Fries, Beer, and the IUCN Colloquium

David Cassuto

Belgium is pretty cool.  Ghent is an absolutely beautiful city, filled with the kind of stunning architecture that one might expect to see in European cities better known for their visual splendor.  And did you know that Ghent was the second-largest city in Europe (behind Paris) for quite a while, quite a while back?  Just up the road is Bruges – a medieval city that was a bustling center of commerce until its harbor silted up 400 or so years ago.  As a result, it still looks much as it did then.  And back then, it looked mighty good.

Let’s see… what else?  The pommes frites – to which I had been looking forward with almost maniacal glee – were not all that.  In my experience (admittedly limited to Ghent), one can do much better on St. Mark’s Place in NYC.

The beer, however.  Oh, the beer.  Oh, it’s good.  It’s good beer.

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Legal Protections for Great Apes (or Lack Thereof)

Gillian Lyons

Last week, without much ado (at least from American news sources), the European Union passed a series of directives aimed at reducing the number of animals used in laboratory experiments (for BBC News’ perspective, click here).  Included in those directives was a mandate ending the use of great apes in scientific research, once again showing the EU has one-upped the United States in terms of laws promoting animal welfare.             Continue reading

Brasilia and Now Ghent (Belgium) — Still Talking Climate Change & Agriculture

David Cassuto

So here I am on a plane again – this time to Belgium on my way to the Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, which is taking place in Ghent.  I’m back in steerage this time; no business class for our hero.  I swore I would never go back but here I am.

Amidst all the hubbub, I need to recap my time in Brasilia even as I head for Europe.  Brasilia was a very interesting time and I once more want to reiterate my gratitude to the U.S. State Department for making my time in Brazil so rich and rewarding and for taking such good care of me.  This was my first time in Brazil’s capital and I enjoyed it – from the stunning architecture to the fact that the city is laid out like an airplane.  In addition to speaking at private university (entirely successful and well-attended), I lectured also to a government think tank called IPEA.  There, I encountered probing questions from a very informed audience.  When I mentioned the idea of treating meat consumption as a luxury for purposes of regulating and taxing carbon emissions, one of my hosts asked what I thought of the idea of a “meat cap.”  Not only is it an intriguing notion about which I need to think more, but so much do I love the term that even if it were a completely wacky idea, I would probably support it anyway.                    Continue reading

The Dirty South? No; More Like Dirty Cleanup Efforts

Douglas Doneson

Early May…

With law school final exams a few days away, keeping up with current events was the last thing on my mind. But this past May, the BP oil spill was literally all over the place. Prior to transplanting to New Orleans for my summer internship, I applied to every volunteer site I could to help clean up oil covered wildlife, restore beaches, and clean the marshes. I expected to be busy every weekend cleaning oil-covered birds and being a part of an all-hand-on-deck effort. In reality, the HAZMAT training, BP certification, and paraprofessional experience kept many potential volunteers away.  I did follow through however, and after completing the HAZMAT training and BP certification online (where I answered 3 or 4 questions about putting on gloves correctly and whether I knew what to do if I became dehydrated), I applied for the more demanding and risky volunteer positions such as handling and cleaning oil covered wildlife.  As a former veterinary technician and zoo keeper I had paraprofessional training too. To my surprise, very few of my emails or phone calls were returned.              Continue reading

Gaga Wears Meat, Chimps Turned Into Bushmeat — A World Gone Horribly Awry

David Cassuto

So even as I fight to keep my gorge down after seeing Lady Gaga in a meat bikini (about which more soon), I know her offense against fashion and compassion pales in comparison to what’s going on out in the bush.

Congolese chimps are being slaughtered for “bushmeat” at an alarming and grotesque rate.  Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Guardian:

They are some of the most mysterious apes on the planet that according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. But according to an 18-month study of remote human settlements deep in the Congolese jungle, chimpanzees are being subjected to a “wave of killing” by bushmeat hunters.             Continue reading

Fed up with Feeding

Seth Victor

Phillipsburg, NJ signed in a law Tuesday that makes it illegal to feed feral cats without permission. Violators could face up to $2,000 in fines at the discretion of the Municipal Court.

Animal advocates debated this measure earlier, arguing that people should be allowed to help animals in need without fear of repercussions. I agree with the sentiment, but the new law is intended well. Bobbi Santini, founder of the nonprofit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Inc. is on-board and helping to draft contracts between the city and advocates who want to feed the cats. Those who want to support the feral colonies will be required to trap, neuter/spay, and release the cats they feed. It’s a good compromise between the two camps, one that sees the cats as victims, and the other that sees them as pests and disease spreaders. It’s not terrible for the cats, either, as young females have enough trouble finding food for themselves, let alone a litter. Certainly Phillipsburg could have chosen a more violent solution that involved euthanizing the cats; some counties in New Jersey annually gas geese to keep their numbers down, and though I’m sure such action would have met sterner protest, it’s not inconceivable. I’m relieved that the law appears to have all interests in mind, including the animals’. With any luck the TNR program will produce results and the downtrodden cat colonies in the alleys will have less mouths to feed without destructive actions.

“Thinking About Animals Conference” at Brock University

David Cassuto

More goodies from the email:

CALL FOR PAPERS: THINKING ABOUT ANIMALS 2011- BROCK
UNIVERSITY
The Department of Sociology at Brock University is issuing a Call for Papers for a conference on “Thinking About Animals” to be held March 31 and April 1, 2011 at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
This two-day conference will explore a variety of issues concerning the current and historical situation of nonhuman animals and interactions with humans.  The Department is organizing this conference with the assistance of the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences, the Departments of English, Political Science, History and Visual Arts, the MA Programme in Critical Sociology, and the MA Programme in Social Justice and Equity Studies.

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