Apligraf Used to Treat Infant with Fatal Skin Disease

A bio-engineered skin graft product has been successful so
far in alleviating an 8-week-old girlÂ’s potentially fatal skin disease.

The disease is called Dowling
Meara disease, and though it only affects about 1,000 Americans it is
particularly hideous. The skin cells of those with the disease lack the
ability to produce cells to hold the skin together. The result is usually
severe blistering at the slightest touch accompanied by attendant infections.
The infant in this case, Tori, was born with portions of her body completely

Doctors, however, are using
Apligraf to treat the newborn and so far the results are promising. Apligraf,
approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 1998, is a synthetic
skin made from cells from the foreskins of human infants and bovine collagen.

In ToriÂ’s case, doctors have
applied the product to over 40 percent of her body and so far most of
the treated areas donÂ’t have blister or scarring.

“We hope this skin will
take over and teach the babyÂ’s skin cells to behave normally,” Dr.
William Eaglstein told the Associated Press.

RSPCA not amused by politically incorrect recipes

The Times (UK)
reports that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
was not amused by cookbook put together by supporters of hunting. The
cookbook, The Millennium Coursing Cookbook, was put together to
raise funds to fight proposed bans and limits on hunting and fishing in
the UK (coursing, for those unaware, is a hunting competition using hounds
to chase a mechanical lure or a live animal such as a rabbit).

Ros Varnes of the RSPCA
told the Times (UK),  “I hope the publishers make it clear to
people exactly what they will be helping finance if they buy this cookbook.
The idea that they will be supporting cruel and outdated sports where
wild animals are hounded to death should be enough to turn many stomachs.”


offend RSPCA palate
from the Times (UK), December 1, 1999

PETA Stalks Singer Kenny Rogers

To protest the horrors of eating
chicken, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is paying someone to dress in a giant celery costume and
follow singer Kenny Rogers around on his latest world tour. Rogers lends
his name to a chain of restaurants called Kenny Rogers’ Roasters.

According to a PETA press release,
the 7-foot tall bright green celery stalk will be “carrying a sign that
reads, “Kenny Kills Chickens,” and urge Rogers to become a vegetarian
(apparently under PETA’s long-standing view that people want dietary advice
from activists dressed in outlandish costumes.)

This is not the first time
PETA has harassed Rogers. In 1997, according to PETA’s press release, it sent
activists dressed up as chickens to Rogers’ wedding holding signs reading,
“Kenny: ‘I Do’ Torture Chickens?” And they wonder why Rogers refused
to respond to their requests to meet and discuss their concerns about
his chicken suppliers.


“Celery” To “Stalk” Kenny Rogers At Florida Concerts
. People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals, press release, December 2,1999.

Artificial Corneas on the Horizon

A report in the latest issue
of Science reports that Canadian researchers were able to get human corneal
cells growing on an artificial protein surface for the first time. The
resulting organism was structurally similar to the human cornea and from
initial tests appears to function much like a human cornea.

This is a major advance for
two reasons. First, today the only place to get a new cornea is through
a transplant. Growing artificial corneas in the lab could be a huge boon
in treating vision problems — although any such use would be years off.
Second, because the artificial corneas appear to react exactly as normal
human corneas, they could be used as a substitute for animals in testing
the effect of substances on the eyes.

Alan Goldberg, director of
the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, told WebMD that he was
encouraged by the possibility of the artificial lenses to replace animal
tests, although he cautioned it will still take quite a bit of research
in the near future to establish for certain that tests on the artificial
corneas produce results that are adequate enough to replace animal testing.
“I’m super-encouraged,” he said, “but I’m also saying it’s not there yet.”


corneas may benefit research”
, WebMD, December 9, 1999.

HSUS complains about threats from cockfighting supporters

    In a recent release the Humane
Society of the United States complained about some of the tactics taken
by cockfighting supporters in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Coalition Against
Cockfighting is trying to restore Oklahoma’s ban on cockfighting.

    The HSUS release describes
a variety of illegal and unethical actions taken by pro-cockfighting forces

  • death threats made against OAC leaders including calls placed to the
    workplaces of OAC members in an effort to get them fired

  • illegal phone “blockades” — HSUS alleges that at least one and perhaps
    more pro-cockfighting individuals made 200 or 300 calls a day to the
    OAC office in an obvious attempt to deny OAC the use of its phone lines
    and/or run up its expenses

  • disruption of OAC meetings

    Along with these obviously
wrong actions, the HSUS release complained that pro-cockfighting forces
decided to make their views known at venues where the anti-cockfighting
groups were trying to collect signatures to get their measure on the ballot.
HSUS quotes from a pro-cockfighting newsletter that read in part:

… to execute the plan. . . HSUS will be at Arts & Crafts events,
etc. in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and we need to have our people there to
work against the gathering of signatures.

    HSUS calls this a “plan to
interfere with our democratic rights” but it reads more like a group exercising
its free speech rights to counter HSUS’ plan. This seems to be the sort
of normal behavior everyone has to tolerate in a democracy. As long as
the cockfighting supporters didn’t physically interfere with HSUS’ collection
of signatures but only exercised their right to freely speak and assemble,
its hard to understand what HSUS finds so objectionable here (unless the
group is so inarticulate it can’t even make a decent argument against

HSUS goes on to complain that:

It became routine that we would be met by people demanding to
see our voter registration card, drivers license, and permit to be wherever
we were. Sometimes circulators would be surrounded and cut off from the
public. More frequently, circulators would face cockfighters who yelled
at potential signers and told them that the petition would ban hunting
and fishing and other animal-related activities.

Again, though, nothing here seems to violate anyone’s rights.

    HSUS also maintains that pro-cockfighting
forces intentionally filed frivolous lawsuits to dissuade the anti-cockfighting
forces, though the courts will have to decide whether that is indeed the

    Cockfighting is completely
incompatible with the animal welfare view as far as I’m concerned and
I won’t lose any sleep if and when Oklahoma restores its ban on cockfighting.
The fascinating thing about the harassment HSUS and others are facing,
however, is that the animal rights community itself provided the model
over the last decade for precisely what the pro-cockfighting forces are

    Death threats? We’ve seen the
Justice Department and the Animal Rights Militia do that on numerous occasions
with nary a peep from most of the established animal rights organizations.

    Illegal phone blockades? In
a typical month five or six e-mail messages go across the various animal
rights mailing lists setting up times and giving phone numbers for animal
rights activists to call and attempt to jam up the phone system of the
target of the month, whether that be Macy’s or Nieman Marcus or McDonald’s.

    Demands to obtain personal
information for seemingly legitimate purposes only to use that information
for harassment? Animal rights activists have been trying for years to
get the government to release sensitive details about medical researchers.
Animal Liberation Front supporters have used publicly available documents
to create terrorist guides of fur farms in North America.

    A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution
profile of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was eye opening
in the insight it gives on those who advocate violence. As this newsletter
has mentioned before, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich is a wholehearted supporter
of “direct action” and PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk recently responded to the
Justice Department’s mailing of razor blades to researchers by writing,
“Perhaps the mere idea of receiving a nasty missive will allow animal
researchers to empathize with their victims for the first time.”

    So what has PETA reaped from
this record? Apparently a well-founded fear that others not so friendly
to the animal rights movement may choose to carry out a little “direct
action” of their own. According to the Journal-Constitution’s description,
PETA’s new headquarters is a veritable fortress:

The cameras weren’t put up to catch meat-sneakers, but to protect
PETAns, who must punch in a code to enter or exit the building, from their
many foes.

That is, protect PETA from doing exactly what it openly admires and advocates
that animal rights activists do to research labs and farms.

    One of the big differences
between the animal rights movement and the animal welfare movement is
that a reporter would have a lot of difficulty finding a spokesperson
in a mainstream animal welfare group who would defend those who might
vandalize PETA’s office. One only has to get Newkirk or Friedrich on the
phone to talk with people comfortable defending acts of violence.


Oklahoma Cockfighters
Try a Campaign of Terror
, Humane Society of the United States press
release, December 3, 1999

“Meet The Meat-Haters: Virginia-Based Peta Will Do Almost Anything To
Get Its Animal Rights Message Out” by Bill Hendrick, Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
December 12, 1999.

Peter Singer Goes To School

When Princeton gave its stamp
of approval to Peter Singer by offering him an important appointment,
the university dismissed the possibility that it might have any moral
obligations beyond upholding the principal of academic freedom. Benjamin
Franklin Middle School in Teaneck, New Jersey, took its lead from Princeton
in assigning the following assignment to sixth graders:

Please respond to the following statement in at least 3 paragraphs.
Choose a “for or against” point of view and defend your opinion.

“Now it must be admitted these arguments apply to the newborn baby as
much as to the fetus.”

“When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another
infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness
will be greater if the disabled infant is killed… Therefore, if killing
the hemophiliac infant has no adverse affects on others, it would, according
to the total view, be right to kill him. The main point is clear: killing
a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very
often it is not wrong at all.”

Sharon Hes, a candidate for
a seat in the New Jersey state assembly, posted a copy of the assignment
to her campaign web site and noted:

However, it is both dangerous and damaging for eleven-year-olds
to be exposed to Singer’s “utilitarian ethics” in the writing assignment
described above … The real danger of this assignment is that it acclimates
the students to morally reprehensible views, making it seem like simply
a choice between chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

Well said, Ms. Hes. It is shocking
that Singer’s views have gained such cachet in elite institutions such
as Princeton. It is not surprising that some people still think the world
would be a better place if only we could get rid of “those” people —
cranks and crackpots who denigrate human life will probably always be
with us — but to see this view embraced and promoted in so many corners
is truly frightening.


Public School Teaches About Infanticide by Sharon Hes (http://www.sharonhes.com/petersinger.htm)