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Update on Habeas Corpus Chimp Ruling

Justice Jaffe has amended the order she issued yesterday in a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), regarding two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, who are being used for biomedical experimentation at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.

Yesterday it read “ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE & WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS”. This afternoon, Justice Jaffe struck out the words “& WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS” from the title of her Order.

The judge has not commented on her amendment. But the fact is we have entered unmapped legal territory, and we should expect a certain amount of confusion as these cases go forward, more back-and-forth, revisions and re-revisions, appeals and counter-appeals.

Yesterday's decision was a huge step forward. Today's amendment sets it back a small step. But the step forward is still huge, and the door is still open for the court to recognize that Hercules and Leo are legal persons with the fundamental right to bodily liberty.

Here's the NhRP's interpretation of the situation: Read more

In Historic Ruling, Court Recognizes Two Chimps as Legal Persons

For the first time in history, a judge has granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a nonhuman animal.

This afternoon, in a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe issued the writ on behalf of two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, who are being used for biomedical experimentation at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.

Under the law of New York State, only a "legal person" may have a writ of habeas corpus issued in his or her behalf. The Court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are "persons".

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California’s Dark Drought Secret

As usual when it comes to the topic of drought, there’s a giant elephant in the room that almost no one wants to talk about. In California, the elephant is a cow and the unmentionable subject is animal agriculture.

While everyone's talking about cutting personal use of water by 25 percent and that almonds cost three gallons of water per nut, what we're not being told is that a single quarter-pound hamburger costs 660 gallons of water.

Or that a single gallon of milk costs 1,000 gallons of water.

According to the Pacific Institute's Assessment of California's Water Footprint, no less than 47 percent of California's water is used for meat and dairy products: Read more

How SeaWorld Is Like Scientology

hargrove-040115If you've seen how SeaWorld is responding to John Hargrove's new book Beneath the Surface, it's hard to miss the similarities with Scientology's dirty tricks campaigns as portrayed in the HBO documentary Going Clear. SeaWorld is operating right out of the Scientology playbook.

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Utah to Chickens: "Screw You!"

Utah's Attorney General is concerned for poor people.

The new law in California that gives egg-laying chickens enough room to "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around" is causing the price of an egg in Utah to go up about two cents.

This creates a burden that, according to the A.G., "disproportionately affects low-income families."

That's thoughtful of him, even though the burden is not exactly huge. After all, if you're a "disproportionately affected" person and you eat, say, four eggs a week, you could cover the extra $4.16 a year by cutting out one soda maybe every three or four months.

Still too much?

O.K., so since Utah clearly cares about its lower-income families, the rest of us who live in the state could perhaps chip in to help. This would work out roughly as follows:

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The Post-Human Future

Part Six in the series “I Am Not an Animal.” In previous posts, we looked at how our anxiety over our mortal, animal nature drives us to distance ourselves, psychologically and literally, from our fellow animals; at how ancient mythologies told of a “fall” from a time when we were in harmony with the other animals; and at how our belief in “human exceptionalism” has led us to treat them.

Now we ask: Where do we go from here, and is there any way out of our situation?

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The Right Music for Cats

cats-music-030515In a lighter vein than usual on this blog (!): What kind of music do cats prefer: Jazz? Classical? Bluegrass? New Age?

The answer: None of these. Cats, of course, prefer cat music.

But what exactly is cat music?

Check out this short clip from Spook's Ditty, a rollicking tune for fun-loving felines, by composer David Teie.

Teie explains that Spook's Ditty is "a lively song that includes musical representations of environmental sounds that are designed to arouse a cat's interest and curiosity."

Then again, if Fluffy is looking for something a little more restful after dinner, she might prefer this from Rusty's Ballad:

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Ringling Caves!

The elephants are packing their trunks.

By any standard, today's decision by the Ringling Circus to phase out its elephant acts represents a seismic shift in the use of nonhuman animals as clowns.

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Greyhound Shock Angers Australians

Greyhound portraits"Make no mistake," writes greyhound racer Kevin Pitstock. "Greyhound racing in Australia is teetering on the brink of destruction."

In the wake of an investigative report from the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), Pitstock is warning his colleagues that "calls for an end to greyhound racing are coming from far and wide."

It's reached a crossroad, he says. "It can continue with new leadership and a new set of values; or it can go the way so many have before it."

Except you can't dress up dog racing with a "new set of values." The whole thing is just evil from top to bottom.

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The Westminster Porn Show

Dog Show
Hard on the heels of Valentine's Day comes the Westminster Dog Show and, this year, the opening weekend of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

Columnist and former war correspondent Chris Hedges calls Fifty Shades:

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Killing Them Softly

chicken-021215A headline last week in a trade publication called The Poultry Site proudly proclaimed:

"Animal Welfare at Slaughter Improves in UK."

Welcome to the Orwellian world of animal "welfare", where it's a triumph, we're told, that more slaughterhouses are simply complying with existing regulations and when some of them are even switching over from electrocuting birds in tubs of water to gassing them prior to decapitating them. A triumph indeed.

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The Psychology of "I Am Not an Animal"

lori-marino-cat-021015(Fifth in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

By Dr. Lori Marino

However much we like to think of ourselves as different from and superior to the other animals, we can’t escape the fact that we are, just like them, mortal, physical creatures, equally subject to the laws of nature.

The existential terror that’s caused by this ever-present knowledge has been studied at length by psychologists in the field of Terror Management Theory (TMT).

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How to Find Your Own True Mission

andrew-harvey-020215In this second part of our interview with Andrew Harvey, he talks about how you can discover your own true mission and about what can happen when you bring deep spiritual awareness together with a passionate love of justice.

"You actually create a whole new force that over time can change the most intractable situations."

*               *               *

Michael Mountain: You said last time that we're in a "worldwide global genocide of animals" and you asked:

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Sacred Activism in the Service of Animals

Andrew-Harvey-1-012815It's unusual to find someone who combines a deep, mystical love of the Divine with a stark realism about how we humans are bringing on a mass extinction of life on this planet. Andrew Harvey is one of that rare breed.

Born in India, he won a scholarship to Oxford University, where he was awarded the high honor of a fellowship to All Soul’s College. Later, he studied Hinduism, Buddhism and Sufism, which led him to translate some of the works of one of the great Sufi mystics, Rumi.

Today, he teaches what he calls Sacred Activism, a combination of spiritual discipline and practical grassroots action – particularly in relation to our fellow animals. This is the first part of our interview with him.

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Secrets of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center

US Meat Animal Research Center
If you haven't read the shocking, eye-opening report by the New York Times on the secret, government-operated US Meat Animal Research Center and its "one overarching mission: helping producers of beef, pork and lamb turn a higher profit," you owe it to yourself and to the animals to check it out.

The article is much more than just a litany of horrors; it's a meticulous description of living creatures being used in experiments to turn them into bigger, better, tastier, faster-growing units in the vast industrial machine of factory farming. For example:

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A New World View of Our Fellow Animals

unity-of-life-12315In the first part of our interview with Stephen Cave, he talked about how, once we decide that we are fundamentally different in kind from the other animals, we can then view them as having a lower moral status, and how that, in turn, opens up "a whole world of possibilities for how we treat them."

In this second part, he talks about how we need to develop a new world view and a new kind of "story" that we tell ourselves to describe who and what we are. It would be a story that can replace the increasingly destructive one we tell ourselves about how we're a separate and superior creation whose mission is to take "dominion" over the other animals and to "subdue the Earth."

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How Our Immortality Projects Impact the Other Animals

In previous posts we’ve talked about how our relationship to our fellow animals and the way we treat them is driven by our anxiety over the fact that we’re animals, too, and our denial of our own animal nature.

In his book Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilization, Stephen Cave discusses the chief ways in which we persuade ourselves that we’re not really animals, that we can avoid death altogether, or at least that some part of us will live on in some way after we’re dead. Here’s the trailer to the book:

In the first of two posts, Cave explains how, once we decide that we are fundamentally different in kind from other animals, we can then view them as having a lower moral status. And that, in turn, opens up "a whole world of possibilities for how we treat them."

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Taking Dominion and Subduing the Earth


Starting around 9,000 years ago, the agricultural era brought about the large-scale domestication of animals and a fundamental shift in our relationship to them. Less and less beings of great mystery and power, they were becoming, instead, commodities.

(Fourth in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

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The Birth of Human Exceptionalism


How and when did we humans decide we didn’t want to think of ourselves as animals any longer? How did we go from thinking of the other animals as essentially our equals to treating them as commodities that exist to be mined from the oceans by huge factory ships and manufactured from birth to death on factory farms?

It’s obviously a long and complex story, but we can get an idea of how it took place over thousands of years in various parts of the world.

(Third in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

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Believe It or Not

Sandra tries to hide in her pen at the Buenos Aires Zoo

In the first-ever case of its kind, an orangutan at a zoo in Argentina has been recognized by a high court as being a "legal person" with the capacity for certain legal rights, including habeas corpus, so she may be taken from the zoo and sent to a sanctuary.

Sounds great. Except that none of it is true.

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