Short Takes – October 1999

George Soros — Socialism For Thee, But Not For Me

       International financier George Soros
has been complaining that free market capitalism is on the verge of disaster
and can only be saved by government intervention. Finally someone took
him seriously — Malaysian Prime Minster Mahathir Mohamad decided to try
to shore up Malaysia’s economy by imposing foreign exchange and capital
control measures.

       Soros suddenly got that free-market
religion. “The effect on the economy will be disastrous,” Soros
told U.S. lawmakers. “The measures taken by Malaysia will hurt the
other countries which are trying to keep their financial markets open
because it will encourage the flight of capital.”

       Not to mention the fact that Soros
makes his money by speculating on currency which currency control boards
and make much harder to do — in fact Mahathir complains that Soros caused
Malaysia’s economic problems to worsen by attacking Malaysia’s currency.

       Apparently Soros thinks it is just
the rest of us great unwashed who need the “protection” of government


When Did Liberals Start Reading the Constitution?

       As far as I’m concerned Investor’s
Business Daily is one of the best newspapers in the country and they showed
why on Sept. 25, l998 with the best commentary yet on Bill Clinton’s potential
impeachment. IBD notes that many prominent Democrats are claiming that
the Constitution sets strict guidelines for what Constitutes an impeachable
offense and, they argue Clinton’s White House affair, however unseemly
it is, doesn’t meet that test.

       In an editorial, IBD wants to know
when the Democrats actually began reading the Constitution. “Where
are they,” IBD asks, “when the federal government repeatedly
ignores the Constitution to build up the leviathan welfare state?”

       Ask a Democrat whether a law is
compatible with the Taking Clause test what the original intent of the
General Welfare Clause was, and their eyes will glaze over.

       All of a sudden, however, liberal
Democrats are turning into regular Constitutional scholars and even going
to the heresy of citing the actual words of the Founding Fathers. As IBD
sums it up, “If Congress cares about the Constitution, it can prove
it. It should ax departments, from Agriculture to Veterans Affairs. There
are also more than 100 programs and agencies that can go, as shown by
the Cato Institute Total Annual Savings? More than $200 billion. It’s
a start. Let’s call it a constitutional test.”

North Korean crackup

       It’s bad enough that North
Korea’s Stalinist government has seen its economy decline 30 percent in
just a few years and much of its citizens faced with massive famine. But
North Korea took the extraordinary step in September of looking to the
past to get itself out of its trouble when it named Kim Ii Sung, who died
in 1994, as President. Sung’s son, Kim Jong Il, will stay on as chairman
of the Central Defense Committee and presumably act as a messenger for
his dead father’s dictates.

       Well, if Bill Clinton could raise
the taxes of dead people, why not appoint one as president?

New rabies vaccine and anti-addiction drugs show promise in animal tests

Astonishingly, rabies still kills
more than 40,000 people every year around the world, but a new DNA vaccine
being tested in animals may help push that number to 0.

Scientists at the Rocky Mountain
Laboratory in Montana announced that eight monkeys injected with the vaccine
appeared to be completely immune to a wide range of common rabies viruses.
The vaccine causes the lymph node to trigger an immune response which
caused complete immunity to rabies after about 30 days.

The main advantage to the new vaccine,
however, is cost. The DNA vaccine can be produced for a few dollars per
dose, compared to a couple thousand dollars for the traditional vaccine.

In other news, a new drug entering
animal testing provides hope that human addiction to narcotics might be
alleviated. Vigabrantin was originally developed to treat epilepsy, but
animal tests suggest it could be used as a treatment for cocaine addiction.
When administered in rats and primates the drug seemed to prevent or diminish
the “high” the animals got from cocaine. A 90-day clinical trial
to test the drug’s efficacy in human beings is scheduled for this fall.


“DNA rabies vaccine succeeds in animals,” Roger Highfield, The Daily
Telegraph, June 1998.

“Epilepsy drug could block cocaine addiction,” Reuters News Service,
August 5, 1998.

New skin test to reduce animal use

A recently formed interagency governmental
committee approved a new skin test for irritating chemicals that will
reduce, but not eliminate, the number of animals used for such testing.

The new test checks products to
see if they cause contact dermatitis. Currently contact dermatitis tests
use guinea pigs and cost American industry up to $1 billion annually to
perform. The new test uses mice and requires only one-third to one-half
as many animals.

The test also reduces the level
of animal suffering. In the old test, chemicals were repeatedly applied
to guinea pigs several times and researchers would then wait for the animals
to develop skin irritations. The new mice protocol calls for the
application of the chemicals, but after 6 days the mice are killed and
their lymph nodes examined for antibodies indicative of contact dermatitis.

William Stokes of the National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and chair of the interagency
committee that gave its approval and passed the test on to the FDA for
formal approval, said the new test combines the best of both worlds.

We think it’s a win-win situation. These new methods typically use
fewer animals, no animals or cause less pain and distress … but they
also incorporate new science and technology to provide more accurate
tests that do a better job of protecting public health.

In an odd move, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals endorsed the new test.

“We support any new test,”
said Mary Beth Sweetland, PETA’s director of research, investigation and
rescue. “Everything is relative – using a mouse lymph node beats
blinding an animal for months. A skin sensitivity test can last for any
number of hours, weeks or months.”


“U.S. scientists endorse more human lab tests,” Maggie Fox, Reuters,
Sept. 21, 1998.

So much for animal rights' activists commitment to free speech

A few weeks ago, Internet search
engine Lycos pulled its financial support of animal rights web provider
|Envirolink.Org| after a story about some of the extremist sites on Envirolink,
such as the Animal Liberation Front Information Site, circulated on the
web. Since then animal rights activists have been screaming up and down
that this is censorship, even though what happened was no different than
the results of animal rights activists’ own boycott activities — Lycos
decided to stop supporting speech it that its customers disagreed with.

This week the Animal Liberation
Front revealed just how committed it is to freedom of speech when it announced
the creation of an “Internet Division.” In a Sept. 21, 1998
release, ALF announced it would begin hacking web sites, sending mail
bombs, launching viruses, initiating denial of service attacks and other
unsavory methods to bring down the web sites and Internet access of those
with whom it disagrees.

In its release, ALF said,

In this day and age when most large animal abuse establishments have
a presence on the Internet they see the world wide web for selling their
blood products and for pushing their warped ideals to the masses. As
other warriors free animals from concentration camp [sic] around the
world, we will take the war to the Internet.

What’s next for these people, public book burnings of medical textbooks?


“Animal Liberation Front Announces New Strategy: Internet Division,”
North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office, Sept. 21, 1998.

Animal rights activists oppose xenotransplantation

Every year thousands of people die
who would have lived if it weren’t for the continuing shortage of organs
available for transplantation. Scientists around the world are working
to solve this shortage, but animal rights activists are opposing them
at every turn.

The most viable short term solution
is Xenotransplantation — genetically engineered organs from animals that
can be transplanted into human beings. Currently most such development
is concentrated on developing pig organs as a possible source for human
transplantation. Biotech companies are working at genetically modifying
the pig organs so the human recipient is less likely to reject them.

Animal rights activists, of course,
hate the idea of using pigs to do something as frivolous as save a human
life. Mike Baker, head of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection,
said developments in xenotransplantation represent “a very backward
step in terms of animal welfare [that] could pose serious health risks
to the human population.”

A group calling itself the Campaign for Responsible Transplantation is already circulating a petition to ban
all animal-to-human transplantation and environmental groups are also
jumping on the bandwagon, citing the possibility of a deadly virus passing
from animals to human beings in the transplantation process.

While the viral issue is certainly
a serious one, it is being addressed by regulatory agencies in the United
States and Europe responsible for approval of medical products. In both
the United States and Europe, for example, regulatory agencies are developing
strict monitoring protocols for tracking all infections and diseases contracted
by human recipients of xenotransplantation in addition to the rigorous
safeguards to minimize the risk of a crossover disease in the first place.
Unfortunately, the animal rights and environmental activists
seem unlikely to be satisfied with anything but zero risk, which of course
is impossible in any human endeavor (after all, the risk that a deadly
disease will cross over from pigs to human beings just from normal contact
on farms is not zero as the various influenza pandemics are evidence of,
though there are ways to minimize the risk).

Xenotransplantation is simply the
best chance we have to save thousands of lives around the world. Lets
hope animal rights activist and environmentalist extremists don’t close
off this important area of research before scientists even get to explore
it fully.


“Animal organs could save people if the body would accept them,”
Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press, September 17, 1998.

“Biotech regulations: paving the way for British xenotransplantations,”
Nigel Williams, Science Magazine, August 6, 1998.

Campaign for Responsible Transplantation petition,

Scientist says maybe deer hunting isn't cruel after all

Last year the National Trust in
the United Kingdom prohibited Hunting on its land after a study by Patrick
Bateson, a professor of animal behavior, claimed hunting subjected Deer
to incredible level of stress and, therefore, was cruel. In mid-September
Bateson was forced to revise his views to conclude that hunting is not
necessarily cruel.

Bateson, for example, originally
reported that deer subjected to a hunt suffered extensive muscle damage
caused by severe stress. A study by Roger Harris of the Royal Veterinary
College disputed this claim along with a claim Bateson made that stress
from hunting caused red blood cells in the deer to break down.

Perhaps Bateson’s most stunning
claim was that the stress deer experienced from predation by human beings
was unlike any sort of stress deer would experience in a natural environment.
Harris’ study, however, found no evidence of this and concluded that the
stress deer experience during a hunt is not fundamentally different from
other forms of stress.

As a result of Harris’ study, Bateson
and other researchers signed a 9-point statement issuing specific modifications
of the findings of their original research, although Bateson said he still
feels hunting is “knowingly cruel.”


“Professor revises view on deer hunt cruelty,” Charles Clover, The
Daily Telegraph, September 15, 1998.