August 24, 2008

Conspiracy of dunces

Dogs I love: Whitey, a mountain cur, and Ranger, a feist, working a tree. Photo swiped from Henry Chappell's most excellent blog.

From Shaw's play, The Dog-breeder's Dilemma:

RIDGEON. We're not a profession: we're a conspiracy.

SIR PATRICK. All professions are conspiracies against the laity.
And we cant all be geniuses like you.
OK, the play is actually The Doctor's Dilemma. No dogs. But I can't get that "conspiracy against the laity" comment out of my brain, and it's because of people who have turned dog-breeding into an arcane science. It isn't just the show-dog breeders, either. The conspiracy against the laity includes people who breed dogs for work and people who have never bred a dog or even owned one but who nevertheless "know" that a dog from the shelter is "better" than a "purebred," and both are "better" than a dog from a "backyard breeder."

This is bad news for dogs themselves. Consider one of the people featured in the AKC Gazette's annual breeding issue a while ago: she described her efforts to get a live pup from a bitch [a Peke, IIRC] that couldn't carry a fetus to term, let alone whelp, without round-the-clock supervision and intervention. You may be thinking, "They call this a good breeder?" Ah, but the dog was a Champion. It reminds me of the breeder in Dog World who noted a photo of an early Peke — one capable of breeding normally — and remarked, "That was before we perfected the head." I kid you not.

And it gets even stranger. During the AB 1634 battles in California, breeders like the person above were the ones the mandatory spay/neuter bill protected — as if titles handed out for "perfect heads" were evidence that a dog deserved to be in the gene pool. But a mating between your healthy, friendly, unpapered Lab and your neighbor's equally healthy, friendly shepherd mix? Bad, bad you, for sealing the fate of all those pit bulls and Chihuahua mixes in Kern County shelters who undoubtedly would have been adopted by your friends and relatives if only those thoughtless fools hadn't taken your healthy, friendly puppies instead!

Over on the Pet Connection blog, Christie Keith wrote a great post on dog breeding and the threat posed by loss of genetic diversity:
Genes, once lost, can’t ever be recovered. Dogs who died without passing on their genetic heritage are gone forever, barring a few stray tubes of semen hanging out in a canine sperm bank somewhere. And by selecting from a small number of popular sires and focusing breeding programs on extreme conformation traits at the expense of preserving genetic diversity and health, genes are exactly what are being lost. Permanently.

So, is the canine species doomed? No. But many of our individual breeds may be “doomed,” at least in the terms we in the United States and most of Europe understand the word “breed” today, breeds defined by closed studbooks.

Closed studbooks mean a registry, such as the AKC or its British equivalent, the Kennel Club, will only register dogs whose parents were registered by them as being members of that breed. It means breeders are deliberately limiting the genetic pool from which they’ll select when they breed two dogs together.
And in breeding to a conformation standard, appearance trumps temperament every. single. time. The happy, friendly pup with the conformation "fault" — a muzzle that permits easier breathing, for example — will be the pup sold with a strict spay/neuter agreement. Working-dog breeders have their own priorities: a well-known breeder of working border collies told me once, "If I had a great working dog that bit people, I'd still breed him." ([whispers] So would I.) This individual places every pup in a working home, but that isn't the point.

The point I think I'm working toward is that America's shelter problem, and America's dog bite problem and America's puppy mill problem, may have a lot to do with the fact that dog breeding has become a conspiracy against the laity. "You can't do it! You don't know enough!" cry the AKC breed clubs. "You can't do it! Shelter dogs will die!" cry the animal rights activists. "You can't do it! You'll make our dogs useless!" cry the working-dog breeders [who are actually correct, but bear with me for a bit].

And so John Q. Public, who wants a dog his kids can fall asleep on, a dog he can take jogging — who isn't interested in dog agility or stockwork or carrying Scout around in a purse, who doesn't want to tackle a rehabilitation project, who is just looking for a puppy that will grow up to be a healthy, friendly, laid-back, medium-sized dog to snooze at his feet during The Daily Show and schmooze agreeably during family barbecues — John Q. is screwed. He knows what he wants, but all he hears is, "You don't really know anything. We'll tell you what's good for you."

He might strike gold at the pound. I did, but with one dog it meant rehabbing a food-guarder; and the landshark, a terrific working dog, growls at small children if they get closer than the length of a football field. [Two football fields, if the small children are making loud noises.] Not much of a problem for someone who shares the dog's aversion, but probably a deal-breaker for parents. Some rescues handle this issue by rejecting families with young children, and as it happens, John Q.'s youngest is a five-year-old.

Perhaps John Q. could visit a dog show and talk to "responsible breeders." He may find a breeder who cares tons about health and temperament and has a comparatively problem-free breed. Stranger things have happened.

Working dogs are out. Too active, and John knows it. His oldest daughter tells him there are some adorable pups at the pet shop in the mall, but his wife saw Oprah's puppy-mill show, so the pet store is a non-starter.

Down the street there's a great dog John Q. admires: a smart, handsome, friendly, vaguely collie-looking dog that he's known since it was a pup. The owner was thinking about breeding this dog to a neighbor's athletic, ball-crazy Lab mix, but now the owner plans to have his dog neutered, since a coworker says intact dogs are more likely to bite, get cancer, etc. [See what actual veterinary medical research says about the effects of spay/neuter here.] Pity, since the pups would have been just what John was looking for. Maybe he'll swing by the pet store after all.


In an earlier post I mentioned Cate, a mountain cur that I totally covet belongs to Henry Chappell, and the sensational Chet Baker, adored by Julie Zickefoose and family. Chet comes from a breeder who turned her back on the show world in favor of sturdy, friendly dogs that can breathe reasonably well. Tons of people would give just about anything for a dog like Chet Baker, but his breeder would be excommunicated by the AKC Gazette crowd, and shut down for good by AB 1634-type legislation. If Cate's breeder tested his dogs for genetic problems I'd be surprised. Henry wrote:
I knew before I went that I’d buy one of those pups. The breeder, Greg Coker, is a serious squirrel and ‘coon hunter.
And this:
I found the sire and dam calm and friendly, and neither barked or paced excessively despite the visitors and excitement.
And this:
Much to its benefit, the mountain cur isn’t recognized by the AKC. Hence the healthy variation in size and color. Until fairly recently, the mountain cur really wasn’t a breed at all, but a “type”bred strictly for working qualities. We all know the benefits of breeding records, judicious line breeding, and competition... We all know the dangers, too. The cur has always been a rawboned, rural meat, hide, and stock dog, the sort of dog unlikely to catch the attention of the Fancy and well-heeled competitors. Let’s hope it never does.
In the excellent discussion following Christie's post, blogger slt wrote:
I don’t think breeders need more policing, more hoops to jump through, more ways to cheat on tests and/or more false standards to determine if stock is worthy to be bred from. Rather, a dialogue needs to be opened about 86ing all the “rules” we were taught by the AKC breed clubs and start fresh. Step outside the box, forget what you thought was right and take a fresh look to see if it really *is* right.
Amen. To start with, we might acknowledge the historical truth that ordinary folks are perfectly capable of breeding good dogs that suit their needs. And we might consider the possibility that a conspiracy of dunces — from show-dog breeders to mandatory spay/neuter supporters — has made every dog-related problem much worse by marginalizing and disenfranchising people who may not know squat about "perfecting the head," but know enough to want a dog that can breathe normally, be "calm and friendly," and enjoy a long, healthy life.

Reminder: Animal Planet's "Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case" premieres tonight

For an excellent, in-depth look at the good, the bad and the ugly of this program, see Bad Rap's review — and be sure to read the comments.

For airtimes, see this schedule.

Edited to add [for those on the West Coast]: word is that the first 15 minutes or so contain the graphic fight footage — you might want to have the mute button primed and maybe a book on hand, and/or a dog to hug.

August 23, 2008

"Here's a story for all the defenders of the pit bull"

Dear L.A. Times Unleashed:

Thank you so, so much for the touching story of Angel the pit bull! If it weren't for stories like this, we pit bull defenders would always wonder if our pets might "turn" on us like furry time bombs. Thanks to you, we finally have proof that our dogs are happy and friendly and deserve to live! We defenders of the pit bull can't thank you enough for posting this story just for us! And not to nag or anything, but could your editors print "a story for all the defenders of Mexicans" sometime? That would totally rock. Thanks again!

Good luck, Ryan!!

That's 25-year-old Ryan Hall of Big Bear Lake, CA in the green, running in the London Marathon a few months back. He's in the final kilometers of the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing right now, and I just wanted to give a big shout-out to a great kid and a great athlete. You do SoCal proud, Ryan!

Wheel of Karma catches up with AB 1634

How many dogs and cats would be alive today if the people supporting this legislation had chosen to devote all that effort, all that time and all that money to actually, you know, saving pets?

Huge thanks to Laura over at Save Our Dogs and to all the other dog and cat folks who wore out phones, fax machines and shoe leather to help defeat a rotten bill. Wayne "I don’t want to see another dog or cat born" Pacelle's dream of pet extinction and PETA's goal of a "No-Birth Nation" derailed in California, yay us.

It should be obvious to anyone with enough neurons to make a synapse that politicians and people who kill over 90% of the animals they collect have no business making decisions about my dogs' health. My vets and I will make those decisions, thanks. 27 votes against Ab 1634, and only 5 votes in favor...! Looks like a mandate for sanity to me.

Alberto Cerriteño

The cool blog background [see it in all its glory on Flickr, here] was created by Alberto Cerriteño for a new music video by the Mexican indie-instrumental band Austin TV. The music is Shiva, and you can see the video here, along with a great little gallery of Cerriteño's creatures. I love love love them all, especially the singing ones with wings.

Alberto Cerriteño's artwork on Flickr is available for download under a Creative Commons license: you can read more here.

August 22, 2008

Serial mouse-murderer given a pass by speciesist animal rights activists

Are we having fun yet? Pooka "plays" with a mouse. Photo by abux_77.

Al Martinez of the L.A. Times wonders whether Ernie, a serial mouse-killer, will become a target of animal rights activists:

Our cat Ernie killed a mouse the other night and I was terrified.

It is not the first time he has done in mice that have invaded our home, and now I fear he may be targeted by animal rights activists.

I buried the mouse in the dark of night in an unmarked grave and hope that the masked terrorists who attack homes with firebombs in the name of animal welfare realize that the rodent's death was simply the result of the age-old game of cat and mouse.
You can read the rest of Martinez's most excellent take on animal rights violence here.

Odd that cats get a pass but researchers are firebombed. What do the activists who shun silk and honey think when they read about the tarantula hawk, a wasp that lays her egg on the body of a live, paralyzed spider so that her larva will have a ready supply of fresh food? Do mice caught by cats matter less than mice used in medical studies? The movement to "end all animal suffering" is a sea of double standards, if you ask me. "Madman's logic," writes Al Martinez.

August 21, 2008

Don't let the Michael Vicks in Denver kill this dog

Why does this dog have to be killed?

It's insane to kill a dog because of its coat color or head shape. See Bad Rap's blog and do what you can to stop the killers in Denver — dog killers who make Vick look like an amateur — from killing this friendly pup.

Edited to add: Colorado Pit Bull Rescue has more information, as well as a list of Denver city officials to contact.

August 19, 2008

Websites to watch during a season of great sheepdog trials

Before the gather. Photo from the English National Sheepdog Trials website.

For an ultimate insider's look at some of the great trials in North America, check out guest blogger Bev Lambert's updates over at Sheepdog News. Bev won't need any introduction to sheepdog folks. She's handled her border collies to multiple wins at Soldier Hollow and Meeker and will be blogging from both of those challenging, prestigious trials, and from the National Finals, where her dogs Lark and the legendary Pippa were Reserve Champions [Lark in 1997, Pippa in 2002 and 2006].

Over in the UK the English, Irish and Scottish Nationals are done and the Welsh National is yet to come, along with the International and the World Trial [both in Wales this year]. The Kinloch Sheepdogs website has news updates, a blog, photos of dogs at work, trials results and quite a bit more. Kelvin Broad and Angie Driscoll are the humans of Kinloch Sheepdogs, and their website is one to keep an eye on — they're in Wales, in the midst of things.


Represent...! The young dog that placed fifth at the English Nationals, Derek Scrimgeour's Fleece, was bred right here in beautiful California by Dan and Geri Byrne. Geri is a top handler, a tireless advocate for the working sheepdog, and one of the organizers of the 2009 USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals. Yay Fleece!!

August 18, 2008

Yet another post in opposition to AB 1634, the Dead Pet Act

Two things. First, it's arrogant and offensive beyond words to suggest that people who don't have a few spare twenties on the money tree to pay for a spay or neuter are somehow less deserving of a pet's companionship than someone who can afford to help put the vet's kids through college. The latest version of AB 1634 screws the poor.

Removing body parts as a punishment reminds one of cultures where they cut off the hands of thieves. I thought we don’t do those things in America. [Laura S.]

Second: what Laura said. In at least two Scandinavian countries it is against the law to spay or neuter a dog without medical cause, and no, those countries don't have overflowing shelters.

AB 1634, at this stage, is a last-gasp power play that has everything to do with political egos and nothing to do with pet health, pet populations or anything else that involves improving the lives and prospects of shelter animals. Nathan Winograd writes about the parties involved here. And once again, here is a repost of the definitive comment on AB 1634, from Christie Keith of Pet Connection:
The answer [to the problem of homeless cats and dogs] is not some bitterly divisive, hard to enforce, punitive legislation that doesn’t solve the problem in the first place and tramples on people’s dreams, goals, and relationship with their animals. The day I let a politician or animal control officer force me to perform a medical procedure on my dog or cat against my will be a cold day in hell. All my current pets are altered so it’s all hypothetical, but I would never, ever comply with this legislation. I find it profoundly offensive, and if you can find someone who loves animals more than I do, I have no idea who it is.

Scottish castle covered with Brazilian graffiti

The idea is simple and original: take the vibrant and often transient art form of Brazilian graffiti out of its predominantly urban context and apply it to the ancient and permanent walls of an historic rural castle in Scotland.
Check it out at Kitsune Noir.

Have to add a fave of mine by Os Gêmeos: The flowers in this garden were planted by my grandparents [detail].

PETA wants vegan message on border fence

Because when you are an illiterate Mayan Indian from Guatemala and you have risked your life to escape the desperate poverty, the political corruption and the human rights atrocities in Central America and are finally within reach of the only hope of a better life that you will ever, ever have, the one thing guaranteed to make you want to turn around and walk all the way home is the prospect of being forced to subsist on Happy Meals for the rest of your life, since there are apparently no fruits, vegetables, beans or tortillas in the entire U. S. of A.

I'm sure any connection between this latest publicity stunt and the fact that PETA is, like, 99.9% white is pure coincidence.

"Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case"

August is Pit Bull Education Month, judging from the fine L.A. Times article by John Glionna [that's John on the left, with Honky Tonk], and the premiere of Animal Planet's Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case on August 24. The Bad Rap folks have comments on the Animal Planet production here, along with a YouTube promo for the show.

Homepage for the show is here — take the Pit Bull Myths quiz and see how you do. [I apparently know much more about pit bulls than I do about surviving a zombie apocalypse.]

August 17, 2008

Repent, puny humans!

Resistance is futile. [Rat by Banksy.]

I don't care what Fosher says, it's time to jump on the panic button with both feet. Non-human animals are plotting against us, OMG! "It's almost any species," warns the Telegram: "Some menacing change has come over them." OMG, I am seriously worried about this. My odds of surviving a zombie apocalypse [warning: link goes to zombie meet-up site] are just 42% — I don't stand a chance against actual, live border collies and crows and mountain lions, not to mention small rodents with tools and a grievance, OMG.
This disquieting pattern has only recently been detected, in part because it is so disparate and weird. But it's now widely accepted that the relationship between humans and animals is changing. One of the world's leading ethologists (specialists in animal behaviour) believes that a critical point has been crossed and animals are beginning to snap back. After centuries of being eaten, evicted, subjected to vivisection, killed for fun, worn as hats and made to ride bicycles in circuses, something is causing them to turn on us. And it is being taken seriously enough by scientists that it has earned its own acronym: HAC - 'human-animal conflict'.

It's happening everywhere. Authorities in America and Canada are alarmed at the increase in attacks on humans by mountain lions, cougars, foxes and wolves. Romania and Colombia have seen a rise in bear maulings. In Mexico, in just the past few months, there's been a spate of deadly shark attacks with the L.A. Times reporting that, 'the worldwide rate in recent years is double the average of the previous 50'.
"The numbers are disturbing enough, but the menacing changes in behaviour are especially worrying to scientists," the article continues. "[S]cientists have concluded that revenge for our myriad barbarities could indeed be a motive." Which certainly explains the vicious ant-bite I received up at the cabin last weekend, the ongoing battle with mosquitoes, etc. They've joined forces against us, and who can blame them, really?
Stories like these remind us that there are millions of beasts armed with teeth and stingers, who can out-sniff, out-run, out-fly, out-fight and out-bite every one of us. The eerie truth is that, right now, we're surrounded.

Our only hope is that further exposure to human culture will weaken their resolve, and they will decide to keep some of us alive for the sake of the service economy. "We shouldn't be surprised when animals play nasty" — and thanks to the Telegraph, I, for one, won't turn my back on a large anthill again.

On the suffering of sentient creatures

They say that if you need to be rescued, don't scream, "I'm being murdered [or robbed, or whatever]!" If you do, no one will help you. The way to make everyone come running, they say, is to shout, "Fire!" Hence the puppy mill photo and the nonspecific title.
Over 100 hundred people showed up for tonight's candlelight vigil to remember the 80 dogs that were shot to death by Elmer and Ammon Zimmerman. We walked along Rt. 222 onto to the lane where Elmer lives. Bill Smith of Mainline Rescue carried 80 white chrysanthemums representing one for each dog killed. As Bill walked down the lane by himself, the crowd sang Amazing Grace. It was a heart-wrenching moment for me personally as I was unable to hold back the tears knowing those dogs were shot just yards away from where the crowd was gathered. [Source.]
Most pet blogs have covered the story of the needless deaths of those 80 puppy mill dogs in Pennsylvania, and printed the names of legislators to contact. It is altogether fitting and proper that they should do this.

But if there is a special place in hell for puppy millers [and many of us would like to imagine that there is], it can't be any hotter than the place reserved for the men and women who mistreated — tortured — Jason Ng.

From the Request for Investigation:
It is hereby requested that an investigation be conducted into the death of Mr. Hiu Lui Ng (“Mr. Ng”) (Alien No: A73-558-364), a former detainee of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, RI, the Franklin County Jail in St. Albans, VT and the Jail & House of Corrections in Greenfield, MA. On or about August 6, 2008, Mr. Ng died of complications related to cancer and/or a fractured spine.

Upon information and belief, Mr. Ng had complained of various medical problems while at the above-listed facilities, but did not receive proper medical examinations and/or care. Requests to be examined by an outside doctor were also denied. The denial of medical care occurred in the face of Mr. Ng’s documented 23-lbs weight-loss in a ten week span while detained at the Franklin County Jail in St. Albans, VT in the spring of 2008.

The denial of medical care also occurred despite Mr. Ng’s loss of movement in his lower extremities while at the Wyatt Detention Facility.

Mr. Ng informed us prior to his death that, in early July 2008, he was relocated several times within the Wyatt Detention Facility. At the time, he already was suffering from back pain. Each time he was relocated, Mr. Ng was required to carry his personal belongings and the mattress that had been assigned to him. Because he was assigned an upper bunk, he was required to lift the mattress above his head and place it on the bed. Also, since there was no ladder access to the upper bunk, it was very difficult for Mr. Ng to climb up and down the bunk bed. Mr. Ng suspected that his back and leg injuries were worsened as a result of the lifting and climbing up and down the bed.

When Mr. Ng was prescribed medication, he was required to obtain his medication at a counter that was about 40 to 50 feet away from his cell. When Mr. Ng was unable to walk, he was still required to pick up the medication himself, and the detention facility refused to deliver medication to his cell. Eventually, Mr. Ng became bed-bound and began to experience difficulty even using the bathroom, which was located within his cell.

When housed in the J-2 section of the Wyatt Detention Facility, Mr. Ng had to ask other detainees to bring him food and help him use the bathroom. At one point, Mr. Ng was unable to take a shower or leave his cell five days in a row. Although Mr. Ng had repeatedly requested for a wheelchair, he was not given one.

Mr. Ng stated that he was transported to the hospital located outside of the facility on July 26, 2008 because an MRI scan had been scheduled. When he arrived there, Mr. Ng was told by the doctor that an MRI could not be performed that day because it was a Saturday. The doctor scheduled an MRI scan for the following Monday. However, no attempt was made to transport Mr. Ng to the hospital on that Monday.

As his condition worsened, Mr. Ng was moved to an isolation cell within the Health Services Unit (“HSU”). During this time, medication was brought only to the outside of his cell. The nurse who brought the medication asked Mr. Ng to come out to get his medication. Because Mr. Ng was unable to move, he was not able to walk to the door of his cell. As a result, he did not receive his medication for an extended period of time.

On Tuesday, July 29, the facility and/or agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) attempted to transport Mr. Ng to the hospital for a CT-scan and/or MRI. Mr. Ng reported, however, that he was not granted a wheelchair. Since Mr. Ng could not move without a wheelchair, he was unable to go to the hospital that morning.

In light of the repeated denial of medical care and use of a wheelchair, on July 29, 2008, undersigned counsel filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island seeking Mr. Ng’s release (Docket No. 08-285-S). A copy of that petition, motion for a temporary restraining order and affidavits submitted in support of the petition are attached hereto.

On or about July 30, 2008, Mr. Ng was transported by force by ICE agents from the Wyatt Detention Facility to Hartford, Connecticut despite Mr. Ng’s complaints that he was in excruciating pain and unable to walk. Mr. Ng stated that, on this day, three guards of the Wyatt Detention Facility came into his cell in the early morning and put on his shoes in a very rough manner and caused him great pain. Two officers then placed a cane under Mr. Ng’s armpits, and used the cane to lift him off the ground. As Mr. Ng was being carried, his legs dragged on the ground and caused him extreme pain.

Mr. Ng stated that as he was brought to the waiting van with hands and legs in shackles, but not given a wheelchair. Instead, he was lifted off from the ground by five guards. During the process, Mr. Ng suffered additional pain, and was left with bruises on his arms and legs.

A witness confirmed Mr. Ng’s description of these events. In addition, an associate of undersigned counsel viewed massive bruises on Mr. Ng’s forearms and armpits the following day.

Mr. Ng also indicated that the guards were staging for the video recording. He said that the guards told a nurse that Mr. Ng was alright and gave him medication in front of the camera. At one point, Mr. Ng complained that his head was hurt and that he was experiencing great pain. One of the guards told him that it was no use complaining because the camera had been turned off. After Mr. Ng arrived at the ICE office in Hartford, he was put on a wheelchair. To this day, the purpose of the trip to Hartford remains unknown.

On July 31, 2008, a hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order was held before District Judge William E. Smith. Only after this hearing was Mr. Ng provided a wheelchair and given a full examination by a medical doctor. It was then, on August 2, 2008, that Mr. Ng’s cancer and fracture of the spine were diagnosed. At this point, we were informed that his condition was terminal. Mr. Ng passed away just three days later.
This happened in 2008, in the United States of America.
[Ng was found to be suffering from] cancer in his liver, lungs and bones, and a fractured spine. “ ‘I don’t have much time to live,’ ” his sister said he told her in a call from Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

She said the doctor warned that if the family came to visit, immigration authorities might transfer her brother. Three days passed before the warden approved a family visit, she said, after demanding their Social Security numbers. Late in the afternoon of Aug. 5, as Mr. Ng lay on a gurney, hours away from death and still under guard, she and his wife held up his sons, 3 and 1.

“Brother, don’t worry, don’t be afraid,” Ms. Zhao said, repeating her last words to him. “They are not going to send you back to the facility again. Brother, you are free now.” [Source.]
Dog lovers know as well as anyone that compassion isn't finite. I expect many of you [if you are Americans] have already contacted your legislators about the denial of medical treatment to detainees. If you haven't called or faxed your representatives yet, indulge me: it's my nation's soul I'm writing about now. The rights and freedoms our forefathers were willing to die in order to protect, are worth the fifteen minutes it will take to look up the names of a few legislators and let them know that what happened to Jason Ng is unjust, unconscionable, and in violation of every virtue our country claims to represent.

From the NY Times editorial:
To ensure that other detainees do not meet Mr. Ng’s awful fate, Congress should pass the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California. It would impose mandatory health care standards on the detention system, a rapidly growing and deeply flawed ad-hoc network of local, state, federal and privately run lockups.

Immigration officials keep insisting that detention care is adequate and getting better. But it will take far more than promises of more audits to build confidence in a system that allows people to suffer so grievously.

Immigrant advocates have long complained about the lack of due process for people who run afoul of the country’s convoluted immigration laws. But access to decent medical care is an even starker problem.

While reasonable minds can differ on some aspects of the immigration debate, protecting the health of detainees is not one of them. Allowing sick people to suffer and die in custody without adequate treatment is unacceptable and violates the most fundamental standards of American law and decency. The system must be fixed.
Call or fax your legislators, if you haven't already. Thanks.

August 15, 2008

HE NOT DEAD! Stop be sad.

Click for big Bigfoot.

That business in Georgia? Totally a hoax. For the straight dope on Bigfoot, see Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir and Bigfoot: I Not Dead, both prepared in collaboration with someone named Graham Roumieu. [Press release via the Bigfoot fanboys and fangirls at BoingBoing.]

August 12, 2008

Midnight blogging frenzy, with an update on that giant inflatable poo

Remarkably, the giant poo story has nothing to do with California's AB 1634, the forced spay/neuter bill, but more about that shit later — first, the craptastic news from Washington. Just when you think they can't possibly screw things up much more than they already have:
The Bush administration is proposing to let federal agencies decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants, according to a draft of planned rule changes obtained by The Associated Press.

The proposed regulations, which do not require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews that government scientists have been performing for 35 years.
Big hat tip to the most excellent Birdchick — and as Sharon says, it's no time for apathy. This proposal goes beyond stupid and beyond greedy and is barreling towards evil at a speed exponentially greater than that of a giant inflatable turd. Call your people in Washington and raise hell.

Nathan Winograd has written about the stench in Los Angeles, where Ed Boks and Judy Mancuso first put their heads together and came up with the disastrous AB 1634. Back on August 5 the Unleashed blog reported on "Workshops to explore "no-kill" policy at L.A. animal shelters":
The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services on Wednesday evening is holding the first of 11 scheduled workshops to look at how the city shelters can achieve a "no kill" policy. All meetings are open to the public.

Every municipal animal shelter wants to arrive at a "no-kill" policy. Essentially, that means that no healthy animals -- like the young pooches pictured above in the city's South L.A. shelter in January -- will be euthanized for lack of space. Being able to do that is a challenge.

The Humane L.A. Workshops will look at what is being done and what could be done better. "We want to get input from stakeholders in our community," says Animal Services general manager Ed Boks, who will attend the Wednesday workshop.
Depressing to think of the animals that might have been saved if Boks and Mancuso hadn't been so busy promoting the spectacularly divisive, impossible to enforce, medically risky and profoundly dishonest "Healthy Pets" Act. The rewritten version is nasty, brutish and short: there is no due process, no appeals process, anonymous complaints are accepted and there are no exemptions. No exemptions for working dogs. No exemptions for dogs whose health would be at risk. Three anonymous, unproven complaints and your dog is toast.

Gina and Christie at Pet Connection have done a yeoman's job fighting this awful legislation. Gina writes:

Forced spay-neuter kills more pets. That may seem counter-intuitive to many, but that’s the reality.

But much as I don’t want more pets to die as an unintended consequence of a piece of sound-bite legislation — and they have and will, everywhere these bills pass — I really don’t want what Lloyd Levine represents now to be what our government is all about.

Which is why as an an animal-lover and a citizen I’ll be calling and faxing today.

It's heartening to see that even the great Caveat up in Canada is spreading the word, as if she weren't busy enough fighting stupid Canadian politicians. All we can do is write the truth, and hope that enough people give veterinarians and other authentic experts more credence than they give a retired game-show host.


In other news: it isn't everyday that you see a headline in the Telegraph with the words "giant inflatable turd," or a story that begins, "A house-sized dog poo has wreaked havoc after a storm picked it up," or a jibe about "American cultural imperialists busy spreading their crap culture" etc, etc. A really big hat tip to Moira at Dog Art Today for the scoop. ["Scoop"! OMG, I kill me.] Photo from Flickr.

August 10, 2008

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials"

The photo I'm using as a temporary backdrop, like the one above, is from The Big Picture's collection of photographs from the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. You can see the others here. They're terrific and beautiful and astonishing, and what a contrast between the tessellations of the opening ceremonies and the faces of the children in The Big Picture's last photo. Full of hope, bless them — may they go from strength to strength.


Olympic equestrian events trivia, from the 2007 General Regulations of the FEI [governing body for international equestrian sports]:
Article 138 - AGE OF HORSES

1. Horses entered for Olympic Games and FEI World Championships in the Olympic Disciplines for Dressage and Eventing must be at least eight years of age and for Jumping they must be at least 9 years years of age.

2. Horses entered in FEI World Championships in non-Olympic Disciplines, FEI Regional Games, FEI Continental Championships, FEI World Cups, CIOs and CIs must be at least 6 years of age unless otherwise stated in the Sport Rules.
I think of this whenever the subject of thoroughbred racing comes up.

August 8, 2008

Your tax dollars at work: "A lawless act by law enforcement"

Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, with their dogs Chase, left, and Payton. Both dogs were shot and killed during a home invasion — by "law enforcement."

Gotta love that war on [some] drugs. Warrant? We don't need no stinkin' warrant! We'll smash your door in and shoot your dogs, and if we want to interrogate you for a couple hours while your dead Labradors lie in pools of blood at your feet, we'll do that too, you big crybabies.

From the Washington Post editorial:
The drug raid by Prince George's County law officers on the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo last week was a Keystone Kops operation from start to finish.

Acting on a tip that a 32-pound package of marijuana had been sent by Federal Express from Arizona to Mr. Calvo's home (addressed to his wife, Trinity Tomsic), Prince George's police swung into action. Which is to say they got on the phone, calling law enforcement agencies to see who might have a SWAT team available to bust the unsuspecting Calvo family. (It seems the police department's own team was tied up.) After being turned down at least once, they finally struck a deal with the Prince George's Sheriff's Office, whose track record with domestic disputes is extensive but whose experience with drug busts is slight. And it showed.

Without bothering to alert Berwyn Heights police, sheriff's deputies moved into position. Posing as a deliveryman, a deputy took the package to the family's door. After Mr. Calvo's mother-in-law initially refused to sign for it, the package was finally taken into the home, where it sat, unopened, on the living room floor. Whereupon the deputies, guns drawn, kicked in the door, stormed the house and shot to death the Calvos' two Labrador retrievers, one of them, apparently, as it attempted to flee. The canine threat thus dispatched, the mayor -- in his briefs -- and his mother-in-law were handcuffed and interrogated in close proximity to the bloodied corpses of their dogs.
And it turns out — our bad! — that the deputies didn't have a no-knock warrant. The whole mess was, in the words of the Calvo family's attorney, "a lawless act by law enforcement." The WaPo has done a good job covering this one:

Some doubt mayor's ties to drugs

Pr. George's Officers Lacked 'No-Knock' Warrant in Raid

Residents Honor Mayor, Slain Dogs at Rally

And this hopeful news: FBI to Review Raid That Killed Mayor's Dogs.
"We have witnessed a frightening law enforcement culture in which the law is disregarded, the rights of innocent occupants are ignored and the rights of innocent animals mean nothing," Calvo said, surrounded by county elected leaders and friends on the front lawn of his house. "A shadow was cast over our good names. We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us."

June White Dillard, president of the NAACP's local chapter, also called for a thorough investigation and said Calvo experienced police action familiar to many young black men in the county.
In related news:

Officer acquitted in woman's death
Lima, Ohio -- A white police officer was acquitted Monday in the drug-raid shooting death of an unarmed black woman that set off protests about how police treat minorities in a city where one in four residents is black.

The all-white jury found Sgt. Joseph Chavalia not guilty on misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide and negligent assault. He had faced up to eight months in jail if convicted of both counts.

Chavalia shot 26-year-old Tarika Wilson and her year-old son, whom she was holding, during a SWAT raid on her house on Jan. 4. Wilson was killed and her son was hit in the shoulder and hand. One of his fingers had to be amputated.
Prosecutors said Chavalia recklessly fired three shots into a bedroom where Wilson and her six children were gathered, even though he could not clearly see her or whether she had a weapon.

"He couldn't tell Tarika had a child in her arms," Prosecutor Jeffrey Strausbaugh said during closing arguments.

Chavalia, an officer for 32 years, had testified that he thought his life was in danger when he fired the shots. He said he saw a shadow coming from behind the partially open bedroom door and heard gunshots that he thought were aimed at him. The gunfire he heard was coming from downstairs, where officers shot two charging pit bulls.
At the rally in support of his family, Mayor Calvo said, "Injustice in this county, in this country, in this world happens every day. But people who experience it most often don't have the support, don't have the community, don't have the resources that we do." Perhaps the incident in Berwyn Heights will lead to changes elsewhere:

Justice Department Now Reviewing Chavalia Case

From 2006: Government Goons Murder Puppies: The drug war goes to the dogs.

Stay classy, PETA

Andrew Sullivan nails it: PETA is batshit crazy has a problem.

August 7, 2008

Mountain lion, er... "mountain lion" updates

Did I tell you about that time a mountain lion fell through the window? Yeah, I did. On the left, a cub on a front porch in Ventura, CA, from Flickr.

I am so using the hot new "a mountain lion attacked me" excuse the next time I get scratched up on a hike. Let's face it, "I tripped and fell in a patch of buckthorn" just makes people think you're a loser.

Palo Alto hiker "attacked" by "mountain lion"

Orange County hiker says [wink, wink] he was attacked by mountain lion

Meanwhile, in Colorado:

Man walking with wife shoots mountain lion

Mountain lion enters bedroom, kills family dog; CNN report & video ; Local news report & video

[Note to self: check doors. And leave packages outside.]

August 6, 2008

OMG, I'm toast

Maybe this will help. [Garlic swag from Williams-Sonoma.]

Q fever is a potentially dangerous [potentially very dangerous, as in, sometimes fatal] zoonosis, which means, as I'm sure you all know, that it is a disease that originates in an animal species and is transmitted to a human host. Carriers include infected sheep, goats, cattle, dogs, cats, birds and even ticks, oy.

The Canadian [University of Guelph] blog Worms & Germs reports on a major Q fever outbreak in the Netherlands:
Animals often show no signs of illness, although the infection sometimes causes miscarriage, particularly in sheep and goats. Coxiella burnetii is also transmissible to humans. People are much more susceptible than animals to disease from Q fever. Even so, only about 50% of individuals that become infected show signs of illness, which can range from flu-like symptoms to pneumonia and hepatitis (liver infection). About 1-2% of infections in people are fatal.
Read the rest, including a list of precautions ["On dry, windy days, avoid farms or areas where sheep or goats are kept" — OMG OMG, I'm totally doomed] here.

Birds, Beasts and Fishes

Book-cut sculpture by Su Blackwell. Click for big.

Heads up

Goat playhouse at Underwood Family Farms, via Boing Boing. "They walk along planks above the visitors," writes the contributor. I would totally love something like this, if, um, I kept goats.

August 5, 2008

"Alpine murder mystery: Are sheepdogs being poisoned to save the grey wolf?"

Transhumance festival in the foothills of the French Alps.

As Capt. Obvious would say, people have strong feelings about wolves. Ranchers despair over livestock and pets lost. Environmentalists, who are sometimes ranchers as well, want some protection for large predators. Politicians want news coverage; hunters want wolfskins; animal rightists want attention, etc.

Livestock guardian dogs are familiar to anyone who raises sheep in North America, and in Europe shepherds have turned to flock guardians as well ["returned" might be a better word, since many livestock guardian breeds were developed in Europe]. Now, in a strange twist, dogs guarding flocks on the border between France and Italy are being killed — not by wolves, but by human predators.
The French have an expression – entre chiens et loups– between the dogs and the wolves. It is a fanciful way of describing the twilight, the mysterious and uncertain time between day and night.

In the beautiful summer pastures of the Maurienne region of the French Alps, something mysterious, and wicked, has been happening in the twilight hours. The events are uncertain but one thing is clear. This is, literally, a story about dogs and wolves.

Since the start of the year, 17 sheepdogs have been poisoned in the mountains of the Maurienne range, which rise to more than 9,000ft, just inside the French frontier with Italy. The dogs have often died in great agony. They include several of the Patou or Pyrenean mountain breed – enormous, white, misleadingly cuddly-looking dogs, which are trained to give their lives, if necessary, to defend sheep from wolves.
In related news [huge suckage, this], some of the livestock guradian dogs are attacking tourists, and shepherds are being sued in the wake of ruined holidays:
Jean-Luc Renaud was on a mountain-walking holiday when he saw a bloodstained Belgian tourist staggering towards him. “His shorts were torn and he had been bitten badly in both buttocks,” Mr Renaud told The Times. “He was in a state of complete shock.”

The Belgian had fallen victim to a notoriously ferocious breed of mountain dog brought into the French Alps to defend sheep from wolves.

The attacks are driving holidaymakers away and are splitting the community against a backdrop of controversy over the reintroduction of the wolf in France. To add to the row, shepherds have been taken to court by wounded holidaymakers and 17 dogs have been poisoned in the Maurienne region of the Alps.
Read the full account [with comments] here.

Why [some] blogs totally rock

The "Montauk Monster": not a Chupacabras, dammit.

[Big hat tip to Steve Bodio of Querencia. Artwork is El Chupacabras by my fave artist Alberto Cerriteño.]

Planet of the apes: [non-human] primates in the news

Yay us!

The good news is that there are a whole lot more lowland gorillas than we thought. The bad news is that other non-human primates are disappearing fast.

NEW YORK (AUGUST 5, 2008) – The world’s population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas received a huge boost today when the Wildlife Conservation Society released a census showing massive numbers of these secretive great apes alive and well in the Republic of Congo.

The new census tallied more than 125,000 western gorillas in two adjacent areas in the northern part of the country, covering an area of 18,000 square miles (47,000 square kilometers). Previous estimates from the 1980s placed the entire population of western lowland gorillas, which occur in seven Central African nations, at fewer than 100,000. Since then, however, scientists had believed that this number had dwindled by at least half, due to hunting and disease. [Link.]
The NY Times has a related article and photo gallery here.

Meanwhile, 48% of primate species are in deep trouble.
A global review of the world's primates says 48% of species face extinction, an outlook described as "depressing" by conservationists.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species says the main threat is habitat loss, primarily through the burning and clearing of tropical forests.

More than 70% of primates in Asia are now listed as Endangered, it adds.

The findings form part of the most detailed survey of the Earth's mammals, which will be published in October.
Nation with the highest percentage of threatened species: Cambodia, with a whopping 90%.
[T]hreats include hunting of primates for food and the illegal wildlife trade, explained Russell Mittermeier, chairman of global conservation group IUCN's Primate Specialist Group and president of Conservation International.

"In many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction," he warned.

"Tropical forest destruction has always been the main cause, but now it appears that hunting is just as serious a threat in some areas, even where the habitat is still quite intact."
Quotes are from the BBC's good report — read it here.

Olympics in China: Colors I love

National Stadium in Beijing, designed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Photo by Claro Cortes IV for Reuters.

Expect to be overwhelmed, writes Nicolai Ouroussoff in the NY Times architecture review of the stadium nicknamed the Bird's Nest. The stadium "has an intoxicating beauty that lingers in the imagination":
Great architecture can never be fully conveyed through a television screen, of course, and it saddens me that so many Americans will experience the building only via satellite[...] However the structure attests to China’s nationalistic ambitions, it is also an aesthetic triumph that should cement the nation’s reputation as a place where bold, creative gambles are unfolding every day.
My homie James Fallows is living in China and following the events in Beijing — Andrew Sullivan writes, "I'd bookmark Jim now if I were you if you want the best take on the Olympics." From today's post, Innocents Abroad:
Before coming here two years ago, I had been a pretty serious runner for many decades in the past. Never broke three hours in the Boston or Marine Corps marathons, but came close. (3:02, but who's counting.) Once insanely took part in a 24-hour relay marathon, in which teams of ten people took turns running a mile each on a track, around the clock -- and our goal was to average under 5:15 per mile over the whole period, though that was long ago.

Yet I have not found it sensible to run outside, even one time, in Shanghai or Beijing. Of course there were days when I could have done so. But on average??? That's what the indoor gym is for, with its illusion of filtered air.

Good luck to the NYT running team, and to the Olympics as a whole. And may America preserve the good parts of its touching "how bad can it be?" creed.
Read all of this most excellent post here.

Cloned pups, doubtful DNA

The first pet dog clones are making their video debut today. They're pit bull puppies, and they're adorable. I'd never pay $50,000 to clone a dog of mine [remind me I said this when I win the lottery], but the money was Ms. McKinney's to spend, and if she'd bought a new car instead, no one would have thought twice. Check out the video of the new pups here.

Brent over at KC Dog Blog has some thoughts on the test-your-dog's-DNA con game business:
I've seen a few of these DNA tests. Here's what I'll say about them. They might be complete bunk. Every "expert" I've ever talked to that has worked with DNA tests and dog breeds has been stunned by the results. They may be crap. Or, they may be 100% accurate and be picking up on the hundreds of years of mixing dog breeds that humans have done to get ideal characteristics -- which means that most "purebred" anything are really just perfected mixes over a history of time. Basically what Labradoodles will be like in 150 years.
Here's a video of an AKC CH AmStaff getting his DNA results. Silly me, did I say AmStaff? I meant border collie mix. D'oh!

Ready for that close-up

Image of the Caloris basin on Mercury taken by the Messenger spacecraft this year, from a gallery of NASA photos accompanying this NY Times article. [Click for big.] The Times article reports that "Messenger will make two more flybys, the next one on Oct. 6, before entering orbit around Mercury in 2011." This photo is so beautiful.

Martin Amm, photographer

Martin Amm is a young [b. 1986] photographer from Kronach (Franconia/Germany). One of his photographs turned up on FFFFOUND! a while ago and I tracked down his gallery. What a find! [And where can I buy prints?] All of his photos are wonderful — I covet his images of birds — but his macrophotographs of insects are breathtakingly beautiful, just amazing. Click on the links below to see some examples of his work, and visit his gallery of photographs here.


Heath fritillary [endangered]

Southern Emerald Damselfly

Red-veined darter, covered with morning dew

Another dipper shot. I love dippers.

Wildfires at home and abroad

Waiting for the flames: firefighters prepare to make a stand in Big Sur. SF Chronicle photo by Kurt Rogers.

How brave do you have to be, and how good at what you do, and how much faith must you have in your plan, your equipment and your colleagues, to stand on a narrow road in the middle of a tinder-dry forest and try to stop a firestorm from jumping that road? It seems impossible, but I've driven on roads where it's been done. I heart wildland firefighters.

I live in a region that is supposed to burn — that's the way the chaparral ecosystem works. Mike Davis's essay Let Malibu Burn: A political history of the Fire Coast is a classic read on the consequences of residential development in the fire ecology of Southern California. Written in 1996, it seems prescient now.

This past week the L.A. Times ran a five-part series, Big Burn, about the growth and cost of wildfires in the West. The surprise of this series, for me, was learning about the role of homeowners in wildfire management in Australia:
It was brutally hot, 108 degrees, and the wind was howling. Bushfires were raging in the hills, making their way inexorably toward the Baker farmstead at the foot of the Brisbane Ranges.

John and Carlene Baker had moved here to get away from the hurly-burly of the city. They lived with their two children and a cast of orphaned animals on a 60-acre spread they called Foxford.

Now, all of it was threatened. Embers were falling around the house. The animals were growing restless. The Baker property sits deep in a box canyon, a mile from the main road. The couple knew there was little or no chance firefighters would reach them.

Southern Californians might respond to such a predicament by packing the car and evacuating. The thought never entered the Bakers' minds. Instead, they did what they had been trained to do: stay and fight.

Fire is a pervasive danger in Australia, just as in much of the American West. But Australians cope with the threat in a manner difficult to envision in the U.S.

Americans expect firefighters to protect their lives and property. Australians in rural communities view that as their own responsibility.

U.S. authorities are quick to order mass evacuations during wildfires; they prefer to get civilians out of the way so professionals can douse the flames. Australian officials are more likely to hand homeowners shovels and put them to work.

People here live by the principle of "stay or go" during fire season. Residents who can't or won't battle an advancing fire are advised to get out early. Those who stay are expected to defend their homes. It's a policy driven by pragmatism: There simply aren't enough firefighters or firetrucks to protect far-flung rural homesteads.
The "stay or go" policy, adopted state by state beginning in the mid-1990s, has sharply reduced losses of life and property in wildfires, statistics show. In 1983, a year of widespread conflagrations, 60 Australians lost their lives in bushfires, not including firefighters, researcher Katharine Haynes reported. In the equally severe fire season of 2003, bushfires caused just six deaths.
The "stay or go" approach so far has found little acceptance in the United States. But as wildfires become more severe and costlier to fight, some U.S. officials say the Australian model deserves a serious look.

"We need to push this concept and push it hard," said Bodie Shaw, wildland fire director for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, which fights fires on reservations and other public lands. "The onus and responsibility need to shift to you as a property owner."
In Australia, sheltering at home does not mean simply waiting the fire out. It means confronting the menace with hose, mop and shovel.

"Let's be honest: It is scary," said John Valcich, captain of a volunteer fire brigade in the rural community of Mansfield. "We're not telling you that you have to stay. But [if you leave] you will lose your house. And don't blame anyone. What's it like to stay? It's like standing at the back of a jet plane when it's revving up. I try to tell people what to expect. But it comes as a hell of a shock when it hits."
Big Burn was written by Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart. Excerpts above are by Julie Cart, from the fifth article in the series. "Residents in the path of bushfires are told to evacuate early or stay and fight. A family that chose to stick one out endured a frightening test of endurance and determination." No kidding. A good read — check it out.

August 4, 2008

"Write on coffee, rewrite on scotch"

ZOMG, I would give anything, anything, to have a workspace as perfect and minimalist and spotless as that one up above, which belongs to an actual designer who creates cool stuff for Sony and Nike and Coca-Cola. Check out his portfolio here. The office photos in this post are all from WhereWeDoWhatWeDo. Art at left by Ron Barrett, from the NY Times.

But more about me.

This is my real fantasy workspace. How cool the way the mirrored doors make a small space seem larger. Three monitors...!

No, wait. Actually, this is my favorite, the absolute best workspace ever:

I totally want six monitors. OMG, when I look at that photo I could just scream. If that were really my workspace I would write 50 blog posts a day, just like Andrew Sullivan. [I wish.]

I love Andrew's blog, and I love his recent comments about blogging:
The Dish is a portal as well as a blog - to all the information and ideas percolating out there. And my role has evolved from purely an opiner to a web DJ of sorts, re-mixing and finding and editing the thoughts and images and facts of others.
The blog Politics of Scrabble replies:
As blogging evolves there may very well emerge different classes of blogs, some of which may be more generalist within a given sphere[...], some of which may drill down into very particular issues and topics, offering very specific and nuanced insights. That the latter isn’t currently available in large numbers doesn’t mean that more and more expert blogs won’t continue popping up as the medium marches forward. And as they do start popping up, generalist blogs that enjoy high readership can both point readers in the direction of those expert blogs, as Sullivan notes about his own blog, acting as portals to the vast fields of information out there to be harvested, as well as house the continued conversation about that information, acting as second-by-second synthesizing plants and clearing houses.
There's a mission statement in there someplace.

Over at Ask MetaFilter a poster, who is not I not me, wants to know:
"How do I kill the perfectionism, the precious and fearful impulses, and the self-doubt that keeps me from completing my creative writing projects?"
Fave response: "Trust me on this. The best thing you can strive to be is competent." Also: more caffeine. I'm off to brew more CTC fine Assam.

Firebombings: researchers targeted at UC Santa Cruz

"Antiscience violence," the University of California calls it. "Domestic terrorism," says the FBI. Several days after his name appeared on an apparent hit list of "animal abusing" scientists, UC Santa Cruz biologist David Feldheim was awakened by the blast of a firebomb. The device exploded on his front porch at 5:40 Saturday morning. Above, firefighter Cody Muhly checks the damage. [Photo from the NY Times.]
Fliers identifying 13 UCSC scientists, some of whom use mice, fruit flies and other nonprimate creatures in their research, were discovered at Caffe Pergolesi on Tuesday. The fliers say, "Animal abusers everywhere beware; we know where you live; we know where you work; we will never back down until you end your abuse."

The names, home addresses, home phone numbers and photos of researchers were published on the fliers.
The firebomb at the Feldheim residence melted the front door frame and filled the house with smoke. Dr. Feldheim, his wife and their two children escaped on a fire ladder from a second-story window. A car belonging to a second UC researcher was blown up on campus at the same time the Feldheim home was attacked. FBI officials are expected to take over the case today.

Statement from the animal-rights house o' crazy:
While a spokesman said he didn't know who committed the act, the Woodland Hills-based Animal Liberation Front called the attacks a "necessary" act, just like those who fought against civil rights injustices. Spokesman Dr. Jerry Vlasak showed no remorse for the family or children who were targeted.

"If their father is willing to continue risking his livelihood in order to continue chopping up animals in a laboratory then his children are old enough to recognize the consequences,'' said Vlasak, a former animal researcher who is now a [non-practicing] trauma surgeon. "This guy knows what he is doing. He knows that every day that he goes into the laboratory and hurts animals that it is unreasonable not to expect consequences."

Clark, the Santa Cruz police captain, said it was "unconscionable'' for anyone to defend such acts: "To put this on par with any of the human rights issues is an absolute insult to the integrity of the people who fought and went through the human rights movement. This is what people do when they have an inability to articulate their point in any constructive way. They resort to primal acts of violence. Any reasonable person would need a logic transplant to begin to understand this level of degraded thinking."

Brian Israel, a UCSC senior pursuing a legal studies degree, lives a block from Village Circle on Moore Street. The 21-year-old checked out his neighbor's house Sunday. He called the attacks "hypocritical."

"If you're against killing animals, but you're trying to kill humans, there's no logic to it," Israel said. "It doesn't make sense to hurt people. I'm just thankful no one got hurt."
"Just like those who fought against civil rights injustices"? To paraphrase the great Yogi Berra: If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave. Read the rest in the San Jose Mercury News.