Monday, February 13, 2012

Scratch that act & other briefs

Who knows how seriously to take the idea about bringing back the Steel Pier diving horse act -- the good news is it's been scrapped, again, and maybe for the last time. Now, we read, the reconstituted Steel Pier will focus on the future, not the past.

Little was said in the statement about the animal advocates who protested in the thousands at Maybe the pier owners had visions of mass demonstrations if/when the diving horse act started again.

It really doesn't matter because the thing we all protested won't happen now.

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To McDonald's well publicized action this week on gestation crates for sows, we offer small kudos and feel only "modified rapture," as Gilbert & Sullivan put it.

After all, the fast food giant is talking only about eliminating these metal crates that don't even allow pregnant pigs to turn around in. It will be months before their suppliers submit plans for this, and probably many more months more before sows are crate-free.

But they and their offspring will still wind up being slaughtered for human food. That's the bottom line here. Sure, eventually there may be one fewer inhumane way to treat pigs along the way, but the way still leads to their deaths for human purposes.

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In the January 31 NYTimes, science writer Natalie Angier wrote about the African crested rat, which is a rat just the same, but one with potent chemical weapons to deter predators.

First of all, this rat is "so large, flamboyantly furred and thickly helmeted" that it seems at first to be an altogether different animal. Not so. This one's better protected, though, because it gnaws on trees known to contain a toxin traditionally used by African hunters to kill elephants.

With the toxin spread on hairs along its flank, the crested rat can sicken or kill a predator who takes one nip. Result, Angier reports: "African's many carnivores give the rat a wide berth."

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