Chimps one step closer to full protection

The National Institute of Health has decided that most Chimpanzee research is unnecessary and should be phased out.

The rationale?

From the NIH press release:

However, new methods and technologies developed by the biomedical community have provided alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in several areas of research.

CBS News explains the scope of the new rules:

Collins also announced the NIH temporarily barred new government-funded studies involving chimps as his agency began implementing the new limits. The NIH will also decide whether to phase out about 37 ongoing projects, half of which Collins said probably don’t meet the new standards.

The rule changes only apply to government-funded experiments, not private research. Nonetheless, it’s nice to codify the sentiment that chimpanzee research is generally unethical, even if there are exceptions seen today in practice. I’m not at all sure (yet) about chimp research, but in general animal testing is conducted in the U.S. almost solely because it is required for FDA certification of new drugs. That requirement is generally considered outdated by the scientific community, something added after research is basically complete. Note that places in the world with more stringent rules and bans on animal research also tend to create and certify new drugs years ahead of U.S. schedules.

Some researchers want to use chimps in medical research is because they are like us biologically and mentally. That sounds like a macabre rationale to me. Destroying something or someone doesn’t become more ethical because it’s like an activity most people would label criminally violent.

May 1st

Happy May Day!

For those of you lost, May Day is a celebration that originates from two different places… Most recently from celebrations similar to U.S. Labor Day, and often referred to as Labour Day or International Workers’ Day in other countries. In the U.S., it originally commemorated the beginning of a standard 8-hour work day (as opposed to much longer) that was secured by a combination of unions and other labor-related groups. It originally was tied to remembrance of the Haymarket Affair, a police riot in Chicago during a strike in which several protesters were shot or later executed. The federal government instituted the holiday to draw attention away from the traditional celebrations tied to labor movements.

It’s also a group of traditional festivals from Celtic and Germanic cultures dating to pre-Christian ceremonies surrounding Beltane. The focus of those celebrations is in early May, and varies with the most important day occurring May 5-7. Some groups have heavily secularized the holiday, and others celebrate it as a religious tradition. This is where the May Pole originates.

Saturday ~ May 1, 2010 by b

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Haitian quake 2010

So, now seems like the appropriate time to pimp the charities I like best…:

MSF / Doctors Without Borders is a perreniel favorite of mine. Doctors to anywhere in the world (like Gaza and Afghanistan) for emergency care.

The American Red Cross. Not my favorite for a variety of reasons, but they do a very large job well. Text 90999 with the single word “Haiti” to make a $10 donation directly from your cell phone, repeatable up to 3 times. It’s apparently really legit.

Several groups have banded together under an umbrella organization named the Animal Relief Coalition of Haiti (ARCH). Those groups include: HSUS and HSI (the international counterpart), ASPCA, WSPA, American Humane, and Best Friends. Prior to the quake there was no infrastructure in the country for animal rescues, no veterinary care, no shelters, and no local relief groups like an SPCA.

Saturday ~ January 16, 2010 by b

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Living in Emergency

A documentary about Doctors Without Borders (a.k.a. MSF) in Congo and Liberia.

Tuesday ~ November 17, 2009 by b

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Veterans Day 2009

Have a good Veterans Day. Thanks.

Wednesday ~ November 11, 2009 by b

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Slowly fading blue

Here’s the speech Obama gave in Cairo:

My reaction was fairly much being stunned. I didn’t expect to hear an American president project say things like this in my lifetime. Hope? Sure. But not expect. This is precisely the sorts of thing we need to do, to stop causing the rest of the world to often be righteously angry at us. It’s not projecting moral authority. It’s creating moral authority that we sorely lack, something that’s absolutely critical for a democracy to have for accomplishing any international goals.

Also, it’s impressive that he did not look down at the podium a single time. I would not want to argue against him in a formal debate of any type.

Thursday ~ June 4, 2009 by b

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Dr. George Tiller

Any doctor shot for providing abortion services, who then goes back to it after, is already a civil rights hero. To be gunned down even after that – while fully expecting it – is much more.

Advocating or proclaiming the worthiness of anyone’s murder, for even a moment, is hardly “pro-life” and is simply anti-choice.

Condolences to Dr. Tiller’s family and friends, and many hopes that he rests in peace.

Monday ~ June 1, 2009 by b

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Tea Partying

Today is the day that the IRS wants their forms and money related to income for 2008.

To be blunt, I’m a pacifist, and if anyone says they support how our government spends money less than I do, I raise a very sceptical eyebrow. I still pay my taxes, because I think it’s the most fair thing to do as someone who benefits from the modern economy and uses government services and laws.

Recently, some people in the GOP have sponsored “teabagging” parties in which people throw teabags to show their disgust at the government spending based on allegedly unfair taxation. Presumably doing so is expressing rage at the Bush government with it’s budget-busting spending, as that’s the administration which ceased to balance the budget (thank Clinton for balancing it in the first place, in the similar aftermath of prior administrations). Apparently this is in imitation of the Boston Tea Party. I suggest there are some differences:

Admittedly, like the first Tea Party, today’s event was organized by some of the wealthiest people in the nation.

Wednesday ~ April 15, 2009 by b

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second reactions to PETA

I am, in all reality, impressed at PETA’s continued ability to surprise me. Also, that it’s still a little-known part of PETA’s job description to make dating slightly more competitive for vegan men. Seriously folks, now we have to worry about football players?

Tuesday ~ February 3, 2009 by b

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Peta the PITA

A friend pointed me toward a controversial PETA advertisement. The ad uses sexy, scantily-clad women to sell the message of vegetarianism.

I’ve got a mixed reaction to this. On the one hand, PETA exists basically to draw attention to a pro-veg message in support of animal rights. They accomplish this by attempting to integrate into the “mainstream” in many different ways. This means that PETA is going to look like the mainstream they’re breaking into, complete with all of its flaws and problems. They are the single-issue, surgical strike team for promoting veganism, everything else is secondary. Admittedly, I don’t see many other animal rights organizations running advertisements on national television, or hanging up billboards on the side of highways, or using national mass media. Like it or not, PETA is one of the most effective organizations at recruiting new vegans. My concern is about what else they’re doing, along the way.

Also, they didn’t run their best campaigns by hiring strippers. However, I did clap, smile, laugh, and nod my head in agreement the first time that I saw the commercial.

Being a veggie or supporting AR is not mutually exclusive with any other form of social consciousness. There are no rules against being both a feminist and a vegan, or fighting both racism and animal abuse. Those various groups actually tend to overlap, demographically. So… it would really be OK with their home team if PETA didn’t use the attention-grabbing tactic of naked chiXX0rs to sell vegetables. I appreciate that they’re dispelling the myth of vegetarians being a mixture of hippies and marmish librarians in favor of “vegan == hott”. It’s actually somewhat humorous and flattering to me, and I applaud them for stabbing in that direction however misguided their tactics. But I’m a vegan already, and we’re not really shocked or surprised by research indicating that vegans have better sex. And I can’t help but think that they’re projecting an image that not every vegan finds appealing and representative.

Also, seriously… have they not taken a look at 20-something vegans lately? No dyed hair, no piercings, no goths, no sandals or steel-toes, no tie-dye, no patchouli, no tofu, and no intellectuals discussing random topics? What sort of vegans does PETA actually know? Would it be horrible if they picked up a few 24-yo punk vegans in grad school and showed them off instead of the cheerleading squad dressed in Vicky’s secret? Gosh, how horrible that would be of PETA if they promoted the image that veggie == intellectual == hott, instead.

PETA completely ignores a very large facet of animal rights, the notion that living beings are not objects to be exploited for profit. Or to denigrate others indirectly, by implying that only blonde hotties are fit to be vegan. That people don’t need to learn about the reasons for vegetarianism firsthand with an open mind, and can simply find a comfortable place on the couch without being bothered with that whole “thinking” thing. This is precisely why some vegans don’t like PETA, or don’t take PETA seriously. They dumb down a message that’s already simple and effective, when it’s actually given to people interested in changing things directly. Animal rights is not just Joe Six-pack eating his peas instead of grabbing another pork chop, that’s just a nascent beginning, and even then only if it’s for reasons actually related to animal rights.

Monday ~ February 2, 2009 by b

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