Saturday, May 31, 2008

Big monkey sale

Other models? Like coups, sedans, and convertables? Maybe they mean animal models of human disease? Calling an animal a model without reference to what it is supposed to be a model of reveals the callous and commercial perspective.

Models? Models of human suffering.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The 2008 PNIRS Conference

The 2008 The Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) annual conference took place between May 28-31, 2008 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, adjacent to the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison.

The theme of the meeting was “Promoting Innovation in PsychoNeuroImmunology: From Cytokines to Society.” The meeting was hosted by primate vivisector Chris Coe, director of the infamous and still controversial Harlow Primate Psychology Lab.

The Thursday afternoon schedule looked like this:
Cytokines sing the blues: PNI at the translational interface
Dr. Andrew Miller, Emory University

12:00 - 1:30 LUNCH BREAK: Roundtable Discussion of NIH Funding Opportunities

1:30 - 3:30 PRESIDENTIAL SYMPOSIUM: Neural Mediation of the Effects of Stress and Psychological Factors on the Endocrine and Immune Systems

Dr. Richard Davidson Keynote Speaker Interactions between the brain and the periphery in the regulation and dysregulation of emotion, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
One of Andrew Miller’s papers is worth noting for its apparent needlessness, redundancy, and for the suffering the authors found so interesting: Felger JC, Alagbe O, Hu F, Mook D, Freeman AA, Sanchez MM, Kalin NH [Ned Kalin, a frequent collaborator of Richard Davidson's] Ratti E, Nemeroff CB, Miller AH. Effects of interferon-alpha on rhesus monkeys: a nonhuman primate model of cytokine-induced depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2007.

The point of the study was to find out whether chronic administration of interferon-alpha caused depression, as it was already known to do to mice, since at least 2000 [Yamano M, Yuki H, Yasuda S, Miyata K. Corticotropin-releasing hormone receptors mediate consensus interferon-alpha YM643-induced depression-like behavior in mice.J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2000], to rats, since at least 2001 [Sammut S, Goodall G, Muscat R.Acute interferon-alpha administration modulates sucrose consumption in the rat. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001], and to humans, since at least 1984 [Adams F, Quesada JR, Gutterman JU. Neuropsychiatric manifestations of human leukocyte interferon therapy in patients with cancer. JAMA. 1984.]

You can almost feel the authors’ giddy excitement at the discovery that, like mice, rats, and humans, rhesus monkeys also become depressed upon chronic administration of interferon-alpha:
Interestingly, 3 monkeys (two dominant and one subordinate) displayed depressive-like huddling behavior during IFN-alpha administration that was not affected by time. Post-hoc tests indicated that huddling behavior was significantly increased in relevant animals across all 4 weeks of IFN-alpha administration.
As Miller finished up his lecture and the NIH Funding Opportunities Round Table was just getting underway, a few of the attendees wandered over to look out over beautiful Lake Monona and forget for just a moment the ugly reality of their or their colleagues’ chosen careers and the horror of the animals’ lives and pains being detailed in the graphs and posters at the convention. But, alas, the calming view was marred by the presence of terrorists and a possible aquatic assault...

Clandestine reports from within the conference center informed the activists that the little ship had disturbed the assurance of the conference attendees and that they were trying mightily to ignore the disruption, but like moths to a flame they came skulking over one or two at a time, sometimes in threes and fours to steal glances at actual public opinion of animal experimentation and vivisectors.

As the boat sailed away, it was time for Richie Davidson to begin his keynote address, paying lip service, no doubt, to his kindness—honed by his years of “compassion meditation”—and his personal relationship with the Dalai Lama.

Go down lyin’

(Score 1 for the animals)

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert: “I really do want to spend more time with my family.”

Former White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove: “I've got to do this for the sake of my family.”

“More time with my family” is, of course, face-saving code for being asked to resign or for being drummed out of an elected office for lying, or for being caught in a compromising situation (like a conservative right-wing nut getting caught tapping the foot of a guy in the next bathroom stall or snorting methamphetamine with a gay male prostitute), or for being passed over for a job that should have been yours.
University of Minnesota: Statement from R. Timothy Mulcahy re: UW-Madison chancellor 5/27/2008

I was deeply honored to be selected as one of four finalists for the position of chancellor at UW-Madison, … I made the difficult decision to withdraw my name from consideration … In the end, my personal desire to enjoy quality time with my wife, children, and grandchildren, combined with my professional interest in advancing a wide range of initiatives I have started at the University of Minnesota, led me to this decision.
It would have been embarrassing to Mulcahy and his current employer to admit that he was passed over at least in part because of criticism of his record of misleading the public and defending the UW in various animal research scandals during his tenure. It would have been embarrassing to admit that his anti-union comments turned the UW classified staff against him. (Wait, he defends vivisection because he cares so much about people, but when people want to organize to negotiate better working conditions he says no way?)

It could be coincidental that this shoo-in for the chancellor’s position pulled out after the selection committee missed its announced deadline for naming the new chancellor after local media called attention to criticism from the animal rights community and the employees, but it probably wasn’t.

Go down lyin’.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances Act (FACE) have some similarities. I began thinking about this after an anonymous comment was left in response to my posts [here and here] about the silliness of the graph published in American Scientist (May-June 2008. p 186.) and the spurious supporting data from the Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Here’s the comment:
Of course, one has to divide the number of attacks by the size of the group under attack and compare to the baseline rate. But the basic point is that people are being targeted because of the (legal) work they do.

If one were to follow your twisted logic abortion doctors should not have been granted any additional protections (as killing people is already illegal.)
Considering the parenthetical point first, the anonymous commentator understood me correctly. Premeditated murder is illegal and carries with it the stiffest of penalties. It makes little sense to me to make the premeditated murder or attempted murder of some people a worse crime than the premeditated murder or attempted murder of other people. Doing so really does seem like twisted logic and seems wholly at odds with notions of equality.

But what about the definitions of the crimes and enhanced penalties spelled out in the AETA? Are these commensurate with the defined crimes and penalties stipulated by FACE?

Consider the AETA:

Offense- “Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce-- for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise; and in connection with such purpose-- … shall be punished as provided for…”

Sec. 43 (b) (1): “a fine under this title or imprisonment not more than 1 year, or both, if the offense does not instill in another the reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death and-- (A): the offense results in no economic damage or bodily injury;”

Get that?

If you send a letter to someone (maybe even post to a public blog) and say that you think they should stop addicting monkeys to nicotine and killing them, and some local district attorney construes this to be harassment, even though the recipient of the letter does not fear for their safety and no economic damage is done, you could end up being fined and spending a year in jail.

Same thing if you cross a state line to protest at a puppy mill or slaughterhouse, apparently.

During the Congressional hearings that led to the enactment of the AETA, Republican Thomas Petri of Wisconsin, the primary sponsor, had Michelle Basso testify before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. Basso is a primate vivisector at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Basso was, apparently, a prime example of a victim of “animal enterprise terrorism.”

Basso’s testimony can be read here. My rebuttal can be read here. The “terrorism” leveled at her was allegedly unwanted subscriptions to book clubs.

If true, this is harassment. But it pales in the face of anything historically described as terrorism. Here, it seems, because she is a vivisector, special laws have been passed to single her and her ilk out for special protections.

This “terrorism” needs to be placed in perspective. Right now, in bookstores you can read all about creative ways to get even with people you don’t like. For instance:

The classic Getting Even: The Complete Book of Dirty Tricks by George Hayduke (2000).

and the sequel, The Big Book Of Revenge: 200 Dirty Tricks for Those Who Are Serious About Getting Even by George Hayduke (2001).

Spite, Malice and Revenge: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Even (3 Diabolical Volumes in 1) by M. Nelson Chunder (1988).

Sweet Revenge: The Wicked Delights of Getting Even by Regina Barreca (1997).

Getting Even: Revenge As a Form of Justice by Charles K.B. Barton (1999)

And on and on. Calling these authors “terrorists” seems a bit of a stretch. Apparently, following the logic of the AETA, if your neighbor offends you and you send him or her a subscription to an unwanted magazine, you might be guilty of harassment, but if you send the same subscription to a vivisector when you learn that they are hurting animals, you are a terrorist.

Now consider the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE.) Unlike the AETA, FACE grew out of multiple premeditated murders, attempted murders, and multiple very serious attacks on clinics. In spite of the lopsided violence on the side of anti-abortion, the penalties stipulated by the AETA are either equal to, or greater than those under FACE. “For an offense involving exclusively a nonviolent physical obstruction, the fine shall be not more than $10,000 and the length of imprisonment shall be not more than six months, or both, for the first offense.”

The first point raised in the comment is interesting: “[O]ne has to divide the number of attacks by the size of the group under attack and compare to the baseline rate.”

According to the 2008 New York Times Almanac, the violent crime rate in 2005 (the most recent year of data reported) was 469.2 per 100,000.

Comparing the national rate with the rate of crime committed against vivisectors, even including crimes against those targeted because of their weak associations with vivisection (like most of the “incidences” included in the FBR database related to Huntington Life Sciences) there is virtually no crime committed in the name of animal rights, statistically speaking.

How many vivisectors are there in the US? This is a hard question to answer, but a very conservative estimate can be derived from statistics and estimates regarding the number of animals used. For 2006, UDSA-APHIS reported that there were just over 1 million animals of covered species used in US labs. The most common estimate of the number of rats and mice used annually in the US is 30 million. Let’s round the total to 30 million animals.

If we assume that the average vivisection lab uses 1000 animals a year (some primate vivisectors use less than 10 animals), there are 30,000 labs using mice, rats, and members of covered species. If there are 5 people working in each lab, then we can guess that there are maybe 150,000 vivisectors in the group that we want to compare to the baseline rate. (I suspect that the actual number is much higher; this doesn’t account for the animal breeders, dealers, equipment manufactures, food manufacturers, etc., but here, the conservative estimate will suffice.)

Using the FBR data, in 2005, considering only entries associated with vivisection, there were 34 “incidents,” the highest number ever, according to the FBR data.

Some examples of the incidents tallied by FBR for 2005:
“Over the previous two weeks, automatic dialing machines were used against HLS Investor Dalton-Grenier Company. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, between 400 and 600 calls were placed every business day to Dalton offices and, eventually, direct to executives.”

“Activists vandalized 6 vans of a company that works with HLS.”

“Activists made home visits to executives at Boston Private, which owns 80% of a company that holds HLS shares.”

“Activists were arrested for giving a police officer fake identities after they were stopped on foot outside the Hoffman-LaRoche facility in Nutley, police said. The activists were later with charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespassing in connection with other vandalism of a home.”

“Activists reportedly contacted the pastor, secretary and parishioners of the church of the president of an HLS client and reported him as a child molester.”
None of the 34 reported incidents would have been included in the serious crime statistics reported in the New York Times Almanac. None.

Dividing the number of attacks by the size of the group under attack and comparing this to the baseline rate, we see there are at the very most 34 incidents per 150,000 vivisectors, or 24 (usually petty crimes) per 100,000 vivisectors compared to 469.2 serious crimes per 100,000 in the general population. (Serious crimes are murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, and motor vehicle theft.)

All of this suggests a certain mania sweeping through the vivisection community. It is in the vivisectors’ interest to fan the flames of fear and further insulate themselves from public scrutiny. Scrutiny leads to criticism and outrage and threatens their livelihood and dark pastimes. Animal rights terrorism is a manufactured myth.

Monday, May 12, 2008

UW Madison's New Chancellor

It’s looking more like spring here in Madison, Wisconsin every day, but it’s taking its sweet time warming up. Lawns are bright green and the tulip trees are dropping their large violet petals. The fruit trees are ablaze. The tulips and daffodils are waning. The lilacs are just beginning to bloom. This morning it was 40 degrees on my back deck, but the sky was clear blue and the sun was beaming. The monkeys at the primate center don’t know this. They can’t see the sun, the flowers, the trees, or smell fresh air; for them it’s always the same gray stainless steel cubicle, always the same fear and pain.

The University of Wisconsin, Madison recently announced the four finalists for a new chancellor to replace John Wiley. Whoever is chosen will get nearly a half million dollars annually. I say “whoever” as a figure of speech, because looking at the four finalists, only one is UW Madison chancellor material.

Rebecca M. Blank is an economist, Biddy Martin is a German studies scholar, and Gary D. Sandefur (from UW, Madison) is a sociologist. These people are way too involved in human-related studies to meet UW, Madison standards. If Tim Mulcahy isn’t selected I’ll be completely shocked given UW’s history of awarding those who delude the public about the university’s animal experimentation, especially its monkey experiments.

Here he is (on the left) with (left to right) Joe Kemnitz (then acting director of the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, now director after his handling of the Vilas monkey scandal), Rajindar Sohal (mouse vivisector), and Richard Weindruch (primate vivisector collaborating with Kemnitz on caloric restriction studies on monkeys.)

Mulcahy’s all about money, about bringing in more research dollars and figuring out ways to turn publicly-funded research into commercial ventures that will further enrich the university. And, he has a longtime intimate relationship with vivisection, primate vivisectors, and the spin needed to keep reassuring the public that the monkeys aren’t really going insane, biting themselves, and are being well treated.

Looking back, Mulcahy was on hand when the Vilas monkey scandal broke, and he was a significant link in the chain of command that allowed Ei Terasawa’s grotesque experiments to continue without oversight for many years.

“We have the responsibility of minimizing discomfort or pain animals could have and to give them as humane treatment as possible,” he said. “And we go to great lengths to do it.”

R. Timothy Mulcahy, the associate dean of UW-Madison's Graduate School, said the center provides its 1,300 primates with good housing and care that is well regulated and reviewed by internal and outside committees. Amy Zarlenga. No Other Way, Uw Researchers Say Of Animal Tests. Capital Times. September 5, 1997.
He said this even as the university admitted that it had been lying to the public for eight years about the Vilas Zoo monkeys, and even while Terasawa was keeping monkeys restrained for three days at a time while she pumped and sucked various chemicals in and out of their brains.

“We recognize the rights of them to protest,” Mulcahy said. “But we disagree with their characterization of how the primates are treated.” John Welsh. Uw-madison Plans For Animal Rights Protesters. Wisconsin State Journal. September 4, 1997.

He’s a shoo-in.

See too:

Former Primate Center Vet, Uw Settle Suit Over Firing

The Animal Rights Terrorism Myth

The Society of Toxicology hired Information Network Associates Inc. (INA) to prepare a “pre-event threat assessment and intelligence briefing” on possible animal rights activity at the Society of Toxicology’s upcoming convention in Seattle. In their 12-page report, INA concluded that, “The threat level associated with this event is MODERATE.” [emphasis in the original]

This report contains various statements purported to convey accurate information. The INA website assures their clients that: “Information Network Associates Inc. guarantees the quality and timeliness of our work…”.

INA’s report includes a good example of the erroneous and overblown accounts that find their way into and become part of the myth of animal rights terrorism. In the case of INA, their presentation of the facts can be compared to the actual incident, since it was caught on video. More about that in a minute.

As I have observed before, much of the vivisectors’ fear of animal rights activists is a direct result of retelling secondhand stories with embellishments, to the point that the main characters takes on larger than life abilities and are attributed with having performed various and sundry feats and crimes. A good example of this was a posting to a public discussion list that purported to describe me and my behavior, written, apparently by someone from the Wisconsin primate center who calls herself “Lilly”:

When you first came to Madison I sighted your badly hidden van with tinted windows with your pals filming staff entering the buildings. You were parked directly under a NO PARKING sign, wearing dark sunglasses and a ball cap pulled down low on a cloudy day. But I still recognized you.

And how about the time you tried to sneak into the Primate Center by wearing medical scrubs? And how about those dumpster diving expeditions?
Assuming that “Lilly” wasn’t making up all of this out of the blue, since none of it is true, it must mean that she had heard these things before, and perhaps embellished them when writing anonymously. Me and Paul Bunyan'

It isn’t unlikely that someone will repeat these claims, embellish them, and that my legend will grow, even as I sit here typing away.

This is what INA reported to the Society of Toxicology:

The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science held it annual conference in Salt lake City, Utah from October 15 to 19, 2006. Activists from Utah distributed email via list servers calling for activists from across the nation to attend counter protests and other outreach events during the conference.
[Isn’t a “counter protest” a protest held in support of something that is being protested? An example would be a protest against homosexuality during a protest against discrimination of gays.]

Jeremy Beckham of the Primate Freedom Project was involved in a hostile verbal and near physical altercation with a citizen who came to the defense of a conference attendee who was being verbally harassed by Beckham outside of the venue.
That’s either INA’s spin or a retelling of something they were told. Their retelling is much different and much more fear-inducing than the real event.

What actually happened is that activists were protesting in front of the venue and Beckham was offering and handing out DVDs of laboratory conditions and experiments to anyone who would take one. He approached and offered a video to a woman (who turned out to be a conference attendee) standing at the curb. She replied that the video was “all lies,” or something to that effect.

They were having a discussion – security guards were nearby and watching – when, about 30 seconds later, car pulled up at the curb. The driver (the “citizen” in the INA account) immediately jumped out of the car and threatened Beckham. “I’m about to fuck you up!”

His license plate was videotaped. The vehicle was owned by Utah State University (notice the EXEMPT license plate). USU cooperated and furnished the driver’s name to police. The videotape led to “the citizen” (not Beckham) being charged with assault.

If Beckham had been harassing her, the security guards would have intervened.

Like all myths, there is a germ of truth that has led to the vivisectors’ overblown fear. There are people who find their work just as immoral and hideous as harmful and lethal experiments on non-consenting humans. Strong emotions and opinions are expressed regularly, and there are occasional but rare incidents of vadalism. There must be some guilt at play in the vivisectors’ irrational fabrications and their hyper-reactions to animal activists’ efforts, criticisms, and occasional vandalism.

The vivisectors’ only hope, and their apparent plan, is to curtail freedom of expression and assembly, to ban access to public records, to create a special class of people who cannot be named in public or specifically criticized. They seem to understand that the only hope for the survival of their industry and livelihoods (and them staying out of jail) is secrecy, a criminalization of criticism, an ability to tell the public only what they want the public to hear, anonymity, exemption from anti-cruelty laws, exemptions from rules of ethics, and to achieve all this, they must falsely report “incidents” of illegal activity, nurture fear among their colleagues, and repeat their late night scary stories to each other ad infinitum. This is how the myth is made.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Illegal Incidents" on the rise?

Looking again at the FBR (Foundation for Biomedical Research) data regarding "illegal" incidents and American Scientist's republishing of a graph purportedly presenting that data for the article, "Winners and Losers in the Animal Research War," it seems clear that both organizations are manufacturing and massaging information to alarm American vivisectors and, albeit ignorant, sympathetic scientists and lawmakers.

I'm reminded of a group of children sitting up late into the night telling each other scary stories and then peeing on themselves when the wind causes a tree branch to scratch against the window.

I've already called attention to the fact that even if the FBR and American Scientist data was correct, that the seriousness of the problem it purports to demonstrate is largely manufactured and insignificant when compared against the incidence of genuinely serious crime.

FBR issued a press release in 2006 announcing the creation of the database and an analysis of all "illegal incidents" perpetrated by "eco and animal extremists." (Unfortunately, after their data was skewered they took the files off line. I've left the links to their press release and dataset below, but they no longer go anywhere. I guess FBR didn't think anyone would actually take the time to think about what they were claiming or to look carefully at their claims.) See:

Look again at their graph:
"Total Illegal Incidents" That's a hoot. Now look at the Excel sheet upon which they base the graph.

Many of the "incidents" are duplicated. Very many occurred outside the U.S., but the U.S. is passing increasingly punitive and restrictive laws concerning criticism of vivisection and access to public records detailing the activities of vivisectors at the urging of the industry, based on data like FBR's and articles like Conn and Parker's.

When the foreign "incidents" and the non-vivisection-related incidents and the duplicated incidents are deleted from the dataset, the resultant more accurate graph suggests a different picture than the industry is presenting:

This graph even includes "illegal incidents" listed by FBR such as:
10-22-2005: Activists made home visits to executives at Boston Private, which owns 80% of a company that holds HLS shares.
It's true that there have been illegal incidents associated with animal rights activism over the past 26 years, and a very few of them -- like the 1984 arson of the then-under-construction Thurman lab at UC-Davis that caused $4 million in damages according the university -- have been spectacular, but the overwhelming majority have been much less costly. Many have been petty vandalism, sit-ins and other civil disobedience, and prank phone calls.

Using FBR's data, it can be fairly stated that the so-called Animal Research War written about by P. Michael Conn and James V. Parker, and hyped by American Scientist and other vivisection boosters amounts to 282 "incidents" over a 24 year period, and that most of these were not of a very serious nature, and certainly not sufficient to justify the first sentence of the American Scientist article: "Anti-animal-research terrorists in the United States aim to intimidate biomedical scientists into giving up their research programs, and these radicals are growing bolder."

An aside: Parker is an ex-priest, ex-army recruiter, and now, an ex-public relations officer/propagandist for a primate lab (ONPRC.) I first met Parker in 1997, a day or so before I began an eight-month-long sojourn to protest in front of each of the then seven NIH Regional Primate Research Centers. A producer of a local television station was sympathetic and arranged to have Parker and me in the studio for a brief mini-debate. This was my first time speaking about the matter and Parker was a pro; if I recall correctly, he got the better of me that day.

Afterwords, we stood and talked for a while just outside the door to the station. I asked him why he was so unmoved by the monkeys' suffering. His answer is something I have never forgotten, though he has since denied saying it. I don't recall his exact words, but he told me that the monekys weren't suffering because they aren't like us. He said he knew this because he had looked into their eyes and there was no one looking back at him.

In Tribute to Maisy Vervet

Susan Elias wears a Primate Freedom Tag for Maisy Vervet, referred to by the vivisectors at UC Davis as #1994093. This is her tribute to Maisy and all the past and present primate victims of our ethical blindness and greed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

American Scientist

American Scientist is the magazine of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. The bar graph above, featured in the article "Winners and Losers in the Animal Research War" by P. Michael Conn and James V. Parker in the May-June 2008 issue of the magazine is taken directly from a Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) webpage. Here's their graph: You'll notice that the circle graph or pie chart has been added. It's odd, and since it is unlabeled--do the figures represent all the years or a single year?--and untitled, it wouldn't rate an A or even a B as a middle school student product. We all know that Americans score low on scientific literacy tests; maybe this stems from some illiteracy and stupidity on the part of editors of American science magazines like American Scientist.

Let's look first at the numbers in the circle graph, and then consider the bar graph and what it really means.

The data in the American Scientist come from another FBR webpage (an Excel sheet) here, apparently. According to this sheet (see the Summary sheet), there were a total of 738 animal rights related "incidents" reported from 1981 through 2006 including 511 related to biomedical research, 103 related to food production, 85 related to fur, 27 related to circuses, horse racing, rodeos, and zoos, 45 related to the environment, and 18 other miscellaneous incidents.

Total arsons: 56
Total thefts: 149
Total bombings: 44
Total vandalism: 317
Total harassment: 103

The circle graph reports that arsons comprised 10% of (some unstated total.) Hum... 56 isn't 10% of 738 or 511.
The circle graph reports that theft comprised 23% of (some unstated total.) But 149 isn't 23% of 738 or 511.
Bombings: 44 isn't 7% of 738 or 511; vandalism: 317 isn't 45% of 738 or 511; harassment: 103 isn't 15% of 738 or 511 either. So, it's hard to know what to make of this graph. It's pretty much junk.

But the silliness of bar graph and the article itself completely swamp the poor scholarship of the circle graph.

Let's think about the total number of animal rights related incidents that led to this article being written, its prominent placement in American Scientist (the graph takes up almost a half a page), and its promotion by the editors: 738 incidents in 26 years. The scope of the problem has led to special new laws targeting the people who commit such crimes and creating a special class of people who deserve to have special protection through enhanced penalties for anyone who commits an act or crime that harms or intimidates them or causes damage or economic harm to their place of business or livlihood.

Let's put this in perspective and see if any of it makes an iota of sense.

According to the 2008 New York Times Almanac there were 11,556,854 reported serious crimes in 2006. This included 1,390,695 violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault) and 10,166,159 serious crimes (burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft.)

Notice that vandalism and harassment don't make the list, yet vandalism (317) and harassment (103) account for over half (420) of the total number of animal rights related incidents (738) that are claimed to have warranted the new laws, new class of victims, and prominent articles in science journals.

Apparently, vivisectors think they are more important than the approximately 24,000 convienience store clerks who are robbed every year. Where are the special laws protecting them? Why aren't the science journals pointing out the ludicrous claim that 738 mostly minor incidents over 26 years is vanishingly insignificant when considered against 11,556,854 genuinely serious crimes in a single year?

Graphs like those produced by FBR and reprinted by American Scientist are anti-science and nothing but the most base of propaganda. If placed on the same graph as just the annual violent crime in the US, the animal rights related incidents would be impossible to plot because of their rarity.

Have no doubt, the editors of science journals are well aware that authors can misrepresent scientific data by inventive use of statistics and misleading charts and tables. When they feature one like those that accompanied the article in American Scientist it seems that their intent is to deceive. (Another possibility is that they genuinely believe themselves to be infinately more important than anyone else.)

What's sort of ironically funny is that the editors must think that their scientist readers are either idiots or true believers. It seems clears that they don't consider them critical thinkers.

Still wonder why Americans score dismally on scientific literacy tests?

Jack Gallant's reporting

A brief blurb showed up at Indybay, a San Francisco Bay Area indymedia website, reporting that activists had protested at UC, Berkeley primate vivisector Jack Gallant's home on May 1. Here's the post:

May 1 UC Berkeley primate vivisector Jack Gallant home demonstration reportback
by ---
Friday May 2nd, 2008 2:59 PM

The campaign against UC Berkeley vivisection continues

Thursday May 1, activists demonstrated outside the lavish home of UC Berkeley primate vivisector Jack Gallant in the hills near the Oakland/Berkeley line.

Gallant's research is especially frivolous and cruel. The macaque monkeys victimized by Gallant are confined to restraint chairs and denied the most basic freedom of movement. They are denied water. These sentient beings have holes drilled in their skulls and electrodes inserted into their brains. These animals suffer because of Gallant's greed.

This campaign continues on. No matter how many laws they are able to push through. No matter how many activists they try to jail.
A common claim by industry spokespersons is that vivisectors and the universities providing them a sheltered workplace are not really secretive about their work (in spite of extensive redactions in documents surrendered as the result of lawsuit or records request) because they publish in publicly-accessible journals for all interested parties to review. I wondered about Gallant's own description of his procedures, so I looked up Gallant's work at PubMed.

His most recent paper reporting on his experiments on monkeys, freely available to the public, is Spectral receptive field properties explain shape selectivity in area V4. J Neurophysiol. (2006.) If you follow the link to the paper, you can read under Material and Methods:
SUBJECTS AND PHYSIOLOGICAL PROCEDURES. Data were collected from four adult male macaques (Macaca mulatta; two animals used in V4 recordings and two in V1 recordings). All procedures were in accordance with National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines and were approved by University oversight committees. Details of neurophysiological procedures were previously published (V4: Hayden and Gallant 2005; V1: Vinje and Gallant 2002).
Hayden and Gallant 2005, isn't available online, but Vinje and Gallant 2002 is.

Vinje WE and Gallant JL. Natural stimulation of the non-classical receptive field increases information transmission efficiency in V1. J Neurosci. 2002. Materials and Methods:
Subjects and physiological procedures. All animal procedures were approved by oversight committees at the University of Washington (St. Louis, MO) and the University of California at Berkeley and conformed to or exceeded all relevant National Institutes of Health and United States Department of Agriculture standards. Surgical procedures were conducted under appropriate anesthesia using standard sterile techniques (Connor et al., 1997).
Following the trail: Connor CE, Preddie DC, Gallant JL, Van Essen DC. Spatial attention effects in macaque area V4. J Neurosci. 1997. Materials and Methods:
General. All surgical, training, and neurophysiological recording procedures conformed to National Institutes of Health and USDA guidelines and were carried out under an institutionally approved animal protocol using methods described previously (Knierim and Van Essen, 1992), except as noted below.
You should read this section, but it still doesn't describe what was actually done to the monkeys.

Following the trail: Knierim JJ, Van Essen DC. Neuronal responses to static texture patterns in area V1 of the alert macaque monkey. J Neurophysiol (1992). METHODS:
Subjects and training

Two juvenile macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were used in these experiments. Monkey 87A was a female, ~2-3 yr old at the start of training, weighing m 3 kg. Monkey 89C was a male, ~2-3yr old at the start of training, weighing ~3.5 kg. The monkeys were on a controlled water schedule in which they worked for their daily ration of fluid (apple juice or Tang) in their training or recording sessions. Supplemental water was given when appropriate to keep the monkeys in good health. The monkeys’ physical condition was monitored by daily checks on skin condition, appetite, feces, and overall appearance. After the conclusion of these experiments, the animals were used for acute recording sessions in other experiments, after which they were given a lethal injection of pentobarbital sodium and perfused for subsequent histological analysis....

Surgical procedures

Surgeries were performed with the use of procedures described in detail elsewhere (Felleman and Van Essen 1987; Maunsell and Van Essen 1983), with the following modifications....
Felleman and Van Essen isn't catalogued in PubMed, but the other paper is: J. H. Maunsell and D. C. Van Essen. Functional properties of neurons in middle temporal visual area of the macaque monkey. I. Selectivity for stimulus direction, speed, and orientation J Neurophysiol, May 1983. Unfortunately, this paper isn't freely available. Access is available to subscribers of the journal or for a fee.

J. H. Maunsell and D. C. Van Essen published another paper in 1983 that is freely available: Maunsell JH, van Essen DC. The connections of the middle temporal visual area (MT) and their relationship to a cortical hierarchy in the macaque monkey. J Neurosci. 1983. But this paper doesn't describe the surgical methods or treatment or the monkeys. It does however, reference another paper by the authors: Maunsell, J. H. R., and D. C. Van Essen (1982) The connections of the middle temporal visual area in the macaque monkey. Soc. Neurosci. But this paper isn't catalogued in PubMed either.

So here, the trail ends. We still don't know with much detail what is actually being done to the animals in Gallant's studies. It is clear that they are being chaired, electrodes stuck into their brains, fluid deprived, and must do meaningless tasks for a drop of water or Tang, apparently.

What is also apparent is that when vivisectors write that the procedures and techniques they are using were previously described elsewhere, and gloss over the gruesome details in "publicly-accessible" journals, it is just a shell game. Few people probably take the time to look at those citations. If they did, they'd find, like I did here, that those papers themselves say that the procedures they are using were previously described elsewhere, which, in turn, say the very same thing.

This is just another example of the hollow crap that passes for meaningful science and honest reporting in the very dark world of primate vivisection.

Illustration by Barbara Martil
In the experiments, the macaque monkeys were placed in a specially designed ?high chair? in front of a computer-controlled display screen. They are trained to respond to visual signals that instruct them to look or not look at targets that appear on the screen. When they follow instructions properly they are rewarded with squirts of juice. During the sessions the macaques? eye movements are tracked and the activity in different parts of their brains are monitored. From