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Sunday, Jun. 15, 2008 at 3:20 AM
A sensationalist and trash piece that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on June 11. Full of flat-out lies and deceptions. Foremost among the deceptions being the portrayal of vivisector Frederic Theunissen's experiments on songbirds as painless and innocent. These birds are immobilized and bolted down in stereotaxic devices, have holes drilled into their skulls, and electrodes inserted into their brains for recording. In most of the studies, the birds are killed to have their brains studied. Another deception is that Ralph Freeman's torture of kittens and cats is shedding light on Epilepsy. I haven't even read Freeman make this claim. No big surprise from Robert Sanders, who has compared animal rights activists to Al-Qaeda.
Protests at UC animal-lab workers' homes
Phillip Matier,Andrew Ross
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Officials have been trying to keep it quiet, but 24 UC Berkeley researchers and seven staffers have been harassed by animal rights activists in recent months, in some cases having their homes or cars vandalized.
"What they all have in common is that they all work in animal research," UC Berkeley spokesman Robert Sanders said of the targeted employees.
In several instances, the activists have shown up outside researchers' homes in the middle of the night with bullhorns and chanting, "Animal killers." Sometimes they have scrawled slogans on the sidewalk in chalk.
On more than one occasion, rocks have been thrown through the researchers' windows and their cars have been scratched up.
"Sometimes (the activists) go up to the door," Sanders said, "which can be very frightening to the family."
According to UC, there have been 20 reports of damage to researchers' homes in Berkeley, Oakland and El Cerrito since August, including seven broken house windows and three vandalized cars.
Thirteen researchers have been harassed on more than one occasion, authorities said. One researcher, who studies how cat brains work for epilepsy research, has reported seven incidents at his home.
No specific group has been identified as being behind the harassment. The actions appear to be coordinated through an animal rights Web site that includes photos of researchers, descriptions and photos of their experiments, plus their home addresses and phone numbers - along with the disclaimer, "Please keep communications with the individuals legal and nonthreatening."
However, it doesn't appear that activists are always following those instructions.
The latest incident occurred the weekend of June 1 in Berkeley, when a group of activists showed up during the daytime outside the home of a researcher who studies the effects of pesticides on mice. A rock was thrown through the researcher's window and a window at a neighbor's home, Sanders said.
Even a researcher who studies bird singing has been harassed and had his house vandalized.
"To study bird songs, you need to get them into the lab," Sanders said. "You want to record them and see how they raise their young."
It's not exactly the animal torture chamber one usually associates with the most negative depictions of animal research. But "apparently, these activists don't believe in any kind of animal research," Sanders said.
"As you can imagine," he added, "some of these faculty members are pretty freaked out."
By the time the cops show up, the protesters are usually gone. As a result, there have been no arrests - only an occasional citation issued for disturbing the peace.
Officials have been trying to keep the protests quiet, in part out of concern that publicity will only cause more incidents and an escalation in violence. At UCLA, animal rights protests have included attempted firebombings and one instance in which a researcher's home was flooded with a garden hose.
Looking at the numbers, it's pretty clear that keeping things quiet in the press hasn't toned down the protesters much. It's just as clear, however, that the protesters aren't reaching their goals, either.
"All of our researchers are adamant that their research is critical and that they are not going to quit," Sanders said.
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