Will Potter: The shocking move to criminalize nonviolent protest

Ted Talk by Will Potter, author of Green is the New Red, about the persecution of activists and the criminalization of non-violent protests.


Some Good News for Animals

Pig Friend
Two major announcements regarding farm animal welfare provide some measure of celebration for animals in these trying times.

First, in Ohio, activists have been working to get a proposition on the ballot, much like those successfully run in Arizona and California. Instead of proceeding with the ballot initiative, Ohioans for Humane Farms (supported by the Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, and other animal advocacy groups) agreed to drop their campaign if the state’s agricultural industry agreed to several reforms, including a ban on veal crates, a ban on gestation crates, and other measures (which are outlined in this Farm Sanctuary press release).

Second, according to an HSUS press release, today California’s Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill that requires by January 2015, all eggs sold in California

come from hens able to stand up, fully extend their limbs, lie down and spread their wings without touching each other or the sides of their enclosure, thus requiring cage-free conditions for the birds.

Otherwise, laying hens are kept in cruel battery cages. Imagine if you had so sit on a metal folding chair your whole life – you can’t move, you can’t stand, you can’t stretch. That’s what a battery cage is like. Kudos to Schwarzenegger for signing the bill into law.

BP and Animal Cruelty

In the blog, The PETA Files, Ingrid Newkirk argues that if any charges are brought against BP for the oil spill, animal cruelty should be among them. Newkirk almost presents this as fantasy, which of course it is, but she concluded her post by offering a number of personal choices that can make the world better for animals, including reducing meat consumption (or better yet going vegetarian), working to reduce or eliminate factory farming, and buying less gas and other petroleum-based products. All these suggestions are relevant, and so easy. But, for the record, I am totally OK with charging BP with animal cruelty.

Early Animal Rights Poem

Today, NPR reported on “The Mouse’s Petition,” what may be the first animal rights poem. Written in 1773 by Anna Lætitia Aikin, a lab assistant to Joseph Priestly, the poem is written from the point of view of one of the many mice in Priestly’s tuberculosis lab.

For here forlorn and sad I sit,
Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at th’ approaching morn,
Which brings impending fate.

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts through matter’s varying forms,
In every form the same,

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother’s soul you find;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

NPR Story
Entire Poem on University of Maryland website

Help Save Orangutan Forest

The following message is from my dear friend Jen. Please visit the link to help save the orangutan’s habitat!

Please help!

There is a proposal to clear thousands of acres of orangutan forest in Indonesia.Orangutans have been recently released into this area, and approval of this proposal will be devastating to their habitat.You can sign the petition to stop this proposal at the Australian Orangutan Project site below.

You can also read more about Palm oil issues on the site. Please take time to read a little about Palm Oil and how not only is it affecting orangutans, but tigers, rhinos and elephants too. I urge you all, please read labels and avoid whenever possible purchasing items containing palm oil.


Thank you,


Pigs as Teaching Tools on Grey’s Anatomy

Last Thursday, Grey’s Anatomy depicted the use of live pigs for medical training. I watch Grey’s Anatomy, but I have a love-hate relationship with the show, and I was not responding with love last week. You know how I love pigs.

At the same time, I was glad that Kathrine Heigl’s character, Izzie, took a strong stand against using animals in training and research. She spoke articulately about the new technology available in lieu of using animals as well as the fact that animal and human physiology are different enough that experiments performed on animals may not generalize to humans.

Today, I received an email alert from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine which discussed the episode and revealed that, due to Heigl’s influence, PCRM was invited to comment about the use of animals in medicine and provide much of the research from which Izzie’s dialoge was drawn. I appreciate the producers’ and writers’ open-mindedness and praise Heigl and the PCRM for standing up for animals.


From the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

Dear PCRM supporter,

Last Thursday night’s episode of the television hit Grey’s Anatomy featured a subplot in which live pigs were stabbed, and then interns and residents were told to treat the injured animals as part of a trauma training exercise. (Note: No real pigs were used in the filming of the episode.)

Nancy Heigl, PCRM supporter and the mother of actress Katherine Heigl, who plays Dr. Izzie Stevens on the show, contacted us when the story line was being developed because the actress was disturbed by the subplot. PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., and PCRM senior medical and research adviser John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., both had extensive conversations with the producers of the show about the overwhelming trend in medical education to use simulators instead of animals in medical education.

This input from PCRM staff was invaluable in helping the writers modify the program and develop Dr. Stevens’ character. When the episode aired, viewers saw her refuse to participate in the training exercise and take a strong, informed, and vocal stand against the practice. As a result, millions of viewers were exposed to our position against the use of animals in medical education in one of the season’s highest rated television shows.

Our thanks go to Nancy and Katherine Heigl for involving PCRM and to the producers of Grey’s Anatomy for giving PCRM the opportunity to bring a dose of reality to this prime-time drama.

You can view the episode online at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/greysanatomy/index?pn=index

While most advanced trauma life support courses around the country use human simulators, many continue to use live animals, including courses at Idaho State University (ISU). In fact, ISU uses lost and stray dogs obtained from the local animal shelter for these lethal procedures. Please help these animals by writing to the president of ISU. Click here for more information.

We would also like to hear what you thought of the episode by taking our very brief survey.

Best regards,
Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of Research Policy

Poor Wrigley!

Wrigley, a cute bunny, was found abandoned in a school playground by 3Bunnies Rescue in Connecticut. Wrigley had very bad ear mites and required costly surgery. Please spread the word that 3Bunnies is seeking donations for Wrigley’s treatment, and, if you can, donate!

UPDATE: 3Bunnies thinks Wrigley was a bunny given as an Easter gift who was either “set free” or abandoned. Please do not give bunnies, chicks, or other critters as gifts on Easter. This is what happens to too many of them. Luckily, Wrigley was noticed and rescued, but others are not.