Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Ranking of State Animal Protection Laws

Earlier this year the Animal Legal Defense Fund released a 3-page report ranking all fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on the strength and comprehensiveness of their state anti-cruelty laws.

Although ALDF makes it clear that all the states’ laws need to be strengthened, the states that ranked best were California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon, while those that ranked worst were Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota and Utah.

The latter five states fell into the worst category because, among other things, they either did not have any felony anti-cruelty provisions or because, in the case of Kentucky, felony provisions applied only to select situations.

ALDF also provides a list of Jurisdictions with Felony Animal Abuse Provisions and the year of enactment.

By way of quick definition, a felony is “a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison… [or] a crime carrying a minimum term of one year or more in state prison,” [note: given the legal status of animals, whether wild or designated as “property,” the death penalty has never been, not is unlikely ever to be, imposed in any animal cruelty case], while a  misdemeanor is “a lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year… [and]are tried in the lowest local court such as municipal, police or justice courts.”


Gary Goldhammer Comments On The Zacarias Moussaoui Verdict

Gary Goldhammer wrote a thought-provoking post about the Zacarias Moussaoui verdict. Gary isn’t just your ordinary blogger writing about what is undoubtedly one of the most high-profile death penalty trials in United States history. He’s also the author of Dead End, a 1994 book that examines the financial and human costs of the death penalty.

For anyone who wants to learn more about the death penalty and how it is administered in the U.S., go to Pro-death penalty.com and the Death Penalty Information Center.

Here are some quick links of interest:

And to test your knowledge about the death penalty, follow this link to DPIC’s 10-question Death Penalty Quiz.


Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men Debuted 35 Years Ago

Are you looking for books to read to your pre-schooler? Ones that will make your child — and you —  feel happy and silly and giggly all at the same time? Then consider the entire series of 40 Mr Men and 30 Little Misses created by Roger Hargreaves.

BBC News reports that Hargreaves created the first Mr Men, Mr Tickle, thirty-five years ago. Looking at the exhibition recently opened at the Animation Art Gallery in London, it’s no surprise that Hargreaves is apparently the third best-selling children’s author of all time.

Here is the link to more pictures of the Misters and Misses, and here is the link to the official Mr Men site.

My all-time favorite? Mr Bump.

 


DePaul University Offers Minor in LGBTQ Studies, Angering Some Catholic Groups

Chicago’s DePaul University is offering a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer studies. Assistant Professor Gary Cestaro, an instructor in DePaul’s Modern Languages department, is the program’s director and, according to Out in Chicago, the minor is built around courses in English literature, comparative literature, American Studies, psychology, women and gender studies, as well as an introductory course.

As Newsweek points out, DePaul isn’t the first university to offer a LGBTQ minor, but as the nation’s largest Roman Catholic university, its decision is drawing attention.

According to LifeSite, an organization that “emphasizes the social worth of traditional Judeo-Christian principles but is also respectful of all authentic religions and cultures that esteem life, family and universal norms of morality,” Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, stated:

“Why would a university fund a programme based on a field of study that in mainstream academia is relatively unimportant?…Even aside from the Catholic perspective it is very clear that this is motivated from a politically correct perspective.

If we want to have programmes in deviant sexual behavior… why no minor in prostitution? Other than a need to bow to political correctness, why homosexuality particularly? Why no minor in heterosexual activities?….

All of that suggests that aside from the question of whether the course content will directly oppose Catholic teaching, the entire enterprise is intended to affirm the legitimacy of what is called the ‘gay’ subculture or lifestyle….

It seems clear that the programme itself would lead to affirmation of gay lifestyle and homosexual activity. This programme is entirely inappropriate for a Catholic institution.”

Meanwhile, AgapePress reports that Karl Maurer, vice president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, said:

“What DePaul is doing… is really falsely characterizing itself as both being Catholic and being inspired by St. Vincent’s spirit, which is a fraud.”

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property argues that DePaul’s decision to offer this minor is indicative of a greater problem.

“A glimpse at DePaul’s web site flags more trouble:

  • DePaul recognizes two openly pro-homosexual student clubs: Outlaws, for law students and Spectrum. Spectrum’s web site promotes a “Coming Out Ball.”
  • Under “Gay/Lesbian Studies,” DePaul features links to notorious pro-homosexual advocacy groups, including Act-Up….
  • DePaul created “The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies (LGBTQA) Student Services.” The stated goal of this department is to encourage “acceptance and awareness around LGBTQ issues and concerns.” The office helps students deal with cases of “homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia…”
  • On February 18-19, the immoral play “V-Monologues” staged on campus. At least 1,000 students protested by e-mail, letter and phone, asking DePaul president, a priest, to cancel the lewd production. Apparently, these Catholic students’ concerns were ignored.
  • A pro-homosexual activist and professor spoke at DePaul on Feb. 20. The title of his lecture was: “From Sodomy Laws to Marriage: The History of American Sexual Identity.” Writing about the event, student newspaper, DePaulia, said: “The lecture itself was an example of progress for the homosexual community as one of the first events hosted by DePaul’s new minor program…”
  • Finally, DePaul’s web site displays a confusing quote by Rev. Edward R. Udovic, C.M., senior executive for university mission. The statement reads: “DePaul’s Vincentian identity isn’t a Catholic thing per se, or even a Christian thing per se, but a human thing.”

Maybe it’s time to revisit yesterday’s post.


Ambitious Media Campaign Fights Anti-Gay Religious Prejudice

Faith In America’s introduction:

“Throughout our history, religious teachings, shaped by ignorance and fear, have been used to justify prejudice, discrimination and even violence against minorities within American society. We now look back and agree that such teachings were misguided, with consequences beyond tragic. Authentic religion inspires compassion and respect for everyone, especially those who are different. It unites and uplifts, rather than tears down and divides. Religious teachings should never exclude anyone, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons from enjoying equal rights and protections promised by the Constitution of the United States. Faith in America appeals to and honors both the authentic religious and democratic ideals that rest in the soul of the American people.”

Founded in December 2005, Faith in America, Inc. is a non-profit organization working towards “the emancipation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from bigotry disguised as religious truth.”

Led by executive director Jimmy Creech (formerly senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, Creech was defrocked in 1999 for performing a covenant service for two men) and supported by its largest contributor Mitchell Gold of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, the organization rolled out a hard-hitting, national, multi-million dollar campaign on February 4th.

Gold described the campaign’s goals in the March issue of the Advocate,

“Our attitude is that this is a one-year project. I want to change this country in one year…

If we don’t do it in one year, that’ll be OK, but what I don’t believe in doing is having a five-year strategy with no accomplishments….

The only voice people down here [in fundamentalist regions] hear about religious beliefs is that of James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. There folks very rarely hear the voice of Gene Robinson. You tend to believe what you hear.”


One-Stop Shopping for Blawgs: A Taxonomy of Legal Blogs

Ian Best, whom I first wrote about here, e-mailed me this week to let me know his Taxonomy of Legal Blogs is complete.

Ian has compiled a fantastic list that I know I’ll be turning to many times:

I. General Blogs
Advice for Lawyers and Law Firms
General Legal Blogs
General Blogs — Law and Culture, Economics, Politics, etc.
II. Blogs Categorized by Legal Specialty
Specialty Blogs
   
III. Blogs Categorized by Law or Legal Event
Case Blogs
Statute Blogs
Trial Blogs
    
IV. Blogs Categorized by Jurisdictional Scope
State Blogs
Federal Circuit Blogs
U.S. Supreme Court Blogs
    
V. Blogs Categorized by Author/Publisher
Anonymous Blogs
Association Blogs
Blogs by Judges
Book Supplement Blogs
Class and Student Group Blogs
Institute Blogs
Law Firm Blogs — Listed by Blog
Law Firm Blogs — Listed by Firm
Law Journal Blogs
Law Professor Blogs
Law Library and Librarian Blogs
Law Professor Blogs
Lawyer Webjourals
Newspaper Blogs
    
VI. Blogs Categorized by Number of Contributors
Group Blogs
    
VII. Miscellaneous Blogs Categorized by Topic
Blogs about Judges
Event Blogs
Fictional Blogs
Humor Blogs
    
VIII. Collections of Legal Blogs
Blog Post Collections
Legal Blog Collections
Legal Blog Networks

Aside from his actual taxonomy, he seems to have the blogging thing down. Ian has a page dedicated exclusively to responses to criticism. And he has dedicated pages requesting reader feedback on Organizational Method, Categories, Legal Blogs and General Comments and Questions.

Please check out his site.


"You Dirty #$&?*!"

MSNBC asks, “Are we living in an Age of Profanity?”  It certainly appears so:

  • 64% of those polled said they use the F-word, ranging from 8% who claim to using it “several times a day” to 15% who claim they use it “a few times a year.”
  • 62% of 18 to 34-year-olds and 39% of those 35 and older claim they swear during conversations at least a few times a week.
  • 74% of women and 60% of men said they are bothered by profanity.
  • 39% of women and 54% of men said they swear a few times a week.

The best quote in the article comes from Joe Cormack, a bartender from Fort Dodge, Iowa, who apparently hears customers use the F-word so frequently he feels he needs to intercede:

‘Do you have any idea how many times you’ve just said that?” he reports saying from time to time. “I mean, if I take that out of your vocabulary, you’ve got nothin!’ “

Additional Info: Jack Yan points out a side benefit of not cussing, namely that “your speech becomes more economical because you have been using the f word as a ?ller like um or er.”  Now that sounds like a darn good reason to me!


Police Departments Pull Out All Stops To Recruit Officers

Years ago I took part in a simulated hostage crisis exercise conducted by the Alexandria, Virginia Police Department. The exercise was created to help officers test their negotiation and their rescue skills and, as such, I and my fellow hostages were asked to play our roles as realistically as possible upon finding our bus taken over by a crazed gunman.

Keeping in mind that this was pre 9/11 and citizens still believed that their compliance might result in a safe release, we tried not to antagonize the gunman. We hoped for the best as he negotiated with the police and just prayed that he wouldn’t loose his cool — no one wants to be shot or killed, even in a simulation. When the officers finally stormed the bus and handcuffed us before dragging us outside onto the pavement, it felt all too real. (Quick note: the officers, not certain who among us was the gunman and who might have developed some loyalty to him, took the precautionary step of handcuffing us all.)

This little exercise reinforced my belief that law enforcement work isn’t easy. Between risking lives for modest pay to dealing with a distrust of police officers among certain segments of the population due to an abuse of the uniform by some, law enforcement work is frequently under-appreciated or even unappreciated.

Now the Washington Post reports that “more than 80 percent of the nation’s 17,000 law enforcement agencies, big and small, have vacancies that many can’t fill, police officials estimate.” With reasons ranging from service-minded people choosing to join the military, to an increase in baby-boomer retirement and a more educated population pursuing other career paths, the police shortage is being felt across the country.

According to the Washington Post, some counties, in an effort to attract viable candidates, are offering a variety of incentives such as signing bonuses (Prince William County, Virginia, for example, offers a $3,000 signing bonus), bounties for referrals and pay increases. Prince George’s County, Maryland even began a $1 million dollar advertising campaign last summer.

Police departments have taken other steps as well:

“Departments have dropped their zero-tolerance policy on drug use and past gang association, eased restrictions on applicants with bad credit ratings, and tweaked physical requirements to make room for more female candidates or smaller male candidates, police officials said. Departments also offer crash courses in reading and remedial English for the written parts of the entrance exam, and provide strength and agility coaches for the physical part — all of which have raised concerns about how qualified some of the new personnel will be.”

Unfortunately such actions aren’t without risk:

” ‘That [hiring less-qualified people] is clearly a concern, and police chiefs are very uneasy about that possibility,’ said Hubert Williams, president of the Police Foundation, a law enforcement advocacy group. ‘The question is, do we keep our radio cars empty or hire people who a few years ago we wouldn’t have hired? It is very problematic.’ “

This sentiment is echoed by others:

“There are concerns, said Elaine Deck, a researcher at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, that staffing changes and shortages could affect public safety and the well-being of law enforcement officers. The LAPD, for example, is too short-staffed to investigate complaints against its officers, so that many complaints from 2005 may not result in punishment until this year.”

 


How To Get Ahead

Just one post young, a new PR blog has garnered a lot of attention, both in links and in comments.

For all you PR students out there, especially the women, here’s apparently the winning formula:

Additional Info: For a broader view on this topic, see Robert French’s post.


With Canada’s Seal Hunt Less Than Two Days Away, Rhetoric Is In Overdrive

As the countdown ticker on the Humane Society of the United States site shows, Canada’s infamous yearly seal hunt — this year permitting the killing of 325,000 young seals — is less that two days away (at the time of this writing, 1 day and 19 hours).

With both supporters and opponents of the hunt preparing for the international media attention this event attracts, rhetoric is in overdrive.

From the Fisheries and Oceans Canada site:

  • The Seal Hunt Management Plan’s objectives are to “ensure conservation and sustainability, long-term sustainable use, humane hunting practices, and encourage fullest use of hunted seals.”
  • “The commercial seal hunt in Atlantic Canada in 2005 was the source of more than $16.5 million in direct revenue from the sale of product – virtually the same as in 2004, and up from an estimated $13 million value in 2003.”
  • “The seal harvest in Atlantic Canada has been directed at beater pelt sales (independent harp seals between 25 days and 13 months of age).  The primary market is for beater pelts, which can fetch up to $70 each in strong markets.”
  • “The hunting methods presently used were studied by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada and they found that the clubbing of seals, when properly performed is at least as humane as, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public.”
  • “Methods used to kill seals in Canada were found to be generally more humane than the shooting of animals for sport. The Commission also found that no methods of killing which have come to their notice, other than clubbing or shooting, achieve acceptable standards of humaneness.”

Additional statements from a recent CBS News article:

  • “…the reality is that whitecoats can’t be hunted anymore. But it’s also true that young harp seals lose their white coats (and their protection) at about 12 to 14 days of age. After that, they’re fair game for hunters, although they’re usually about 25 days old before they’re hunted. Most harp seals taken are under the age of three months. Young yes, whitecoats no.”
  • “A 2002 report in the Canadian Veterinary Journal found that ‘the large majority of seals taken during this hunt … are killed in an acceptably humane manner.’ This study found that 98 per cent of hunted seals it examined had been killed properly. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) cites this study among others as proof that the hunt opponents are wrong in their accusations of widespread cruelty. And regarding the ‘skinning alive’ charge, the DFO says appearances can be deceiving. ‘Sometimes a seal may appear to be moving after it has been killed,’ the DFO says. ‘However, seals have a swimming reflex that is active, even after death. This reflex falsely appears as though the animal is still alive when it is clearly dead – similar to the reflex in chickens.’ “
  • According to the DFO, “the club, or ‘hakapik,’ used by many sealers is ‘an efficient tool’ that kills ‘quickly and humanely.’ “
  • “The federal government acknowledges that it has laid more than 200 charges against sealers since 1996, but argues that shows it’s serious about enforcing its regulations.”

And finally, from the Humane Society of the United States, a video and slide show (scroll midway down page to find). Despite the pictures of whitecoats intended to pull at everyone’s heartstrings, these images speak volumes.