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NIO's First Annual Animal Liberation/Militant Direct Action (MDA) Awards
January 4, 2010-Negotiation Is Over

Edited & Updated Version

With corporations, the legal system, security state and police forces, and mass media portraying those who defend or engage in direct action and underground liberations, raids, and sabotage attacks as 'terrorists'; with the mainstream pacifists distorting and rejecting the most dynamic and effective activists in their own movement, in language uncritically taken from state apparatuses and corporate media that serve and defend every facet of the ongoing war against nonhuman animals and the earth; and with nauseating spectacles such as the star-studded Genesis Awards that celebrate the commodification and co-optation of a movement that is central to resolving growing social and ecological crises, we thought it useful and significant to build a stage for our own awards ceremony, an anti-Genesis Awards dedicated to acknowledging the significance of direct action tactics and the animal and earth liberation movements.

Despite fierce political blowback and state repression, especially in hardening police states such as the US and UK, the animal and earth liberation movements continue to grow globally. With The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) establishing a presence in 17 countries,[1] the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) now active in 42,[2] Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) evolving globally, and ultra-militant groups such as the Animal Rights Militia (ARM),  the Justice Department, the Revolutionary Cells emerging in response to the rapid expansion of capitalism, exploitation, and the human empire as a whole, militant resistance movements are growing as well. And they do so even if this fact is impossible to discern from the silence or misrepresentations of corporate media and counter-revolutionary mainstream and pacifist 'advocacy' groups for a planet under increasing attack and now in crisis condition. Despite increasingly harsh penalties for direct action tactics branded as 'terrorist,' militant forms of resistance spread with unstoppable force.

Pacifist and mainstream animal and environmental groups constantly stigmatize the underground and MDA movements as marginalized, ineffective, and counter-productive. Yet objective analysis will show that they are the most dynamic, fasting-growing, and most effective forms of resistance, and they alone advance in these movements every progressive and potent struggle for liberation that has ever shaped human history and soaked the earth blood.

Vail, Colorado - October 19, 1999

Vail, Colorado - October 19, 1999

When something lights up in the night, we know that there are people who have not bowed or cowered to repression and that resistance is alive. Everyday, throughout the globe, people who understand the exploitative dynamics of capitalism, the futility of working through the state, and the secondary importance or irrelevance of the sanctified and empty abstraction of 'public opinion' to which mainstream movements obsequiously pander, there are people who take situations into their own hands, and whose primary concern is with stopping violence and shutting exploiters down, once and for all, as they so often do, despite the slander and lies of the impotent pacifist. Those who take direct action against exploiters, who reject the lies of the law to honor the truth of their convictions, and who say 'Ya Basta! Enough!' to the pervasive violence for which other 'advocates' have built up such a complacent tolerance, these are the men and women we honor here.

For those who will moralistically condemn the outlooks and actions represented below as violent, extremist, or ineffective, we urge the importance of seeing these as planned, considered, strategic, effective, and appropriate and measured responses to growing exploitation and oppression everywhere. Were the victims of these capitalist hell-holes and tortures chambers human, then instead of criticizing these militant actions, people would support or even join the resistance, just as they did in Nazi Germany. Pacifism is nothing but a speciesism and an excuse for doing nothing and being part of the complicit population rather than the resistance movement.


1) Outstanding Achievement: Mexico

Abusers Targeted at Higher Rate Than Anywhere in the World

The symbol of a local version of the Animal Liberation Front was found painted near the attacks in a residential neighborhood on the city's south side, assistant city prosecutor Luis Genaro Vasquez told the Televisa news network. An anarchist symbol was also found.

'They are not vandals. They're not doing this for personal gain. They do this because they love animals,' Vlasak said.

Since their first reported ALF action in 2006, resistance has exploded on the Mexican scene with an endless assault on McDonald's, fur farms, and other institutions of animal exploitation. Mexico inspires animal activists and liberators throughout the world, and shows that animal rights is not only the domain of 'animal whites' activities in the 'developed Western world' such as the US, Canada, and Europe. And while your historic actions have yet to be properly documented and contextualized, they have hardly gone unnoticed and we hope activists with the Mexican aboveground and underground struggles can ally and unite with activists throughout the world.

2) Best ALF Action: September 15, 2009, 2000 Mink Released, Italy

anonymous report:

We entered inside the mink farm called Valle Salice, located in Castel di Sangros, on the highway 652, under the viaduct II/Valle Salice.

At first we cut a large part of the fence and then we opened the worn cage situated in the four sheds of the farm containing 2000 minks (not only 130 as reported by the media). All these living beings are tortured waiting to become another consumer good.

Our untameable desire for freedom is what drove us. This action represents for us the destruction of an anthropocentric and speciesist point of view, which considers other animals as objects to be exploited and not like
beautiful individuals.

At last we damaged tools, machinery and feed located in a small warehouse.

As this communiqu' shows, militant direct activists are motivated not by a thirst for violence and destruction, but rather by compassion, boundless principles of justice, and the desire to rescue victims from victimizers. We chose this action because it counters the distortions of the propaganda machines in the corporate sector and pacifist mainstream alike, and helps us to see that in militant liberation movements one finds the connecting threads with the history of human rebellion, and where elsewhere it is snuffed out, here the spirit of resistance and autonomy glows with the pulse of life.


3) Best ELF Action: November 23, 2009, Santiago, Chile

ELF Torches Slaughterhouse

On Monday, November 23, at 11:50 pm, we installed an incendiary device in a slaughterhouse (located in the immediate vicinity of Juan Crist'bal, comuna de Recoleta) activated by an easily operated timer. The objective was not to burn the place completely, but to cause damage to a freezer soiled with death and torture.

We believe that direct action is largely the way to propagate an idea in a practical way, and with an increase of attacks on capital in all its expressions; the state, prison, laboratories, cages, and no end of targets.

Because of this we decided to carry out this action, during the international week of agitation for prisoners, given that we identify authority and the exploitation of the land and its beings as the great common enemy of all the battles of anti-authoritarian insurrection.

Capitalists have proven that they will continue to rape the planet, torture animals, and exploit any available resource until it becomes unprofitable. The ELF defends the earth that sustains every single one of us.


4) Most Relentless Campaign: Win Animal Rights (W.A.R)

W.A.R.

We vow that in this age of governmental repression and harassment of dissidents, we will remain firm and steadfastly defend our rights to exercise our civil liberties to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and to defend and liberate those that are unjustly enslaved.

In view of the aforementioned tenets, W.A.R. is devoted to the campaign to stop the killing at Huntingdon Life Sciences, a notorious international animal testing laboratory, responsible for the torture, mutilation and death of 500 animals every day. We believe in using every legal tool, tactic or strategy available to us to bring about this closure. We are resolved to continue this fight until Huntingdon Life Sciences is closed or until the killing there stops, once and for all.

W.A.R.'s ultimate goal is total animal liberation.

Founded by Greg Kelly and  NAALPO Press Officer, Camille Hankins, these above-ground activists prove that fearless militants are the abusers' worst nightmare. W.A.R. does not stand on corners waving signs at cars. They educate, taking their campaigns to the abusers, at home and work, and understanding that an exploiter is only one part of a network. By identifying and campaigning against HLS investors, they have played a key role in HLS losing many financial backers. Perhaps not coincidentally, HLS (traded publicly as LSR) was recently forced to go private.


5) Outstanding New Grassroots Network: Bite Club K.C.

Bite Club of KC is an independent, zero-profit animal rights and liberation activism group. Founded on 7/5/09, Bite Club's mission is to amplify the efforts of individual animal rights activists in the Kansas City area by bringing them together, to educate the public about veganism and animal liberation in an attempt to gain their support and participation, and to wage campaigns to defend nonhuman animals who are under attack. Campaign tactics will include educating the exploiters, negotiating with the exploiters, speaking out for the victimized nonhuman animals through the media, demonstrating against the exploiters, informing the exploiters' neighbors of their barbaric activities, and potentially engaging in civil disobedience.

Bite Club welcomes all animal defenders who want to engage in activism on behalf of nonhuman animals. With respect to tactics, strategies, actions, and campaigns, we are willing to entertain any ideas, provided they are above-ground and legal. Whether you want to be the most vocal protestor at the demos or stay behind the scenes making signs and leaflets, whether you can work a few hours a month or seven days a week'if you want to stand up for other animals, we need you.

Bite Club K.C., founded by Jason Miller ( NAALPO Press Officer & Publisher of Thomas Paine's Corner), provides further proof that militant, fearless, determined aboveground activists create movements. And since Jason decided to defend a deer population in his Kansas City area that had been given a death sentence, he founded Bite Club to mobilize activists, and has shown everyone that one person can make a huge difference. The group of activists campaigned relentlessly-in parks, streets, town halls and online-employing innovative and provocative strategies, and building alliances with veteran activists. The fight for the Shawnee Park deer, which they renamed 'Death Park,' earned national media attention and became one of the hottest grassroots campaigns of 2009. We are proud that Jason is NIO's Wildlife Liaison and, along with some other activists, he is now waging this war through a newly-formed Global Anti-Hunting Coalition, which promises to be the campaign to watch in 2010.


6) Best Vegan Radio Show: GoVeganRadio with Bob Linden

GoVeganRadio.com

Bob Linden is a New York City native and graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York who has led a double life-as a professional broadcaster and animal rights advocate.

GO VEGAN WITH BOB LINDEN, celebrating 4 years on-air as of January 05, is heard in Los Angeles on KTYM-AM-1460 and in San Diego on KCEO-AM-1000. This show represents the successful marriage of Bob's two lives.

GO VEGAN WITH BOB LINDEN covers everything from slashed-food to cookie recipes, animal rights, diet, health, environment, world hunger, morality, justice, peace.. The weekly hour-long show also features exceptional guests. GO VEGAN WITH BOB LINDEN was the subject of a full-page article in ANIMALS AGENDA written by Pulitzer-Prize winning LA TIMES media critic HOWARD ROSENBERG and was featured as RADIO SHOW OF THE WEEK in the LA DAILY NEWS.

Each week Linden takes a look at any number of current events and makes the connection to veganism and animal rights. GoVeganRadio airs on commercial airways with each show available to a mainstream audience. In a media overwhelmingly sponsored by Burger King, McDonald's, and assorted capitalist exploiters, Bob is putting veganism into the competition. He has a unique wit and his programs are entertaining, but he is very serious about exposing animal exploiters-whether he's taking on the HSUS for promoting agribusiness and rehabilitating Michael Vick or featuring controversial guest that other shows-including vegan forums- would not touch. When he is not educating people on the radio, he is involved in any number or animal rights issues, and he was even arrested at a fur protest recently for exercising free speech.


7 ) Best Blog on State Repression: 'GreenIsTheNewRed' by Will Potter

GreenIsTheNewRed.com

Will Potter is an award-winning independent journalist based in Washington, D.C., who has become a leading authority on 'eco-terrorism,' the environmental and animal rights movements, and civil liberties post 9/11.

He has tracked how lawmakers and corporations have labeled animal rights and environmental activists as 'eco-terrorists.' And he has closely followed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the Earth Liberation Front arrests in 'Operation Backfire,' and the landmark First Amendment case of the SHAC 7.

While the Bush/Cheney administration was shredding our Bill of Rights and industrial abusers worked with Congress to pass broad and arbitrary legislation, Will Potter was among the first to understand that repressive laws like the 1991 Animal Enterprise Protection Act (revised in 2006 as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) and the 2001 USA Patriot Act, with clauses dealing with sweeping definitions of 'domestic terrorism' were new weapons in the war and dissent and dangerous moves to criminalize protest movements, animal and environmental movements first and foremost. Fortunately for us, Potter responded with GreenIsTheNewRed, dissecting the new McCarthyism, the 'Green Scare,' and Orwellian discourse of 'terrorism' in nuanced, rigorous, and rich analyses that provide an invaluable contribution to liberation movements and freedom and democracy overall.

8 ) Best Animal Liberation Blog: 'Voice of the Voiceless by Peter Young'

Voice of the Voiceless founded by Peter Young 'to effectively arm those fighting for the liberation of all life.'

Peter Young is a veteran animal liberation activist and former political prisoner convicted for his role in liberating thousands of animals from fur farms across the country. Emerging from a grand jury indictment, 7 years of being wanted by the FBI, a federal prison sentence, and nearly 15 years in the animal liberation movement; today Peter is a frequent lecturer at universities and events, writer on liberation movements, and unapologetic supporter of those who work outside the law to achieve human, earth, and animal liberation.

Sent to prison for mink liberation on the testimony of a comrade turned informant, Young went down without apology, served his time with dignity, and came out swinging. Moving from the shadows to the light, form the underground to the aboveground, Young simply retooled his game to become an even more effective champion of liberation through educating, lecturing, and launching a liberation website with a unique focus on state repression and political prisoners that draws on his deep knowledge and experience. In this new role, Young spent months compiling intelligence identifying the fur-farm supply-side infrastructure and in December 2009 published The Blueprint, the most comprehensive listing of US fur farms to date, covering 75% of the industry. We are proud to call Peter our Senior Editor of Animal Liberation because whether liberating minks or emancipating minds, he completely dedicated to the struggle.


9) All-Around Service in Animal Liberation: Dr. Jerry Vlasak

Dr. Jerry Vlasak is known for many things. He is a trauma surgeon in Los Angeles, a militant animal rights activist, a former vivisector turned renowned critic of vivisection, a scientific advisor to groups like Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) and a co-founder and Press Officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. [Because of his uncompromising positions, he] also has a lot of 'former' roles on his resume, such as former spokesperson for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and former Board Member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society 'He is also a former visitor to the UK. In summer 2004, UK Home Secretary David Blunkett, always acting in defense of the vivisection industry so important to the British economy, saw it fit to ban Vlasak 'from again entering the UK [deeming him, like other US activists to follow, a 'threat to public order].[3]

The ever-controversial, vocal, and unapologetic defender of militant direct action, Dr. Vlasak co-founded North American Animal Liberation Press Office in 2004 to establish a voice not only for the 'non-violent' ALF, but also for more militant groups such as the Animal Rights Militia, the Justice Department, the Revolutionary Cells, and any and every form of resistance to animal exploitation. The Press Office provides a critical and counter-hegemonic voice to industry propaganda and corporate media forces by contextualizing animal liberation and explaining the need for illegal action in conditions where the state functions as a tool of capitalist interests. The Press Office also provides critical balance to the animal advocacy mainstream (whether welfarists, rights, or 'abolitionist' in approach) which either ignore the dynamic actions of the underground or-using the Orwellian language of the corporate-state-media complex-demonizes MDA as 'violent' and 'counter-productive.' In addition to running the Press Office, and incurring the risk and repression this entails, Vlasak has waged the war of liberation through confronting sealers on the ice, public speaking and debates throughout the world, and even testifying before the US Senate. Using his medical training and experience as a former vivisector to maximal advantage, Vlasak speaks against vivisection with authority, and when 'researchers' like David Jentsch and Dario Ringach of UCLA run from his challenges to debate, it is evident that they fear public exposure and have something scandalous to hide.


10) Most Dangerous Philosopher: Dr. Steven Best

Moscowdemo1

Dr. Best leading one of the first anti-vivisection rallies in Moscow, Russia.

Our Task, Dr. Steven Best

The revolutionary implications of animal liberation explain the intense resistance to it on all fronts.

Let's be clear: we are fighting for a revolution, not for reforms, for the end of slavery, not for humane slavemasters. Animal liberation advances the most radical idea to ever land on human ears: animals are not our food, clothing, resources, or objects of entertainment; they exist for their own purposes, not ours.

Every justice struggle up to now was has been relatively easy. Now it gets hard. Speciesism is primordial and universal; it is arguably the first of any form of domination or hierarchy and it has spread like a deadly virus throughout the entire planet and all of human history. The problem is not limited to Western culture or to the modern world, such that there is some significant utopian past or radical alternative to recover. The problem is the human species itself, which but for rare exceptions is violent, destructive, and imperialistic. Universally, humans have vested interests in exploiting animals and think they have a God-given right to do so. To change these attitudes is to change the very nerve center of human consciousness.

That is our task-no more and no less.

Dr. Steven Best has been described as 'one of the leading scholarly voices in animal rights.[4]. That much most people know, what they don't know is the breadth and depth of Best's work as a scholar, teacher, speaker, and activist. He is an author and editor of ten books, two of which won 'Philosophy Book of the Year: awards, and has published some 150 articles and reviews. Best works across an astonishing array of topics, and his books and articles have been translated in a dozen languages.

Best's publishing career spans three decades, and few are aware that his political activism has equally deep roots. Beginning in 1980, as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Best was a leading campus activist, leading groups working against US imperialism in Central American politics (which among other things provided sanctuary for illegal refugees from El Salvador and raised money to purchase medical supplies for Nicaraguan people) and South African apartheid, as he put his writing and theatrical background into community radio, performance art, and guerrilla theatre. A radical leftist, Best became a vegetarian in 1983 (eventually going vegan) and an animal rights activist in 1988, and thereby seeing leftism 'as a Stalinism toward animals.' In subsequent years Best formulated an increasingly militant, holistic, and comprehensive analysis of 'total revolution' that articulates human, animal, and Earth liberation struggles as an inseparable unity to be conceived of and fought for together.

In 1993, Best accepted a tenure-track position in the Philosophy Department at the University of Texas El Paso, and applied his radical political views his teaching.

Within his first week in town, Best accepted the role of Vice President of the Vegetarian Society of El Paso, he organized and led animal rights groups on campus and in the community, he spoke about vegan ethics and animal rights to community groups and schools at all levels, he worked with the Green Party and other environmental and wildlife groups, he became a mainstay on TV and radio news and interview shows, and he even launched his own radio show on the local NPR-affiliate station. Among other things, he was arrested numerous times for civil disobedience; he campaigned tirelessly for a new humane society and animal shelter, he implemented a trap, neuter, and release program for the growing population of feral cats on his campus; he freed Sissy the elephant from her tormenters at the El Paso Zoo to live her remaining decades at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, he raised awareness about sprawl and its impact on wildlife and the 'dirty dozen' worst local polluters, and with his philosophy of law class he successfully lobbied the City Council to pass a measure declaring the USA Patriot Act unconstitutional, was arrested numerous occasions for civil disobedience.

Best found that of all the radical issues he taught, by far the most controversial was ethical veganism and animal rights. From the start, he took fire from colleagues, department chairs, right-wing radio hosts, local politicians, police, and even the city Mayor.

Squeaking through the tenure review process on the strength of his teaching and publications, the situation grew considerably tenser after the publication of Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004). With a steady stream of such publications, with lectures and speaking tours throughout the world, and with co-founding the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, Best emerged as the only academic in the country principled and defiant enough to openly support and defend the ALF, knowing full well that his actions constituted professional suicide. In a rapid succession of events that began in summer 2005, Best was banned for life from the entire UK, pressured by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to testify before Senate eco-terrorism hearings (he refused),  charged by David Martosko of the Center for Consumer Freedom (on C-Span Live before a full Senate hearing) with being 'the leader' of the ALF who recruits his students into the underground, deposed from his position as department chair, and ostracized from the mainstream animal advocacy movement.

Throughout all of this, Best remained undaunted and unrepentant. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis. And we are proud that Dr. Best, drawing on a wealth of knowledge and experience, is our Senior Editor of Total Liberation.


11) Best Vegan Educator: Gary Yourofsky

Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow (ADAPTT) founded by Gary Yourofsky

Gary Yourofsky has spoken to thousands of students about the true meaning of animal rights. Gary's powerful and enlightening message has been heard by more than 50,000 students in 147 middle schools, high schools and universities nationwide, including UTEP, U. of Florida, Georgia Tech and Fresno State. Gary uses thought-provoking prose, inspiring stories, indisputable facts, quotes from Pythagoras, William Ralph Inge and other great thinkers, plus graphic footage from slaughterhouses (land and sea), to ask people to be kind to animals and, ultimately, go vegan.

Lecturing is a softer approach for Yourofsky, who has been arrested numerous times for random acts of kindness and compassion, and banished by five foreign countries from entering their borders. In 1997, Gary even liberated 1,542 minks scheduled for certain death from the Eberts Fur Farm in Blenheim, Ontario. Several attorneys, led by Donald Perkins, Esq., tried to pass a resolution in Michigan in honor of Yourofsky's actions. 'We recognize that throughout this nation's history, other individuals, acting from conscience have similarly violated certain laws and ordinances. In our own time, these same principles of nonviolent disobedience to unjust laws have been applied by such individuals as the Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom were'as was Michigan's Gary Yourofsky'sentenced to jail for their actions.'

Gary Yourofsky is one of the most outspoken, passionate, dedicated, and effective activists and educators in the vegan and animal rights movements. Indefatigable, unassailable, and unstoppable, the man is a machine programmed for ceaseless action. Making an incredible transformation from liberator to educator, Yourofsky is a one-man revolution. The most militant opponent to speaking to the choir, Yourofsky exclusively targets inveterate carnivores and hardened speciesists. He has spoken in agricultural colleges, before groups of hunters, and debated (and destroyed) Ted Nugent on radio. But his primary audience is high school, college, and university audiences and every year he criss-crosses the continent to address countless thousands of people who otherwise would never hear the life-changing, revolutionary message. Using footage he shot in slaughterhouses, scientific data, nutrition, humor, and passion without condescension, he promises his listeners that he will remove their 'blinders.' A daunting challenge few would issue, but every time he delivers; for when the hour is up, the illusions are gone, few cynics are standing, and dozens or hundreds of new vegans join to spread the message. Moralizing pacifists and bedroom bloggers need to take note. Yourofsky accomplishes what most of us could only dream about and we all could do far worse than to emulate his example. We are proud to say that Yourofsky is our Editor of Vegan Education and we can think of few who so embody and define effective vegan outreach.


12) Best All-Around Activist: Anthony Marr

Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE) founded by Anthony Marr

Anthony Marr holds a science degree from the UBC and has worked as a field geophysicist and an environmental technologist. In 1995, he became a full time wildlife preservationist, which has brought him to India three times, earning him the title of the 'Champion of the Bengal Tiger' in the Champions of the Wild TV series aired in 20 countries. As an anti-hunting activist, he has conducted high profile campaigns in Canada for the bears and seals, and been to Japan twice for the whales and dolphins. He is the founder of Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE) and the author of Omni-Science.

Whether protecting tiger reserves in India, risking his life in undercover investigations of the illegal trade in endangered species parts; challenging any and all forms of hunting; hosting a radio show; writing visionary books on science, philosophy, and cosmology; embarking on marathon coast-to-coast Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions covering dozens of US states (launching his seventh tour in March 2010), or mobilizing scientific research to awaken the complacent to the immanent dangers of irreversible ecological crisis, Anthony Marr is raising awareness, effectively campaigning, and blazing new trails. In 2009, with Jason Miller and others, Marr launched the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition, one that 'can bring the weight of the entire world to bear on the local governments bullying the grassroots Activists.'[5] For anyone skeptical of what one person can do alone or in strategic alliance with others, or what can be accomplished without the large bankrolls such as HSUS commands (and squanders), look no further. For Marr shows what great things can blossom from intelligence, independence, courage, and unqualified commitment to the rights of nature, free from the predatory violence of Homo sapiens. The story Marr tells, and the outcome for which he fights, is not a zero-sum tragedy that pits one element of nature against another, however, but achieves a harmonization of life forces. 'If we win,' Marr says, 'we will have elevated the quality of Humanity, and brought about a major quantum leap in human social evolution.'[6]


13) Most Tenacious Ecowarrior: Captain Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, founded by Paul Watson

'I have been honored to serve the whales, dolphins, seals-and all the other creatures on this Earth. Their beauty, intelligence, strength, and spirit have inspired me. These beings have spoken to me, touched me, and I have been rewarded by friendship with many members of different species.

If the whales survive and flourish, if the seals continue to live and give birth, and if I can contribute to ensuring their future prosperity, I will be forever happy.'

Terrorist to some, ecowarrior to others, Captain Paul Watson has been a looming presence over the animal rights and environmental movements for the last three decades, and his battle today is as strong as ever. Although he has tracked elephant poachers in East Africa, saved wolves in the Yukon, liberated monkeys from zoos in Grenada, defended bison in Montana, and campaigned for the rainforests in Brazil, Watson is best known for his dramatic efforts to halt the slaughter of whales, dolphins, seals, and fish of the sea. After being kicked out of Greenpeace (which he co-founded) in 1977 for the audacity to interfere with attacks on seals, Watson formed the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which he describes in his book Ocean Warriors as 'the most aggressive, no-nonsense, and determined conservation organization in the world.'

For his numerous attacks on and sinking of whaling ships, Watson has been branded as a vigilante, lawbreaker, and eco-terrorist, but in fact he is an upholder and enforcer of a 1986 international ban on whaling in countries like Russia and Japan which routinely flout the law and massacre whales. The drama of Watson's battles with whaling ships on the high seas became the focus of Whale Wars, the first season of which was the most watched program ever for Animal Planet, commanding over one million viewers for its season finale, giving the direct action and environmental issues the best press they've ever had.

Ask Watson if there is really a 'war' against animals, and brace yourself for an affirmative answer from someone who has battled killers of sea animals, been attacked by a mob of sealers, nearly drowned by whalers, and shot at (a direct hit to the heart successfully deflected by a bulletproof vest) by Japanese whalers. However feeble, our award recognizes Watson's 40-year service in the front lines of battle in the 'war against nature' and let his critics try their hand to do better in stopping brutal, high-tech killing in the freezing Arctic winds and choppy seas.


14) Every Soldier in the Trenches

.

There are millions of people across the world who give of themselves to comfort the abused and those named above are a few who represent the whole. All of us who volunteer in shelters, rescue the homeless, release mink from fur farms, or sabotage exploiters are the direct activists waging grassroots campaigns. If an animal has looked into your eyes with gratitude this week, then you are the exact person we acknowledge and thank. We are engaged in a war and, irrespective of philosophies, it will not be won by one camp or another. But, while most are never recognized for their service, some activists are labeled 'terrorists,' 'violent,' and 'criminals'-not only by the industrial state-complex, but by our peers who have adopted the oppressors' mentality. The only crime the activists noted share is that they are effective-and they each prove that one person can make a difference.


[1] Wapedia, Wiki: Earth Liberation Front (http://wapedia.mobi/en/Earth_Liberation_Front).

[2] 'Diary of Actions,' Bite Back (http://www.directaction.info/news.htm).

[3] Steven Best, 'Who's Afraid of Jerry Vlasak,' Thomas Paine's Corner, May 3, 2009 (http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/who%e2%80%99s-afraid-of-jerry-vlasak/).

[4] Smallwood, Scott., 'Speaking for the Animals, or the Terrorists,' The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2005 http://chronicle.com/article/Speaking-for-the-Animals-or/30599 .

[5] 'Mission Statement,' Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (http://gahc.wordpress.com/mission-statement/ ).

[6] Steven Best, 'Paul Watson and the Sea Shephard Conservation Society http://www.drstevebest.org/Essays/PaulWatson.htm

[7] Ibid.

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