NEWS OF THE WEEK:

Elephant Ban Remains, Activists Lose Appeal & More, Nov. 7 – 20, 2017

By Leslie Goldberg

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THE BEST NEWS

Trump rescinded an Obama ban on importing trophy hunter spoils on Thursday, November 16, presumably because his sons are enthusiastic safari hunters. That meant that American hunters in Africa could ship back home the bodies of elephants they murdered. Since the public outcry was so fierce against this green light to hunting a beloved yet endangered species, a day later, on Friday, November 17, Trump had to back down and NOT rescind the rule. (New York Times)

THE WORST NEWS

Two animal rights activists, both from California, charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act  (AETA) for releasing 2,000 minks and spray painting  “Liberation is Love” on a barn, lost their appeal this week before the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyers for Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang challenged the constitutionality of the AETA, arguing that the 2006 law violates First Amendment free speech rights. Circuit Judge Anne Claire Williams disagreed, writing: “Congress was concerned about actions by extremists such as arson and bombings. Both of those crimes involve destruction of property and are extremely violent. The word ‘terrorism’ certainly bears a rational relationship to many of the acts covered by the AETA.”  Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison and Lang will spend six months in home confinement. (US News & World Report)

PERSONHOOD FOR ELEPHANTS

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), has just filed a lawsuit in Connecticut on the behalf of three elephants. It is the first time in the world that a lawsuit has demanded that the court recognize elephants are not things and have a right not be to be imprisoned. The three animals in question are housed in a Connecticut zoo, where the NhRP has charged that they receive inadequate veterinary care and their cages are cruelly substandard. The elephants are also forced to participate in a traveling circus. (NBC News)

PRESIDENT DINES ON SHARK FIN SOUP ON ASIA TRIP

President Donald Trump, apparently unconcerned about or possibly clueless to the plight of sharks, which are endangered and at risk of extinction, had a bowl of shark fin soup while visiting Viet Nam on his recent Asia trip. Animal rights and conservation groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare were quick to condemn the act: “We are dismayed at the news that President Trump was served and ate shark fin soup...actions like this undermine global conservation efforts and signal to world leaders that US is abandoning its leadership role.” “Shark finning,” the practice of catching a shark, sawing off its fin and dumping it back into the water to die, is illegal under US federal law. (E&E News)

ENGLAND’S PLAN FOR CCTV IN SLAUGHTERHOUSES

On the footsteps of several undercover investigations of extreme animal cruelty in slaughterhouses, the UK’s environmental secretary, Michael Gove, has unveiled a plan for the government to film in slaughterhouses and make the footage available to veterinarians and other officials. A recent article in The Guardian says this is “part of a series of measures to bolster welfare standards and enforce laws against animal cruelty.

“The government will also raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernizing statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat.” (The Guardian)

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