being a voice.

Read the Dec 26th newsletter from, which includes petitions and other actions, by clicking on the following link:!_and_new_calls_for_action&utm_medium=email

All across South Korea, millions of ‘meat dogs’ (including newborn puppies) which are destined for human consumption, are kept outdoors in meat farms and slaughterhouses, imprisoned in cages that are crudely constructed of wire and raised off the ground, and which afford no protection from the snow or freezing winds that are part of a normal winter in that country. These poor creatures – from the second they are born, to their final breath at the uncaring hands of a brutal butcher – have to endure endless misery and agony. South Korea is truly a “Hell on Earth” for countless innocent dogs and cats. So, please, don’t let the Koreans continue their vile and cruel practice.

habeas corpus for Happy!





For the first time in history, an American judge ruled that even elephants have rights. Happy is a 47-year-old Asian elephant who has lived in solitary confinement in the Bronx Zoo, New York, for twelve years. Happy was one of seven Asian elephant calves that were probably caught in the same flock in Thailand in the early 1970s, shipped to America and sold to circuses and zoos. Happy and Grumpy landed in the Bronx Zoo, where they spent 25 years in an enclosure. Grumpy died in 2002 and Happy stayed alone. A habeas corpus ruling requires a prisoner to be brought to court to determine if this person is being illegally detained.

Now Happy can complain against the zoo. The decision was based on the question of whether Happy is rated as a person or as a thing.

Meanwhile, Happy had become a scientific celebrity. In 2005, she was the first elephant to pass the “Mirror Self-Assessment Test”.
The scientists painted a white cross over their left eye and led she to a large mirror. Happy repeatedly touched the marker, indicating that she recognized herself. Most animals can not do this.

But Happy is alone and this already since 12 years. She lives isolated in a small part of the Bronx zoo. She has been in the zoo since 1977. Previously, she had been an attraction on Florida’s Lion Country Safari.

elefant-Happy jpg

A New York court has now issued the first habeas corpus order in the name of a captive elephant. Happy could be another animal after the Orangutan Sandra, which recognizes the rights of humans.

The Nonhuman Rights Project is pursuing the lawsuit against the Bronx Zoo on behalf of Happy. A habeas corpus ruling requires a prisoner to be brought to court to determine if this person is being illegally detained.

To be successful, the court has to decide if Happy can legally be considered a “person”. If Happy wins, all elephants in New York will not be locked up in zoos.

A judge from the Orleans district has already dealt with the lawsuit and has heard the Nonhuman Rights Project, which filed the lawsuit – Happy against Bronx Zoo.

“Happy lives in a small enclosure, in a 1-hectare zoo. She also lives without her family. She has no family, “said Steven Wise, lawyer for the Non-Human Rights Project.

The Bronx Zoo is owned by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a US nature conservation foundation. In addition to the Bronx Zoo, it includes the Central Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Queens Zoo and the Prospect Park Zoo.

The case of Happy is the second time in US legal history that a habeas corpus is “negotiated” for a non-human animal, and the first time a case has been made for an elephant. Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), told the judge that one habeas corpus was issued for an orangutan (Sandra)  in Buenos Aires and another for a chimpanzee in Mendoza, Argentina.

SandraSandra, Buenos Aires

Whether Happy really comes free, it is further argued, because the judges are of the opinion that the case should be decided in another court. The NhRP is already examining the next steps and trying to decide whether to go to court in another county or in the Bronx. Since this is a complex legal issue, the NhRP needs time to check all options.

Now Happy has the status that she can complain, but it is difficult to find a court that wants to make the verdict.

My comment: Humans have rights, all other species have NO rights.

This allows us to be ad libidum the offenders in injustice and the privileged in grace.
We humans do not know (anymore) what it feels like to be without rights.

I consider the recognition of human rights for Happy as a sign of the moral evolution of the human species.
It is high time to see our rights as human beings, not as a privilege for the victor, but as a necessity for all non-human beings. We solidarize with Happy and wait hopefully!

My best regards, Venus


USA: Trump and the $5,000,000,000 in taxpayer dollars to prop up coal companies.



From the Union of Concerned Scientists. 



The Trump administration doesn’t want you to know about its effort to spend nearly $5,000,000,000 in taxpayer dollars to prop up coal companies.

After submitting a Freedom of Information request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about this funding, which would not only prop up failing coal companies but guarantee their owners’ profits, we waited… and waited… and then got tired of waiting, so we’re taking them to court.

big power plant

We – you! – have a right to know whether Trump’s coal bailout is a quid pro quo for the Big Coal executives who supported his campaign. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal, including the courts, to bring the facts to light and keep this bailout from ever seeing the light of day.

UCS members have been critical in stopping this hare-brained scheme so far. Our policy experts reported on the coal bailout’s many errors. Scientists and activists mobilized across the country to pressure federal and local energy regulators to resist it.

Our efforts paid off. The White House temporarily “shelved the plan amid opposition from the president’s own advisers on the National Security Council and National Economic Council.”¹

But this fight is far from over. One of the architects of the bailout, Bernard McNamee—a career political operative with no experience in utility regulation was confirmed by the Senate to oversee the FERC, one of the key agencies involved in the plan. We expect McNamee to push for return of the wasteful, polluting coal bailout.²³

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We need your help to fight back against polluters and the administration. And now, our National Advisory board is issuing a special match challenge to make sure the environment takes priority over government handouts to the fossil fuel industry.

Though there’s much to be hopeful for in the coming year, we will be keeping a watchful eye on the Trump administration and their coziness with fossil fuel interests. We don’t have the time to tolerate business-as-usual greediness from coal executives, not with the impacts of climate change already being felt by millions of people.

Just last month, the Trump administration’s own National Climate Assessment reiterated what we’ve known for years: the planet is rapidly warming, humans are responsible, and climate change is likely to expose all of us–and especially the most vulnerable among us–to deadly weather conditions, and cause trillions of dollars of damage by the end of this century—unless we act now.⁴

We can’t put Big Coal’s bottom line before everyone and everything else, Mark. We need to win this lawsuit and secure more victories for science, the environment, and our health in the coming year, but we can only succeed with your help.

Thank you,

John Mace,
Membership Director
Union of Concerned Scientists


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