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Senate committee holds second hearing on "eco-terrorism" focusing on HLS NYSE issue
This Tuesday, a local activist was ordered to surrender to authorities November 8th for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in San Francisco currently investigating animal rights activists in the Bay Area (http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/10/1778325.php). Other Bay Area activists face the same potential fate (http://www.indybay.org/archives/archive_by_id.php?id=3326&category_id=58 & http://www.indybay.org/archives/archive_by_id.php?id=3264&category_id=58).
Wednesday, a Senate committee held its second hearing this year on "eco-terrorism" focusing on the non-listing of Huntingdon Life Sciences in the New York Stock Exchange (http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/09/1766160.php). Again they brought in the same voices of hysteria from the FBI, including the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and representatives of animal exploitation profiteers, allowing just one voice of Animal Liberation by inviting controversial activist Jerry Vlasak to speak.
public transcript from hearing Wednesday:
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Statement of Dr. Jerry Vlasak, MD
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (“SHAC”)
I. Introductory remarks
Good afternoon, gentleman, my name is Dr. Jerry Vlasak. I am a practicing trauma surgeon, but more importantly for today’s purpose, I am a Press Officer with the North American Animal Liberation Press Office. I am also a former vivisector.
The stated purpose of the Animal Liberation Press Office is: to communicate the actions, strategies, philosophy and history of the underground animal liberation movement to the media and the public, and that’s what I hope to do here today.
The actions of underground activists who care enough about animals to speak out in no uncertain terms, and at times to risk their own lives and freedom, have a message that is most urgent and one that deserves to be heard and understood. Often underground animal liberation speech and actions either go unreported in the media or are uncritically vilified as "violent" or "terrorist", with no attention paid to the needless and senseless suffering that industries and individuals gratuitously inflict on animals. The Press Office seeks to clarify the motivation and nature of underground actions taken in defense of animals.
Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) is the largest contract testing lab in Europe, and operates facilities in the UK and New Jersey. They kill 500 animals a day. HLS will test anything for anybody. They carry out experiments which involve poisoning animals with household products, pesticides, drugs, herbicides, food colorings and additives, sweeteners and genetically modified organisms, oven cleaner and make up.
HLS has been infiltrated and exposed 5 times in recent years by journalists, animal rights campaigners and members of the public; each time evidence of animal abuse and staff incompetence has been uncovered.
A 1999 inspection of their Occold (UK) facility by the Good Laboratory Practice Monitoring Authority revealed 41 deficiencies, including errors in standard operating procedures, training issues, record keeping, quality assurance, equipment, labeling and facilities.
520 violations of the UK Good Laboratory Practices Act were documented in an expose by the Daily Press(UK) in 2000. They are the only UK laboratory to ever have their licence revoked by the government.
In East Millstone, NJ in 1997, an investigator from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought information to light that forced Huntingdon to plead guilty to animal cruelty violations and pay a $50,000 fine.
The campaign Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) was set up at the end of 1999. In what has become an international campaign in more than 18 countries, a campaign that knows no limit to the creativity and length to which many demonstrators will go, SHAC has brought HLS to the brink of financial ruin.
It is important to realize that SHAC is not one group, or hierarchical entity, but an ideologically aligned group consisting on thousands of people who gather in various groups to protest the atrocities perpetrated by HLS. While some like SHAC USA are incorporated, above ground non-profit organizations, who engage in legal demonstrations, legal boycotts and legal leafleting/education of the public, other groups are just individuals loosely knit. It is ridiculous to think that SHAC USA and SHAC UK is one group with a top-down organization that controls all activities worldwide.
IV. NYSE De-listing
On September 7, 2005 HLS was due to begin trading on the NYSE under the symbol LSR. Moments before trading was to begin, and with HLS executives on the stock exchange floor to celebrate, the listing was cancelled without comment. There was no direct or indirect reference or mention of animal rights action.
Did NYSE president Catherine Kinney halt the listing because she had just realized the financial temerity of HLS, or did she decide that a company as debased and cruel as HLS should not be associated with her exchange?
The New York Stock Exchange's reluctance to admit the lab is understandable, as the company hides their financial details from public scrutiny.
Currently HLS stock still trades on the OTCBB under the symbol LSRI. It was de-listed from the London Stock Exchange in 2002; the company reincorporated in Maryland and underwent a reverse 5:1 stock split. It’s split-adjusted price today is a bit under $2.00 per share.
Chairman of the Board and CEO Andrew Baker owns 27% of the stock, and in June fronted the company another $43 million in a leaseback offer giving him personal ownership of the company’s land, buildings and equipment, which he leases back to them.
Even after that massive infusion of cash, HLS still reports a whopping $75.9 million debt. A $50 million bond is payable in mid 2006.
No commercial bank or insurance company is willing to do business with HLS, and at least 25 market makers have thus far refused to deal in their stock.
HLS has not paid a dividend in many years, 2 of its directors are 3rd world-based and have no experience in the field, and its annual shareholders meetings are held secretly in Panama. Hundreds of customers and suppliers have cancelled their contracts with HLS, choosing not to do business with a company dealing in the torture and killing of defenseless animals. Is this the kind of business that belongs on any stock exchange?
In the last 2 weeks, HLS share price has gone into a downfall, as company after company sheds their stock from their portfolios. More than a million shares have been divested, as companies are informed about the vile business carried out by HLS. One company, Awad, stated that had they known about the cruelty at HLS, they probably would have never invested in them.
Oct. 20, 2005-WASHINGTON MUTUAL SELLS OFF 188,430 OF THEIR SHARES IN HLS!
Oct. 19, 2005- ROYCE & ASSOC. SELL OFF 120,000 SHARES!
Oct. 19, 2005-THOMSON, HORSTMANN & BRYANT, INC SELL OFF 123,500 SHARES!
Oct. 18, 2005- CORTINA SELLS OFF THEIR 165,000 LSRI SHARES!
Oct. 13, 2005- AWAD SELLS OFF THEIR 250,000 SHARES IN LSRI!
Oct. 12, 2005- GREENVILLE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT SELLS OFF THEIR 251,000 SHARES IN LSRI!
V. About the Animal Liberation Movement
By their accusations against SHAC and the ALF, some are trying to disguise where the real violence exists, and not the violence of extensional self-defense, but the real violence, of Huntingdon laboratories. Other activists watch all this, and become embittered and frustrated until they begin utilizing more radical
When it met in May of this year to discuss “animal enterprise terrorism”, this committee heard from David Martosko, director of research for a lobbyist group called Center for Consumer Freedom(CCF).
The Center for Consumer Freedom, formerly known as the Guest Choice Network, was set up by one Richard Berman with a $600,000 “donation” from tobacco company Philip Morris. Berman arranges for large sums of corporate money to find its way into non-profit societies of which he is the executive director. He then hires his own company as a consultant to these nonprofit groups. Of the millions of dollars “donated” by Philip Morris between the years 1995 and 1998, 49 percent to 79 percent went directly to Berman or Berman & Co.
On November 16, 2004, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that CCF has violated its tax exempt status. The complaint alleges that CCF engaged in prohibited electioneering, made substantial payments to the founder of the organization, Richard Berman, and to Berman's wholly owned for profit entity Berman & Co., and engaged in activities with no charitable purpose. CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told Forbes magazine, "It doesn't seem to me that someone should get a tax deduction while they're writing public relations memos about how people should be able to smoke in restaurants."
Each of the witnesses that have testified before me have their own financial interests at stake in the continued oppression, torture and murder of non-human animals by HLS.
HLS is only one representative of the Global Vivisection Complex, an outdated, inefficient and wasteful entity whose time has come and gone. What are the major medical breakthroughs in the areas of cancer research, HIV/AIDS treatments, Parkinson's or other debilitating diseases has LSR's work been at the forefront of?
According to recent opinion polls, only 13% of the public have confidence or trust in the Pharmaceutical Industry, ranking amongst the likes of big tobacco, the oil industry, and insurance companies (Harris Poll published in July of 2005). In August of 2005, Opinion Research Corporation International of Princeton, New Jersey found that 67% of the US would rather donate to medical research that does not involve animal experimentation.
In the 21st century, there is absolutely no need to torture and kill non-human animals to advance human medicine. The majority of physicians in the UK, according to a recent poll, are against animal experimentation and feel it is not necessary for medical research. Here in the US, there are thousands of physicians like myself who realize there is no need to kill animals in order to help humans, the vast majority of whom get sick and die because of preventable lifestyle variables such as diet, smoking, drugs and environmental toxins. In a country where 45 million people do without reliable access to ANY medical care, there is no reason to waste hundreds of millions of dollars testing drugs and procedures on non-human animals. In a world where 20,000 children are dying from lack of access to clean water each week world wide, there is no reason to waste hundreds of millions of dollars testing drugs and procedures on non-human animals.
Huntingdon is the poster child for the abhorrent, unnecessary and wasteful industry that not only murders millions of innocent, suffering animals, but dooms countless humans to their own unnecessary suffering as scarce health-care dollars are wasted on useless animal research and testing.
I thank the Committee for listening to my comments, and invite your questions.
# # # # #
hearing statements from Senators and witnesses:
audio of hearing:
Direct Action [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Action] groups named in hearing:
http://www.animalliberationfront.com/ and http://www.animalliberationpressoffice.org/
http://www.shacamerica.net/ (in Britain: http://www.shac.net/)
info on previous 2005 Senate hearing: