Simon Chaitowitz, who was the communications director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), passed away on April 19 following her third bout with cancer. Chaitowitz was the author of a March Huffington Post article explaining why she took animal-tested drugs despite her opposition to vivisection, and in July 2002, she was quoted in one of my all-time favorite articles, Time's "Should We All Be Vegetarians?" cover story.
In 2006, e-mails circulated around both animal protection and Jewish circles when Chaitowitz needed a donor for a bone marrow transplant. One such notice said, "Simon's best chance of finding a genetically matched bone marrow donor lies with those of Jewish ethnic ancestry, from the area in and around Lithuania. Her maternal grandparents were from a small town outside Vilnius and her paternal grandparents were from Utena, Lithuania."
According to Wednesday's DawnWatch notice, "Last week, [Chaitowitz's] friend and colleague Mindy Kursban and I agreed that nobody ever had a bad word to say about Simon. Yet that was hardly because she was mild mannered or retiring in nature. She was no wimp or sideline sitter. In her fight for the animals -- those in circuses during her Seattle activism days and then those suffering in labs when she worked for PCRM -- she was a feisty and tireless advocate."
Sunstein a Potential Replacement for Souter
There's a lot of talk about possible replacements for retiring Supreme Court justice David Souter, and the name of White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein (see clarification below) keeps coming up. Per my January post, Sunstein is a Jewish animal rights advocate; he co-edited the 2004 book Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions.
According to CBS' Andrew Cohen, Sunstein is "a brilliant writer and scholar, with University of Chicago ties, who happens to be already working for the president at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. If the White House picks a white guy then I’m betting that Sunstein’s the man."
Clarification (6/16/09): This post identified Sunstein as the "White House regulatory czar." Although he was nominated for that position earlier this year, as of June 15, he has yet to be confirmed.
Silverstone Pens Book About Veganism
Jewish vegan actor Alicia Silverstone has a book about veganism coming out in October. Silverstone told Ecorazzi, "It’s called The Kind Diet and it’s about being kind to yourself and the planet at the same time. It really breaks down Eastern philosophy versus Western philosophy in terms of health." Ecorazzi interviewer Michael Parrish DuDell exclaimed, "ALICIA SILVERSTONE GAVE ME A HUG!!!," but I've got news for him: She hugged me when I met her in 2005 too.
Organic Kosher Products
Failed Messiah featured an article about Star-K's and the Orthodox Union's efforts "in bringing kosher and organic labeling together." Said Failed Messiah, "If OU supervised Agriprocessors was 'kosher,' and if Orthodox rabbis did not object to Agriprocessors' animal and worker abuse, will these 'organic' products really be organic?"
Dr. Michael Greger on Swine Flu
In Monday's post about swine flu, I extensively quoted Dr. Michael Greger, director of public health and animal agriculture for The Humane Society of the United States. Click here to watch Jane Velez-Mitchell's interview with Dr. Greger. Said Dr. Greger, "When thousands of animals are overcrowded together in these cramped, filthy football-field–sized sheds to lie nose to nose in their own waste, it's a veritable breeding ground for disease—really the perfect storm environment for the emergence and spread of these new diseases."
Shechita Threatened in Europe
A new European Union bill that aims to reduce animal suffering at slaughter has drawn criticism from rabbis. The Jerusalem Post reported on April 19:
The bill, which will be discussed by the EU's Council of Ministers in approximately two months, includes various clauses which seek to ensure more humane treatment of animals. One of these would allow member states to force cattle breeders to stun the animals before the slaughter - an act forbidden by Halacha.
This would create a situation in which shechita in the EU was not protected by law and could be declared illegal by any nation that chose to do so. These nations would also be free to forbid the importing of meat that did not comply with the standards of the new bill.
The bill has led Jewish leaders in Europe to mount a continent-wide effort to prevent the legislation from passing in its current form.