October 27, 2005
Wall Street Cowing to Animal Extremists

By Debra Saunders

"All Americans took pride when the New York Stock Exchange reopened for business only four business days after the 9-11 terrorist attacks," Mark Bibi, a lawyer for Life Sciences Research, which tests drugs and chemical on animals, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday.

The committee was investigating the New York Stock Exchange's decision to pull a planned listing of Life Sciences on Sept. 7, after animal-rights extremists vandalized a members' yacht club. So Bibi opined, "A handful of animal extremists had succeeded where Osama bin Laden had failed." The company was de-listed in 2000 because of damage due to "economic terrorism," according to the Financial Times.

Bibi and other execs were breakfasting at the NYSE on the morning of Sept. 7, preparing to celebrate the listing on the exchange, when NYSE officials abruptly announced they were postponing the listing.

At the time, NYSE President Catherine Kinney wouldn't say why. A lawyer she sent Wednesday to testify before the committee also refused to say why. He said the exchange is still considering a Life Sciences listing.

FBI Deputy Assistant Director John E. Lewis testified that, shortly after Carr Securities began marketing the Life Sciences stock, activists vandalized the yacht club to which Carr biggies reportedly belonged. Carr cut all ties with Life Sciences.

Later, the NYSE, once defiant in the face of terrorism, caved.

Animal-rights fanatics have figured out that you beat medical research that uses animals not by going after the researchers, but by going after those who do business with the researchers. They cow Wall Street not by flying in to buildings, but by trashing members' clubs.

Bibi knows what it is like to be a target.

Anonymous thugs vandalized his house, smashed his car's windshield and made nasty phone calls to his home in the middle of the night.

Skip Boruchin, the only trader who refused to be scared out of business with Life Sciences Research, testified about the relentless intimidation he and his family endured. Activists painted his yard red with slogans like, "Skip is a murderer." Online, they called him a "child pornographer."

One website instructed people to send sex toys to his 90-something mother at an assisted-living home. Another website listed the names, phone numbers and Social Security numbers of 19 neighbors, and threatened to publicize information about their credit cards and medical history.

Violence? Well, there were the two bombs set at Chiron's Emeryville, Calif., offices in 2003. Agents believe the second bomb was timed to go off as first-responders arrived. The FBI also believes the violence is escalating.

Jerry Vlasak, a Southern California physician who is spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, also testified Wednesday. Vlasak dismissed the intimidation of Boruchin and others as "getting a little spray paint on the wall."

Committee Chair James Inhofe, R-Okla., questioned Vlasak about a statement Vlasak had made defending the assassination of medical researchers. Once again, Vlasak justified violence.

For "people who are hurting animals and who will not stop when told to stop," he answered, one option would be murder, a "morally justifiable solution."

If anti-abortion fanatics were behind this vandalism, the Life Sciences saga -- not to mention Vlasak's support for murdering medical researchers -- would be the stuff of countless editorials. But because the fanatics say they stand for beagles -- not Bibles -- the cognoscenti barely take notice. They're too busy complaining about how GOP limits to federal funding might crimp research to notice that some zealots advocate killing medical researchers.

If animal-rights nuts can get away with this brand of personal intimidation, extremists of all ideologies will take note. What began in the rat-hugging left will grow on the extreme right and the extreme left.

Bibi sees his company's plight as a "test case for a whole new brand of activism through personal intimidation." And it's winning: Life Sciences Research still remains off the New York Stock Exchange. Terrorism works.

Vlasak testified, "The animal-rights movement has been notoriously nonviolent up to this point." It sounds as if the days of the friendly spray-painting, bomb-setting, child-porn-accusing and club-vandalizing rat-hugger may be over. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Debra Saunders

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