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Appeals Court to Hear Chimpanzee Lawsuit

Tommy the chimpanzee is headed back to court. He won't be there in person, but the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is appealing a December ruling of a lower court that denied him the legal right to "bodily liberty." (Setting of new precedents is generally left to the higher courts.)

You'll recall that Tommy is one of four chimpanzees in New York State who, according to the NhRP, are being held unlawfully under the common law and should be released to a sanctuary. (The other three are Hercules and Leo, who are being held at a research facility at Stony Brook University, and Kiko, who is being kept as a "pet" in a private home.)

The judges in each of the lower court hearings denied the writs of habeas corpus, which would have enabled the chimpanzees to be transferred to sanctuaries, but two of them clearly indicated that they supported what the NhRP is setting out to do.

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Southwest Lurches from Drought to Flood

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What's behind the massive floods in Phoenix and Las Vegas that caused unprecedented death and destruction this week, along with the deepening megadrought in California, the chilly summer in several Midwestern states, and all the other weird weather effects this year?

For a simple answer, look to the latest figures on greenhouse gases from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year, they went through the roof, once again, with CO2 hitting 396 parts per million, the highest annual level since we started keeping records.

No human being has ever witnessed greenhouse gases at this level. Scientists say the last time Planet Earth was like this was probably about 2 million years ago, during the Pleistocene Era.

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Ebola, Chimpanzees and Fear of the ‘Other’


What does this August 29th Newsweek cover say to you, with its rather menacing-looking chimpanzee and a caption suggesting that these animals and the people from Africa who are like them are about to set off a major epidemic in the United States?

The story is about how "bushmeat", smuggled from faraway jungles into African immigrant neighborhoods and to their food markets in the Bronx, poses a threat to the health of the rest of us.

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Ed Sayres Joins the Pet Breeding Industry

Ed-Sayres-082814Ed Sayres, the former President of the ASPCA, has accepted an invitation from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the lobbying arm of the pet breeding industry, to become its new CEO.

Dear Ed,

You won't be surprised that people in the animal protection community are stunned. How could the past President of the ASPCA switch sides and become the spokesperson for the puppy mills, the breeding establishment, and even the exotic pet business?

The pet breeders themselves are, understandably, suspicious, too. So it's pointed that you addressed your first email not to the millions of people who believed in your work at the "A" and trusted you with their money, but to your new constituents:

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Hoofin’ It Up with the Humane Society


As some 90 diners trekked around four restaurants in Denver this week, Angela Huffman of the Humane Society of the United States, which is sponsoring the four-night gourmet event, proudly explained that the HSUS supports the slaughtering of animals "in conditions that do not abuse them."

So we're being told that taking a baby lamb from her mother and killing her for a gourmet festival is not abuse. That's the premise of an event that's billed as a "farm-to-table guided culinary tour through four Denver neighborhoods."

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Yazidis, Ethnic Cleansing & the Denial of Death

Two weeks ago, I'd never even heard of the Yazidi people. This week, they're top of the news, driven from their homes in Iraq by the murderous Islamic State militia – raped, thrown into mass graves, even crucified and buried alive. Some who escaped have been starving to death on a mountain top under a blazing 120-degree sun, with United States planes dropping emergency food and water packages.

What's this all about? And how does it relate to our usual topic of nonhuman animals?

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SeaWorld Stock Officially in the Tank


When SeaWorld's stock took a dive earlier this year, the company claimed that the weather and the timing of Easter were to blame for the drop in attendance.

But their stock is continuing to fall, and the business world is now saying there's no doubt what the problem is: People understand that marine circus shows involve a lot of animal abuse.

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King Lear, Nature and the End of the World


"The possibility of genuine chaos, real cannibalizing barbarism, is closer to the surface than we can possibly imagine."
Oscar Eustis, artistic director, New York's Public Theater.

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In Israel-Gaza War, Animals Pay Price

A donkey suicide bomb and a farmyard massacre – two examples of how nonhuman animals have become targets in the current war between Israelis and Palestinians.
(Updated below with photo of homeless Palestinian boy and his cat.)

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Previous Extinction Was Largely Bad Timing

Their reign lasted roughly 170 million years, and the latest news is that what finally did them in wasn't simply the notorious asteroid that slammed into the Yucatan 65 million years ago. According to a new study, if the asteroid had hit just a little earlier or later (a few million years either way), the dinosaurs might well still be around today.

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Exploring Consciousness with Jeff Warren


Jeff Warren calls ecology "the contemplative tradition of our time." His Consciousness Explorers Club meets in Toronto each week for guided meditation and "collective wonderment."

In this discussion, we talk about how people who care about the natural world have a kind of empathic consciousness that embraces other living beings, rather than just a small circle of humans; about how meditation can help you to be more focused and effective in what you're doing; and about how he sees the future as we enter a time of mass extinction.

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Nonhuman Rights Project on ‘Colbert Report’

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Legal rights for animals?? Expect Stephen Colbert to be suitably shocked, horrified and appalled when, in character as the classic right-wing bloviator, he welcomes Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project as his special guest, Thursday evening, on The Colbert Report. Read more

An Emerging Consciousness – Part Two

Does the empathy that certain people have with nonhuman life constitute the seed of a new kind or level of consciousness?

Could it be possible for a body of people, who are of like mind and heart in relation to our fellow animals, to give rise to a new kind of collective consciousness?

At a time of mass extinction, it’s a notion that, however fanciful, may be the only future available to us.

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An Emerging Consciousness

(This is one of a series of posts exploring how, as chaos grows around the world and a Sixth Extinction takes hold, a new kind of collective consciousness may be emerging among certain kinds of people – and what this may mean.)

One evening, in the fall of 1995, when I was checking the message boards of our CompuServe forum (remember those old online services?!), the following suddenly appeared:

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Authentic Spirituality in the Coming Storm

Once you've accepted that Planet Earth has entered a Sixth Great Extinction – one that's irreversible and that will consume most, if not all, species, including our own – the question becomes: What now? Where does this leave you? And what do you do with the time remaining?

Most people, of course, haven't accepted that we're already well into a major extinction event. They prefer either to remain in complete denial or to pretend to themselves that human ingenuity and technology will somehow ride to the rescue. (In fact, more technology almost invariably goes hand-in-hand with more destruction.)

But for those of us who do understand that the facts are undeniable, it's time to discuss where we go from here. So, what are some of the things we need to consider?

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Happy Birthday, Daphne Sheldrick

The original photo bomb? A baby elephant joins Daphne Sheldrick for tea in the early days of the Elephant Orphanage.

At the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Kenya, nobody has ever used a bullhook or a million-volt electrical prod. The very idea would be unthinkable.

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SeaWorld Becomes a Laughing Stock


You know your company is in trouble when everyone starts laughing at you. That's what's happening to SeaWorld now that the activists have been joined by the hacktivists. And for SeaWorld it's no joke.

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Chimpanzee Personalities Almost Identical to Humans

A new study of captive chimpanzees concludes that the personality traits of chimpanzees are almost identical to those of humans.

I asked psychologist Sam Gosling of the University of Texas at Austin what's been learned from the study. Prof. Gosling didn't take part in this particular research, but, as one of the first people to study personality in nonhuman animals, he has perhaps the best overview of personality in all kinds of animals, both human and nonhuman.

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How the Weather Is Like Fido

The new Cosmos series continues to take down those who prefer to believe that the Earth is flat, that we were all created in six days, and that we're not in the middle of a human-caused climate crisis. In this clip, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why global warming can give you a freezing winter.

How to Get the Doors to Open