Friday, October 15


Of course CJD "clusters" will occur randomly in a given geographic area just by statistical probability, but that's small comfort when it's your area. People in the Hudson Valley may now be wondering if something's up after a local woman who may be the fifth in recent months died of CJD. Now officials are saying preliminary tests show some of the suspected cases were not
CJD, but they declined to say how many cases, citing the need to keep everything related to brain-wasting diseases super-secret and mysterious in order to bolster public confidence.

Thursday, October 14


Tall, thin teenage girls who put on a growth spurt at puberty are at highest risk of breast cancer - and milk may be the culprit, researchers suggest today. The New England Journal of Medicine has called for more research into the consumption of milk as a possible dietary factor behind two connected phenomena: Taller, thinner pubescent girls who go on to get breast cancer. "An increase in milk drinking has been suggested as a factor behind the large increase in average heights in Japan. As the Japanese adopted a more Western diet in the two decades after the Second World War, 12-year-old girls gained 15cm in height on average. That gain has been paralleled 30 years later by an increase in breast cancer in the same generation of women; the incidence has doubled from 40 to 80 cases per 100,000 of population." (Via Vegan Porn)

Wednesday, October 13


"Nearly $70 million in state bond money earmarked for reducing pollution was used by California dairies to expand their operations, which resulted in more air pollution, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. The result, the newspaper said, is that the air in California's dairy-rich San Joaquin Valley is now among the dirtiest in the nation, recording more eight-hour ozone level violations than Los Angeles. The dairies qualified for the money through tax-exempt, low-interest loan programs by stating in their applications that expanding operations would provide an 'environmentally sound method of disposing of animal waste' by spreading cow manure across a greater area and thus decreasing its impact on groundwater supplies." Gosh, but it turns out that assurance just another generous helping of stinking manure, and the dairies have fouled the air even further than before. Who'da thunk?

Tuesday, October 12


As part of the ongoing narrative of human ignorance of non-human sentience, we have some more episodes where "what separates us from the animals" turns out not to: Remember how we finally came to grips with the fact that we weren't the only animals who used, or made, tools? Now it turns out that some chimps have not just tools but entire tool kits: "Using infrared, motion-triggered video cameras, researchers have documented how chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo use a variety of tools to extract termites from their nests. The 'tool kits' are among the most complex ever observed in wild chimp populations." The caption on the page describes how "Using her foot to press a stick into the ground, much as a farmer would a shovel, an adult female chimpanzee makes a hole into an underground termite nest. She will then take another type of stick, carried in her mouth, and use it to fish for the insects."

Meanwhile, in the non-mammal world, it turns out that fish - contrary to conventional wisdom - "are fast learners, carry mental maps around in their heads - and can retain memories for months. Tests on fish in aquaria at Oxford University have shown that despite their tiny brains, they possess cognitive abilities outstripping those of some small mammals." Dr Culum Brown at the University of Edinburgh "found that Australian crimson spotted rainbowfish, which learnt to escape from a net in their tank, remembered how they did it 11 months later. This is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learnt 40 years ago." (Both via Vegan Porn). Boy, what's next? Betty the Crow getting her own blog?

Monday, October 11


Don't look now, but the tide is turning on the issue of circus elephants. The common sense notion that these large, sentient, noble animals do not belong in metropolitan "entertainment" venues has gained enough traction that Ringling chief Kenneth Feld had to pay off Massachusetts legislators to keep an "exotic animal ban" from passing in that state. But the ban has been proposed again, and it will eventually pass, as the basic information about the cruelty elephants suffer at the hands of circuses gets out to more and more people. Meanwhile, Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus seems to have quietly ditched their elephant acts completely - at least for now: "That seems to be the flashpoint of the animal rights movement. So we decided to go on tour this year without them and see how the public accepts it." Yes, let's see.