Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vivisectionists' disease

According to Google, there were 167 news articles online today (August 26, 2008) about Yerke's researchers' report on evidence of empathy in adult female capuchins. [Frans B. M. de Waal; Kristin Leimgruber; Amanda R. Greenberg. Giving is self-rewarding for monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2008.]

I've listed the most common headlines below.

This study provides good evidence of animals having minds similar to our own. It is equally strong evidence of widespread mental illness in the vivisection community.

Our mental and emotional similarities make it abundantly and undeniably clear that we suffer similarly. The largest portion of this evidence comes from experiments using non-human primates, like this one.

And yet, in the face of this evidence, vivisectors subject monkeys to procedures that would never be allowed, even on consenting adults, and if attempted, would land the assailants in prison.

When I say they are mentally ill, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they aren’t mentally ill, then their continuing use of animals must be explained in some other way. Maybe their bigotry is just so extreme and profound that they must always and absolutely deny the moral implications in the ever-building evidence. Is bigotry a mental illness?

Or, maybe job security is so important to them that any threat to their livelihood is a rallying cry.

Or, maybe some of them have come to the conclusion that what they do is immoral but feel that they have to defend themselves lest their families, friends, and neighbors start to disfavor them.

Whatever the cause, the vivisection community’s response to the evidence that animals have minds like ours is extreme and contrary to what the response likely would be from the majority of people.

I think the vivisectors know this, and that their fear of the public’s likely response is one of the main reasons that they are so secretive. Paranoia, cruelty to animals, bigotry, denial, delusion, and the absence of empathy seem to be the common symptoms of their illness.

Monkeys find giving rewarding
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom

Test of charity shows monkeys are capable of empathy
guardian.co.uk, UK

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others
Science Daily (press release)

Monkeys experience joy of giving, too, study finds

Monkeys reward friends and relatives
The Associated Press

Study Finds Generous Monkeys
RedOrbit, TX

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Post this poster

Print, copy, cut, and post this poster.

UW IACUC Unaffiliated Members

I was recently part of a small group that had the opportunity to meet with the UW Graduate School’s unaffiliated IACUC member of approximately five years, The Rev. Maurine Lewis, Rector of St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church.

For those who don’t know, the Animal Welfare Act stipulates that every research institution using species covered by the Act must have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee responsible for assuring that the institution’s animal use complies with the Act. The Act stipulates that the committee must have, at a minimum, three members: a veterinarian familiar with the use of animals in research, a representative from the institution, and an unaffiliated member to represent the community’s interests.

It was an enlightening meeting. We asked whether she was familiar with Stuart G. Mondschein, JD, another of the university’s IACUCs’ unaffiliated members. She hadn’t heard of him. (The University of Wisconsin, Madison has six such committees, one each for the various schools using animals: the vet school, the grad school – which oversees the primate center, the ag school, etc., and the All Campus Committee.)

Nor had anyone given her a copy of his article from the June 2007 issue of Lab Animal.

From what Reverend Lewis said, and from what Mr. Mondshein has written, the unaffiliated members at the University of Wisconsin are isolated from each other. The university does nothing to facilitate dialog between them, or even introduce them to each other. Maybe there isn’t anything sinister in this, but there is clear and blatant incompetence if the goal is informed decision-making.

Mondshein lamented that the unaffiliated member is left to figure it all out on his or her own. And yet, let any criticism arise in the press regarding animal use and the university spokespersons are quick to point out that the community’s interests are represented on the oversight committees by an unaffiliated member of the public; unaffiliated, uninformed and isolated, apparently.

We learned in our meeting with Reverend Lewis that although she has seen the animal housing rooms at the primate center, she has never seen a monkey with a cranial implant, or one who appeared to be ill, or any stereotypic behavior. She is under the impression that after the monkeys are no longer wanted for research that they are retired and are allowed to live out their lives with other aging monkeys. She hasn’t been inside a primate lab in a number of years she said; now she sees only mouse labs. And, she is uncertain that she even sees all the protocols approved by the committee.

She characterized herself as the “stupid one” on the committee and said that so long as Dr. Sandgren and the primate veterinarian, “Buddy” Capuano approve of the research, who is she to challenge their opinion?

The community’s interests are not being served by keeping these people isolated from each other, providing little training for them, or by keeping them out of the more controversial labs. The negligence with which these people are treated says much about the university's and the industry's interest in substantive discussion and decision-making regarding the use of animals.

The unaffiliated members appear to be dupes more than informed active participants who represent the public's interests.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Conversation with Eric Sandgren

In my post featuring the image of the marmoset in the long-term restraint device developed by vivisectors at the University of Wisconsin, I brought up Ei Terasawa’s push-pull perfusion studies and mentioned some of Eric Sandgren’s statements about the matter. Eric left the following comment:

Eric Sandgren said...
You should know, Rick, that a paper published in 2007 uses data collected sometimes years earlier. As I correctly stated, push-pull perfusion experiments are not being used now. Second, your blog demonstrates that we do discuss this sort of procedure in public--you have provided the citations, to which you had free access. Thank you for proving that point. Third, regarding oversight, you say its broken, I say its not broken. We both use evidence to back up our convictions. Where does that leave us? In the real world, where things are not packaged up so neatly, as you would have us believe. Forth, I'm responding to correct an error of fact in your blog (that I had made a misstatement). I'm not interested and won't take part in a typically pointless back-and-forth blogging match. Maybe you could invite me to one of your meetings and we can have another of our face-to-face conversations. Finally, why do activists have such a problem spelling my name consistently? August 19, 2008 9:37 AM
Rick said...
As you know Eric, and as you stipulated in correspondence with Terasawa, she was to stop using the term “push-pull perfusion” and begin using “micro-dialysis.” In any case, she has now, apparently, actually switched over, in spite of her essay explaining that micro-dialysis is a scientifically inferior method. The difference between the two procedures is the design of the tip of the tube. The restraint, surgical preparation, cannulization, and brain structure being probed are the same. It’s unlikely that the monkeys undergoing the ordeal could differentiate between the two.

You write: “Third, regarding oversight, you say its broken, I say its not broken. We both use evidence to back up our convictions.” You have no evidence. There isn’t evidence on your side of this particular point. Evidence looks like the USDA IG’s report and Plous and Herzog. If I’m wrong, please do cite a reference or two.

You must not understand just how unusual an illustration like this is in today’s journals. The university doesn’t discuss the details of its animal research in public. You know that as well as I do.

Thanks for pointing out the typo.

For the record, you stopped coming to our meetings on your own. You’ve never been turned away. August 19, 2008 12:20 PM
And then, for a reason I can’t fathom since there seems to be nothing confidential in it, Eric sent me the following email:
from Eric P. Sandgren
to Rick Bogle
date Aug 20, 2008 9:51 AM
subject Rick, Rick, Rick
mailed-by rarc.wisc.edu

There you go again. Want some evidence for oversight working? Its posted on your own web site in the two pieces about Ei Teresawa. Your whole discussion about Dr. Teresawa always starts by describing the "identification" of problems by the USDA. Well, according to documents posted on your site, Teresawa's protocol already had been suspended before the USDA visit. We had reported that suspension to OLAW and to USDA. You actually have the gall to suggest that the USDA VMO put the wrong date on the report? The IACUC worked in its job of oversight. As you prove. Thanks.

Regarding push-pull versus perfusion, you state that the animals likely don't know the difference. Do you realize that you've just said there is no difference between 12 hours of restraint and over 3 days of restraint? Wow. See how your fellow activists feel about that statement. To me, that's a very significant difference.

Regarding your meetings, I attach below an email from you to me on 10-16-07 when I asked to meet with your group after the second debate. I'll also forward it to you:

"Thanks for the update.

Rick Bogle wrote:
> Hi Eric,
> After some discussion, we've decide that we'll have to get back to you at a
> latter date. We will discuss a possible meeting with you at our next
> meeting.
> Rick Bogle

You never did get back to me.

Rick, you should write novels because you are so good at Historical Fiction. Do you see why a number of people might find it hard to take you seriously when your work is so sloppy? Come on. You can do better than this. Don't trivialize your own cause.

I guess I don't expect to read any acknowledgment of these points anywhere, but I can hope.
Eric, I can't see any reason not to have this discussion in public.

I’ll address each of your points.
There you go again. Want some evidence for oversight working? Its posted on your own web site in the two pieces about Ei Teresawa. Your whole discussion about Dr. Teresawa always starts by describing the "identification" of problems by the USDA.
Well, according to documents posted on your site, Teresawa's protocol already had been suspended before the USDA visit. We had reported that suspension to OLAW and to USDA. You actually have the gall to suggest that the USDA VMO put the wrong date on the report? The IACUC worked in its job of oversight. As you prove. Thanks.
You contend that the problem was discovered by the university rather than APHIS.

You should review the minutes of the May 12, 2003 Graduate School IACUC.

This document makes it clear that the problem was discovered by APHIS and that that is what brought the matter to the committee’s attention.

Further, Terasawa (you should learn to spell her name correctly) had been using this method – the method you said was too risky – for seventeen years. The university’s oversight, in spite of the involvement of what must have been many people over this long period, had failed to notice the problem for nearly two decades. This is what you cite as evidence that the oversight system works.

On this point we will just have to disagree about what the evidence demonstrates.
Regarding push-pull versus perfusion, you state that the animals likely don't know the difference. Do you realize that you've just said there is no difference between 12 hours of restraint and over 3 days of restraint? Wow. See how your fellow activists feel about that statement. To me, that's a very significant difference.
Just to clarify: Push-pull is perfusion. The procedures you are trying to contrast are push-pull perfusions and micro-dialyses. In any case, any judgment regarding the monkeys’ experiences should be based on a full accounting of what is done to them. In both the push-pull perfusion and the micro-dialysis, the build up to the actual procedure appears to be identical and spanned many weeks and in some cases, months. I do agree though, that 12 hours of constraint is better than 3 days, much like losing a finger is better than losing a hand; neither of which is a good thing.

We will just have to disagree as to whether this is a significant difference. To anyone observing the procedures and the events leading up to them, it would be very difficult, maybe impossible, to distinguish one from the other.
Rick Bogle wrote:
> Hi Eric,
> After some discussion, we've decide that we'll have to get back to you at a
> latter date. We will discuss a possible meeting with you at our next
> meeting.
> Rick Bogle

You never did get back to me.

Rick, you should write novels because you are so good at Historical Fiction. Do you see why a number of people might find it hard to take you seriously when your work is so sloppy? Come on. You can do better than this. Don't trivialize your own cause.
Sorry. You are though, being selective here. Don’t forget that you asked me to get together with you to discuss this blog and to just “jaw.” I agreed, and you left it hanging. You even apologized for this recently when we spoke to each other before we taped “For the Record.”

Again, I apologize for not getting back to you on your wish to meet with the entire group. I spoke with them about this again, and you are welcome to attend a meeting. We meet on Thursday evenings but will switch to Wednesdays beginning in September. Email me and I will send you the time and location and put you on the agenda.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mea culpa

A couple of Sudays ago I had a letter published in the Sunday Dallas Morning News:

Apes' rights reinforce human rights

Re: "When human rights extend to nonhumans – Granting apes rights will only devalue human life, says Wesley J. Smith," last Sunday Points.

Mr. Smith's criticism of acknowledging apes' basic rights is easy to understand. His organizations, the Discovery Institute and its daughter organization, the Center for Bioethics and Culture, exist primarily to fight against teaching evolution in the schools and to push their anti-science agenda.

These organizations are spin-offs of the Ayn Rand cult's vision of a social hierarchy that turns the American ideal of equality on its head.

Scientific evidence makes it clear that apes' and humans' emotional and cognitive responses to our world are of a like kind. Establishing their basic rights under the law reinforces human rights because it acknowledges that our similarities to each other are more important than our differences.

Rick Bogle, Madison, Wis.
A few days later I was taken to task by the Center for Bioethics and Culture's founder:
CBC misrepresented in letter

Re: “Apes’ rights reinforce human rights,” by Rick Bogle, Sunday Letters.

The Center for Bioethics and Culture is not a “daughter organization” of the Discovery Institute. Perhaps I would have been less irritated if Mr. Bogle associated the Discovery Institute as a “daughter organization” of the CBC? But, in either case, his association would have been grossly inaccurate.

Also, the CBC has never been involved in the evolution debate or had any position on the teaching of evolution. Nor was Wesley Smith’s article about evolution. In an era of Google transparency, it is utter tripe that Mr. Bogle didn’t do his homework. For that matter, did he think that this glaring misrepresentation of the CBC would go unnoticed?

Regarding his beliefs that the CBC pushes an anti-science agenda: more nonsense. More than half of our directors are doctors, nurses, scientists or public health professionals. Hardly an organization to brand as anti-science since our livelihood depends on the science professions.

Jennifer Lahl, founder and national director, The Center for Bioethics and Culture, San Ramon, Calif.
Ms Lahl is correct; I was mistaken. I confused the Center for Bioethics and Culture with The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

It's hard to keep it all straight. Ms. Lahl's organization notes that Wesley J. Smith is a special consultant. And here, they mention only Smith:
Our Directors include physicians, nurses, public health experts, marketing and finance businessmen, 5 staffers including consultant—Wesley J. Smith, J.D. all share a commitment to a truly human future. The CBC team has had an impact in major news publications, national radio, network TV, national and international speeches, and boasts a portfolio of leading national experts on hand to promptly address key bioethic issues. We are regularly asked for feedback and background by media, individuals and major organizations as well as bodies outside of the U.S. as well as provide speakers for national events.
And you can't read many of these articles or these and not pick up on the common themes.

But, in spite of Smith's clear involvement in Center for Bioethics and Culture and his stardom at the Discovery Institute, I was wrong in my characterization of her organization being a Discovery Institute, anti-science, creationist, Ayn Rand cult spin-off.

It's just a bed fellow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Novel Restraint System

Click on the image for a larger view.

Novel restraint system for neuroendocrine studies of socially living common marmoset monkeys Lab Anim. 2004. [Note: if this link fails (is ever disabled) please let me know.]

N. J. Schultz-Darken1, R. M. Pape1, P. L. Tannenbaum2, W. Saltzman3 & D. H. Abbott1,4
1 National Primate Research Center and 4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53715, 2 Johnson & Johnson, Pharmaceutical Research and Development, 1000 Rt. 202, Raritan, NJ 08869 and 3 Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

Summary [emphasis mine]
We describe a novel soft jacket and sling-harness restraint that permits species-typical postures for small-bodied primates, such as the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus),during long-term (>6 h), continuous restraint. The restraint system is straightforward to use and manipulate, it is easily repaired, and the materials used are readily available. The soft jacket allows for increased versatility and longevity, and the sling-harness provides for greater movement and much longer duration of continuous restraint (up to 3 days) compared to a previously described, more conventional chair restraint for small-bodied primates. The new restraint system prevents the normal diurnal decrease in plasma cortisol levels across the daylight hours; however, it does not disrupt ovulatory cycles. Unlike the previously available techniques, therefore, this new restraint system is applicable to many neurobiological and neuroendocrine studies involving small-bodied, non-human primates and is especially suited to investigations requiring the maintenance of relationships within social groups.

.... This system permitted such complex techniques as hypothalamic push–pull perfusion with simultaneous sampling from an intravenous cannula. Our findings demonstrated that marmosets quickly adapted to 3 days of continuous restraint in this novel system,
This is an example of the reality of the primate labs.

Earlier this year, veterinarian Eric Sandgren, Director of UW-Madison's Research Animal Resource Center, and chair of two campus animal research oversight committees asserted that push-pull perfusions were no longer being conducted on monkeys at the UW. This came in response to a query regarding one of the committees' minutes concering ongoing highly invasive brain experiments being conducted by Ei Terasawa on conscious rhesus monkeys. Terasawa's animal use was previously suspended for two years following the embarrassing discovery by the USDA of monkeys dying during the procedures and indecipherable (even to Terasawa) research notes. The experiments had been going on for seventeen years at the time of the government's discovery. This is yet another clear example that the oversight system at the UW (and at the other animal labs around the country) is completely broken.

Dr. Sandgren replied that no push-pull experiments on primates were occurring on campus, and that this wasn't just a semantics game, he promised -- nothing like them was occurring on campus, he said.

But the study below suggests otherwise. These monkeys were probably restrained in the device described above.

J Neuroendocrinol. 2007 May;19 (5):342-53 17425609 (P,S,E,B,D) Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release in marmosets I: in vivo measurement in ovary-intact and ovariectomised females.

P L Tannenbaum, N J Schultz-Darken, W Saltzman, E Terasawa, M J Woller, D H Abbott
Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and Endocrinology-Reproductive Physiology Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

In vivo hypothalamic gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release was characterised for the first time in a New World primate. A nonterminal and repeatable push-pull perfusion (PPP) technique reliably measured GnRH in conscious common marmoset monkeys. Nineteen adult females (n = 8 ovary-intact in the mid-follicular phase; n = 11 ovariectomised) were fitted with long-term cranial pedestals, and a push-pull cannula was temporarily placed in unique locations within the pituitary stalk-median eminence (S-ME) 2 days prior to each PPP session. Marmosets underwent 1-3 PPPs (32 PPPs in total) lasting up to 12 h. Plasma cortisol levels were not elevated in these habituated marmosets during PPP, and PPP did not disrupt ovulatory cyclicity or subsequent fertility in ovary-intact females. GnRH displayed an organised pattern of release, with pulses occurring every 50.0 +/- 2.6 min and lasting 25.4 +/- 1.3 min. GnRH pulse frequency was consistent within individual marmosets across multiple PPPs. GnRH mean concentration, baseline concentration and pulse amplitude varied predictably with anatomical location of the cannula tip within the S-ME. GnRH release increased characteristically in response to a norepinephrine infusion and decreased abruptly during the evening transition to lights off. Ovary-intact (mid-follicular phase) and ovariectomised marmosets did not differ significantly on any parameter of GnRH release. Overall, these results indicate that PPP can be used to reliably assess in vivo GnRH release in marmosets and will be a useful tool for future studies of reproductive neuroendocrinology in this small primate.

How macabre and stressful it must be to be a member of one of the marmoset groups that include monkey(s?) beng restrained as in the image above. This is a good example of the reasons that people continue to fight to outlaw vivisection. This is a good example of just the sort of procedure that the universities won't discuss in public. It's experiments like these that fuel the fire in people's bellies.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Holocaust Denialism

I’ve always been somewhat confused by the odd position that the Holocaust did not occur or was much less serious than is generally held – people died, but it wasn’t really as bad as the Jews want you to believe.

We will never know the name of each and every victim, but photographic evidence and first-hand stories make it clear that something extensive and quite barbaric occurred. And yet, apparently otherwise rational people deny it.

Maybe their blindness is psychosomatic; maybe it grows out of prejudice.

Many more people deny the animal holocaust. They just can’t see the suffering apparently, suffering on a magnitude that dwarfs the combined evils we have perpetrated on ourselves.
Certain skills are considered key signs of higher mental abilities: good memory, a grasp of grammar and symbols, self-awareness, understanding others' motives, imitating others, and being creative. Bit by bit, in ingenious experiments, researchers have documented these talents in other species, gradually chipping away at what we thought made human beings distinctive while offering a glimpse of where our own abilities came from. Minds of their Own. National Geographic. 2008.
Signs of higher mental ability in animals are cause for great alarm.

We hurt and kill billions of animals every year. Literally. Billions. To a growing number of people, particularly to those who understand that the fundamental idea behind human rights is that our similarities matter immeasurably more that our differences, it is these signs of higher mental ability, our similarities, which make the animals’ plight so immediately important.
[Irene] Pepperberg carried Alex [(1976 - 2007), an African grey parrot] on her arm to a tall wooden perch in the middle of the room. She then retrieved a green key and a small green cup from a basket on a shelf. She held up the two items to Alex's eye.

“What's same?” she asked.

Without hesitation, Alex's beak opened: “Co-lor.”

“What's different?” Pepperberg asked.

“Shape,” Alex said. His voice had the digitized sound of a cartoon character. Since parrots lack lips (another reason it was difficult for Alex to pronounce some sounds, such as ba), the words seemed to come from the air around him, as if a ventriloquist were speaking. But the words—and what can only be called the thoughts—were entirely his.”Minds of their Own. National Geographic. 2008.
How can anyone deny the animal holocaust? Denial probably grows from three sources: mental deficit, ignorance, or bigotry. Maybe people really don’t notice that their dog is a someone. Maybe people really can’t imagine the pig behind the chop. Maybe people like feeling superior.
Like the rest of our physiology, intelligence must have evolved from simpler organisms, since all animals face the same general challenges of life. They need to find mates, food, and a path through the woods, sea, or sky—tasks that Darwin argued require problem-solving and categorizing abilities. Indeed, Darwin went so far as to suggest that earthworms are cognitive beings because, based on his close observations, they have to make judgments about the kinds of leafy matter they use to block their tunnels. He hadn't expected to find thinking invertebrates and remarked that the hint of earthworm intelligence “has surprised me more than anything else in regard to worms.”

To Darwin, the earthworm discovery demonstrated that degrees of intelligence could be found throughout the animal kingdom....

... A whole range of animal studies now suggest that the roots of cognition are deep, widespread, and highly malleable. Minds of their Own. National Geographic. 2008.
The animal holocaust must be main-stream science’s greatest failure and is likely to remain so unless we scorch the globe in a nuclear conflagration. Discoveries about the similarity between humans and other species have demolished all prior claims about animals being unfeeling brutes with little if any sense of self. These claims were used repeatedly as defenses against critics’ concerns. And yet, science has said little to alert the public to the ethical implications of these discoveries, and worse, justification for vivisection is often now based on precisely these similarities – an animal model of depression, for example, is valuable they claim, because our suffering is of a like kind.
People were surprised to discover that chimpanzees make tools," said Alex Kacelnik, a behavioral ecologist at Oxford University, referring to the straws and sticks chimpanzees shape to pull termites from their nests. "But people also thought, 'Well, they share our ancestry—of course they're smart.' Now we're finding these kinds of exceptional behaviors in some species of birds. But we don't have a recently shared ancestry with birds. Their evolutionary history is very different; our last common ancestor with all birds was a reptile that lived over 300 million years ago.

"This is not trivial," Kacelnik continued. "It means that evolution can invent similar forms of advanced intelligence more than once—that it's not something reserved only for primates or mammals."Minds of their Own. National Geographic. 2008.
How much like us do we need to discover animals to be before we are able to see the horrors that are occurring so vividly around us all the time?

And what are the implications for those who see the animal holocaust as it is? What is the proper response?

Should the response change over time?

At least 2500 years ago, people were arguing that the obvious similarities between us and other animals meant that eating them was immoral. Legislation providing some protection for animals has been passing in various countries since the late 1700s.

And yet, little substantive effect can be seen. What should someone do in the face of the animal holocaust in light of the long history of the failure to stop it?

One way to answer this question is to ask yourself what you think you might have done if you were living in Germany during the Holocaust or in the South prior to the civil war.

History tells us that most people who lived through such periods did nothing to help the victims. People simply didn’t see any victims; they saw only Jews and niggers. They denied that anything wrong was occurring.

There has been quite a bit of coverage lately surrounding the two incendiary devices ignited in California, allegedly by animal rights activists targeting vivisectors at UC-Santa Cruz. This seems like a government COINTELPRO sort of thing to me, but for the sake of this essay, I’ll assume that they were genuine.

I don’t see how anyone who sees the animal holocaust for what it is could reasonably argue that the bombs, as the media has called them, were unjustified, over the line, uncalled for, or disproportionate.

Critics come in at least two flavors; there are those who are appalled because they deny that anything wrong is being done in the first place. They don’t see victims; they see only animals. To this group, no similarity between another animal and a human can ever make their suffering as significant as ours, or even measurably significant when compared with ours.

Another group declares that they too see the holocaust, but that the appropriate response is to work peacefully for change, to decry any and all violence, to turn the other cheek. They argue that violence will turn public opinion against the animal rights movement, will stall progress, or that the harm to animals will be greater somehow.

Neither group makes a compelling argument. The animal holocaust is real, and neither 2500 years of brilliant discourse on the subject nor 200 years of incremental legislative progress have had much effect.

More of the same seems like telling the victim to keep turning the other cheek. It defies common sense to believe that more of the same is the answer.

The likelihood of increasing violence seems high to me. As I’ve written before, this is a social problem of growing intensity that we all have a responsibility to address. If we can’t invent ways to deal with this problem, the future is dark indeed. Looking out over the landscape of enterprises associated with the issue, it seems to me that academia, particularly public universities, have a strong responsibility in this regard. They have the power and resources to provide a public venue for sustained and in-depth discussion of this matter.

Maybe my belief in the power of education is naïve, but given the chance, with the facts before them, I believe that enough people would choose a drastic alteration in public policy regarding our relationship with other animals. And whether they would or not, open public discussion could vent much pent-up frustration.

My belief in this likelihood is the driving force behind our efforts to establish the National Primate Research Exhibition Hall adjacent to the University of Wisconsin’s primate vivisection labs. I believe that talking and a willingness to change can solve just about any problem. But talk is such a dangerous idea to those who are vested in the system that the university has been fighting to quash this potentially national venue for three years. Their legal costs to-date must be around half a million dollars.

And this isn’t an anomaly.

When I first got involved, more than a decade ago, I asked the Oregon Primate Center to convene a public forum and to invite the public to a discussion about their use of monkeys. They refused. So did every other university that I approached. It turned out that I was far from being the first to call for public discussion. Animal enterprises’ response to criticism has uniformly been a hunkering down.

Hunkering down and passing stricter laws to curtail criticism do not seem to me to be creative ways to deal with this escalating problem. I don’t see how anyone could pin much hope on them. Complicating the problem, no one is likely to stop hurting animals without being forced to do so. This makes it unlikely that those doing the hurting and killing will give serious consideration to actual discussion about what they do.

I fear that increasing violence is inevitable given the history of industry’s obfuscation, denial, and economic interest in harming animals. There is slim chance that any genuine discussion is likely or will be allowed to take place.

Responsibility for every violent act past and future intended to stem the animal holocaust is borne by everyone: the vivisectors and the butchers; activists; denialists; media; government; everyone.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The August 2, 2008, Santa Cruz Firebombings

Firebombs target UC-Santa Cruz scientists who use animals in research

.... Assemblyman Gene Mullin, D-San Mateo, who has been championing legislation to increase civil and criminal penalties in cases where academic researchers are attacked because of their work, said Saturday that he was saddened and surprised by dual firebombings.

But, he added, violence against researchers has been on the rise; while condemning the acts, he predicted Saturday's firebombings probably would prompt legislators to move on the bill.
There is something smelly about all of this.

Researcher targeted in flyer speaks out

.... Pradip K. Mascharak, a 25-year UCSC researcher, said the crudely made flyers discovered Wednesday at a downtown coffee shop are misleading. As a chemist, he said he can't use animals in his research, which most recently has included creating a nitric oxide compound to treat skin cancer.

"They should have better things to do," Mascharak said Friday. “Are they stupid enough not to see that I am a chemist, not a biologist?"
No, I don’t think “they” are that stupid.

These events suggest to me that something other than animal rights activism is at work here.

First, information about who is doing what to animals is readily available on the Internet. It strains credibility to imagine that any animal rights activists wanting to target vivisectors are not familiar with the publicly funded and freely accessible online databases.

Second, the “crudely made flyers” are reminiscent of the “Islamic terrorists’” notes that accompanied the anthrax-ladened letters that we now know were sent by US Army employed vivisector, Bruce E. Ivins:
More on Ivins here, here, and here.

Third, government has a long, rich, sordid history of just this sort of provocateurism.
July 31, 2008 Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are a case in point.

If you know much about the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, or nearly any other progressive movement that has challenged big business or government, you will be able to add many examples of government’s and industry’s various underhanded often deadly manipulations of public opinion to the list.

The firebombings in Santa Cruz don’t seem like the work of animal rights activists; they seem more like the work of those who want to vilify them and who want to defend the very lucrative vivisection industry and by extension, all industries that exploit animals.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Anthrax scientist stood to benefit from a panic

Fear-mongering and manufacturing danger to cash in on worthless hideous cruelty:

Anthrax scientist Bruce Ivins stood to benefit from a panic

The suspect in deadly mailings, who killed himself this week as the FBI closed in, could have collected patent royalties on an anthrax vaccine.
By David Willman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 2, 2008

Bruce E. Ivins, the government biodefense scientist linked to the deadly anthrax mailings of 2001, stood to gain financially from massive federal spending in the fear-filled aftermath of those killings, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Ivins is listed as a co-inventor on two patents for a genetically engineered anthrax vaccine, federal records show. Separately, Ivins also is listed as a co-inventor on an application to patent an additive for various biodefense vaccines....

As a co-inventor of a new anthrax vaccine, Ivins was among those in line to collect patent royalties if the product had come to market, according to an executive familiar with the matter.

The product had languished on laboratory shelves until the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax mailings, after which federal officials raced to stockpile vaccines and antidotes against potential biological terrorism....

The Bruce E. Ivins case


This Act may be cited as the ‘Animal Researcher Terrorism Act'.

(a) In General- Section [to be determined] of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. [to be determined]. Force, violence, and threats perpetrated by animal researchers
(a) Offense- Whoever uses products or knowledge personally gained in the course of animal research--
(1) for the purpose of harming another individual; and
(2) in connection with such purpose--
(A) intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of the death, or serious bodily injury to any person by a course of conduct involving likely or intended harm; or
(B) conspires or attempts to do so;
shall be punished as provided for in subsection (b).
(b) Penalties- The punishment for a violation of section (a) or an attempt or conspiracy to violate subsection (a) shall be a fine under this title or imprisonment not more than 10 years, or both, if the offense does not cause serious bodily injury or death and--
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both, if the offense results in serious bodily injury to another individual;
(2) imprisonment for life or for any terms of years, a fine under this title, or both, if the offense results in death of another individual.
(c) Definitions- As used in this section--
(1) the term ‘animal researcher' means an individual employed by a commercial or academic enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal products for education, research, or testing;
(2) the term ‘animal research’ means any and every commercial or academic use of an animal or animal product for education, research, or testing;
(3) the term `serious bodily injury' means--
(A) injury posing a substantial risk of death;
(B) extreme physical pain;
(C) protracted and obvious disfigurement;
(D) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty;
(E) deep cuts and serious burns or abrasions;
(F) short-term or nonobvious disfigurement;
(G) fractured or dislocated bones, or torn members of the body;
(H) significant physical pain;
(I) illness;
(J) short-term loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or
(K) any other significant injury to the body.
(d) Rules of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed--
(1) to prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution;
(2) to create new remedies for interference with activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution, regardless of the point of view expressed, or to limit any existing legal remedies for such interference; or
(3) to provide exclusive criminal penalties or civil remedies with respect to the conduct prohibited by this action, or to preempt State or local laws that may provide such penalties or remedies.'.

(b) Clerical Amendment- The item relating to section [to be determined] in the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 3 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
`43. Force, violence, and threats perpetrated by any animal researcher.'.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Honest to God Terrorism

Vivisectors like to claim that a water hose slipped through someone's window or a message chalked on their sidewalk is terrorism.

Real, genuine, kill-people terrorism was practiced by vivisector Bruce E. Ivins. He has been in the news recently. He killed himself, apparently, after learning of an immanent federal indictment naming him as the source of the 2001 anthrax letters that killed five people and made seventeen others ill. Ivins worked at US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

A few of his forty or so published scientific papers:

1988 Recent advances in the development of an improved, human anthrax vaccine.
1989 Influence of body weight on response of Fischer 344 rats to anthrax lethal toxin.
1994 Efficacy of a standard human anthrax vaccine against Bacillus anthracis spore challenge in guinea-pigs.
1998 Comparative efficacy of experimental anthrax vaccine candidates against inhalation anthrax in rhesus macaques.
2001 Efficacy of a human anthrax vaccine in guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus macaques against challenge by Bacillus anthracis isolates of diverse geographical origin.
2002 Anthrax vaccine efficacy in golden Syrian hamsters.
2004 Defining a serological correlate of protection in rabbits for a recombinant anthrax vaccine.
2006 Duration of protection of rabbits after vaccination with Bacillus anthracis recombinant protective antigen vaccine.
2007 Determination of antibiotic efficacy against Bacillus anthracis in a mouse aerosol challenge model.
2008 Efficacy of Oritavancin in a Murine Model of Bacillus anthracis Spore Inhalation Anthrax.

If an animal rights activist had stolen anthrax spores and then sent them in the mail to a few vivisectors, laws even more draconian than the AETA would have snapped into place instantly. Harassment of activists by law enforcement and other government officials would have escalated wildly.

A vivisector sends anthrax spores through the mail to media and government officials and all you hear is the wind.