A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘animal rights

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • At the blog Buffer, Kevan Lee shows what lengths–in characters and in words–tweets and blog headlines and blog posts should be, according to science.
  • Patrick Cain notes that Canadians have no way of knowing how many banned guns there were under the former registry since its junking.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining what, exactly, is needed for a planet to become Earth-like.
  • The Dragon’s Tales, meanwhile, links to a paper claiming that the Cambrian explosion of biodiversity was a product of a nearby gamma-ray burst.
  • Geocurrents explores the question of whether and how it matters to call the eastern European country “Ukraine” or “the Ukraine”.
  • Joe. My. God. links to a site gathering the first and last lines from noted gay novels.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, bloggers question whether the American soldiers who perpetrated genocide in the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 should have their Medals of Honor stripped from them, and have no truck with the idea that American airpower can save Ukraine.
  • John Moyer responded to OKCupid’s boycotting of Mozilla for its anti-gay president by quitting Mozilla, and explains why.
  • At the Planetary Society Weblog, Emily Lakdawalla examines the latest thinking on Titan’s methane lakes and oceans. Where do they come from?
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Hungarians in former Hungarian territories in central Europe.
  • Strange Maps examines how maps are used to lie in George Orwell’s 1984.
  • Torontoist shares a picture of a vintage streetcar on the streets of east Toronto’s Scarborough.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy comments on the International Court of Justice’s ruling against Japan on the subject of its supposed scientific whaling program, and argues that a federal system for Ukraine might not be bad notwithstanding Russian bullying.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia’s military depends heavily on the technological and industrial output of southeastern Ukraine, relying on now-suspended cooperation.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • 3 Quarks Daily notes the growing Saudi-Pakistan alliance, something increasingly aimed against Syria (Pakistan is training an armed force funded by Saudi Arabia).
  • The Big Picture shares 17 pictures from Ukraine.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster suggests that we now have the beginnings of a model for the formation of planets around pulsars, with debris from the supernova explosion spinning towards the pulsar and condensing into planets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study suggesting that photosynthesis is possible on worlds locked into 3:2 resonances about their local sun, i.e. rotatomg three times on its axis for every two orbits around the sun.
  • The Financial Times‘ World blog wonders if Venezuela might follow Ukraine.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Doug Merrill notes that Ukrainian revolutionaries are just beginning the real work.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the writings of an economist employed by Facebook. What does he do?
  • John Moyer, still in Iceland, meditates on solitude.
  • Naked Anthropologist’s Laura Agustín takes issue with the term “loverboys” used to describe studies of transnational prostitution.
  • The New APPS Blog considers what it means if animals feel love.
  • Justin Petrone, writing about the noise surrounding the Ukrainian revolution, argues in favour of radical skepticism of both sides as likely to lead to the truth.
  • Strange Maps considers the various plans for partitioning California into smaller units, including the most recent one.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anders Sandberg, as a good scientist, takes a look at the evidence same-sex marriage could be associated with floods (as a Briton claimed) by looking at his native Sweden.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling thinks that a Facebook executive’s prediction of the death of E-mail is substantially a Facebook power grab.
  • BlogTO chronicles the history of the Spadina Hotel, an edifice whose history as a hotel may have come to an end with the closure of the hostel that took its place.
  • Discover‘s Collideascape notes that the parable of Easter Island as a metaphor for global environmental collapse is no longer supported by the data.
  • Far Outliers takes note of the Arab awakening in the Ottoman Middle East circa 1915.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer thinks that the Syrian civil war hasn’t become a conventional conflict and isn’t close to ending.
  • Gideon Rachman takes a look at the plight of maids, specifically Indonesian ones, in Hong Kong.
  • Savage Minds revisits Franz Boas’ classic essay The Methods of Ethnology.
  • Supernova Condensate rightly takes issue with a Nature blogger, Henry Gee, who has taken to outing anonymous bloggers.
  • Towleroad notes the Japanese government’s defense of the barbarous Taiji dolphin hunt.

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

  • First off, congratulations to friend of the blog Jonathan Edelstein for his role in setting an unjustly imprisoned man free in New York State.
  • The National Post repots on calls to send a mission to Europa.
  • Der Spiegel‘s English-language edition reports on the continuing ethnic divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically in relationship to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serb nationalists in 1914 that started the First World War.
  • Business Week notes that the ongoing crisis in Thailand is hampering the country’s economy, observes the ongoing issues with accumulating space junk, documents a Russian HIV/AIDS pandemic made worse by Russia’s non-constructive dealings with the causes of HIV’s spread, and notes that mass immigration from the European Union–especially Germany–is a major political concern in Switzerland.
  • CBC notes that the recent ice storm hurting spending at growing Canadian chain Dollarama, reports that an immunity deal has been struck with an ex-Tory worker charged with involvement in the robocalls scandal, and observes that the so-called IKEA monkey man has been ordered to pay 83 thousand dollars in legal costs to the sanctuary that took in her pet monkey Darwin.
  • National Geographic explores the question of whether or not there might be planets better-suited to life than the Earth, and whether these planets should be the subject of searchers.
  • The Advocate reports on the case of a transgendered woman in Louisiana, Pamela Raintree, who helped save a local anti-discrimination ordinance by offering the ordinance’s opponent the first stone to throw at her, in keeping with the Bible’s mandating of death.
  • MacLean’s argues that Turkey is set for an inevitable crash as its economic and political and social contradictions come to a knot.
  • Universe Today notes that, after the success of the Chang’e 3 moon rover, China now wants to land astronauts on the moon and set up a crewed facility.

[LINK] “Two beluga whale deaths confirmed by Marineland”

I’ve fond memories of my visits to Niagara Falls’ Marineland, substantially because of my fondness for the belugas it holds, notwithstanding the ongoing controversy surrounding the standard of care and quality of life provided these and other intelligent marine animals. John Law’s Niagara Falls Review article noting the deaths of two belugas thus saddens me.

Niagara falls 2_0091

I photographed this beluga in 2007. I hope that it’s doing OK.

”Young animals sometimes die in both aquariums and in the wild, and it is always sad,” said park spokesman John Beattie, who indicated beluga Charlotte died in 2012 and Luna sometime this year. Specific dates weren’t provided in his e-mailed response to The Review’s inquiry about the deaths, sparked by local animal activists and the aquatic inventory website Ceta-Base.com, which tracks the number of beluga whales currently on site at Marineland.

The site lists Luna, born June 17, 2012, and Charlotte, born July 9, 2012, as both deceased. They join a list of 18 other beluga deaths over the years, dating back to 1999, according to the site.

The same website lists 39 belugas currently alive at Marineland.

“From seeing the facility first hand this year, I have to wonder if Marineland just has too many belugas in one space,” says activist Alex Louise Dorer of the group Occupy Marineland. “Arctic Circle holds 11 juvenile belugas ranging from one years to 11 years of age, and although the pool area is large (it) is not large enough for that many mammals.”

[. . .]

Beluga whales, ranging from 13 to 20 feet, generally live 50 to 60 years in the wild according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation website. In captivity, it states they rarely last more than 25 years.

Beattie says two-thirds of baby beluga whales born in the wild do not survive, while the survival rate at Marineland “vastly surpasses the success rate of wild births.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 6, 2013 at 2:01 am

[LINK] “Lab chimps successfully treated with anti-depressants”

Via io9 I came across Pallab Ghosh’s BBC report suggesting that anti-depressants could be quite useful for chimps freed from research colonies. With the obvious provisos that this has to be done carefully, under controlled conditions, if this report is accurate I’m pleased. Especially after reading Andrew Westoll’s award-winning book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery, describing how chimps at a rehab facility in Québec suffered terribly and in ways recognizable to humans from their long captivity, and in light of things like the National Institutes of Health’s retirement of its chimp colonies, doing something to help these intelligent animals seems morally imperative.

Dr Godelieve Kranendonk, a behavioural biologist leading the study at AAP, a rescue centre for animals in the Netherlands, told BBC News that the results had been astonishing.

“Suddenly, [the chimps] woke up. It was as if they were zombies in their enclosures and now they are happy, playing with each other. They are chimps again – that was really nice to see,” she told me.

[. . .]

Staff at the AAP sanctuary care for the animals until they die. They try to rehabilitate them so that they can live out their remaining years happily.

The chimps are fed a good diet of vegetables, have toys and plenty of space in which to play. But Dr Kranendonk found that the abnormal behaviour actually increased. It was as if the animals did not know how to cope with their new found freedom.

Dr Kranendonk decided to consult Martin Bruene, a professor of human psychiatric disorders at the University of Bochum, Germany. He prescribed a course of anti-depressants for five of the chimps.

All the animals had been used in medical experiments and were infected with Hepatitis C. “Willy” showed the least abnormal behaviour. “Tomas” and “Zorro”, on the other hand, would spend a third of their waking hours eating their own vomit.

“Iris” had lost so much weight from vomiting when she first came to the sanctuary that the staff thought she would die.

The most troubled though was “Kenny”, a small chimp who was constantly anxious that the others would attack him and spent much of his time screaming in terror.

The chimps were given SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), which is a class of anti-depressant similar to Prozac and is used to treat human patients for depression, anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

After six to eight weeks, the animals behaviour started improving. The abnormal behaviour declined and the chimps began to play together. After seven months, there was a vast difference.

[. . .]

The big question though is whether the effect lasts when the chimps are taken off the medication. The early indications are promising. The medication has been steadily reduced and there has been no adverse effect on the chimps’ behaviour.

Kenny himself decided that he did not want to take the anti-depressants anymore. His clownish behaviour has continued.

“It seems that while on the medication, the chimps learn to be chimps again,” said Dr Kranendonk. “And once they have learned that, they don’t need the medication any more.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 20, 2013 at 3:59 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On how the government of Spain is pushing Catalonia towards independence

In 2009 and 2010, I mentioned the ban brought in by Catalonia on bullfighting, ostensibly purely out of a concern for the well-being of the animals killed in the ring for humans’ amusement but also out of a rejection of this, a signal marker of Hispanic identity. Now, Giles Tremlett in The Guardian reports that, at a time of growing separatist sentiment in Catalonia, the Spanish government hopes to overturn this ban.

Spain’s parliament is expected on to take the first steps towards declaring bullfighting a key part of the country’s cultural heritage in an attempt to revitalise a dwindling, if gory, tradition.

A popular petition, signed by 590,000 people, seeks to have the bullfight formally categorised as an asset of cultural interest – a move that would give promoters tax breaks and allow them to flout a ban imposed by local authorities in the eastern region of Catalonia.

The conservative People’s party of prime minister Mariano Rajoy, which holds an absolute majority in parliament, has already said it will back the petition and start the process of turning it into law.

This comes as figures released by the culture ministry show bullfighting is in the middle of an historic decline, with Spaniards gradually turning their backs on it and recession seeing public money to fund fights dry up.

Between 2007 and 2011, the number of fights dropped from 3,650 a year to just 2,290. Of the latter, top class fights involving professional bullfighters or horse-borne rejoneadores and bulls aged three or above accounted for just 1,120 fights. Only 560 fights were of top rank matadors against full-grown bulls.

Numbers are believed to have dropped further in 2012, when Spain fell back into a double-dip recession, public austerity saw even less public funding for bullfights and the Catalan ban came into effect.

(This after the bullrings have been imaginatively repurposed by designers.)

Expatica’s coverage touches upon the regional and separatist dimensions of this move, noting that the explicit effort of the Spanish central government to overturn a locally popular decision in Catalonia is going to inflame things still further. (I’ve mentioned in the past that there’s an emergent separatist majority in Catalonia, right?)

Way to go, guys, Way to go.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm

[LINK] “NIH Told to Retire Most Research Chimps”

This news reported by Scientific American is good news, contingent of course on the chimpanzees being properly housed and cared for after the experiments are done.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) should dismantle a decades-old colony of 360 chimpanzees, retiring all but roughly 50 of the animals to a national sanctuary, the biomedical agency was told on 22 January in a long-awaited report.

The report, from a working group of external agency advisors, also counsels the NIH to end about half of 21 existing biomedical and behavioral experiments, saying they do not meet criteria established in a December, 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report.

“Clearly there is going to be a reduction in the use of chimpanzees in research,” says working group co-chair Kent Lloyd, the associate dean for research at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

The report says that the NIH should begin planning sanctuary housing for the retiring animals “immediately”, and that a colony of about 50 animals would be sufficient for future research. The report also sets high hurdles for new chimpanzee experiments in the future, calling for the establishment of an independent committee that would vet individual study proposals after they first pass routine NIH scientific review. In cases where the burden on the animals is high, the benefit to humanity should have to be “very high” to pass muster with the committee, says Daniel Geschwind, the other co-chair of the working group and a geneticist at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The report suggests that three of nine ongoing invasive experiments, involving immunology and infectious diseases, could continue, because they meet the IOM criteria. These require that a study be needed for public health; that no alternative animal model exists; that performing the study in humans would be unethical; and that the animals be maintained in socially and physically appropriate habitats. The report also says that eight of 13 behavioral or comparative genomics studies could be allowed to continue, but in some cases only conditionally — meaning that funding for these experiments could not be renewed without passing the independent committee review.

The working group — a subgroup of NIH’s Council of Councils, a trans-agency advisory body — was chartered by NIH director Francis Collins one year ago to advise the agency on how to implement the recommendations of the IOM report, which found that most chimpanzee research was not necessary. Its recommendations are not binding; Collins is expected to respond to them in late March, after a 60-day period of public comment. But they signal yet another significant step in an ongoing retrenchment. Last month, the agency announced that it will retire 110 chimpanzees to the national Chimp Haven sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana, after they had been first slated to move to an active NIH-supported research centre in San Antonio, Texas.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2013 at 12:35 am

[LINK] “Ikea monkey: Sanctuary claims owners abused Darwin”

By now, I’m surely not the only person here to have heard of the claims that the former owner of Darwin, the Japanese macaque that gained global game after he ran loose in a Toronto IKEA, abused the monkey in order to make it behave properly. (The Toronto Star‘s Niamh Scallan was one of the first to report on the filing in court.)

The former owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, denies this through her lawyer. I will say that the sorts of abuse described are, sadly, very common among primates held as pets. If the Story Book Farm primate shelter can document these claims, it goes without saying Darwin should be kept from her.

The statement asserts that Nakhuda, introduced to an illegal exotic animal dealer in Montreal last summer, said she was interested in obtaining a Japanese macaque such as Darwin, because of a YouTube video she saw, in which a tavern owner in Japan trained the monkeys to be servers.

Balking at the $10,000 price, the document claims, she allegedly took possession for a few days to see what it would be like to own a monkey — with the option to return Darwin. It also gave her time to secure the large sum of cash to complete the purchase.

The statement of defence alleges Nakhuda’s first few days of ownership didn’t go well, and Nakhuda wanted to return Darwin to the dealer. It’s further claimed that the dealer came to Nakhuda’s home to teach her how to “physically abuse Darwin to ensure that he compiled with her wishes.”

Once she learned this, the document alleges she decided to keep the monkey and paid the Montreal-based dealer, whose identity has not been revealed by Nakhuda, according to the sanctuary.

The statement of defence suggests that in the months after the purchase leading up to his December escape from a dog crate in a vehicle in the parking lot of the North York Ikea, Nakhuda, her husband and two kids abused the pint-sized primate. The alleged abuse includes strangulation, striking Darwin in the face and head and hitting him with a wooden spoon; forcing Darwin to live in a small dog crate; not changing his diaper for up to three days; failing to provide veterinary care and proper food; and permitting other family members to physically abuse Darwin.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 15, 2013 at 3:47 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Ikea monkey Darwin ordered to stay at sanctuary, owner refuses to visit”

A follow-up to the story of Darwin, the former pet Japanese macaque liberated at IKEA, courtesy of the Toronto Star.

Darwin, the monkey that shot to worldwide fame this month when it was found wandering an Ikea parking lot wearing a faux shearling coat, will not be going home with his owner for the holidays.

Justice Michael Brown ruled Friday morning that the monkey must stay at the sanctuary where it is now being held until at least mid-January.

Brown also denied a request for weekend visitation away from the sanctuary for the monkey’s owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, but said she could visit him there.

For her part, Nakhuda said she would not visit Darwin at the sanctuary, fearing that such a visit would only heap more stress on the pint-sized pet.

“How would you feel to see your child in a cage and be with him outside the cage?” said Nakhuda’s husband, who would identify himself only as “Sam,” outside the court.

Sam told reporters that having Nakhuda visit the sanctuary would be “damaging to Darwin. I don’t know if human beings are capable of understanding this. I don’t know if the judge is capable of understanding this,” he said.

[. . .]

She has rented a cottage in Kawartha Lakes, the closest township to the GTA that doesn’t prohibit monkey ownership. Spurred by that news, officials there are rushing to enact a bylaw to ban exotic animals.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm


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