Activists in Great Britain 'fabricated cruelty evidence'

Last June the
British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) filed a complaint
with the Home Office complaining that Harlan UK Centre, a medical research
facility, was engaged in cruel mistreatment of animals. The BUAV regularly
files these sorts of complaints against research companies in the UK.

The difference
this time is that a Labour Member of Parliament, Stephen Ladyman, is turning
the tables on BUAV and wondering what the group has to hide. One of the
reasons BUAV is so anxious to file reports against research facilities
is that, under British law, it has requested that the resulting reports,
including any exoneration of the facility, remain confidential, and generally
the government has gone along.

Ladyman and others
requested that the report on Harlan UK Centre be released, and it was,
but only after BUAV asked (and got) large sections of the report blacked
out. What exactly does BUAV have to hide?

A lot according
to Ladyman who said, “The usual pattern of events is that BUAV make allegations,
splash them all over the newspapers but refuse to allow the report to
be published when people are exonerated. I can only assume that they are
prepared to fabricate evidence to win sympathy for their cause.”

The report did
vindicate Harlan, concluding that the claims of animal cruelty and neglect
were unfounded. According to Ladyman, BUAV intentionally manufactured
false claims. BUAV claimed, for example, that Harlan was not feeding animals
adequately, but according to Ladyman it was an undercover BUAV operative
who was responsible for feeding the animals (wow, where have we seen that
scam before?)

BUAV claims the
report is just a government “whitewash,” saying through a spokesman that
“Wherever there is a conflict of evidence between what the BUAV investigator
says and what Harlan staff say, the report choose to believe the latter.”

Which could be
because Harlan isnÂ’t manufacturing evidence, unlike the BUAV investigator,
but regardless if the report is such a shameless whitewash that naively
takes HarlanÂ’s word for it, a reasonable person might conclude that BUAV
would definitely want the full report published in that case to expose
the governmentÂ’s complicity in protecting animal abusers.

Ironically, according
to a report on the controversy from Americans for Medical Progress, BUAV
and other UK antivivisection opponents “have been lobbying for a Freedom
of Information Act that would require full disclosure of pueblo and private
information about research.”

BUAV could set
an example for the researchers and fully disclose the results of the investigation
into Harlan as well as the results of previous investigations which went
unpublished at BUAVÂ’s request.

Sources:

Activists ‘fabricated cruelty evidence’. Jill Sherman, The Times (UK), March
9, 2000.

UK activists accused of fabricating cruelty
charges. Americans for Medical Progress News, March 9, 2000.

Could people be vaccinated against some brain and spinal cord injuries?

    Whether or not
it will work in humans will require further study, but researchers have
managed to develop a vaccine that protects neurons in the brain from a
variety of injuries caused by strokes and epileptic seizures.

    The vaccine works by neutralizing
a protein called the NMDA receptor. The NMDA receptor has been shown to
increase brain damage after a stroke and appears to play a role in epileptic
seizures.

    In a study conducted at Thomas
Jefferson University in Philadelphia, a group of rats were vaccinated
with an anti-NMDA antibody. Both they and a control group of rats were
then exposed tot the neurotoxin, kainate, which causes epileptic-like
seizures. In the control group, 70 percent of the rats experienced seizures,
while in the vaccinated group only 20 percent suffered from any seizures.

    Additional toxicology studies
will have to be done on the anti-NMDA antibody used to better understand
any possible side effects before any human testing of the technique could
begin.

Reference:

Researchers
find promising brain injury vaccine in rat study
. The Associated Press,
February 24, 2000.

Why all the furor over "Got…Beer?!"

    People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals suffered one of its worst public relations disasters after
running up against another popular non-profit – Mothers Against Drunk
Driving. PETA decided to run ads aimed at college students claiming that
beer is healthier than milk. A press release announcing the campaign even
noted “PETA is giving away bottle openers that say, “Drinking Responsibly
Means Not Drinking Milk – Save a Cow’s Life.”

    This quickly brought the wrath
of MADD and other anti-drunk driving activists. According to MADD, the
advertisements would likely encourage underage drinking. “We’re very concerned
and appalled with it for the simple fact that underage drinking is the
number one drug problem among American youths,” said Teresa Hardt, spokeswoman
for MADD. Bruce Friederich and others tried to do some damage control.
“College students are savvy,” Friederich said. “Nobody’s going to put
beer on their Cheerios or get drunk and drive as a result of our campaign.”

    For once I found myself on
Friedierich’s side of the aisle, but it was hard to find too much sympathy
for his position. After all, MADD was successful by turning PETA’s brand
of sanctimonious rhetoric back on that group. Were PETA’s ads really likely
to increase drinking by college students? That is such a nonsensical claim
I can’t believe MADD actually made it with a straight face (is MADD going
to rewrite history and ignore the fact that the precursor to beer first
came into widespread use precisely as an efficient store of calories?)
But MADD’s anti-alcohol hysteria is no more bizarre than Friedrich trying
to convince us that Jesus was a vegetarian or Ingrid Newkirk likening
the killing of chickens for food to the Holocaust.

    Moreover there is a more serious
problem – why beer? The upshot of this controversy seems to be that serious
media attention and moral sanction from other public groups will occur
only when PETA makes the mistake of crossing some oddly placed line and
comes into conflict with another politically correct cause. Say beer is
better than milk and Newkirk and Friedrich incur the wrath of numerous
newspapers and television shows. Say that researchers sent razor blades
and death threats get what they deserve, and the silence is deafening.

    The fact that PETA was handing
out beer bottle-shaped bottle openers that said “Drink responsibly. Don’t
drink milk.” was featured in a story on the controversy placed prominently
in my local paper. The March 13 torching of Kickapoo Fur Foods in Wisconsin
(just across the lake from here) by the Animal Liberation Front didn’t
rate even a single sentence.

References:

Appeals court upholds Oprah Winfrey's victory over cattlemen

    The 5th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals recently turned down an appeal by a Texas cattleman of Oprah
Winfrey’s victory in the so-called “veggie libel” trial a couples years
ago.

    In that trial, the cattlemen
sued Winfrey over her April 16, 1996 show which featured animal rights
activist Howard Lyman discussing Mad Cow disease. Lyman went on with his
usual histrionics about Mad Cow disease, with flourishes claiming that
Mad Cow could possibly kill millions of people in the United States, prompting
Winfrey to say she’d never eat another hamburger again.

    Beef sales, and prices, dropped
dramatically in the wake of the show (it is frightening to think that
so many Americans get dietary advice from a day-time talk show) , and
the cattlemen sued in Texas under a law that makes disparaging a food
product a tort. Unfortunately for the cattlemen, the trial judge ruled
that the law did not apply to meat (it had originally been written to
cover fruits and vegetables specifically) and the cattlemen had to sue
Winfrey under the much stricter libel laws.

    The appeal, initiated by Paul
Engler who has vowed to appeal the Winfrey verdict as far as possible,
argued that the trial judge erred in not allowing the suit to continue
under the veggie libel provision.

    Hopefully this will spell the
end of this ridiculous chapter-the lawsuit’s main affect was to make the
cattlemen look like a bunch of whiners. As the Appeals Court put it,

Stripped to its essentials, the cattlemen’s complaint is that
the ‘Dangerous Food’ show did not present the mad cow issue in the light
most favorable to United States beef. This argument cannot stand.

    Lyman might be a nut and Winfrey
a fool, but even nuts and fools are protected by the First Amendment (and
thankfully so — all Engler’s vindictive legal tactics have done is further
legitimize Lyman’s bizarre views).

Reference:

Oprah’s
win over cattlemen upheld
. Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press, February
9, 2000.

Virginia hunting amendment to go to voters in November

The Virginia General Assembly
recently a proved a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee
Virginians the right to hunt and fish in that state. The amendment passed
the Virginia state Senate 24 to 16. It must still be approved by voters
in the November election.

The amendment specifically
alters the state constitution to read that “the people have a right to
hunt, fish, and harvest game, subject to such regulations as the General
Assembly may prescribe by general law.”

The bill was opposed by groups
and individuals afraid it might weaken local gun control statutes in Virginia
cities as well as localized bans on hunting within some city limits. “Do
you really want hunting in your incorporated cities and towns?” asked
Republican Sen. William C. Mims during the debate on the measure.

Whether the amendment would
override local gun control or hunting regulations is debatable since most
such restrictions are on state-owned land and the result of strictures
passed by the state legislature, which would clearly remain constitutional
under the new amendment.

Before the vote the Humane
Society of the United States issued a press release opposing the amendment
and is likely to campaign against it in November. According to an HSUS
press release,

House Joint Resolution 124 (HJR 124) is a radical proposition
that amends the state constitution so that it designates hunting, fishing,
and the harvesting of game as constitutional rights. . . . Virginia citizens,
contact your state senator today and urge him or her to vote against HJR
124. Point out that Virginia’s constitution does not even guarantee citizens
the right to basic needs such as food, shelter or health care, so make
this effort to provide constitutional protection to recreational pursuits
is extremely inappropriate and offensive.

But of course, all the amendment
does at the end of the day is reaffirm the legitimacy of property rights
in animals-a principle that, despite all of it claims that it is not an
animal rights organization, HSUS clearly seems to stand diametrically
opposed.

References:

Virginia
assembly passes right-to-hunt amendment
. Washington Post, March 1,
2000.

Virginia: Don’t make
hunting and trapping constitutional rights
. Press release, Human Society
of the United States, February 24, 2000.

OSHA Takes on Repetitive Stress Injuries

 

This Week’s Headlines from Libertarian
Sites
Of
Handguns and Talking Vaginas
by Wendy McElroy (The American
Partisan)
JAMming
a Prescription for Gun Grabs
by Stephen Milloy (CATO Institute)
The Best
Energy Policy Is No Energy Policy
by Jerry Taylor (CATO
Institute)
Immigration,
Moochers, and the Welfare State
by Andrew Lewis (Capitalism
Magazine)
How
America Barely Escaped The “McCain Phenomenon: John McCain’s
Statist Vision for America
by J. Patrick Mullins (Capitalism
Magazine)
Bad
Ideas, Not Guns, Kill People
by Dr. Michael J. Hurd (Capitalism
Magazine)
Beware
of a Stock Market that Trades Above Average
by Andrew West
(Capitalism Magazine)
The
American KGB: The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Department
by Richard M. Salsman (Capitalism Magazine)
Havana
Horror
by Glen Lamont (Free Radical)
Embracing
Ellsworth
by James M. Jowdy (Free Radical)
The
Ninth
by David C. Adams (Free Radical)
Cashing
In on the Values of American Education: Reflections on the Anniversary
of Littleton
by James J. Campbell (Free Radical)
Seatbelt,
Señor?
by David Bertelsen (Free Radical)
Credo by Deborah Coddington (Free Radical)
For
the Sake of Consumers, Allow AT&T/MediaOne Merger to Proceed
at Once
by Joseph L. Bast (Heartland Institute)
AOL-Time
Warner Merger Spells End of Forced Access Campaign
by Dave
Kopel (Heartland Institute)
Congress’s
Role In Improving Juvenile Delinquency Data
by Patrick F.
Fagan (Heritage Foundation)
The
President’s Flawed Plan To Aid Colombia
by Stephen Johnson
(Heritage Foundation)
Are
we Entering a Recession?
by Clifford F. Thies (Mises Institute)
The
Income Inequality Hoax
by William Anderson (Mises Institute)
PC
Left & Right
by Tibor R. Machan (Laissez-Faire City Times)
Repairman
Jack: an interview with F. Paul Wilson
by Russell Madden
(Laissez-Faire City Times)
Ron
Paul on Politics and Freedom: an interview
by Alberto Mingardi
and Carlo Stagnaro (Laissez-Faire City Times)
In
Praise of Chaos
by J. Orlin Grabbe (Laissez-Faire City Times)
Avoiding
the Issue Ads
by Brian Doherty (Reason)
Selective
Liability
by Walter Olson (Law News Network)
The
Secrets of the Clinton Spectacle: A five-step program for surviving
endless scandal
by Charles Paul Freund (Reason)
 

   

The Occupational Safety Health
Association recently did what it does best – proposing regulations that
won’t likely do much to improve the safety of American workers but could
dramatically increase costs for businesses.

The latest round of OSHA wastefulness
is aimed at preventing repetitive stress injuries. These are musculoskeletal
disorders that account for one third of all occupational injuries. The
new regulations will dictate ergonomic standards for businesses in an
effort to reduce the risk of RSI injuries. Unfortunately there is very
little scientific evidence available yet to indicate how to reduce the
risk of RSI’s, and such information is unlikely to be available anytime
soon.

The main problem in studying
RSIs being that they have numerous causes. As Jennifer Krause, director
of employment policy for the National Association of Manufacturers summed
it up, “There is lack of consensus in the scientific and medical communities
on the causes of MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders). Certainly not enough
to justify a rule of this magnitude.”

In fact although ergonomics
does in fact seem to play a role in some RSI injuries, deciding how much
of a role ergonomics plays or how to ameliorate RSIs by modifying ergonomics
is at best little more than guesswork.

As Russell E. Windsor, an orthopedic
surgeon and expert in joint replacement surgery, told CNN, “It is difficult
to apply critical, scientific methods to determine that a particular action
done repetitively over a number of hours will result in injury.” Factors
such as work schedules, the pace of work, time pressures, and other factors
can all contribute to musculoskeletal disorders, and deciding how to assign
the proportional risk among different factors is all but impossible.

OSHA counters that there are
quite a few success stories where employers reduced workplace injuries
by making ergonomic changes, but this highlights exactly why OSHA oversight
is problematic. But this undercuts OSHA’s very reasoning for new regulations.
Given the difficulty in finding an optimal ergonomic work environment,
the last thing businesses need are inflexible rules that might require
changes costing billions of dollars (even OSHA’s low-ball figure estimates
$4.6 billion annually to comply with its regulations) while producing
results that are unpredictable.

OSHA’s reflexive regulations
seem little more than a common Washington reaction — anytime any problem
is discovered, it must be regulated. Sometimes, though, such regulation
merely adds expensive requirements while producing minimal results. Such
is likely to be the case with OSHA’s ergonomic rules.