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What is Veganism?

Vegan Lunch at Sanchon restaurant, Seoul, South Korea

Veganism is the practice of avoiding harm to all animals, which requires abstention from all animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede and leather. Some call veganism a moral baseline for animal rights activists.

Animal Rights Spotlight10

International Court Finds Japanese Whaling Illegal

Thursday April 3, 2014

Whaling in Japan
A captured whale is butchered in Japan in 2001.

On Monday, the United Nation's International Court of Justice confirmed what we all already knew: Japan's "scientific" whaling is a cover-up for their commercial whaling and violates the international ban on commercial whaling.

Japan has been commercially hunting whales for nearly 30 years under the guise of scientific research. While this judgment is long overdue, and it's great news that an international tribunal ruled against Japan on this, the door is open for Japan and other countries to kill whales in the name of science if they come up with a rigorous scientific plan and stick to it.

Leave it to me to find the cloud that goes with every silver lining.

Learn more about the court's decision here, and learn more about the commercial whaling that is going on in Iceland and Norway.

Koichi Kamoshida / Getty Images

Activist Ryan Shapiro Sues NSA, FBI, DIA

Thursday March 27, 2014

Ryan Shapiro

Animal rights activist and MIT Ph.D. candidate Ryan Shapiro has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Defense Intelligence Agency for their failure to respond to his Freedom of Information Act requests. Shapiro is working on his dissertation, titled, "Bodies at War: Animals, Science, and National Security in the United States," which examines how animal rights activists are marginalized under the guise of national security. As part of his dissertation research, Shapiro has filed approximately 700 FOIA requests with the FBI. The law gives government agencies 20 days to respond to FOIA requests, but the FBI is asking a court for seven years to decide whether to release the documents, ironically citing national security concerns.

Shapiro's complaint was filed in the US District Court, District of Columbia, and asks for the court to declare that the agencies' failure to respond is illegal, rule that Shapiro is entitled to expedited processing of his FOIA request, and award costs and fees related to the litigation.

Shapiro explained in an interview with Democracy Now how animal activists have been treated as terrorists, even though one FBI agent found that "most of the animal rights people are also strict advocates of nonviolence against human persons." Shapiro's interview also discusses the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the dangers of ag-gag laws.

Regarding government transparency, Shapiro states:

Democracy cannot meaningfully exist without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government. Secrecy is a cancer on the body of democracy . . . We are all familiar with the security-oriented signage instructing us to 'See something, Say something.' In the interest of promoting a fuller conception of national security, I add, 'See something, Leak something.' The viability of our democracy may depend upon it.

Photo by Stephanie Crumley

Pigeon Shoot Canceled - 2,000 Birds Saved

Wednesday March 19, 2014
pigeon shoot
Pigeon injured in a Pennsylvania pigeon shoot, 2010.

Ducks Unlimited, a hunting organization, has canceled their March 20 pigeon shoot fundraiser that was scheduled to kill 2,000 birds, after pressure from animal advocates. Following an online campaign by SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) asking people to contact the organizers, Matt Coffey, senior communications specialist for Ducks Unlimited, wrote to SHARK in an email, "We have policies in place holding our staff and local volunteers to high ethical and moral standards, and do not condone wanton waste of wildlife or other animals. To avoid the potential for wanton waste, the event committee has decided to change the live pigeon event to a sporting clays shoot."

To be accurate, this was actually a "phigeon shoot." That's not a typo. Phigeon = pheasant + pigeon. Organizers planned to stick pheasant tail feathers under the skin of the pigeons before releasing the pigeons. Just for fun.

While the idea of ethical hunting seems like an oxymoron to animal rights advocates, there are some practices that hunters find more unethical than others, including canned hunting, baiting, and hunting of stocked animals. Pigeon shoots are the worst of canned hunting and stocked animals combined. The disoriented birds are launched into the air and flap wildly as hunters try to shoot them out of the air. It's not hunting; it's target practice.

SHARK writes in an email to supporters:

This is an astounding turn of events; for 20 years Ducks Unlimited has been holding these "phigeon shoots," where innocent pigeons have sharp pheasant tail feathers forced into their backs, and yet within one day, and working together, we all were able to stop this vicious shoot. This is the power of your activism at work - everyone who called and spoke out helped save not only 2.000 pigeons whose horrific deaths were just two days away, but perhaps tens of thousands of pigeons in the years to come.

Learn more about pigeon shoots.

Photo by Stuart Chaifetz, SHARK

Undercover Investigation of Animal Testing Lab

Thursday March 13, 2014

An undercover investigation at a British animal testing lab reveals how kittens and puppies are killed and cut up by workers; and breeding female dogs are killed after all of their puppies have been taken away and destroyed. Labs find it easier to kill them than to find homes for them. A disturbing and graphic video shows staff administering the lethal injections, cutting open small puppies, and disemboweling them so that their organs can be studied.

The BUAV (formerly known as the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) conducted an eight-month investigation at a facility owned by US pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), and found that puppies, often only four to six weeks old, are taken from their mothers and killed as part of the company's research on animal vaccines. In some cases, the animals struggle to get away and yelp in pain. According to BUAV:

Pregnant beagles were delivered to the laboratory. After giving birth, they were allowed to remain with their puppies for just a few weeks. Most had their puppies cruelly taken away to be used in tests when they were only around 5 weeks old. Once their puppies had been removed, the nursing mothers were killed, sometimes within minutes. These trusting dogs were seen as nothing more than breeding machines to provide puppies to be used in experiments. The company had no system for finding homes for them; most were simply discarded. Some of the puppies could also have been released but shockingly this rarely happened because it was easier for the laboratory to kill them.

The animals killed also included rabbits and chickens. Comments on the Daily Mail article are overwhelmingly pro-animal, and the few pro-vivisection comments have been voted down by readers. Home Office minister, Norman Baker, has called for a full report on the lab's activities.

In the European Union, the testing of cosmetics on animals has been banned since last year, but vivisection for medical and scientific purposes is still legal. In the UK, the government has pledged to ban the testing of household products, but the ban has yet to be enacted. In the United States, there is no such ban, although a bill has been introduced.

What you can do: BUAV is asking the public to sign an online petition that asks MSD to "stop testing on and killing puppies, kittens and other young animals" and "research and adopt alternative approaches to animal testing in the development of animal vaccines." If you are a UK resident, you can also urge your MP reduce the number of animals used in experiments and sign Early Day Motion 1127.

Learn more about vivisection and cruelty-free products.

H/T to Sarah for sending me the link to the Daily Mail article.

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