Two Key Marriage Campaigners Launch “People’s Brief” For Supreme Court

HRC’s Chad Griffin — who fought California’s Prop 8 — joins with DOMA-slayer Robbie Kaplan to describe the “animus” that they say is behind states’ marriage bans. The brief will be one of many amicus briefs to hit the Supreme Court in coming months.

Lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, and her client, Edith Windsor of New York, participate in a news conference in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on March 27, 2013 after the court heard arguments in Windsor’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. AP Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON — Two of the biggest figures in the battle for marriage equality are joining forces to give the Supreme Court their take on the marriage cases before the justices.

The Human Rights Campaign, headed since 2012 by Chad Griffin, is joining with Robbie Kaplan, who represented Edie Windsor in her challenge to DOMA, to submit an amicus curiae — or, friend of the court — brief to the justices in the marriage and marriage recognition ban cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Kaplan and HRC are already joined by Windsor, the first of whom HRC hopes will be thousands of people across the country signing onto what the group is calling the “People’s Brief.” HRC is launching a campaign at its site to collect signatures for the brief over the next four weeks — a viral effort aimed at a court that still lacks online filing.

“When it comes to marriage equality, the Supreme Court has heard from business leaders and elected officials, faith leaders and even the President of the United States,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “But, until now, they’ve never heard from the fair-minded American majority who simply wants to see their LGBT friends and neighbors treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Kaplan and HRC’s Griffin haven’t always been the closest of friends — although they certainly are both strong supporters of marriage equality. So, why did they team up now?

“The simple answer, of course, is that I was asked,” Kaplan told BuzzFeed News on Monday afternoon. “HRC had this idea to capitalize on the power of modern technology in this way and to do an amicus brief that would be able to reach so many more people than has in the past, and I thought it was a great idea.”

Additionally, from a legal perspective, Kaplan had been looking to talk with the justices — through one of the dozens and dozens of amicus briefs expected to be filed in the marriage cases — about animus.

“I very much wanted to write, for the court, an amicus brief on this principle that is so important to me of why things have changed so much, what’s the reason for that, what’s the significance of that legally, and how the court, in my view, both can and should fit that into existing constitutional doctrine” in addressing and striking down the bans, she said.

HRC and Griffin say they are excited about the partnership, the first of many efforts planned to push the discussion of the cases — hoping, eventually, to have the end result of pushing the justices — in the coming months.

“HRC is proud to work with Robbie because we both believe that the fair-minded American majority in support of marriage equality should have a voice at this historic moment,” HRC President Chad Griffin told BuzzFeed News. “Robbie won a sweeping victory in Windsor, we’re proud of what we accomplished in California with Perry, but ultimately this moment is about helping all gay and lesbian couples in all 50 states win a true, complete and lasting victory.”

HRC President Chad Griffin addresses the media with the Proposition 8 plaintiffs and lawyer David Boies. AP Images for HRC Kevin Wolf

Kaplan is joined on the brief by two prominent law professors of LGBT legal scholarship, Dale Carpenter of the University of Minnesota Law School and Steve Sanders of Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Kaplan said she asked them to join her on the brief because “they’re the two leading scholars” on the animus question.

As for herself? “I just hope that the justices will appreciate the brief because I hope that they will think that it is a well-written brief that’s persuasive, and that’s my only goal,” she said.

“Animus,” as a legal doctrine, has confused courts, lawyers, and certainly the general public, Kaplan said, and she wants to use this brief — and HRC’s public discussion of it — to help change that.

“You don’t have to have hatred in your heart,” Kaplan said in explaining what legal “animus” means, “but you have to have a misunderstanding or a failure to understand or appreciate that the gay couple who’s living across the street from you are just the same as you are. It’s that lack of understanding in this context, which I think explains what happens, and which gives the court, I think, a reason to hold that various statutes and constitutional amendments before it are unconstitutional.”

The brief doesn’t focus on two of the key arguments discussed throughout the legal proceedings on these bans: whether the bans violate the “fundamental right” to marriage under the constitution or whether claims of sexual orientation discrimination should be subjected to “heightened scrutiny” under the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

“I’m certainly not contending” that a fundamental rights decision or heightened scrutiny decision wouldn’t make her happy, Kaplan said, “but this gives the court the analytical framework to decide the case in accordance with the decisions they’ve issued in this area.” The fundamental rights and heightened scrutiny arguments will be out there in other briefs, Kaplan said. “We’re just explaining how animus works, too.”

Of course, Kaplan’s also never written a brief intended to be signed by thousands of people — or more.

“In the Grutter case [about law school affirmative action policies], there was a brief filed by 13,600 law students — I think that number’s right,” Kaplan said, noting that the filing won’t be unprecedented, although she and Griffin hope their number will end up being much higher. “I think the difference between that time and this time is that today we have the internet, so HRC has the ability to reach a lot more people than, frankly, anyone ever contemplated.”

Kaplan does not, however, want this to be as easy as a person changing their Facebook profile picture to a red equal sign — HRC’s big social media push during the 2013 Supreme Court marriage cases.

“They have to affirm that they have” read the brief, she said. “I don’t want anyone to sign onto this brief unless they read it. I want to be very clear about that. No one should be signing onto this brief just because it’s HRC or just because it’s Robbie Kaplan or just because it’s Steve Sanders or Dale Carpenter. They need to read it and make sure they agree with it.”

The brief sets up the history of the marriage bans:

And what has changed:

Before describing animus:

And laying out the case for why bans on same-sex couples marriages should be struck down under the animus doctrine:

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Caché Follows Wet Seal And Delia’s In Filing For Bankruptcy

The almost 40-year-old purveyor of prom dresses filed for bankruptcy this morning.

Caché is the latest mall retailer to file for bankruptcy in a brutal quarter that’s already claimed Wet Seal, dELia*s, DEB Shops and C. Wonder.

The company, which has been working towards a turnaround for the past two years, said in a statement today that “the depressed brick and mortar retail market, the continued growth of online shopping, and rapidly changing consumer tastes and habits thwarted our efforts.” Caché said in December it was searching for a buyer but apparently couldn’t find one in time.

It plans to liquidate its inventory through going-out-of-business sales, according to bankruptcy filings, and also work to negotiate some leases. The chain said it’s “critical” to start liquidation sales by March 4 based on the cash drain from stores and because its inventory is seasonal.

The New York-based mall chain, which says it employs around 2,500 people, is best known for its special-occasion dresses, which account for more than half its sales, according to bankruptcy filings. The company, which sells more than 90% of its clothing under the Caché label, forecast just over $200 million in revenue for the latest fiscal year.

The company noted its two major missteps in recent years were a rapid expansion to 306 locations, leading to a number of underperforming stores, and a “reorientation” from core, high-margin, high-end dresses and accessories into “the lower-margin casual sportswear business.”

The first Caché was opened as a boutique in Miami in 1976 by a woman named Marilyn Rubinson. Rubinson, according to the company’s website, was the first to bring designs by Armani and Versace to the U.S.

“Marilyn’s Caché was more fashion club than retail operation,” the website says. “It was a place where shoppers were treated like girlfriends, fashion was fun and women were fabulous.”

The company filed for bankruptcy today “with the goal of securing Caché’s future,” Jay Margolis, Caché’s chairman and CEO said in today’s statement. “Ultimately, we have not had the time or capital to realize all of the benefits of our hard work.”

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People Are Animals, Too: The Truth About Animal Intelligence

The human brain is special — just not that special. To understand animal minds, and our own place in the living world, we should remove ourselves from center stage.

Tommy the chimpanzee got his day in court on Oct. 8, 2014. He was unable to attend the hearing in “person” — spending the day, like any other, in a cage at a used trailer sales lot in Gloversville, New York. But an hour’s drive away, in a courtroom in the state capital of Albany, Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argued that Tommy should indeed be considered a person under New York state law. If so, Patrick and Diane Lavery of Circle L Trailer Sales could be summoned to determine whether they are imprisoning him illegally.

Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, New York. Mike Groll / AP Photo

Central to Wise’s arguments in Tommy’s case, and to similar suits his organization has filed on behalf of other captive chimpanzees, is the assertion that apes are highly intelligent and self-aware beings with complex emotional lives. “The uncontroverted facts demonstrate that chimpanzees possess the autonomy and self-determination that are supreme common law values,” Wise told the five judges hearing the case.

It is a bold legal move — and so far unsuccessful. The court in Albany, like a lower court before it, rejected the idea that Tommy has legal rights of personhood. But Wise intends to fight on, taking Tommy’s case to the state’s ultimate arbiter, the New York Court of Appeals.

Events elsewhere in New York state stand in stark contrast to its courts’ willingness to consider the legal implications of the science of animal cognition. In March 2014, the Rip Van Winkle Rod and Gun Club in Palenville, a hamlet of some 1,000 people on the Hudson River, held the fourth installment of an annual festival that makes a competitive sport out of shooting down creatures that — judged by objective measures of their mental abilities — are arguably just as deserving of personhood as Tommy.

Crow hunters pose with their crow kill in Milledgeville, Georgia. HO/Courtesy of Jerry Tomlin / AP Photo

Those creatures are crows, targeted with abandon at the Palenville Crow Down. In recent years, members of the corvid family — including crows, ravens, jays and magpies — have been found to possess cognitive skills once thought to be the exclusive domain of people and the great apes. They make and use tools. They remember details about the past and plan for the future. They even seem to respond to one another’s knowledge and desires. “For all the studies that have been compared directly so far, the corvids seem to perform as well as the chimpanzees,” says Nicky Clayton of the University of Cambridge, in whose lab some of the most exciting discoveries have been made.

Chita, a female chimpanzee, peers from within her new enclosure at a zoo in Asuncion, Paraguay, Friday, May 2, 2014. Jorge Saenz / AP Photo

We gaze into the eyes of a chimp and see a reflection of ourselves. We glance at a crow and see an alien being that under some jurisdictions can be exterminated with impunity — bringing a sinister second meaning to the phrase “a murder of crows.” Such biases affect ordinary people and academic experts alike, skewing our understanding of what nonhuman intelligence looks like. Apes are undoubtedly very smart, but their cognitive abilities have also been scrutinized more closely than those of other species — largely using experiments designed to explore the mental prowess of human children. Creatures that share our basic body plan and sensory world have big advantages when taking these tests. If we want to understand the diversity of animal minds — and by doing so perhaps understand ourselves better, too — we have to judge them on their own terms.

That’s hard to do. Even knowing how clever they are, when I met Clayton’s corvids this past summer, I felt little connection. It was a very different story a few weeks later when I had the chance to interact with captive wolves. I was fully aware that we can trick ourselves into thinking that dogs and wolves are smarter than they are by projecting our own thoughts and feelings onto them — but I did it, just the same.

My views on animals are as conflicted as the next person’s. I live with a dog — until a recent bereavement, two. I eat meat. I believe that some animal experiments are justified to advance human and veterinary medicine. But my experiences as a PhD student studying mouse behavior, back in the late 1980s, left marks on my psyche. Before launching into these studies, I didn’t properly consider that I’d have to dispose of dozens of mice once they were no longer needed for an experiment. The first few times I killed, my heart raced, my mouth went dry, and I felt sick and depraved. I probably should have told my supervisor that I needed to change projects. But I continued with my research, and the killing became easier — mundane, even. In retrospect, that worries me more than my initial visceral reaction.

Mice feature on nobody’s list of unexpectedly smart creatures. Still, my experiences trying to understand the social lives of animals living in a world dominated by odors led me to question the relevance of experiments designed to probe the abilities of more sophisticated animal minds. The best known is the “mirror test” of self-awareness, devised in 1970 by Gordon Gallup (now at the University at Albany, State University of New York). After giving chimps a while to interact with a mirror, Gallup marked them with a dye while anesthetized, and then studied their reaction to their reflections after they came round. The chimps looked into the mirror while touching the marked area, from which Gallup concluded that they knew they were looking at themselves. A concept of self is considered one of the hallmarks of an advanced mind, and human infants adopt similar behavior from about 18 months of age.

My issue with the mirror test is not the meaning of success, which has since been claimed for other “intelligent” species such as elephants, dolphins and magpies, but rather how we should interpret failure. Do most animals fail because they lack a concept of self, or is the test largely irrelevant to species that don’t use visual appearance for social communication? How would you design a similar test using odors for a bloodhound or ultrasound for an echolocating bat? A bat hearing an altered version of its own echoes might well be thinking, “Yes, that’s me…although there’s something weird going on…” — but how would we know?

I don’t blame researchers for concentrating their energies on what separates people from our closest living relatives. The human mind is clearly special: Chimpanzees and other great apes don’t compose symphonies, design aircraft or devise experiments to probe one another’s mental abilities. The difficulty comes when we try to break down our mental prowess into its component parts, with the aim of working out exactly why we’re different.

Once there was a long list of cognitive attributes thought to be uniquely human: they included language, morality, solving problems by inventing tools, projecting our thoughts into the past or the future, and a “theory of mind” — the ability to attribute desires, knowledge and other mental states onto others, realizing that these may be different to our own. Over the past few decades, the edifice of human cognitive uniqueness has slowly been chipped away as first great apes and then other species, including elephants and dolphins, have passed landmark tests of cognitive skill. At the same time, the gap between these “clever” species and those that perch far away from us on the tree of life has arguably already been closed.

A wild New Caledonian crow. Jolyon Troscianko / Journal Science / AP Photo

Folklore in several cultures associates crows with wisdom and cunning, but it’s only relatively recently that science has caught up with this idea. The first recognition that members of the crow family may rival the great apes for smarts came in the mid-1990s, when Gavin Hunt of Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, reported his field observations of crows native to the forests of New Caledonia — an archipelago in the South Pacific.

Hunt watched the crows fashion twigs into hooks to capture insect prey from holes in dead wood, or snag insects using barbed tools cut from the leaves of pandanus trees. Subsequent work with captive New Caledonian crows has shown that Hunt’s observations were no fluke. In one famous experiment at the University of Oxford, a crow named Betty quickly figured out how to bend wire into a hook to lift a small bucket containing food out of a tube, after her companion took off with a wire that had already been shaped this way.

New Caledonian crows aren’t just adept toolmakers. They seem to understand cause and effect, and are capable of astounding feats of meta-tool use: using one tool to manipulate another in order to achieve an ultimate goal. And, if anything, New Caledonian crows seem better than chimps at translating their skill in solving one problem to another that is conceptually similar but looks a little different. One standard test is the trap-tube test, in which an animal must work out how to use a stick to obtain food from a tube, realizing that pushing it in one direction gets the reward but pushing it in the other causes the morsel to fall into a trap. New Caledonian crows that have already solved this problem do better than naïve birds when presented with the trap-table test, where they are given a choice between two food items that can be raked towards them across a flat surface — one of which is doomed to fall into a similar trap. For chimps and other great apes, prior experience with the trap tube gives no advantage on the trap table. Apes don’t seem to get that both games have the same rule: Don’t let the food drop down the hole!

These sorts of problem-solving tasks are staples of comparative psychology, frequently used to compare the cognitive abilities of young children and chimpanzees. They are fairly easy to adapt to crows, which have good vision and a beak that is almost as dexterous as an infant’s or ape’s hands. But understanding the wider scope of corvid cognition required a leap of imagination, entering the birds’ world to devise experiments to probe the mental processes behind their everyday behavior.

Nicky Clayton made that leap while at the University of California, Davis, in the late 1990s. A psychologist colleague, Tony Dickinson of the University of Cambridge, had told her confidently that animals lack “episodic” memory — an autobiographical ability to remember the “what, where and when” of past events. That was the orthodox view, but Clayton had big doubts: “To my knowledge, nobody’s tested that,” she recalls saying. Clayton was studying foraging behavior in western scrub jays, and she realized that the birds’ habit of burying food in caches provided a prime opportunity to see how their memories shaped up.

She and Dickinson first let the jays cache perishable waxworms and nonperishable peanuts in sand-filled trays. The birds quickly learned that the insect larvae became unpalatable after a few days, while the nuts remained good to eat. In subsequent experiments, the jays sought out the locations where they had hidden their favorite food — the waxworms — if just four hours had elapsed from the last time they had seen the caching trays, but went for the hidden peanuts if several days had passed. And it wasn’t just that they could smell rotting waxworms: even if the food items were removed and the trays filled with fresh sand, the jays sought out the locations where they had cached waxworms only when the insect larvae were likely to be fresh.

There is no way of knowing whether scrub jays’ memories of when and where they hid specific food items involve consciously projecting their thoughts into the past, which is how the human mind would approach the problem. Still, it was as impressive a demonstration as science could provide of what Clayton calls “episodic-like” memory in an animal.

Western Scrub Jay Vincent J. Musi /National Geographic Creative

Clayton’s scrub jays today reside in an aviary in Madingley, a sleepy village outside Cambridge that hosts the university’s Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour. When I visited, evidence of their caching behavior was clear to see. They don’t just hide food: stones, corks and a nail had all been jammed between their enclosure’s wire mesh and its wooden frame. It was a while before I saw one of the birds bury an item of food — apparently my presence had interrupted the usual order of business. “Because you’re new, and they don’t know you, they are checking you out,” Clayton told me. I stared back, struck by the gulf between us. I’d read the scientific papers; I knew how cognitively sophisticated scrub jays are. Yet I experienced none of the emotional connection I have felt each time I have come face to face with a captive chimp.

Clayton, it seems, has no difficulties relating to her experimental animals. In part, she attributes this to a long-standing wish to fly. That motivated a lifelong devotion to ballet training, which she believes brings her as close as a human being can get to that experience. And she is convinced that spending much of her leisure time thinking like an artist made it easier to think about animal minds on their own terms. “We are limited by the fact that, as humans, we do see things in a particular way,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t try and minimize those constraints by taking ourselves out of the picture — which is what artists do all the time.”

Whatever the explanation, the discoveries from Clayton’s lab have come thick and fast. Recent experiments have exploited the fact that jays, like people, can get sated with one food item but still desire a different food type. (This is why we can still tuck into dessert even when we would turn down a second main course.) Working with a PhD student, Lucy Cheke, Clayton has found that even if Eurasian jays are sated on a particular food item, they will ignore their current desires and selectively cache that food if they have learned it is likely to be scarce in future. So now we apparently have jays planning ahead, in addition to acting on specific memories of the past.

It seems that jays also take account of the knowledge and desires of their companions. After male Eurasian jays watched their partners eat either waxworms or mealworms to satiety, Clayton’s team found that the birds selectively fetched the other food item for their partners. The males weren’t responding to some subtle “I want waxworms!” behavioral cue, because they only provided that preferred offering if they had actually seen their mates gorging on mealworms.

Earlier experiments with scrub jays had revealed that the birds change their behavior when they realize that their caches are likely to be pilfered. If watched by another scrub jay while caching, they later move their stashes around when given some privacy. Crucially, the birds only engaged in this crime-prevention behavior if they had themselves previously raided other scrub jays’ caches. Once they know from personal experience that stealing is something that jays can do, it seems that they then react accordingly when another bird’s knowledge about their caches poses a threat. Or, as Clayton puts it: “It takes a thief to know a thief.”

Together, these results suggest that jays possess something similar to what, in a human child, would be called a theory of mind — thinking about the mental states of others, and recognizing that they are autonomous beings with their own knowledge and motivations.

Wolves howl at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. Coby Cooper / National Geographic Creative

So, if creative scientists think themselves into the mental worlds of other species to design experiments to probe their impressive mental abilities, we will get a more complete picture of animal intelligence, right? Perhaps, but humanity’s self-absorption seems also to trick us into seeing some animals as more special than they really are. I’m convinced that’s happening with man’s best friend, where some experiments arguably reveal more about the scientists running them than about the mental abilities of the animals involved. Dogs have even been put into MRI machines to see if they love us, prompting the scientist behind the research, Gregory Berns of Emory University in Atlanta, to claim in the New York Times: “Dogs Are People, Too.”

What’s special about dogs, the theory goes, is that they have been bred over tens of thousands of years to be unusually receptive to interacting with people. For instance, dogs seem exceptionally good at reading human gaze and pointing gestures to locate hidden food. In 2002, researchers led by Brian Hare, then at Harvard University, found that domestic dogs consistently beat both human-raised wolves and chimpanzees on these tasks, strengthening the idea that these skills were the result of many generations of selective breeding.

At Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana, Hare’s findings caused some raised eyebrows. Pat Goodmann, senior wolf handler at the park, was deeply skeptical. “I could remember quite a few instances where I’d been pointing, and I was signaling to another human, but a wolf picked up on it,” she says. Those incidents had stuck in her mind, because often they involved an item — such as a beer can in a lake in the park’s main enclosure — that she really didn’t want the animals to get hold of.

Some years later, word of the doubts at Wolf Park about Hare’s work reached Clive Wynne, then at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who had recently started investigating dog behavior with his PhD student, Monique Udell. Intrigued, Wynne and Udell flew to Indiana and ran similar pointing experiments, with one key difference: the people doing the pointing were inside the enclosures with the wolves, rather than outside, separated by a fence. Under these circumstances, the wolves outperformed pet dogs, which did well indoors but struggled when tested outside. Shelter dogs, which had less prior experience of interacting with people, were pretty useless. “All these animals have the capacity to notice relationships between things that people do and consequences that matter to them,” says Wynne. “What differs is the kinds of experiences they have in their lives.”

Wynne’s conclusion: Dogs’ skills in social cognition weren’t shaped by humans through selective breeding; they were already present in the wolf pack. He is also unconvinced that these abilities involve anything more sophisticated than simple learning.

The author and Marion at Wolf Park Monty Sloan

When Wynne and Udell ran their initial experiments, they stayed outside the enclosures and let Goodmann and her colleagues do the pointing. But last August, I took the opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the stars of the show, a female wolf named Marion. Already nine years old when put through her point-reading paces, Marion has become the elder stateswoman of Wolf Park. She’s 16 now, almost snow white, and although the companions she once lived with have passed away, she can’t be united with any of the other mini-packs at Wolf Park: her alpha status means she’d tear any rival apart — or die trying.

Unfamiliar people are welcome, though, once they have been instructed in wolf etiquette: let Marion come to you, give her a scratch, but ease up from time to time. It turns out that hand-raised wolves feel compelled to stay put if someone is touching them, but if that’s not what they really want to do, they can get annoyed. I’m delighted to say that my encounters with Marion and the other residents of Wolf Park were entirely amicable. We even tried an impromptu re-creation of the pointing experiment — although by that time Marion had realized that the bag attached to Goodmann’s belt contained some tasty treats, so she wasn’t very interested in having her attention diverted to anything else.

My day at Wolf Park reinforced how hard it is to do what Clayton urges and take ourselves out of the picture when considering animal minds. As Marion leaned forward to lick my face, I was mentally back home with our dogs. Later, wandering through the main enclosure with the park’s youngest residents — Bicho, Kanti and Fiona — I saw a ferocious display of aggression from the three siblings toward their parents, housed in the neighboring enclosure. So when Kanti, a powerful male, tested me out by leaning into my legs, I couldn’t help but feel a frisson of fear.

“It’s not about you,” my ex-scientist’s inner voice was saying, reminding me to observe what the animals were doing, rather than being led by my emotional reactions to them. But in my mind, at that moment, it was all about my responses to the wolves, and there was little I could do about that.

Elise Gilchrist /Think Elephants International, Inc. CC BY SA

Maybe we would find it easier to assess evidence for animal intelligence on its own terms if it emerged from minds so alien that we wouldn’t even try to project ourselves onto them. That may be coming, from studies of cephalopods — octopuses, squid and their relatives. Here we are talking about invertebrates with brains organized radically differently from our own: they have a distributed nervous system, with mini-brains in their tentacles, as well as the main organ. But Clayton has found that cuttlefish seem to remember past events, while octopuses have been observed carrying around coconut shells to use as shelters if attacked, which suggests forward planning in tool use.

Some researchers working on vertebrate cognition, meanwhile, are starting to reject the field’s anthropocentric biases. In Thailand’s Golden Triangle, Josh Plotnik of the University of Cambridge works at a luxury resort that is home to a group of elephants, which, when not giving rides to tourists, take part in his research. Plotnik started with the usual roster of experiments tried on young children and chimps, including the mirror test. But he now realizes that he needs to better understand the elephants’ sensory world — dominated by odors and low-frequency sounds — before he can work out how to explore the full scope of their cognitive abilities.

“It would be very unethical of me to take all of the chimp experiments and just run them on the elephants,” Plotnik says. “I’d be publishing all these negative results, saying: ‘Elephants can’t do this. Elephants can’t do that.’ When in fact, they probably could, if we asked the questions the right way.”

This will probably mean moving beyond simple “pass-or-fail” tests of human-inspired cognitive skills and instead looking in detail at what Alex Taylor of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, a colleague of Clayton’s, calls cognitive “signatures.” He means not just recording whether or not a mental task can be performed, but also noting error rates and studying the circumstances under which the ability breaks down — ideally also using brain imaging to look at the underlying neural activity involved.

It’s hard to predict where this approach to studying animal minds might lead, but wouldn’t it be interesting if we found that some animals are thinking in ways that avoid stereotypically human mistakes? We are bad at judging when it makes sense to take economic risks, for example, typically placing too much value on assets we already own — even when it would make sense to risk them for a bigger payoff. I can also imagine that probing specific animal mental skills could have applications in artificial intelligence, though we’re still a long way from being able to replicate the cognitive abilities of nonhuman animals. And as we search the skies for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, we surely don’t want to be limited to thinking about what “intelligence” means in purely human terms.

For now, the only minds available for us to study are those on our own planet. Let’s not squander that opportunity by getting caught up in arguments over whether Tommy the chimpanzee, our pet dogs, or any other species should be seen as people, and instead adopt the mantra: “People are animals, too.”

Damned interesting animals, for sure. But we don’t have a monopoly on that.

This article was originally published by Mosaic, and is reproduced under a Creative Commons license. For more Mosaic articles, click here.

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But Thats None Of My Business

But Thats None Of My Business

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‘Someone has an owie': Matt Yglesias doesn’t like being outed as a crappy writer

Life is hard when you’re Matt Yglesias. You just can’t write stupid stuff and expect to get away with it anymore!

Yglesias is indeed in a foul mood, thanks to a delicious piece in The Federalist by CJ Ciaramella:

Here are the opening lines:

All aspiring writers should read Slate’s Matt Yglesias. There’s no better way to stress the importance of not writing like Matt Yglesias.

Yglesias is Slate’s business and economics blogger, but his real utility is providing teachable moments for would-be opinion writers and high-level ESL students.

Feel the burn. We highly recommend reading the entire thing. Yglesias, naturally, would advise against it. After all, what’s the point of The Federalist? Aren’t there enough conservative sites out there already?

Sad trombone, you guys.

Oh, snap! So true. Yglesias alone has provided conservatives with a never-ending supply of mockery fodder. Here’s just a small sampling from the gold mine:

And there’s much, much more where that came from. The well truly is bottomless!!/PTD11/status/407906176857169920

It’s definitely possible that Yglesias is fully aware that he sucks and just prefers to deny, deny, deny. It’s also possible that he’s just really, really dense. In either scenario, he looks like a tool.



Twitchy coverage of Matt Yglesias

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Small biz owners: ‘Closing up shop,’ and ‘can’t afford to stay in business’

As Twitchy has reported, the layoff bomb has detonated. Small business owners relayed their heartbreak over having to lay off employees, due to the crushing finanical burden of Obamacare. Large businesses are contemplating cutting workers’ hours and hiring freezes. Small businesses are doing the same.

People everywhere are closing up shop on small biz. laying off employees. Ending their medical practice. #obama2012

— Sunny(@lilmsunshne) November 8, 2012

I think we will have a record of lay offs and business’ closing up shop before January. Welcome to Obamas new normal.

— Rockermom (@therockermom) November 9, 2012

And they are being attacked for it. Threats of boycotts have been spewed. Because, you know, that totally helps the employees whose hours keep being cut due to business-crushing Obama policies. Other businesses have been attacked as racist or as un-American. For struggling to remain in business.

Now, small business owners on Twitter, and their loved ones, report further devastation. Countless small businesses are now forced to close their doors. Here are just a few of the heartbreaking stories.

So sad, our diner in business for over 35 years just posted a sign of impending closure. They can’t afford to stay open, 23 employees

— L.B. (@sassylassee) November 11, 2012

Son just came home w/ the news the small business he works4 maybe closing its doors due2the overwhelming cost of ocare. #morejobslost.

— joe spa (@wophopper) November 12, 2012

Because of Obamacare we are officially closing the doors of our company effective today.

— OCMama Patriot (@OCMamaPatriot) November 12, 2012

Well I’ll be shutting my shop down soon. Can’t afford to stay in business with everything thats about to hit the fan.

— My name is (@EdDonnell) November 7, 2012

@doris22 Things aren’t looking up here, so prepare yourself.I know half a dozen small biz owners closing up shop now.

— D.T. Dickinson (@dtdickinson) November 9, 2012

@divadoll123 3 small business owners told me they were closing by year’s end. Can’t afford to stay in business w/ new year’s policies

— Reb (@elbowpickle) November 7, 2012

@bushido02 my biz friends are closing up shop or not hiring & trying to do it all themselves! We can not afford their free healthcare

— Angela Louise(@Pinkmoondesigns) November 8, 2012

Caller on Glenn Beck just said he’s “done” having a business. He’s tired of fighting against govt regs – closing up shop this year.

— Rochelle (@rbostick12) November 7, 2012

@thesavvy My Dad is closing his business for good tomorrow. When you already pay 70% in taxes you can’t see paying MORE.

— Kelly Clinger (@kellyclinger) November 9, 2012

My most FAVORITE mechanic is closing shop because he can’t afford @barackobama‘s obamacare!! Thanks Mr. President for closing small business

— Lauren (@laurenhdz) November 10, 2012


— gmg1961 (@Aquarius1961) November 7, 2012

Some #consumers are being informed of cancelled appointments due to businesses closing up shop after re-election. #HVAC hang in there!!

— CardinalAir Services (@CardinalAirServ) November 8, 2012

@conservative_vw How Can They Stay in Business.Huge Plant…even they can’t afford OC and O.

— TS1776frdm (@S1776frdm) November 9, 2012

@govmikehuckabee It’s hard not to lose hope as Obama & Jerry Brown policies are closing my CA business at the end of this month. Now what?

— Kevin Farley (@KFarleyDVT) November 7, 2012

@hoperealtor Same here – last week we had to let all our employees go – this week, my husband is closing down our small business. THE END.

— Nikita (@RottiePrincess) November 7, 2012

I’m done folks. Won’t be a slave. Closing my business (permanently laying off 4 employees); wife & I will live off investments. #Shrugged

— Tom Burke (@tom4liberty) November 7, 2012

@thehermancain *I want to thank Obamination, Gov Brown & hostile CA business environment for my business closing after Thanksgiving weekend!

— Kevin Farley (@KFarleyDVT) November 7, 2012

@casey_peters Nice thought, but my business & my husband’s business is now done.Our last hope was Romney win. Closing doors/laying off

— MLS (@VAMOM2) November 7, 2012

My optometrist and chiropractor told me they’ll be closing their business if ObamaCare passed. Cooooool

— Josh Adams(@JoshIsKoo) November 7, 2012

Breaking news: If Obama wins, he will receive 60% of my fam business’ income. In other words, closing time. Way to stimulate the economy ass

— McCall Hedrick (@B_McCallie) November 7, 2012

@aldridgegal5135 @seanhannity – As I said a month ago. My dad is closing his business of 35 years.

— Bill Sorrell (@Dzydvl) November 7, 2012

@lefth00k I have been sitting on things for the last four years. I’m closing my business

— PMAmerica (@ConstLover777) November 7, 2012

@delawarechai I’m closing down my business. More lost jobs.

— Winston Churchill (@lonemusketeer) November 7, 2012

Just finished talking with my business partner, we will retire. It is a small business and will advise employees we are closing by year end.

— jj(@jjblazereader) November 7, 2012

My hairdresser & her husband closing up shop at end of lease (Feb) instead of retiring in 5 yrs.She said not worth it w/ #Obama reelected.

— Janey S. (@cuppatea156) November 9, 2012

I consider closing what is left of my business tomorrow. I see no need of continuing to build up debt hoping for a turn in the economy.

— Larry McEver (@LMack49) November 7, 2012

In six hours, one of my best friends will tell his employees he’s closing his business after 35 years because he can’t afford #Obamacare.

— The_Monarch (@The_Monarch) November 7, 2012

@pac43 my husband has a small business that will be closing at the end of the year because of the election.

— Carolyn H. (@sweety125) November 8, 2012

@shurst721 my parents closing shop on the15th, 36 years in business in Cincinnatithanks Obama for the great economy!!!!!

— Chris Losekamp (@Chris24JGordon) November 8, 2012

I planned for poss Obama win. Closing my business. Started informing clients today. Will wind down by yrs end. I will not feed Obama’s beast

— Deborah Smith (@ms_debsmith) November 7, 2012

@ticktockvint I know it:( My family has been in business over 50 yrs, but closing Jan due to the economy. Sad to lose a true quality company

— Lyndsey (@hellolyndsey) November 9, 2012

My friend is closing her very successful small business after 18 years. One of many Obamacare casualties.

— KRenner (@KRenner2) November 8, 2012

Guy came in my office yesterday distraught! Cancelled his insurance policy. Closing business. Can’t fight Gov anymore. 15 unemployed #tcot

— Leslie (@LeslieMcArno) November 8, 2012

The small business my son works at (5 ee’s) will be closing at year end.He’s had enough.

— Vibora Volando (@vibora_volando) November 8, 2012

@ron_rosenbaum $250k plus salary from my business…closing the business (17 jobs gone).But since Obama built it…

— Jack Thomas (@the1426) November 7, 2012

My ancestors came here 375 years ago from England. Now we are closing all our business, lay of 267 people and go back to UK. #AmericaLost

— Billy Boylston (@BillyBoylston) November 7, 2012

A local business is closing down in my hometown; everything must go. The energy in the building was crushing.

— ♢ (@LAUXURON) November 9, 2012

Love my red county in NJ but we r closing our business of 25 years. Can no longer afford to work. Any suggestions of red states to move to?

— Kristin Buxton (@kbux1229) November 8, 2012

@dloesch I’m closing my businessthis week for good. At least I can walk away not owing

— Patricia Berdin (@trishander) November 8, 2012

@cachypie two of my friends are either closing down their business or laying off workers soon

— Gymhero27 (@gymfreak232) November 8, 2012

The heartbreak is palpable. The devastation is overwhelming. People have worked so hard all their lives in order to build businesses and employ others. And now it’s gone. The sad reality is that President Obama and his policies have destroyed these small businesses.

I’m so sad my work is closing down after 20 years of business. I got this with my paycheck 💔😢…

— Rachel P(@itssrachelann) November 8, 2012

The Left would demonize that company, too. They clearly value and love their employees. Heartbreaking. And the heartache will just keep coming.

When small business thrives, we all do. When small business suffers, we all do.

— LisainDallas (@LisainDallas) November 12, 2012

Our future MT @talkmaster Email from my long-time doctor in Atlanta this morning. Closing up shop. Retiring. ObamaCare. #tcot

— Jim Branch (@jamesbranch3) November 8, 2012

Are you listening, “leaders?” We know President Obama isn’t. Talk to the hand, business owners. You didn’t “build that” anyway.

Read more:

Twitter, you have a problem: An infestation of radical flag-spam abusers

As our late-night-owl readers know, after Twitter reinstated conservative activist Chris Loesch’s account in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning, the progressive flag-spam lynch mob — a vicious group of free speech-squelching Twitter users who trigger automatic suspensions by falsely “mass reporting” conservatives as “spammers” — took him down again and again.

Hat tip to @Ed:!/stopthemadness8/status/196789497223069696

@AdamSerwer I'm not gonna lie, I flag-spam ALL THE TIME.

— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) April 30, 2012

He is not alone.

And you will not be surprised to learn that at least one of the Twitter libs identified as a flag-spam ringleader also happens to be spearheading a Stop Rush Limbaugh effort online.

While Twitter executives sleep on the job, conservatives online are battling not only Loesch’s suspension, but the suspension of more than a dozen — and possibly dozens, if not hundreds more — innocent conservative social-media users who appear to have been maliciously targeted by Twitter abusers. The system is obviously broken and being exploited by vigilantes who oppose everything the engagement-enhancing ethos of Twitter stands for (or is supposed to stand for, anyway).

The targets are not big-time conservative celebs with large followings (which seems to be why Chris Loesch was targeted instead of his fellow conservative activist wife — editor/CNN contributor Dana Loesch — whose high-follower Twitter account may be more immune to flag-spam attacks).

The progressives never expect pushback. But with the back-to-back suspensions of @freemarket_us and @chrisloesch, the conservative activist community online is banding together to Flag the Flag-Spammers for Twitter to see all in one place — no, not by abusing the flag-spam system, but by naming names and showing Twitter the extent of the problem.

Shane Wright, who himself was the victim of a temporary suspension, has compiled a list of conservatives suspended at some point on Twitter.

He explained to Twitchy how he came about identifying targets (and is working with Ben Howe to spread the word):

I was suspended 20 minutes after I was done debating a few liberals. Twitter’s suspension message to me stated that I had used “Abusive Language” I never cursed, threatened or belittled anyone. I am continuing to fighting with twitter as they have yet to identify which tweet contained abusive language. This incident was the catalyst for me to spend my Sunday looking into this issue.

I stumbled upon a few tweets between the liberals I was debating, discussing getting groups together to block conservative twitter accounts in mass. I am certain that @OccupiedMuslim got her entire OWS rally in NYC to report me for spam. I wish I would have taken a screen shot because those tweets were deleted as soon as I started making noise about it. (rookie mistake I know)

I then began to google and ask my followers to see if this was an isolated incident, The list above are the accounts that I uncovered today alone. This is clearly a tactic being used by the left and Twitter is either ignorant or allowing it to occur.

In addition to Shane’s list, Twitchy is including a running list of tweets here from other users who are stepping forward with evidence and first-hand knowledge of the progressive flag-spam abusers. We hope Twitter’s alogrithm experts and engineers and Twitter’s government/news/social innovation team will use the information gathered here, investigate, and act.

And we encourage you to help us add to the list and RT it far and wide until they finally fix the problem. In case it needs to spelled out:

The underlying problem here, is progs are afraid of us and resort to shutting down speech instead of arguing. #cowards #p2 #freeChrisLoesch

— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) April 30, 2012

Solutions? Try this, for starters:

.@support Simply query users who reported @ChrisLoesch as spam and deny them this feature. They've proven willing to poison the db.

— Me So Thorny (@p_i_n_e) April 30, 2012

Flag-spam targets suspended at some point by Twitter because of false flag-spam attacks, per Shane Wright:



@michellemalkin @sphincterphobia @dbarberhotnuke my old account was banned three weeks ago. Same group of leftists attacked me

— StephanienraJaniczek (@SMjaniczek) April 30, 2012!/Sphincterphobia/status/196798019419635713

Tweets from victims who’ve been targeted in the past and reinstated (some with the flag-spam abuser identified):

@michellemalkin the person who turned me in.was feminazislut.she sent me a twit saying 2 all her followers turn me in 4 spaming.

— space gh0st (@spacegh0st1) April 30, 2012!/i8bugs1/status/196809975010574336

@michellemalkin + @RichardRSmithJr 2 list. 3 suspensions in about 3 weeks. Suspended now! @Sphincterphobia @ChrisLoesch @dloesch @Twitter

— BRTT01 (@BRTT01) April 30, 2012

.@michellemalkin @TwitchyTeam: @subculturestuff is one of the main instigators of the block/spam campaigns against cons. FYI. Vicious woman.

— Stacey-SisterToldjah (@sistertoldjah) April 30, 2012

ICYMI: This "ST Army" hitlist was created by @FeminaziSlut, promoted by @subculturestuff Scroll. #FreeChrisLoeschAgain

— Stacey-SisterToldjah (@sistertoldjah) April 30, 2012

@michellemalkin@subculturestuff lied about myself and launched attacks to silence accounts @SMjaniczek

— THE Clint Black (@CBlackTX) April 30, 2012

One of the Twitter users linked to flag-spam attacks by the above victims is a “StopRush” ringleader. Try to act surprised:

#Stoprush Daily Actions is out! ▸ Top stories today via @norcalcrush @mrssteiner9 @madcapprowisc @msmarthaclaire

— catsrimportant (@catsrimportant) April 30, 2012

I will not be on twitter for the rest of the day! #Solidarity and #Stoprush, enjoy good weather. Please see my stream.

— catsrimportant (@catsrimportant) April 29, 2012

The wife of another suspended Twitter conservative rallies activists:

Help my husband @Dawson5621 get reinstated! marked as spam by lib for being a hispanic #conservative #tcot #GOP #FreeJohnH @FlatheadPatriot

— Jessica H. (@Sowceboss) April 30, 2012

A lib said he was a fake account in order to lure in blacks and hispanics to the #GOP and then he got suspended the next day @Thebullyone

— Jessica H. (@Sowceboss) April 30, 2012

Help my husband @Dawson5621 get reinstated! marked as spam by lib for being a hispanic #conservative #tcot #GOP #FreeJohnH @PJTV

— Jessica H. (@Sowceboss) April 30, 2012

And from reader Jaime Blakely in comments below:

Since @jaimec25 is still suspended this is only way I have to communicate this. Feminists have organized Spam Reporting of conservatives. So far they are the ones I know about. Specifically after those UAWOW rallies, I got hateful messages and then was blocked. Also if you follow Sistertoldjah they will Spam/Block you. If you “invade” their hashtag they get angry and call it spam and report you. If you RT one of their tweets, they call it spam and report you. If you forward their conservative hit list, they report you. Lower profile conservatives are hardest hit because the blocks and spams hit us hardest.

The radical Left’s strategy has always been to squelch conservative dissent — from Rush Limbaugh to ALEC to Americans for Prosperity to Free Market America. And now, from ordinary Twitter conservative activists en masse.

In the past, establishment conservatives have abandoned the battlefield and sought to create conservative “alternatives” to mainstream spaces when push comes to shove. No longer.

The answer to left-wing lynch mobs isn’t to run away from them, but to expose them and beat them back.

Social media cheerleaders, take note: The platform made famous for allowing dissident voices to organize and communicate in Arab dictatorships is now being used domestically to squelch the Right online.

It’s not just a mathematical engineering problem involving neutral algorithms.

It’s a political and public relations problem.

Fix it, Twitter. Please.


An interesting suggestion from an Instapundit reader:

UPDATE: On Facebook, Alex Pournelle has a suggestion:

Business plan! Escrow accounts for your Twitter followers. When your account gets suspended, and they blink, and reinstate you, it auto-adds your followers back.

Permissions based, and allows you to watch for slamming, spoofing, and abuse.

Michelle Malkin should get working on this ASAP.

Well, she should.


Twitter user @JoeDunn8 has been suspended tonight after actively engaging liberal followers over #freechrisloesch.

RT @cdc444: It seems @JoeDunn8 was suspended. @support @twitter needs to check into this ASAP. #freeconservatives

— Chuck Baker (@ChuckBaker) April 30, 2012

Joe emails a screenshot of his final activity online before suspension. His exchange with the liberal user gloating about Chris Loesch’s suspension is not “spam:”


The flag-spam abusers are completely open about what they are doing:

@BelleofLiberty It's insane what @allanbrauer is doing. I wouldn't be surprised if he got Michelle Malkin's account suspended. Happy Day!

— Nerdy Wonka (@NerdyWonka) April 30, 2012

Why do I love @allanbrauer? Because with 140 characters or less, he's making wingnuts have a twitter conniption. LOL.

— Nerdy Wonka (@NerdyWonka) April 30, 2012

@ChrisLoesch got his account suspended twice? Hahahahahaha @AllanBrauer give me some of that voodoo.

— Nerdy Wonka (@NerdyWonka) April 30, 2012

@gracels @ChrisLoesch You'll have to ask Chris. Oh wait, you can't, because he's been suspended AGAIN. #FreeChrisLoesch

— Allan Brauer (@allanbrauer) April 30, 2012


Washington Times:

Conservative Chris Loesch, music producer and husband of radio host and CNN contributor Dana Loesch, had his Twitter account suspended on Sunday. He was apparently targeted by leftist users who utilized the “Block & Report Spam” function to trigger the social media account’s automatic spam algorithm. He was notified of his suspension via an email from Twitter claiming it was due to multiple unsolicited mentions to other users. “You will need to change your behavior to continue using Twitter,” the email admonished.

“I never threatened anyone and am careful about being concise with what I write especially in public,” Mr. Loesch told The Washington Times. “They were going to make me sign this note that said one more infraction and I would be permanently banned. I wasn’t going to do that so I wrote emails to some of their people.”

…Conservatives suspect a coordinated campaign to report as spam users with whom liberal users disagree. Several users sent out tweets bragging about getting Mr. Loesch blocked, including one claiming “my life job to make conservatives lives miserable.”

Read more:

American Apparel CEO Fights Back A Pro-Dov Charney Email Insurgency

The company’s new CEO, Paula Schneider, recently responded to a series of mass emails sent to employees by an anonymous insider. The emails were critical of American Apparel’s new management and the hedge fund backing the company.

American Apparel

American Apparel may have fired its founder Dov Charney last year, but new management is learning that he’s far from gone.

A group of Charney supporters within the company, who operate behind the name and hashtag #TeamDov, have been rallying support for the founder and slamming American Apparel’s new executives and investors through a digital campaign that management is struggling to quell. One employee has been sending pro-Charney mass emails to American Apparel employees through a variety of anonymous addresses during the past two months, causing enough ruckus that CEO Paula Schneider was forced to address the messages in a staff-wide memo on Feb. 19, BuzzFeed News has learned.

Internal memo from American Apparel’s CEO about problematic emails.

Obtained by BuzzFeed News / Via Source

“Over the last couple of months, we all have received ‘blast’ emails from an anonymous outsider criticizing American Apparel, its management and its policies,” Schneider, who started as CEO last month, wrote in a message obtained by BuzzFeed News. “Some of the emails have even been designed to appear like they are being sent from inside the company. I have refrained from responding to these emails because I feel they do not deserve our collective attention.”

She continued: “That said, I cannot let today’s email — which stooped to personally attacking hard-working members of the American Apparel team — go without a response. As a company, we embrace free speech and social commentary by our employees. That is a valued part of our culture. But today’s email provides an opportunity for me to reach out to all of you. I encourage you not to be influenced by unfounded personal attacks or baseless threats about job security sent by outsiders who do not have the company’s best interests at heart.”

The specific email Schneider is referring to accused Standard General, the hedge fund with the most financial control of the company, of “draining” American Apparel and forcing cutbacks at the retailer. The email included a link to a New York Post story about a lawsuit against Standard General, in which unsecured creditors of RadioShack are accusing the hedge fund of timing its investment in RadioShack to maximize a payout from the company’s recent bankruptcy, raising concern that American Apparel could suffer the same fate. The email noted that Colleen Brown, American Apparel’s newly appointed chairperson, was brought on to the board last year by Standard General (though it incorrectly identified her as CFO) and that new General Counsel Chelsea Grayson was Brown’s pick.

“We need Standard General OUT,” the employee wrote in the Feb. 19 email. “We have a bunch of consultants draining our company sitting in a room all day making 6 figures a month. THAT IS NOT AMERICAN APPAREL.”

One of the anonymous emails described the campaign as being about more than just Charney, saying it is also a response to American Apparel “being taken over by corporate Wall Street guys who don’t care about the company or the brand or the image or its employees.”

The emails reflect concern among employees that as American Apparel tries to right itself under new management, it could lose sight of its core values that were championed by Charney. The founder was a vocal advocate for treating workers generously, paying a fair wage, and making high-quality items in America.

A source inside the company told BuzzFeed News that management has spoken of their commitment to the company’s principles, and says it will continue to focus on remaining sweatshop-free, paying fair wages, and manufacturing in the USA.

While Schneider wrote that the emails came from an outsider, BuzzFeed News confirmed they originated from a current employee, who requested anonymity citing fear of retribution. The employee said they have roughly 5,000 addresses and sent the messages in batches of 500; multiple employees have told the anonymous emailer that the messages have been deleted from their inboxes as American Apparel’s management works to stem the tide.

A spokesperson for American Apparel declined to comment.

The pro-Charney insurgency shows how tightly a founder’s personality can become entwined with a company. Emails prior to the Feb. 19 message centered around gaining signatures and statements for the Team Dov website, which says it’s “a statement of support for Dov Charney and his business vision at American Apparel from workers and executives at all levels of the company and around the world.” Hundreds have since signed the petition.

Charney, who founded American Apparel in 1998, was served with a termination letter in June for a long list of reasons including breaching his fiduciary duty, violating company policy, sexual harassment, and misusing corporate assets.

Charney was working as a paid consultant for American Apparel during an internal investigation that began in July, but was fired in December; the #TeamDov website was born almost immediately after. In a statement on Dec. 22, his lawyers described the investigation as “a complete sham” and said the decision to terminate him was “completely groundless.”

Charney pledged 43% of his stake in the company to Standard General this summer in a deal that apparently soured. He told Bloomberg News in late December that the hedge fund conspired with a board member to oust him after agreeing to reinstate him.

He told the news outlet: “I gave them my entire life’s work and they agreed to put me back in, but instead they used this investigation to fire me. They betrayed me.” Charney has not commented on the current round of anonymous emails and the response by management.

Standard General, for its part, said last December it “supported the independent, third-party and very thorough investigation into the allegations against Mr. Charney, and respect the board of director’s decision to terminate him based on the results of that investigation.”

A Team Dov email sent to employees on Feb. 19

Obtained by BuzzFeed / Via Source

Team Dov email sent to employees on Feb. 16

Obtained by BuzzFeed / Via Source

Read more:

17 Magical Spots To Escape To In London

Off the beaten path.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their favourite secret spot in London. Here’s what they said:

1. St James Park

Closest station: St James Park
Budget: Free entry

“There’s this willow tree in St James’s park near Buckingham Palace that has a hidden bench underneath it. It’s so magical to find a hidden and quiet spot right in the middle of central (and very touristy) London.” – cricketb

More information here.

2. Morden Hall Park

Closest station: Morden
Budget: Free entry

Once a deer park, the rural escape in Morden Hall Park is now a haven for nature and wildlife, and will give you a much-needed breath of fresh air. “So lovely, and feels like you’re not even in London anymore.” – Ailbhe Malone

More information here.

3. Chelsea Physic Garden


Closest station: Sloane Square
Budget: £10 entry

This preeminent centre for botany is peaceful and informative. “It’s worth the trip and the entrance fee!” – Jennifer Domingo on Facebook

More information here.

4. The Parkland Walk

Closest station: Finsbury Park
Budget: Free entry

“The Parkland Walk runs from Finsbury Park, through Crouch End and up to Highgate. It’s an abandoned railway line that’s become a forest. Look out for the adult sized playground apparatus too!” – lucyk6

More information here.

5. The Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill

Closest station: Forest Hill
Budget: Free entry, £3.50 for aquarium access

“Fantastic view across London which rivals that of Greenwich Park.” – ashleyh434f1d695

More information here.

6. Nunhead Cemetery


Closest station: Nunhead
Budget: Free entry

Don’t miss the “the amazing burnt out church in the center of the cemetery and view of London from the top of the reservoir.” – jodief4756613e2

More information here.

7. St Ethelburga’s Peace Garden

Closest station: Bank
Budget: Free entry

BuzzFeed Life recommends escaping the City into tranquil secret garden at St Ethelburga’s. With gorgeous flowers and a peaceful environment, the volunteer-tended garden offers a much needed escape from everyday business.

More information here.

8. Angel Canal

Closest station: Angel Canal
Budget: Free entry

If you’re in the Islington area, escape the hustle and bustle of shops and bars with a stroll along the serene Angel Canal, which offers a unique and lovely view of the city, and hosts a lively annual festival. Recommended by maggiem428f32a00.

More information here.

9. Richmond Park


Closest station: Richmond
Budget: Free entry

No doubt you’ll find your own little corner of Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks. You’ll find plenty of wildlife, seclusion, and peace. Recommended by emilyg47e5692de.

More information here.

10. Daunt Books

Closest station: Regent’s Park
Budget: Free entry

Curling up with a good book in this Edwardian bookshop on Marylebone Road is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of central London. Recommended by heffalump246.

More information here.

11. St Christopher’s Place


Closest station: Bond Street
Budget: Free entry, but put aside a few quid for a coffee at Workshop.

“I love St Christopher’s place, hidden through a tiny alley behind Oxford street… Really lovely restaurants and art shops.” – Lakesx

More information here.

12. B.Y.O.C.


Closest station: Covent Garden
Budget: £25/person for a 2 hour slot

“Hidden under the juice bar in Covent Garden… you bring your own bottle of booze and they turn it into fancy cocktails for you!” – emmac481cc4edc.

Book here.

13. Flat Iron Steakhouse

Closest station: Piccadilly Circus
Budget: £5/drink, £10/steak

“Flat Iron Steakhouse, get there early and get a bottle of wine with your mates, have a fresh stuffed donut and then make your way to your table for £10 steak at communal tables.” – mollp

More information here.

14. Opium Parlour

Nearest station: Leicester Square
Budget: £12/drink, £6-£20/plate

“Cocktails and dimsum until 3am, yes please.” – emmac481cc4edc

Book here.

15. The Cocktail Trading Company


Closest station: Oxford Circus
Budget: £8-£10/drink

“Dive into this basement speakeasy for a private, jazzy atmosphere and incredibly original drinks. Be sure to order a “欢迎到肯塔基州 {WELCOME TO KENTUCKY, HAVE A NICE DAY},” a cocktail disguised a noodle takeaway.” – Chelsey Pippin

More information here.

16. Mr Fogg’s

Closest station: Green Park
Budget: £5-£10/drink, £38/person for Tipsy Tea

The quirky Victorian-themed cocktail bar was inspired by the hero of Jules Vernes’ classic novel Around The World In Eight Days and offers “Tipsy Tea” every Friday. Recommended by simis3.

Book here.

17. Espresso Bar Balcony, Tate Modern


Closest station: Southwark
Budget: £1-£5/drink

“The exact spot where I fell in love with London is the balcony at Tate Modern, overlooking the Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Not exactly hidden but it’s simply magical!” – lorenag40d26bd66

Want to be featured in similar BuzzFeed posts? Follow the BuzzFeed Community on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more:

Sarah Palin blasts ‘despicable’ MSNBC for mocking Romney grandson

As Twitchy reported, the repugnant racist progressives of pallor over at MSNBC sunk to a new low and mocked the Romneys’ adopted grandson. A loving family adopting a child? Yuk, yuk, yuk!

As Charles Payne said, this was truly “beyond the pale.”

Sarah Palin gave them the business as only she can.

From her Facebook page:

Holy unbelievable. The hypocritical leftist lamestream media should be shamed by every caring, child-loving American. It has once again reached a new low. See the article linked below. One just can’t win in their petty little games. Good thing most Americans don’t play those little games! It’s a beautiful thing the Romney family has done by embracing “the spirit of adoption.” What on earth is morebeautiful? Shame on MSNBC for mocking this.

The LSM’s pursuit of “shock ratings” is unreal. Governor Mitt Romney ran for higher office with what I believe is a servant’s heart. He was saddled with some sup-par campaign tactics. That does not make him a bad person nor does it open his children or grandchildren to attacks over a year after the fact. This latest attack from the Left is despicable.

Leftist media hounds are not expressing an opinion with this attack; they are expressing a prejudice that would never be accepted if it came from anyone else but the lib media.

You really need a conscience, yellow journalists. May your 2014 New Year’s Resolution be to find one.

Thank you, Romney family, for giving a child a family full of love.

Amen. A thousand times amen.

Vile haters couldn’t resist exposing their own moral bankruptcy, natch.!/ProjectHumanzee/status/417929245935927297

Seek help.

MSNBC and those Twitter users expose the truth: This is the Left. Tolerant and loving? Baloney.


Marc Lamont Hill clarifies remarks about Romneys ‘hauling out a black person’

Actress Pia Glenn apologizes — sort of — after mocking Romneys’ grandchild on MSNBC

‘Beyond the pale’: Fox Business’ Charles Payne blasts MSNBC for mocking Romney grandson

‘Wildly inappropriate’: Scott Brown calls on MSNBC jerks to apologize to Romneys

Romney grandson-mocking racist progressives of pallor at MSNBC in a truth-boom nutshell

Racism is hilarious! MSNBC panel mocks, belittles Romneys’ adopted grandson

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