Friday, May 20, 2022

This Is What Keeps Me Up At Night!


Is Happy the zoo elephant legally a person? A court will decide.

Is an elephant legally a person?

That’s the central question in a case that New York’s highest court considered Wednesday in a dispute over the living quarters of Happy, an Asian elephant at the Bronx Zoo.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, an animal rights organization, argued that Happy is an autonomous and cognitively complex animal entitled to the same right of protection against unlawful imprisonment that people have. The zoo contends that the elephant is well cared-for and that her holding is not illegal.

“What we’re saying is that she has a right to bodily liberty and that that makes her no longer a thing,” Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, said in an interview. “She’s a person.”

In a hearing, the seven-member New York State Court of Appeals asked attorneys for both parties about the definition of autonomy, how the elephant’s bodily liberty could be achieved and the potential effects of a decision that Happy should be moved.

U.S. history is rife with contentious arguments over who or what constitutes a person, philosophically and under the law. Enslaved people were once counted as three-fifths of a person for determining taxes and congressional seats. Courts have ruled that corporations can be considered persons in some circumstances, such as questions of political speech. The idea that fetuses are persons is central to some antiabortion arguments.

Another point for elephant intelligence: They know when their bodies are in the way

In Happy’s case, her attorneys contend that she is so autonomous and intelligent that she has a right to bodily liberty. She passed a mirror self-recognition test in 2005 — an indication of her self-awareness, her advocates say. Their legal argument focuses on the common-law right of habeas corpus, which is typically used to determine whether a person’s detention is lawful. 


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Jewish Lives Matter! European Animal Culture ha promosso l'odio per gli ebrei - Per non dimenticare!


New study sheds light on the phenomenon of female Jewish slavery and uncovers gang rape in Livorno's slave prison

Historian Prof. Tamar Herzig, Vice Dean for Research at Entin Faculty of Humanities, exposed previously unknown evidence of an organized gang rape of a group of enslaved Jewish girls and women from North Africa in the Italian city of Livorno at the beginning of the 17th century. The rape was organized by Dr. Bernardetto Buonromei, a high-ranking state official at Livorno's slave prison, who was also able to silence any complaints and effectively erase the memory of the victims' suffering.

According to the documents studied by Herzig, in the summer of 1610 Buonromei ordered the assignment of a group of enslaved female Jews, newly arrived from North Africa, to the men's quarters in the slave prison, contrary to the customary separation of women and men in different sections. This order resulted in the multiple perpetrator raping of the enslaved Jews by Muslim slaves and Christian forced laborers. One report notes that one of the victims lost her mind, and attempted to throw her young daughters out of the prison's window and commit suicide.

Representatives of Livorno's influential Jewish community sent protests decrying the unprecedented sexual abuse of their enslaved coreligionists to the Tuscan authorities, but all complaints and testimonies were soon silenced with the help of the Grand duke of Tuscany, who backed Dr. Buonromei. The Grand duke accepted the doctor's claims that his actions had been aimed at increasing the Tuscan state's profits from the slave trade, by ensuring the future payment of high ransom fees for enslaved foreign Jews by the local Jewish community in Livorno. Buonromei kept his job as the physician in charge of the slave prison, and when he died a few years later the Grand duke paid for his tombstone at Livorno's main church.

Livorno's Jewish community in the 17th century was one of the wealthiest and most influential Italian Jewish communities, and its relationship with the rulers of the Tuscan state was usually strong. According to the documents that Prof. Herzig uncovered, the affluent and well-connected members of Livorno's Jewish community were nonetheless subject to extortion by like Buonromei. Prof. Herzig found that the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany employed the gang rape incident as a grand spectacle of violence, using it to exert pressure on the Jewish community so that they would agree to pay exorbitant ransom fees for Jews captured in North Africa and forcefully transported to Livorno.

Buonromei, who had served as Livorno's first Mayor before his appointment at the slave prison, is still honored today as one of the city's founding fathers. A street in Livorno is named after him, and a figure commemorating him is paraded in the annual processions celebrating Livorno's elevation to the status of a city.

Prof. Herzig's study was published in the journal The American Historical Review. Prof. Herzig hopes that exposure of her findings in the Italian media will lead to a change in the commemoration of Dr. Buonromei, a man who made his fortune from the slave trade and was personally responsible for the horrendous abuse of enslaved Jewish women and girls.

Most studies on slavery in seventeenth-century Italy have previously focused mainly on male galley slaves, who supposedly suffered from harsher treatment than enslaved women. Scholarship has also focused on Muslim-Christian rivalry in this period, as the main motivation for the respective groups' engagement in enslaving one another. But so far very little research has addressed the place of Jews as victims of the slave trade in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italy. Prof. Herzig's study is the first to reveal the attitude of representatives of the Italian regime toward Jewish women from North Africa, captured by Italian forces and brought to Italian ports as slaves—an attitude that significantly impacted the relations between local Jews and Christian in Italian cities at the time.

Prof. Herzig says that "unveiling the female and Jewish aspects of the Italian is very important, because these topics have largely been neglected in historical scholarship on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I hope that by raising awareness about the phenomenon of Jewish women's enslavement, my research will lead to a reconsideration of the current commemoration of slavers such as Bernardetto Buonromei, thereby attaining some historical justice for the victims." 


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

“I will never forgive those who enabled his abuse, either passively or actively, either with their actions or their silence,” she said. “In May 2015, Todros Grynhaus was convicted of seven offences of serious sexual abuse of two adolescent girls. I was one of them.


Sex abuse survivor ‘won’t forgive’ those who enabled perpetrator as he is released


Yehudis Fletcher, now a campaigner for support for victims, fumes as Parole Board pushes ahead with release of Todros Grynhaus today

Todros Grynhaus
Todros Grynhaus

A sexual abuse survivor has expressed her resentment as she revealed the man who repeatedly exploited her when she was a teenager is to be released today, Monday.

An application by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has been refused after the Parole Board decided to release Todros Grynhaus, sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2015 for abusing her and another teenager.

Yehudis Fletcher, now a campaigner for support for victims, has expressed her frustration and anger at his release.

“I will never forgive those who enabled his abuse, either passively or actively, either with their actions or their silence,” she said.

“This past Wednesday I was informed an application to the Secretary of State for Justice for reconsideration of the parole board’s decision to release Todros Grynhouas had been refused.

“This morning, I have been informed that he will be released from prison today.

“In May 2015, Todros Grynhaus was convicted of seven offences of serious sexual abuse of two adolescent girls. I was one of them.

“I am grateful to my chosen family for their unwavering support.”

She also quotes Psalms 27: “When evil men assail me to devour my flesh, it is they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall.”

Grynhaus, now 57, fled to Israel on a false passport, but was finally brought back to the UK and convicted in 2015 of several counts of serious sexual assault against two girls in Manchester, aged 13 and 15, for whom he was in a position of care. He was jailed for 13 years and two months.

He also had to pay one victim £45,000 and the other £35,000 in compensation as well as prosecution costs of £35,000.

Grynhaus had taught in Jewish schools in Britain and abroad before setting up a successful direct debit management business while filling a role as a respected figure within the Charedi community in Salford.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Timothy Holroyde said: “This was a refined degree of cruelty on your part. You knew what you were doing and you knew what harm you would cause. You are an utter hypocrite. You professed your religion whilst cynically condemning your victims to suffer and giving false evidence seeking to cast blame on them.

“I have no doubt that you felt able to rely on a prevailing attitude of insularity which you hoped would prevent these allegations from ever coming to the attention of the police. You hoped that, at worse, you might have to pay a form of financial penalty as directed at the Beth Din.

“You believed that the combination of the girls’ sexual ignorance and the attitudes of some within your community would make it even harder for your victims to complain about you, and you came close to getting away with it.

“Even when the allegations were reported to the police, I am afraid the evidence I have heard shows that many in your community were taken in by your lying protestations of innocence. Others will have to examine their own consciences, and should reflect that, but for the courage of your two victims, your serious crimes would have gone unpunished.”

When confronted about the allegations – in front of his wife – by community leaders, he responded by saying “what would you like me to do about it?”.

Grynhaus was referred for therapy and the crimes were not reported to police for another two years. After he was arrested and charged he appeared in court, but was granted bail and fled to Israel on a false passport.

He was held there for attempting to enter the country fraudulently. After 18 months in an Israeli prison he was deported to England and eventually stood trial in January 2015. After a jury failed to reach a verdict, he was convicted at a second trial in May.

Described as “dangerous” and “highly manipulative”, Grynhaus molested the girls when they were between the ages of 13 and 16 between 2002 and 2005.

On more than one occasion, he forced the girls to perform sex acts on him. He also inappropriately touched the girls.

The Parole Board’s decision to release, announced in March, can only be reversed if it is deemed to be “irrational”. Raab had asked for him to be kept in prison as long ago as May 2021.

In its response to Raab’s application, released on May 10, Chitra Karve said: “I do not consider that the decision was irrational and accordingly the application for reconsideration is refused.

“The panel made a thorough assessment of risk, risk factors and protective factors, it took evidence from all witnesses, it carried out a weighing exercise with respect to any matters it disputed with the professional witnesses and investigated the risk management plan.

“I can see from the decision letter that the panel fully documents the assessments provided by all the professional witnesses… the forensic psychologist and the community offender manager.

“These matters are not an exact science and in my view nowhere near the test for irrationality.”

The panel that heard the case on 9 February 2022 consisted of a judge, a psychologist and an independent member. The hearing, held via a video link, was given details of Grynhaus’s offending, reports from psychologists, his prison and community offender managers and his legal representatives. The panel also heard one of the victims read out their Victim Personal Statement.



Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Polio Vaccine Was No "Hoax" to Elvis!




How Elvis Got Americans to Accept the Polio Vaccine


Campaigns to change behavior thrive on three factors: social influence, social norms and vivid examples

Elvis Presley is vaccinated on The Ed Sullivan Show, 1956.

In late 1956, Elvis Presley was on the precipice of global stardom. “Heartbreak Hotel” had reached number one on the charts earlier that year and Love Me Tender, his debut film, would be released in November. In the midst of this trajectory, he was booked as a guest on the most popular TV show at the time, The Ed Sullivan Show. But he wasn’t only there to perform his hits. Before the show started, and in front of the press and Ed Sullivan himself, Presley flashed his swoon-worthy smile, rolled up his sleeves and let a New York state official stick a needle loaded up with the polio vaccine in his arm.

At that point, the polio virus had been ravaging the American landscape for years, and approximately 60,000 children were infected annually. By 1955, hope famously arrived in the form of Jonas Salk’s vaccine. But despite the literally crippling effects of the virus and the promising results of the vaccination, many Americans simply weren’t getting vaccinated. In fact, when Presley appeared on the Sullivan show, immunization levels among American teens were at an abysmal 0.6 percent.

You might think that threats to children’s health and life expectancy would be enough to motivate people to get vaccinated. Yet, convincing people to get a vaccine is a challenging endeavor. Intuitively, it seems like it would be wise to have doctors and other health officials communicate the need to receive the vaccine. Or, failing that, we might just need to give people more information about the effectiveness of the vaccine itself.

Clearly though, those aren’t winning strategies today, and they weren’t back in 1956. What did prove successful was Elvis getting the vaccine in front of millions. In fact, after he publicly did so, vaccination rates among American youth skyrocketed to 80 percent after just six months. Why might this be the case, and are there lessons that can be applied to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Elvis’s public act contained three crucial ingredients inherent to many of the most effective behavioral change campaigns: social influence, social norms and vivid examples. 

We look to those around us to guide our own behavior, but we especially look to others who are in well-respected positions. For example, when researchers equipped a few dozen well-connected high school students with the tools to combat bullying, conflict rates decreased by about 30 percent, which was significantly more than other schools that did not participate in such training. Just like popular high school kids today, Elvis held a huge amount of sway over teenagers in the 1950s, which no doubt contributed to the success of his demonstration.

Beyond social influence, we are affected by social norms, or perceptions of what other people do and what other people think we should do. For instance, when hotel guests learned about energy conservation norms—specifically, what percentage of previous guests had recycled towels—their own energy conservation greatly increased. Witnessing Elvis get the polio vaccine may have similarly indicated a clear social norm: that getting vaccinated was an expected and approved behavior for teenagers nationally.

Finally, vivid events that focus on a single individual can profoundly affect awareness and behavior. Reports of thousands of deaths from the Syrian refugee crisis did not grip hearts and minds like the story of a single boy who drowned and washed up on the beach. And, after Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer, there was a 101 percent increase in mammogram appointments for women 40–69 years old who had not previously been screened. Watching Elvis get vaccinated was far more powerful than any statistic, because it too was personal, emotional and vivid.

The COVID-19 vaccine will only live up to its promise if enough people actually end up getting vaccinated. The good news is that more than 60 percent of Americans are currently in support of taking the vaccine. With the arrival of new variants COVID-19, however, some public health officials maintain that upwards of 90 percent of the country will need to get vaccinated to create herd immunity. If only Elvis were still alive to harness social influence, social norms and vivid examples.

But even if he was, would he have made a difference? The reality is that in 2020, stardom and influence aren’t nearly as concentrated as they were when the King of Rock n’ Roll reigned supreme more than 60 years ago. Rather, there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant “Elvises,” from nanoinfluencers with a small number of dedicated fans to the Kim Kardashians, Chrissy Teigens, Drakes and yes, Donald Trumps of the world, each of whom has tens of millions of followers.

The fact that Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have all agreed to publicly receive the vaccine, and that others like Vice President-elect Harris and Vice President Pence already have, is a great start. But while their actions may be vivid and set strong social norms, will they ultimately influence enough of the population? The Elvis demonstration was so effective because he was admired by the hardest-to-reach population (teenagers). But to the extent that many aspects of COVID-19 have been publicized, the key to influencing mass-level behavior may not lie in one single display. In order to truly move the needle (pun intended), it may be most effective to have a host of unlikely bedfellows—from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Ivanka Trump to Tucker Carlson—publicly receive the vaccine. Ideally, they’d even do it at the same time, together.



Monday, May 16, 2022