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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Michelle Basso Case

If by some miracle society doesn't implode as a result of climate change, ecological collapse, and/or nuclear war, humans might at some point in the future acknowledge that other animals are as deserving of basic rights as we are. Perhaps historians and philosophers in the future will look back on the history of our terrible treatment of other animals in an effort to understand why we behaved so badly.

It makes sense that they might since they already consult history to try and understand why we have and still often do treat other humans very badly. Studying the history of our predjudice and its effects seems to help us embrace the inclusion and protection of those we have hurt and maligned.

Though still a work in progress, we are beginning to acknowledge our sins and aggressions against those of other races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, and disabilities; we are trying to overcome our predjudices. Some of us are ahead of the curve; we recognize that humans aren't the only animals whose lives can be miserable as a result of our predjudice toward them.

The Michelle Basso Case might be of value to those with an interest in understanding the prevailing predjudice.

The Michelle Basso Case shows clearly that one can rise to a position of authority responsible for the care and treatment of thousands of monkeys (in this case, the 1000s of monkeys at the Washington National Primate Research Center in Seattle and a smaller number at the university's breeding colony near Mesa, Arizona) even after veterinary staff (at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center) documented exceptionally poor treatment of the monkeys in her lab.

Those reports were probably Basso's motivation for leaving Wisconsin. Currently, a vivisector's poor treatment of animals is clearly not an impediment to rising to a position of power in those ranks.

Basso's duplicity is clear when her problems in Wisconsin are considered against the claims she makes in her interview. The link is to Chapter 16 of my book, "We All Operate in the Same Way."

Interview with the Director: The importance of the Washington National Primate Research Center

June 27, 2022
Chris Petkov and Renee Hartig


Monday, June 20, 2022

Are You Doing the Devil’s Work?

What if Satan is real?

Maybe it tricks us into doing bad things to others because it is nourished by fear, pain, and grief. If this were so, it would do all in its power to get us to hurt each other.

Maybe this is why we raise so many animals in such terrible conditions and wage war on each other. Maybe Satan is nourished by this suffering. Maybe the animals squirming and crying out when being experimented on, going insane in their tiny cages, dogs spending their lives on a chain, cows standing in knee-deep filth in a feed lot, or soldiers dying slowly in a ditch somewhere are the sort of things that sustain Satan.

It would explain a lot.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Academic Freedom and Democracy

UC Davis has prevailed in a civil lawsuit brought by activists under the California Public Records Act. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, had filed the suit in January 2019, seeking access to unpublished research data, in the form of video recordings, from work by two researchers at the California National Primate Research Center. The Superior Court of California, County of Yolo, ruled that releasing the material did not serve the public interest and would undermine academic freedom and the scientific process while increasing the risk that researchers could face physical harm and harassment from activists.
The court's ruling was seemingly celebrated by the University of California's National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement which tweeted the news and pointed to the university's press release. The most interesting passsage to me and the one that raises questions about the Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement's implicit bias was this:
the court ruled that the public was better served by not disclosing the videos because there was minimal value to the public in seeing the videos, and to the contrary, great risk that the videos could cause the public to misunderstand the purpose and methodology of the research at the California National Primate Research Center.
This begs the question of whether or not ignorance is an impediment to civic engagement. I suspect that those involved with the University of California's National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement would generally agree that an informed citizenry is a key element in civic engagement. Ignorance imposed by government undermines and curtails free speech. You simply can't talk about or practice civic engagement regarding things that are hidden from you.

In 1997, I spent a few days in the Yolo County jail for protesting the terrible things being done to monkeys at the California National Primate Research Center which is part of the University of California-Davis's campus. I was simply sitting on public property across the street from the entrance to this hell-hole with a couple signs. Seemingly, vivisectors have the academic freedom to hurt and kill monkeys but the public risks going to jail if they criticize them for doing so or to share details about their hideousness with other citizens.

It seems clear that the university and a judge believe that "academic freedom" allows those who are being paid by the public to keep what they are doing a secret from the public. This notion is apparently shared by the University of California's National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement There is no claim of national security or potential intellectual property theft, it's all about the potential (and unlikely) repercussions of the public learning about a tiny few of the terrible things being done to animals in their name.

Democracy is severely weakened, threatened even, when government keeps secrets from the citizens when those with the power to do so believe those secrets might cause some concern about what the government is doing or paying to have done. And that potential concern is the only reason that UC-Davis fought to keep video recordings of monkeys taken from their mothers by two researchers at the California National Primate Research Center hidden from the public.

Oddly, or maybe not, they don't care if the public reads about what they are doing -- details are generally spelled out in published papers; they are simply freaked out by the potential blow-back if the public sees what they are doing.

This isn't something unique to the University of California, they all operate in the same way when it comes to trying to keep the unsettling details secret. Keeping the darkest details secret is woven into the fabric of government-sponsored vivisection.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Misleads the Public

My news feed sends me articles about the use of animals in laboratories. One that recently popped up was a "Guest Post" titled "What Animal Rights Groups Don't Tell You About Non-Animal Models" written by Naomi Charalambakis, PhD., Associate Director of Science Policy, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Not surprisingly, it was on the extremist group Speaking of Research’s webpage.

Characterizing Speaking of Research as extremist is fair. They seem never to have encountered anything having to do with experimenting on animals that they find even a little bit questionable. Whenever some lab-related hideousness gets reported in the news, they stand mute. Like the recent USDA reports about Envigo’s beagle breeding farm in Virginia. Even the journal Science wrote about it. But nothing seems hideous enough to motivate a comment from Speaking of Research.

FASEB is a much older organization. It promotes an extreme weakening of standards, regulations and oversight of the use of animals in laboratories. You can read FASEB’s recommendations here and Peta’s response here.

Ms. Charalambakis’s article was an attack on those who expose or criticize the industry’s dark, usually hidden details.

Nevertheless, I found parts of the article sadly humorous. It starts out with this: “… animal rights groups make a concerted—and often aggressive—effort to misrepresent the truth about scientific research with animals.” And then she misrepresents the actual oversight of the research:
“Multiple people, including scientists, veterinarians, and members of the public that participate on institutional review committees evaluate researchers’ literature search—as well as the overall study design—to verify that proposed studies are using animals only when non-animal models cannot provide the answers. By scrutinizing research projects from every angle, institutional review committees notify investigators if a more appropriate method exists.”

The institutional review committees she refers to – Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) – are required by law, but the quality of their decision-making isn’t.

Reproducibility is a fundamental tenet of the scientific method. When a scientist makes a discovery, comes up with an explanation, reports something new, it isn’t generally accepted as true until the result or claim has been replicated in other labs.

One might suppose that an element so central to the claim that there is meaningful oversight of animal use in the labs would be regularly evaluated and even improved. But that isn’t the case.

Seemingly, the only effort by scientists to evaluate these committees' decision-making is the report: Plous, S., Herzog, H. 2001. Reliability of protocol reviews for animal research. Science 293(July), 608-609.
A random sample of 50 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees participated in a study of the protocol review process. Each committee submitted three animal behavior protocols it had recently reviewed, and these protocols were reviewed a second time by another participating committee. The result showed that approval decisions were statistically unrelated. On most cases, proposals that were disapproved by one committee were approved by the second committee. All told, 61% of [150] protocols were judged as either not very understandable or not understandable at all, as having poor research designs and procedures, or as justifying the type and number of animals in a way that was deemed not very convincing or not convincing at all.

There seems to have been no published follow-up research. No one involved in animal research seems to care enough about the failure of this key component to do further research or to have done anything to fix it.

The element in the Animal Welfare Act pointed to by the Associate Director of Science Policy, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) as evidence of meaningful oversight, doesn’t do what it was seemingly intended to do and Charalambakis is undoubtedly familiar with the regulations.

Pointing to these committees as evidence of meaningful oversight is clear evidence of being intentionally misleading. Talk about misrepresenting “the truth about scientific research with animals.” Charalambakis continues:
The decision to use a canine or nonhuman primate model versus a mouse or zebrafish is not taken lightly. When communicating about animal research, it is important to emphasize not only the public health implications of this work but also the meticulous review process that occurs before research begins.

That's ridiculous. Those using dogs tend to keep using dogs. Career primate vivisectors keep using monkeys. The more senior the vivisector, the less likely that anyone looks carefully at their methods. Moreover, “the meticulous review process is frequently, maybe usually, anything but. The NIH explains:
Protocol Review The IACUC oversees the specific use of animals by formally reviewing animal use protocols and granting approval prior to the work commencing. The 2 valid methods of protocol review are either full committee review (FCR) or designated member review (DMR). (PHS Policy IV.C.2.)

FCR may only be conducted at a convened meeting with a quorum (simple majority) of members present. A majority vote of the quorum present is needed to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or withhold approval of a protocol. When substantive modifications are required in a protocol to secure approval, the resubmitted protocol must be reviewed using either FCR or DMR.

DMR may occur only after all IACUC members have been provided with a list of the protocols to be reviewed and have an opportunity to call for FCR. If FCR is not requested, at least one member of the IACUC qualified to conduct the review is designated by the Chair. DMR may result in approval, require modifications in (to secure approval), or request FCR. DMR may not result in disapproval.
So, in actual practice, experiments on animals, no matter how hideous, can be approved by as few as two people. Both of them can be vivisectors; participation in the decision-making by the so-called member of the public is not required. Ms. Charalambakis might be simply mistaken, but it’s more likely that she’s knowingly misleading the public.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

A letter to the USDA

2/22/2022

USDA/APHIS/AC
920 Main Campus Drive Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606-5210

To Whom It May Concern,

On April 15, 2020, USDA issued a citation and imposed a monetary fine on the University of Wisconsin-Madison for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act which occurred from March 4, 2015 through April 25, 2019. See:

Reference Number: WI160011-AC, WI170003-AC Issuance Date: April 15, 2020 Version: Final

The cited violations occurred over a period just short of four years: from March 4, 2015 to April 25, 2019. The violations involved at least 67 animals of covered species; the overwhelming majority were monkeys injured during routine housekeeping and husbandry. The last reported violation involving monkeys stated that three monkeys were left without water for four days. One was euthanized as a result.

The citation and fine have not had a noticeable effect on the rate or severity of violations occurring at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Since April 25, 2019, to January 18, 2022 a period of just under 3 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has reported additional violations involving 50 animals of covered species to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). The frequency and severity of the violations has remained constant.

Presumably, the citation and fine were imposed to encourage the University of Wisconsin-Madison to improve its animal care and compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and the applicable regulations and standards. This has not happened.

I trust you will revisit the intent of April 15, 2020 citation and look carefully at the continuing violations occurring at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That fine did not lead to a reduction in violations.

Please take all necessary steps to persuade the University of Wisconsin-Madison to comply with the applicable regulations and standards of the Animal Welfare Act.

Sincerely,

Rick Bogle
5133 Maher Ave
Madison, WI 53716
rick.bogle@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

University of Wisconsin-Madison's Violations of the Animal Welfare Act Keep Coming

2/22/2022

On April 15, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture cited the University of Wisconsin-Madison for multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)* and fined the university $74,000.

The cited violations occurred over a period just short of four years: from March 4, 2015 to April 25, 2019. The violations involved at least 67 animals of covered species; the overwhelming majority were monkeys injured during routine housekeeping and husbandry. The last reported violation involving monkeys stated that three monkeys were left without water for four days. One was euthanized.

The last violation in the citation was dated April 25, 2019. It involved three cages of mice who were left unfed for three days. One mouse had been partially cannibalized; that mouse had hair, paper, and bedding in their stomach. A second mouse was euthanized. (The overwhelming majority of mice used are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act. The mice in the citation were members of a species that is covered.)

Since April 25, 2019, to January 18, 2022 a period of just under 3 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has reported additional violations involving 50 animals of covered species. The frequency and severity of the violations has remained constant. The USDA Office of the Inspector Generals has reported that large institutions using animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act see these fines as a mere “cost of doing business.”

*United States Department of Agriculture, U. States Department of Agriculture, & Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, A. and Plant Health Inspection Service. (2017). USDA Animal Care: Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations.


Saturday, February 19, 2022

PHS self-report(s) 11A to 11Z

UW-Madison's
PHS self-reports


11A
6/1/2021

"... OLAW understands that on March 26, 2021, an adult macaque that was one-day post-op recieved its analgesic dose five hours later than scheduled when a veterinary technician tasked with administering the dose failed to remember the treatment.

"Corrective and preventative measures include the WNPRC considering how missed treatment alerts can be communicated in a timelier fashion via text to reduce the chance of similar events occurring in the future."

"The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison was consistent with the philosophy of self-regulation. Similarly, the pending action to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence is appropriate."

11B
6/1/2021

"... OLAW understands that on March 18, 2021, a macaque sustained an injury that required veterinary intervention when it exited its enclosure while an animal caretaker was transferring the animal for cage sanitation.

"Corrective an preventative measures include WNPRC making improvements to transport devices to reduce the chance of a similar even occurring in the future."

"The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison was consistent with the philosophy of self-regulation. Similarly, the pending action to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence is appropriate."

11C
7/20/2021

"... OLAW understands that over a 6-day period, an adult macaque received once daily doses of expired insulin."

"The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison was consistent with the philosophy of self-regulation. Similarly, the pending action to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence is appropriate."

11D
9/1/2021

"... OLAW understands that an infant macaque in the WNPRC nursery received its [sic] last PM handfeeding via bottle, but the caretaker forgot to provide the remainder of the bottle in the incubator for overnight self-feeding."

"Corrective and preventative measures included adding a new column to the Infant Care sheet to document that the bottle has been placed in the incubator...".

"The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison was consistent with the philosophy of self-regulation. Similarly, the pending action to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence were appropriate."

11E
9/3/2021

"... OLAW understands that on May 29, 2021, at the WNPRC, after handfeeding a 3-day old infant marmoset, an animal caretaker returned the infant to the nest box with its [sic throughout] sibling and mother but failed to return the the nest box to the home enclosure. Upon discovery the next morning, the nest box was returned to the home enclosure. During the overnight period the dam and offspring had no access to water but both infants had access to their mother overnight. One infant was euthanized later that day due to a poor prognosis for survival. The other infant is alive and healthy. In-room checks had already been performed prior to the last suplimental feeding."

"The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison was consistent with the philosophy of self-regulation. Similarly, the pending action to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence were appropriate."

11F Missing (These missing cases are "open cases." That is, OLAW is still involved in conversation with the university regarding the problems they reported or that OLAW became aware of as a result of the undercover investigation. See Case 10K.

11G Missing

11H Missing

11I Missing

11J
9/15/2021

This case was opened in response to a complaint to OLAW by Rise for Animals (previously the New England Anti-Vivisection Society) regarding WNPRC's failure to adequately monitor blood-draw volumes. The project appears to be a privately funded project involving the Zika virus which means that the screw-ups were probably in Thomas Friedrich's lab. There are multiple documents in the file.

11K Missing

11L
12/3/2021

"... OLAW understands that several corrective and preventative measures were taken. A new SOP was created detailing requirements for proper labeling, checking, and disposal of expired drugs.... Retraining was also provided...

"In this incident, for 36 days two adult macaques received doses of expired oral acetaminiphen because the expiration date written on the bottle was mislabeled.

11M
10/18/2021

From a letter to OLAW from from Daniel Uhlrich, School of Medicine and Public Health and SMPH IACUC, and Nadine Connor, associate vice chancellor for research policy and compliance in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education:

"A laboratory was performing a non-surgical procedure on rabbits to infect their eyes with an experimental agent. The protocol calls for the use of topical anesthetic drops on the eyes. However, the team discovered that their topical anesthetic had expired. Since the experiments were in-progress, the lab decided to withold the topical anesthetic rathter than use the expired drug."

"OLAW appreciates the prompt consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison which is consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation."

This file includes a copy of the university's "Animal User Orientation" on-line brochure.

11N
10/15/2021

"... this Office understands that the University of Wisconsin Animal Care and Committee (ACUC) determined that instances of noncompliance occurred with respect to ... lack of food in cage housing animals.... A room housing six Peromyscus leukopus mice was identified with a door husbandry sheet that was not checked off by laboratory personnel from June 26 to 29, 2021. It is stated that one cage did not have food present but no animals appeared harmed and no deaths occurred.

Retraining of the laboratory personnel and PI was completed by the Research Veterinatian and facility supervisor....\

We appreciare being informed of the matters and find no cause for further action by this Office."

11O
11/10/2021

"... this Office understands that the University of Wisconsin Animal Care and Committee (ACUC) determined that an adverse event occurred with respect to: a nonhuman primate that sustained an injury to its hand within its enclosure ... An adult macaque was discovered with its left hand caught between a perch and the wall... In response, the animal was extricated and required amputation of two digits on the left hand....

We appreciare being informed of the matters and find no cause for further action by this Office."

11P
11/10/2021

"... this Office understands that the University of Wisconsin Animal Care and Committee (ACUC) determined that an adverse event occurred with respect to: the actions of inexperienced animal care personnel resusulting in the injury of a nonhuman primate (adult macaque.) The final report states than an adult macaque sustained an injury to the tip of its tongue. The animal was inadvertently placed in a new enclosure ... which was equipped with a mesh divider rather than a solid divider. As a result the animal was able to make contact with another macaque, which resulted in the injury. It was determined that the animal care technician (ACT) was in training and ... believed they knew what to do. ... the ACT was immediately trained...

We appreciate being informed of the matters and find no cause for further action by this Office."

11Q
1/4/2022

"OLAW understands that in August 2021, a macaque received an overdose of an agent prescribed for diabetes mellitus when a more concentrated formulation of the agent was given than what was prescribed. ... this occurred because a more concentrated version of the agent was ordered, but the concentration was not changed in the electronic health records (RHR) system... The animal was not adversly affectged by the inadvertent overdose.

We appreciate being informed of the matters and find no cause for further action by this Office."

11R
1/4/2022

"OLAW understands that four rats died approximately 10 minutes following administration of a combination of ketamine and xylazine being used to anesthetize animals for a protocol-approved procedure. The dose, and route of the administration were the same as had previously been given successfully and followed the protocol description. After remixing the drug, four rats underwent anesthesia with no complications. ...it was determined that the likely cause was a mixing error. The veterinary technician involved underwent retraining... Appoximately three weeks later, two rats died in a similar incident. ...

"The veterinary technician involved has undergone further retraining...

"The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin-Madison was consistent with the philosophy of self-regulation. Similarly, the pending action to resolve the issue and prevent recurrence were appropriate."

11S
2/1/2022

"... OLAW understands that on 11/10/2021, a water line was found to not be properly secured to a mouse rack. The flexible line was attached to give the appearance of being properly in place, and there was no water leakage at the attachment point. Howeve, the line not secured sufficiently to supply the rack with an appropriate amount of water. Ten mice were reported dead secondary to the incident.

The animal facility supervisor re-checked all the water lines in the facility after the event and provided retraining to animal care staff on properly securing and checking water line attachments.

... The consideration of this incident by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11T
1/4/2022

"... OLAW understands that an infant macaque received an overdose of midazolam during a 24-hr procedure due to miscommunication between veterinary personnel....

... The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11U
1/4/2022

"... OLAW understands that an adult female macaque was reported for trauma to her tail which required nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory treatment as well as primary closure with sutures. Several days after primary closure, some of the sutures dehised [the wound opened inspite of the sutures] and antibiotics were added to the treatment regimen. The animal received antibiotics for the first three days, but the final two days of antibiotic were administered to the the animal's cage mate. Despite missing the last two days of treatment, the animal's tail wound healed well.... the veterinary technician responsible for the antibiotic treatment for the wrong animal no longer is employed by the WNPRC.

... The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11V
1/4/2022

"... OLAW understands that on October 26, 2021, an adult make macaque received an IV infusion of an immunologig agent as described in the protocol. At the end of the infusion, the IV catheter was supposed to be flushed with saline but was inadvertently with a small portion of of the same animal's anti-retroviral theropy dose which was supposd to be delivered subcutaneously.

... The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11W
1/4/2022

"... OLAW understands that an adult make macaque did not receive its prescribed valium treatment for self-directed behavior. The one missed treaatment did not result in an increase in the self-directed behavior as the animal was currentlty receiving more than one agent to combat the unwanted behavior.

... The consideration of this matter by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11X
1/18/2022

"... OLAW understands that two macaques were treated with an antiobiotic for for experimental reasons as suggested by a veterinarian. This antibiotic treatment was not indicated in the protocol....

The consideration of this unfortunate incident by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11Y
1/18/2022

"... OLAW understands that on December 7, 2021, an adolescent macaque escaped it' primary enclosure when the animals living in the enclosure defeated the welds on the feeding door. While out of the enclosure, the animal sustrained superficial injuries that required veterinary intervention with a non-steroidal anti-inflamitory. The animal recovered....

The consideration of this unfortunate incident by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

11Z
1/18/2022

"... OLAW understands that an adolescent macaque was found entrapped within an enrichment device. The animal was immediately removed upon discovery and CPR was initiated but was unsuccessful....

The enrichment device in question and similar devices at the facility were removed from the large social enclosures to prevent recurrence of a similar event....

The consideration of this unfortunate incident by the University of Wisconsin - Madison was consistent with the philosophy of institutional self-regulation.... We... find no cause for further action by this office."

Sunday, January 23, 2022

There are 15 described races of the dark-eyed junco

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, there are 15 described races of the Dark-eyed Junco.

I worry that the idea promoted by Critical Race Theory - that there is no such thing as race - is a detriment to the advancement of animals' rights.

From what I’ve read about Critical Race Theory (The American Bar Association’s article was helpful), the gist is that racial discrimination is baked into American society and law which results in the perpetuation of the status quo, i.e. racism. I agree.

Anyway, I’m writing to criticize a key tenant of Critical Race Theory because it undermines the notion that the lives and experiences of every non-human sentient being matter. The tenant that alarms me is the notion that “race” is a construct of racist thinking.

This from the American Bar Association:
Recognition that race is not biologically real but is socially constructed and socially significant. It recognizes that science (as demonstrated in the Human Genome Project) refutes the idea of biological racial differences. According to scholars Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, race is the product of social thought and is not connected to biological reality.
That assertion just isn’t accurate. Scientists who study organisms in nature have long recognized that sometimes there are not well-defined borders or lines of delineation between populations of the organisms they are studying. As the title of this essay notes, there are 15 described races of the Dark-eyed Junco.

Race is a synonym of ecotype.
OxfordDictionaries.com: ec·o·type noun Botany•Zoology noun: ecotype; plural noun: ecotypes
a distinct form or race of a plant or animal species occupying a particular habitat.
There is no agenda, hidden, unrecognized, or otherwise, in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's observation. Every species changes over time. These changes occur in local interbreeding populations. When, for whatever reason, two populations no longer interbreed these non-interbreeding populations can develop distinct differences. When these variations lead to an inability of members of one group to breed with members of another group, they are considered to be separate species. This is how speciation occurs. This would happen in humans if two populations were unable to interbreed for a long enough period of time. The plain fact that more-or-less isolated groups of humans have diverged in appearance over time is no different than populations of Dark-eyed Juncos looking a little different from each other.

Because of the history of using the word race to justify doing terrible things to others, it might seem smart to coin a new term, but bigots would simply latch on to the new word.

What's clear is that humans are not a homogenous group. Variations exist and the more isolated a group is, the more distinct its members are from other groups.

Here's an interesting article about the ease at which genomes can diverge between isolated groups of humans:

Huge genetic diversity among Papuan New Guinean peoples revealed

Rather than denying the variations in human groups around the world and basing an argument for equal rights and justice on the denial of race, we might be further along if we pointed to the ethically important characteristics and features of what we have in common. Things like wanting to feel safe; to feel that our family is safe. We don’t want to be hurt or imprisoned. We want clean water and a comfortable abode, and good healthful food to name just a few.

The denial of race worries me because it erects another barrier between the acknowlegement of the ethically important similarities shared with us by other species. It is as if we should think of ourselves as being outside of nature. As not being just another animal. This carries dire consequences for those not in the in-group. Consequences that are constantly on display.

What we need to do right now is to fully embrace the Golden Rule and recognize that the others are all those who can suffer. Admittedly, most of us deny that other animals really can suffer or that their suffering matters. Most of us never pause to think about the 20 million chickens killed each day just in the US, but like us, no matter our race, they can and do suffer greatly. Most of us never think about the (literally) trillions of fish caught every year. Most of us don’t give the mice and rats, the dogs and monkeys, the rabbits, hamsters, and all the rest being experimented on every day in the labs even a moment's thought.

In light of our shared ability to be hurt, to be sad, to be frightened, to be happy, to be content, we should stop thinking about our unimportant differences and embrace our commonalities. Therein lies the path to happy residents of a healthy planet.

The unfairness and discrimination some of us face everyday isn't caused by our differences or our race, they are caused by those who want to feel like they are better, more powerful, and more deserving. Denying our differences won't stop mean people from being mean or bullies from bullying, or bigots from being assholes. Our differences make us all richer, we ought not deny them.

The plain fact that humans aren't all exactly the same makes us richer. It would be a profound loss if we no longer noticed or denied our myriad varieties.

Friday, January 14, 2022

All Sentient Beings Have Rights

There is no higher moral code than The Golden Rule.

It is evident that all sentient beings are equal insofar as they seek pleasure over pain, comfort over duress, safety over threat or fear, and freedom over imprisonment.

The recognition of these common attributes morally necessitates that those able to discern them should treat others who possess them in ways that avoid their imprisonment, or causing them pain, duress, or fear, in recognition of the harmful emotional and physical experience of those detriments.

The ability to recognize pain, duress, and fear in others carries with it an unavoidable moral obligation to not harm or imprison others capable of pain, duress, or fear.

Thus, those capable of experiencing pain, duress, or fear have the right to live their lives free of imprisonment and free of pain, duress, or fear, caused by those capable of recognizing those detriments in others.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Cashing In on Childhood Malnutrition

The WHO has an informative factsheet on malnutrition.

I was gathering and summarizing data on the amount of tax money received by primate vivisectors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2021 [About $35 million for the NIH-Funded projects and about $140 million over the life of the ongoing NIH-funded projects. And an additional $1.2 million that is slated to be awarded through September of 2025 by the National Science Foundation. I can send you a spread sheet if you are interested.] and got to wondering how NIH funding for projects using mice compared with the funding for projects using monkeys. I didn't get too far before I got sidetracked by project 1R21AI156151-01A1, "The role of DNA methylation in dysregulated monocyte immune responses during malnutrition and recovery."

The PIs (Primary Investigators) explain: "The first aim of the study will investigate how two weeks of protein malnutrition, induced by a low protein (5% protein calories) diet, in weaning mice affects the monocyte immune response elicited by bacterial endotoxin.... In the second aim, we will explore the efficacy of different treatment diets supplemented with wheat, milk or peanut proteins administered for six weeks after a two-week period of induced protein malnutrition."

Mice aren't humans. Here's an example of real science studying the treatment of malnutrition.

There is something particularly disturbing about intentionally starving baby animals. It's even worse when it is dressed up and defended with claims about wanting to help children.