Campaign Wants South Africa to Recognize Sentience of All Animals

Humane Education Trust has launched a campaign to pressure South Africa’s government to recognize the sentience of all animals.

The South African Animal Sentience Campaign has so far collected more than 1,700 signatures to a petition it plans to present to South Africa’s government. The campaign hopes to ultimately obtain 1 million signatures.

The petition reads,

Animals in South Africa are not recognized as sentient beings. This means they are classified as objects, and therefore have no rights. This exposes them to severe exploitation like painful laboratory testing and cruel factory farming practice.

We’re calling on South Africa to re-classify animals as sentient beings, thereby creating a platform for these ill-practices to be monitored and changed, creating a free, humane, and compassionate South Africa.

Well, since South Africa’s current government has embraced folks who believe that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, they might actually have a chance of putting this nonsense over on them as well.

Source:

Animal Sentience Campaign — South Africa. Humane Education Trust, August 2005.

PETA Once Again Targets Children

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ policy about targeting children with its materials is about as consistent and accurate as anything else the group does — its policy appears to be to tell reporters and others what PETA thinks the reporter wants to hear at the time.

So, Ingrid Newkirk went on Crossfire in 2002 and told Tucker Carlson that PETA doesn’t target children saying that “everything we do is based at adults.” That was a transparent lie, and PETA hacks have lately taken to refining it a bit with PETA’s Ray Hinkle saying earlier this year that, “[PETA] never hands out things to children under the age of 13 without parents’ permission.”

That, of course, is also a transparent lie, since PETA has been sending activists to hand out materials to children near middle schools in the United States, where many of the children are under the age of 13. How do they verify age or obtain parental consent?

Now, PETA is apparently doing this internationally — in March it angered officials at a South African primary school when PETA activists showed up to hand out anti-chicken propaganda.

According to a report in the Cape Times, PETA activists showed up near Golden Grove Primary school in Rondebosch and handed out posters and trading cards putting forth PETA’s case against teaching chicken. Now in South Africa, a primary school usually consists of grades 1-6, so the vast majority of students at Golden Grove Primary are under the age of 13.

James Bailey, principal of the Golden Grove Primary school, told The Cape Times,

We are not taking sides on the chicken issue, but we at least wanted to be notified. They are targeting small, impressionable children and the wording on the cards is very emotive and aggressive.

It seriously undermines the school’s ongoing efforts to educate children not to take things from, or trust strangers. Children can become very susceptible to influence from strangers who want to sell them drugs or hurt them.

Oddly enough, PETA’s Andrew Butler breaks with Newkirk and Hinkle in admitting the truth — that PETA actively targets children, and that the organization considers this to be legitimate (emphasis added),

Chicken is the most consumed meat in South Africa and conglomerates only care about how much money they make. People are not made aware of the appalling conditions at chicken factories. We think children should get the chance to make an informed and compassionate decision about what they eat.

And here I thought it was parent’s responsibility to make decisions about what their children eat.

Source:

Activists ruffle feathers with campaign. Karen Breytenbach, Cape Times, March 16, 2005.

Education in South Africa. Philippa Garson, Undated.

ANC Attacks Anti-Corruption Investigators

The African National Congress in February stepped up its public war of words with an anti-corruption unit — dubbed The Scorpions — designed to ferret out abuse of power in the South African state.

The Scorpions, whom are modeled on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, have been focusing on a large travel-related scandal in which Members of Parliament are accused inflating their travel expenses to scam upwards of $2 million.

Rather than getting to the bottom of that scandal, however, the ANC has predictably chosen to attack the investigators.

ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, for example, accused the anti-corruption unit of timing its announcements to harm the ANC, noting that The Scorpions had released a press release about the extent of the travel scandal on the same day that Thabo Mbeki delivered his State of the Nation address,

I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s a planned, desperate kind of act of vengeance to really undermine parliament and create this impression that members of parliaments are by definition cowboys and crooks.

The ANC has even taken to accusing members of the anti-corruption unit of having been spies for the apartheid-era government.

Mbeki himself promised a thorough investigation, not of corruption but of the anti-corruption task force, in February.

Of course the winds were taken out of the whole “we’re being persecuted” claim when five ANC Members of Parliament plead guilty to fraudulent billing of their travel expenses. Presumably, they were framed or were apartheid spies working with The Scorpions all along to discredit the ANC.

Sources:

Mbeki to probe elite crime unit. The BBC, February 14, 2005.

ANC’s anger over cowboy ‘smears’. The BBC, February 4, 2005.

ANC to act against convicted MPs. iAfrica.Com, March 18, 2005.

Transparency International: 1 in 10 Families Worldwide Pays Bribes

To mark UN Anti-Corruption Day in December, Transparency International released the results of its 2004 Global Corruption Barometer highlighting ongoing corruption, especially in the developing world. The survey found that worldwide, 1 in 10 people said they or a member of their household had paid a bribe in the previous year.

The survey polled more than 50,000 people in 64 countries people between June and September 2004.

The rate of bribery was, not surprisingly, much higher in developing countries. For example, in Cameroon more than 50 percent of respondents said they or a member of their household had paid a bribe.

In Nigeria, Kenya, Lithuania and Moldova, 1 in 3 respondents said they or a household member had paid a bribe.

There was some good news, such as surprisingly low levels of bribe paying in South Africa, as well as a surprising level of corruption in Greece where 11 percent of those polled admitted they or a household member had paid a bribe.

Transparency International board member Akere Muna, who heads up the organization’s Cameroon branch, said in a press release,

It is time to use international co-operation to enforce a policy of zero tolerance of political corruption, and to put an end to practices whereby politicians put themselves above the law — stealing from ordinary citizens and hiding behind parliamentary immunity.

Political parties and politicians they nominate for election are entrusted with great power and great hopes by the people who vote for them. Political leaders must not abuse that trust by serving corrupt or selfish interests once they are in power.

According to the BBC, the World Bank estimates that as more than $1 trillion is paid out annually worldwide in bribes.

Source:

One in 10 families ‘pays bribes’. The BBC, December 9, 2004.

Political parties are most corrupt institution worldwide according to TI Global Corruption Barometer 2004. Press Release, Transparency International, December 9, 2004.

CITES Lifts Hunting Ban on Black Rhinos

As recently as the mid-1990s, there were only an estimated 2,400 black rhinos in the wild, down from a high of about 65,000 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Conservation efforts over the past decade have increased the black rhinos numbers to an estimated 3,600 to 11,000 animals.

With the resurgence in numbers, South Africa and Namibia have been pushing to re-open very limited trophy hunting of the black rhinos, and in October the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species agreed to both country’s proposals to resume extremely limited hunting of black rhinos.

Both South African and Namibia requested annual quotas of five black rhinos. Both countries believe they will be able to sell the right to kill the small number of rhinos for tens of thousands of dollars per animal which they will be able to use to help fund their conservation efforts. Both countries say that they will restrict hunters to killing older, non-breeding males to avoid any long-term impact on the size of the black rhino herds.

Still, animal rights activists and environmentalists complained that even a very small hunt is likely to encourage potential poachers. Jason Bell-Leask of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told Reuters,

We know rhinos are still being poached for their horns and the poachers are indiscriminate, so we think this proposal sends out the wrong signal.

Sources:

Limited rhino hunt allowed in SA, Namibia. Afrol News, October 4, 2004.

African nations seek to end black rhino hunting ban. Stuff (New Zealand), September 20, 2004.

Global ban on black rhino hunt is eased. Reuters, October 4, 2004.

Mbeki: Complaints about Rape Rate are Racist

South African President Thabo Mbeki and South African activist Charlene Smith have been battling it out in that country’s press this month over just how serious of problem rape is in that country. Smith said that Mbeki is in denial about the true extent of the problem, while Mbeki responded that critics like Smith are racists who want to portray black Africans as savages.

The backdrop of this was an official report showing a minor drop in South Africa’s sky high rape rate. According to official South African statistics, the rape rate declined from 115.3 per 100,000 in 1994 to 113.7 per 100,000 in 2003/04.

Smith and others questioned those statistics and charged the drop is the result of “massaged” statistics. Frankly, that’s rather moot since 113.7 rapes per 100,000 population is unbelievably high. To put it in context, in 2000 the U.S. rape rate was just barely over 32 per 100,000. As a whole, South Africa has a rape rate three-and-a-half times as high as the United States. That is a mind-bogglingly high rate and does, as Smith claims, demonstrate just how crime-ridden South Africa is.

Mbeki responded with an article on the African National Congress web site saying,

She [Smith] was saying our cultures, traditions and religions as Africans inherently makes African man a potential rapist . . . [a] view which defines the African people as barbaric savages.

In fact Smith never said anything remotely like this and never mentioned race at all in her critique. instead she criticized the government for failing to take rape victims seriously, noting numerous problems with the way that rape allegations and rape victims were treated.

Mbeki seems to be using the same script here that he used to defend his atrocious policy of denying that HIV caused AIDS and refused for too long to allow pregnant women to be given anti-retroviral drugs. The script goes like this — find someone white who is making the criticism and then claim it’s all about colonial oppressors trying to disparage blacks. Who cares, after all, if black women are the major victim of South Africa’s out-of-control crime rates?

After all, what sort of government is pleased that rape rates fell from 115.3 to 113.7 per 100,000 over a 10 year period? That’s not progress, that’s dereliction of duty.

Sources:

Mbeki says crime reports are racist. Mail & Guardian, October 6, 2004.

Mbeki slammed in rape race row. The BBC, October 5, 2004.

Rape has become a way of life in South Africa. Charlene Smith, Sunday Independent, September 26, 2004.

Mbeki blasts crime stats critics. Sapa, October 1, 2004.