Archive for January 26th, 2012

Bergeron & Roberts forcefed monkeys toxic waste, gave okay for children to play in toxic dirt

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

by NIO Florida

The state of Georgia wanted to turn an arsenic-poisoned waste site into a little league baseball field so they commissioned the University of Florida to conduct bioavailability studies. Always eager to profit from animal suffering, UF dispatched Raymond J. Bergeron and Stephen Roberts to conduct the torture sessions in which they forcefed monkeys arsenic-poisioned mud. In turn, the state of Georgia was provided with the results they had hoped for which allowed them to go forward with their project. So, now, little Johnny is eating arsenic-laced dirt every time he slides into home plate, compliments of UF.

This abstract published in 2002 explains that Bergeron & Roberts, et al wanted to assess the dangers that toxic dirt might pose for humans. In order to properly poison five Capuchins, they collected arsenic-contaminated soil from five sites in Florida: an electrical substation, a wood preservative treatment site, two pesticide sites, and a cattle-dip vat site. The corresponding documents obtained from UF elucidate the monkeys’ harrowing ordeal.

Vet records indicate that the five monkeys were sedated and extracted from their cages in the usual manner. The false back would have been used to squeeze each terrified prisoner up against the front of his cell and two gloved attackers would have subdued their struggling victim so that he could be “knocked down” with Ketamine. Each was then put in a box cage that is about the size of a kitchen stove. Records indicate that their urine, feces, and blood were collected for analysis.

A source inside UF explains what the vet records and IACUC protocols reveal:

On “drug day,” all of the monkeys were sedated and blood was drawn again for baseline analysis. These cages also have false rears and the monkeys were again squeezed stressfully to the front for sedation. All of the monkeys were sedated. The effects wear off within 15-20 minutes, so the tech would have had to work quickly. One of the monkeys was given a non-toxic level of sodium arsenate solution via IV injection. Another was forcefed dirt with arsenic. Forcefeeding (euphemistically termed “oral gavage”) consists of an infant oral feeding tube attached to a syringe. The tube is passed down the throat and when it is in the stomach, the syringe is depressed, injecting the mud into the stomach. The injected dirt had a known amount of arsenic in it. In the same way, water with the same amount of arsenic was forcefed to the third monkey. A fourth monkey was forcefed mud as well, but without any arsenic in it. The fifth monkey was given only water. The monkeys were then returned to their cages to recover.

Records indicate that the dirt-fed monkeys vomited frequently when coming out of sedation. This would have ruined the study and it would, therefore, have had to be repeated. This happened so often that eventually the calculated amount of arsenic given was adjusted based upon how much was actually kept down, rather than the total amount originally dosed. An anti-emetic was also injected to keep the monkeys from being nauseous (a normal side effect of the sedation drugs – even without a belly full of toxic mud).

 At the end of the study, the animals were sedated a final time and returned to their metal cages. Vet records indicate that they continued to be subjected to Bergeron’s iron chelation torture experiments.

Previously released records:

The 17-year ordeal of Monkey 2A4

Louis: an odyssey of pain

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Patriarchy emerged as humans began to engage in farming and animal husbandry

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

by Eman Khaleq

Any increase in awareness of rape and violence against women can only be attributed to the efforts of the organized women’s movement.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that one in four women have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. Researchers also discovered that for nearly 70 percent of women who were victims of some type of intimate partner violence, it happened for the first time before age 25. Sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence are widespread in the United States but are rarely ever addressed.

Violence against women rooted in class society

The origins of violence against women can be traced to the “world historic defeat of the female sex,” as 19th century German socialist Frederick Engels called it.

Before the emergence of patriarchy and class society, there was a time in which humans did not know of any exploitation, whether it be of man by man or of woman by man. This period was known as matriarchy. This does not mean women were superior to men, but instead there was an absence of male supremacy and the line of descent was established through the female, not the male.

Engels referred to this stage of society as “primitive communism” because the means of production were primitive, based on hunting and gathering, but the social group worked together as a whole to ensure the survival of all its members.

The supremacy of one sex over the other began with patriarchy. Patriarchy emerged with the development of an economic surplus, as humans began to engage in farming and animal husbandry. Over many generations, men, who controlled the herds, sought to ensure the line of inheritance to their own sons—instead of to the wife’s family. At approximately the same time period, the first class societies began to take shape, based on slavery.

For the first time, a human being could be the property of another human being. Women and children began to be seen as the property of men. Women’s sexuality was put under strict control to ensure that the children they bore were “legitimate”—that is, were the children of the husband.

No such limits were put on men’s sexual behavior. It is in these long ago days that we can trace the beginning of violence against women. If a woman “belongs” to a man, then it is his “right” to force her to have sex or to physically abuse her.

Throughout the history of class society, women have been oppressed. Their lives and interests are subjugated by the ownership of private property and the thirst of the ruling class to increase exploitation and maintain domination.

The emergence of private property marks the transition from the formerly cooperative relationship between man and woman, based on communal ownership of property, into one of the subjection of woman to man based upon private ownership of property. From this point on, women were viewed as the property of men and stripped of equality.

Today, sexism is present throughout our social, cultural and political life. We must not forget that it is the capitalist system that perpetuates this legacy. Women’s ongoing subordinate position in society, at home and on the job, originated in the rise of class society.

It has been compounded today by cuts in welfare benefits, child care and health care as well as by racism. Women continue to be subjected to violence and exploitation in capitalist society.

Karl Marx’s theory of alienation refers to the capitalist system’s ability to create contradictions between things that are naturally in harmony. We can see how this plays a role in the ongoing problem of violence against women from their intimate partners.

Working-class family members must work numerous tireless hours, selling their labor power in order to live. With the difficulties of affording adequate housing, health care, child care and education, frustration and stress arise. In fact, research indicates that as unemployment increases, so do rates of domestic violence. Violence against women is a reactionary response to class oppression and an attempt to exert physical control over what men believe is their property.

One of the reasons a woman may remain in an abusive relationship is because she lacks the ability to be economically independent. In a country where women now make up more than half of the workforce, wage disparity is still a reality. Today, women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar and African American women make 69.6 cents, while Latinas make 59.8 cents to the dollar earned by a man. This wage disparity is a source of super-profits for the capitalist class.

While today elected officials and law enforcement will speak out publicly against domestic and sexual abuse, it was not until relatively recently that laws were passed prohibiting domestic violence and marital rape. In 1882, Maryland became the first state to pass a law that makes wife-beating a crime, punishable by 40 lashes or a year in jail. Only in 1945 did a California statute state that any husband who willfully inflicts upon his wife corporal injury in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony.

In 1976, Nebraska made marital rape a crime, but until 1996 only 11 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia completely repudiated the marital rape exemption. Seven states (Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah) recognize a marital rape exemption unless the parties are separated. Illinois and Mississippi retain total exemptions for marital rape. In California, a husband can be prosecuted for aggravated or first-degree rape, but still retains immunity from prosecution for “lesser” attacks.

Socialism leads the way for women’s liberation

As opposed to the oppression and exploitation of women under capitalism, socialist countries empower and grant women equality.

Cuba has made important strides in attempting to eliminate sexism. The constitution outlaws discrimination based on gender, race or sexual orientation. Reproductive rights are guaranteed. Women have access to contraceptives and abortion. They have access to top-quality prenatal and obstetric care as well as maternity leave.

Cuba’s infant mortality rate is lower than that of the United States. All Cubans have access to education, and the majority of doctors, teachers, researchers and scientists are women. Women are 47 percent of the workforce. (Federation of Cuban Women Report, Beijing 2000)

Across pre-revolutionary China, women formed mass women’s associations such as the one in Kinhua’s village. Kinhua, or “Gold Flower,” was forced into an arranged marriage despite her love for another man. Her husband and father-in-law routinely abused her.

In 1945, a representative of the Red Army came to the village and called the women together to form a women’s association.

They created a people’s court for women. Abusive men were tied up and forced to face large meetings where women could testify about their abuse. The associations also guaranteed that abusive behavior did not continue.

One of the first major laws passed by the Chinese government following the 1949 revolution was the Marriage Law. This law outlawed paying for wives, polygamy, concubines, child marriage and interference in the remarriage of widows as well as guaranteed the right of divorce to both parties. By the next year, there were over 20,000 divorces, almost 80 percent of which were initiated by women.

The new government also placed special emphasis on campaigns to raise women’s literacy. In 1950, many cities reported that around 95 percent of illiterate women workers were attending classes.

The same applies to the 1917 Russian Revolution, the first revolution where the working class successfully took power and held it. In some of the first legal acts of the new revolutionary government, women gained rights that they didn’t have in the capitalist world including the right to vote and to abortion on demand. The Bolsheviks abolished the old laws that enforced gender inequality. The new laws passed were designed to give women economic, social and sexual rights.

The need for a fighting women’s movement

Women’s liberation has never and will never come from the ruling class. Women’s associations, like those that emerged in China, need to be formed and solidified here in the United States to overthrow the oppressive ruling class that sets laws, creates contradictions and strips women of equality. We need to unite with our brothers against the ruling class to end inequality, economic disparity, social oppression and violence against women because a woman’s place is at the head of the struggle for the liberation of all humanity!

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SWAT Raids, Stun Guns, And Pepper Spray: Why The Government Is Ramping Up The Use Of Force

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

by Radley Balko (Huffington Post)

In February of last year, video surfaced of a marijuana raid in Columbia, Mo. During the raid on Jonathan Whitworth and his family, police took down the door with a battering ram, then within seconds shot and killed one of Whitworth’s dogs and wounded the other. They didn’t find enough pot in the house to charge Whitworth with even a misdemeanor. (He was, however, charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia when police found a pipe.) The disturbing video went viral in May 2010, triggering outrage around the world. On Fox News, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer and Bill O’Reilly cautioned not to judge the entire drug war by the video, which they characterized as an isolated incident.

In fact, very little about the raid that was isolated or unusual. For the most part, it was carried out the same way drug warrants are served some 150 times per day in the United States. The battering ram, the execution of Whitworth’s dog, the fact that police weren’t aware Whitworth’s 7-year-old child was in the home before they riddled the place with bullets, the fact that they found only a small amount of pot, likely for personal use — all are common in drug raids. The only thing unusual was that the raid was recorded by police, then released to the public after an open records request by the Columbia Daily Tribune. It was as if much of the country was seeing for the first time the violence with which the drug war is actually fought. And they didn’t like what they saw.

That video came to mind with the outrage and public debate over the now-infamous pepper-spraying of Occupy protesters at the University of California-Davis protest earlier this month. The incident was just one of a number of high-profile uses of force amid crackdowns on Occupy protesters across the country, including one in Oakland in which the skull of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was fractured by a tear gas canister, and in New York, where NYPD Officer Anthony Bologna pepper-sprayed protesters who had been penned in by police fencing.

But America’s police departments have been moving toward more aggressive, force-first, militaristic tactics and their accompanying mindset for 30 years. It’s just that, with the exception of protests at the occasional free trade or World Bank summit, the tactics haven’t generally been used on mostly white, mostly college-educated kids armed with cellphone cameras and a media platform.

Police militarization is now an ingrained part of American culture. SWAT teams are featured in countless cop reality shows, and wrong-door raids are the subject of “The Simpsons” bits and search engine commercials. Tough-on-crime sheriffs now sport tanks and hardware more equipped for battle in a war zone than policing city streets. Seemingly benign agencies such as state alcohol control boards and the federal Department of Education can now enforce laws and regulations not with fines and clipboards, but with volatile raids by paramilitary police teams.

Outraged by the Occupy crackdowns, some pundits and political commentators who paid little heed to these issues in the past are now calling for a national discussion on the use of force. That’s a welcome development, but it’s helpful to review how we got here in order to have an honest discussion.

Part of the trend can be attributed to the broader tough-on-crime and drug war policies pushed by politicians of both parties since at least the early 1980s, but part of the problem also lies with America’s political culture. Public officials’ decisions today to use force and the amount of force are as governed by political factors as by an honest assessment of the threat a suspect or group may pose. Over the years, both liberals and conservatives have periodically raised alarms over the government’s increasing willingness to use disproportionately aggressive force. And over the years, both sides have tended to hush up when the force is applied by political allies, directed at political opponents, or is used to enforce the sorts of laws they favor.

How We Got Here

According to Eastern Kentucky University criminologist Peter Kraska, the number of SWAT raids carried out each year in America has jumped dramatically over the last generation or so, from just a few thousand in the 1980s to around 50,000 by the mid-2000s, when Kraska stopped his survey. He found that the vast majority of the increase is attributable to the drug war — namely warrant service on low-to-mid-level drug offenders. A number of federal policies have driven the trend, including offering domestic police departments military training, allowing training with military organizations, using “troops-to-cops” programs and offering surplus military equipment and weaponry to domestic police police departments for free or at major discounts. There has also been a constant barrage of martial rhetoric from politicians and policymakers.

Dress cops up as soldiers, give them military equipment, train them in military tactics, tell them they’re fighting a “war,” and the consequences are predictable. These policies have taken a toll. Among the victims of increasingly aggressive and militaristic police tactics: Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Md., whose dogs were killed when Prince George’s County police mistakenly raided his home; 92-year-old Katherine Johnston, who was gunned down by narcotics cops in Atlanta in 2006; 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, who was killed by Modesto, Calif., police during a drug raid in September 2000; 80-year-old Isaac Singletary, who was shot by undercover narcotics police in 2007 who were attempting to sell drugs from his yard; Jonathan Ayers, a Georgia pastor shot as he tried to flee a gang of narcotics cops who jumped him at a gas station in 2009; Clayton Helriggle, a 23-year-old college student killed during a marijuana raid in Ohio in 2002; and Alberta Spruill, who died of a heart attack after police deployed a flash grenade during a mistaken raid on her Harlem apartment in 2003. Most recently, voting rights activist Barbara Arnwine was raided by a SWAT team in Prince George’s County, Md., on Nov. 21. Police were looking for Arnwine’s nephew, a suspect in an armed robbery.*

The drug war has been the primary policy driving the trend but, since 2001, the federal government has also used the threat of terror attacks to further militarize domestic law enforcement. This includes not only finding new sources of funding for armor, weapons and gear, but also claiming new powers for the “War on Terror” that are then inevitably used in more routine law enforcement.

But paramilitary creep has also spread well beyond the drug war. In recent years, SWAT teams have been used to break up neighborhood poker games, including one at an American Legion Hall in Dallas. In 2006, Virginia optometrist Sal Culosi was killed when the Fairfax County Police Department sent a SWAT team to arrest him for gambling on football games. SWAT teams are also now used to arrest people suspected of downloading child pornography. Last year, an Austin, Texas, SWAT team broke down a man’s door because he was suspected of stealing koi fish from a botanical garden.

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Ag Gag Bill Dead in Florida

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

A still image from a Humane Society of the United States undercover video shows caged chickens on an egg farm. A Florida effort that would outlaw the gathering of undercover photos and video was dropped, but five other states are still attempting to pass similar laws in 2012.

by Dean Kuipers (Los Angeles Times)

The Florida Legislature has dropped a controversial provision that would have made it a crime to photograph or videotape on agricultural facilities without consent.

We have reported previously on this blog that several states have attempted to thwart whistle-blowers and animal rights activists by making it a crime to record images on a farm, lab or other animal enterprise. Of course, many other actions such as trespassing, removing animals and other acts are already illegal.

Florida was taking a lead in this push, but in the last few days its legislature has removed the image collection language – derisively called an “ag gag” provision by activists – from state House Bill 1021 and state Senate Bill 1184.

“These bills threaten animal welfare,” says Suzanne McMillan, director of Farm Animal Welfare for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who has monitored these bills. “However, they also threaten constitutional rights, they have a chilling effect on speech. Which is a serious concern. Any time you limit speech, legally, a higher threshold needs to be met and it’s certainly not being met in this case.”

The animal welfare organization points out that an undercover video made at a Florida dairy farm was used to pass humane slaughter and euthanasia laws. That video showed calves with gunshot wounds left in a watery pit to drown.

Video and photos gathered by undercover activists and even news reporters has been a mainstay of investigative journalism for decades. There has been some question as to whether the actual gathering of images also violates the broad federal 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which makes it illegal to negatively affect the profits of an animal enterprise. The Center for Constitutional Rights is currently challenging that financial harm provision in court.

Four other states are now considering such video and photo bans, including Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

“These bills are a direct threat to us controlling our food supply and to the American public understanding where it’s food comes from,” McMillan adds . “If large animal agribusiness has nothing to hide, why is it supporting these kinds of bills? Time and again, undercover investigations have revealed these exact problems: food safety concerns, animal welfare violations, environmental violations.”

 

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Meateaters should be held accountable

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

by Barbara Ellen (UK Observer)

There have been times during my years of vegetarianism when I’ve wondered if I may indeed grow out of it. I’ve wondered if there might come a day when I’ll put aside my childish aversion to the thought of dead stuff travelling through my intestines, like a corpse on a raft ride.

However, it could never happen, and not because I’m so enlightened, sensitive or any of the other euphemisms for “whining hippie” usually dumped on vegetarians. My conversion to flesh-eating couldn’t happen because, frankly, I’m not stupid enough. As in, I can read.

Analysis of more than 6,000 pancreatic cancer cases published in the British Journal of Cancer says that eating just 50g of processed meat a day (one sausage or a couple of slices of bacon) raises the likelihood of pancreatic cancer by a fifth. 100g a day (the equivalent of a medium burger) raises it by 38%, 150g by 57%. Men are worst hit, as they tend to eat the most processed meat. And while pancreatic cancer is not the most common of cancers, it’s frequently diagnosed late, with four-fifths of sufferers dying within a year of diagnosis.

It should be pointed out that this is about processed meat. However, many past studies have stated a probable link between too much meat and all manner of cancers and heart problems, as well as links to other conditions, from diabetes and high blood pressure to obesity and Alzheimer’s.

If, by now, you’re thinking that I’m out to shock you, then you couldn’t be more wrong. I’d be shocked if any of this was considered new enough to shock anyone. This information has popped up regularly for years in all forms of popular media. Indeed, in this era of info overload, if you’ve never come across the “burgers and kebabs are unhealthy” revelation, one would have to presume you’ve been lying in a coma. With this in mind, isn’t it time to ask, exactly how thick, how hard to educate, are meat eaters and why aren’t they held accountable in the same way everyone else is?

Sympathy is in short supply these days. You can’t move for people being blamed for their own miserable situations: smokers who “burden” the NHS; alcoholics who don’t “deserve” liver transplants; obese people who “should” pay more for flights. Even those poor terrified women with the faulty breast implants are said to have “brought it on themselves”.

By this logic, people who’ve been regularly informed of the dangers of meat, particularly the cheap processed variety, but who continue to wolf it down should be held just as accountable.

Yet these meat eaters are rarely lambasted. If they’re mentioned at all, it’s in general poor lifestyle terms, as an afterthought to drinking, smoking, and lack of exercise. You just don’t get people making emotional pronouncements about bacon lovers not deserving cancer treatment or kebab fans burdening the NHS. Few are criticised for following the kind of meat-laden diets (Atkins, Dukan), which, one can only presume, are colonic timebombs waiting to happen.

Where meat is concerned, it is almost as if we have developed a personal responsibility blind spot. Where we just shrug and say, meat is here, it’s always been here, it is what it is. But meat hasn’t always been here in the form of additive-stuffed burgers, pork pies, sausages et al. In my opinion, it’s the meat eaters’ duty to take this information on board and take direct personal responsibility for the consequences, just as alcoholics and smokers do.

It’s not as if they haven’t been warned countless times about the dangers – how wilfully ill-informed can people be? Or maybe they’re just hard. In fact, when I say I’m not dumb enough to eat meat, I should probably add brave enough. With so much frightening information, so readily available for so long, the modern committed carnivore must have nerves of steel.

 

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