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Posts Tagged ‘Chimpanzees’

Report: More women than men in U.S. earned doctorates last year for first time [via The Washington Post]

Women have been increasingly present in academia, but just recently they passed a new benchmark: for the first time ever, more women that men earned doctorates last year, the Council of Graduate Schools reported. In 2008-09, 28,962 women earned doctorates; 28,469 went to men. “Many women feel they have to choose between having a career in academics and having a family,” said Catherine Hill, director of research at the American Association of University Women. “Of course, they shouldn’t have to.”

France: Senate votes for Muslim face veil ban [via The Guardian]

The French senate approved by 246-1 a ban on face-covering veils traditional among Muslims, including burqas and niqabs. Unless it is challenged soon as unconstitutional, the law will go into effect in the spring. The planned penalty for violating the statute is a €150 fine and a “citizenship course.” “Supporters of the ban – including Nicolas Sarkozy, who has said the full Islamic veil “is not welcome” on French soil – say it is a move made primarily in defence of women’s rights and secularism. Critics of the ban, however, have argued that the law affects a tiny minority – 2,000 women at most – and is expected by many to stir tensions and reinforce marginalisation among some of the country’s five to six million Muslims.”

Fertility Rites [via The Atlantic]

Don’t read this article before eating. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book on chimpanzees, Jon Cohen describes the process by which researchers gather sperm samples from our primate relatives. It’s important to science — researchers are hoping studying chimp sperm will provide clues as to why humans miscarry much more frequently than chimpanzees. If you’re curious, click the link; otherwise, stay away.

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Legislation is pending in both chambers of Congress to provide great apes — the bill specifically identifies chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans, as well as gibbons, which are technically a lesser ape — with protection against invasive biomedical research and to ban federal funding for such research inside and outside the United States. Congress should pass the Great Ape Protection Act summarily.

GAPA — H.R. 1326 in the House and S.3694 in the Senate — finds that apes are “highly intelligent and social animals and research laboratory environments involving invasive research cannot meet their complex social and psychological needs.” For legislative purposes, the regulation is classified as part of interstate commerce because most great ape research is performed by pharmaceutical companies in the development of new drugs.

Perhaps most inspiring is GAPA’s conclusion that there is a moral responsibility (whose, the bill does not specify) to provide quality care for apes used for research. Many such apes were infected with HIV or hepatitis C in the course of being studied. According to the Jane Goodall Institute, there are 1,000 chimpanzees, about 500 of which are government-owned, used for research in the U.S., costing taxpayers $20 to $25 million per year to house.

Furthermore, the JGI argues that ape-based research is a poor methodology in addition to being unethical. Although humans share 98 percent of their DNA with chimpanzees, that small discrepancy can lead to major variations in those diseases in humans. The JGI instead recommends DNA analysis, computer modeling and in vitro testing alternatives.

Many other countries have passed similar legislation in recent years, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Japan, Austria and Belgium. Spain even granted legal rights to great apes in 2008.

Nevertheless, there has been some opposition to this research ban. GAPA would “halt ongoing biomedical research into such diseases as hepatitis C for which no other animal model exists,” a coalition of associations wrote in a letter to Congress. The ban would also hurt efforts on research that can help apes, they argued, including research into the Ebola virus and cardiovascular developments to benefit apes in captivity. Signatories included the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, the American Psychological Association, the American Society of Human Genetics and the National Primate Research Centers.

GAPA has received little Republican support in the House. Of the bill’s current co-sponsors, 132 are Democrats (two, Bordallo of Guam and Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, are non-voting members) and 14 are Republicans.

In the Senate, the three co-sponsors are Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington, Republican Susan Collins of Maine and independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont. The bill was introduced just one month ago in the senate and will likely draw more co-sponsors with time.

Hopefully the recent introduction of the Senate bill will help move along the House bill, which has been languishing in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce since its introduction in March 2009. The current congress is dangerously close to concluding, and with matters as pressing as health care, the economy, education reform and two ongoing overseas conflicts taking up so much of the legislators’ attention, a bill like the Great Ape Protection Act could easily decay in committee until the next congress, when it would have to be reintroduced (again, actually, as the bill was first introduced in 2008).

It certainly can help with the budget. Retiring the 500 federally owned chimpanzees would ultimately save about $170 million, the Humane Society of the United States calculated. It’s a drop in the bucket, but because it saves money while ending unethical research methods, the Great Ape Protection Act is a win-win.

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Stuff you just have to read, served up hot every weekday morning.

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56-Year-Old Chimpanzee Gives Birth [via KTKA]

Susie, a 56-year-old chimpanzee at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas, gave birth last week. Caretakers say both mother and infant are doing well. Chimps in the wild can live approximately 45 years, and zookeepers assumed Susie, like most human females of the same age, could no longer give birth.

“Susie was removed from birth control because of medical concerns. The feeling was that she was too old to get pregnant and while this was certainly unexpected, we’re very happy that both Susie and baby appear to be doing well,” said Sunset Zoo Director Scott Shoemaker.

Thanks to friend of the blog Barbara King for this tip!

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For Ramadan, Teenagers Are Hungry But Fine With That [via The New York Times]

The New York Times has an interesting piece about teenaged Muslims in New York City fasting for Ramadan. They avoid playing basketball so as not to get thirsty and no longer go out for pizza with friends. Some stay up until just before dawn, when the morning meal is eaten, then sleep through much of the day to avoid hunger. “Jay is still awake when his family rises to eat before sunrise. He plays video games and watches “Three’s Company” reruns until about 6 a.m., then sleeps until 3 p.m., by which time the evening break-fast banquet is in sight.”

Others think that defeats the purpose. ““The point is not to sleep all day,” Amela said. “It’s to do it for God — to have to resist.” Also, she added, to foster empathy for those who go without.”

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Today in Betty White News [via Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily; USA Today; Mediaite]

Betty White may be 88, but she’s not slowing down. After announcing last week that she will host a gala fundraiser in Williamsburg, Va., to support animal welfare, a longtime cause of the “Hot in Cleveland” actress, publisher Putnam announced White will pen two books in the next two years. The first is a memoir to cover her years in show business, including her recent hosting of “Saturday Night Live;” the second will feature photos of White and animals from the Los Angeles Zoo, where she sits on the board of directors.

As if that weren’t enough, White won her seventh Primetime Emmy, Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, Saturday night for her episode hosting NBC sketch comedy program “Saturday Night Live.”

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China tries in vain to keep bellies buttoned up [via The Los Angeles Times]

Umm…

In the sweltering heat of summer, when the refreshing breezes desert the city, Hu Lianqun absent-mindedly reaches for a solution: He rolls up his shirt to expose his belly, often fanning himself with the garment to create his own air conditioning.

From the countryside to sophisticated urban centers such as Beijing, men of all ages, social standing and stomach sizes resort to a public display of skin, a hot-weather fashion faux pas that’s the Chinese equivalent of knee-high black socks with shorts.

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