Those of us who have been following the successful campaign by Animal Rights activists to intimidate the New York Stock Exchange — or more precisely Cathering Kinney, its president — into reneging on its commitment to list Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) on the Exchange, and the subsequent Senate investigations into why the NYSE — or more precisely Persident Kinney — lurched suddenly backward (surprising her colleagues at the NYSE and HLS executives alike) have to be impressed with the article written by Christopher Byron back in September, all the more so since testimony at the hearings validated his "take" on the situation.
Now, Mr. Byron has written an equally good article, one which shows he not only knows his facts, but has a good "feel" for the issues involved:
October 31, 2005 -- BACK in mid-September, when we last dropped by for one of our typically unwelcome visits to the New York Stock Exchange, the Mount Vesuvius of exculpatory P.R. was busy spewing baloney in all directions.
Beneath the accumulating effluvium lay buried the exchange's latest embarrassment: Its apparent cave-in, only days earlier, to demands from a group of animal rights extremists that the Big Board scrap its planned listing of a company that does drug testing on animals.
Since then, the eruptions have continued, and by last week the Big Board's lava flow of obfuscation and half-truths had spread all the way to Washington, D.C., and a committee hearing room of the U.S. Senate.
In Room 406 of the Dirksen Office Building last Wednesday, Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, called a hearing to shed some much-needed light on the NYSE's apparent willingness to be bullied and pushed around by the animals rights crowd.
The animal crazies had been demanding for weeks that the Big Board reject a listing application from a New Jersey company called Life Sciences Research Inc. that engages in drug testing on animals.
Life Sciences has been in the crosshairs of extremists for years. In 2001 its CEO was beaten nearly to death in Britain by animal rights thugs wielding pick ax handles.
True enough . . . Animal Rights activists employ arson, bombs and assault to coerce people into complying.
Two years later, Deloitte & Touche dumped the company as an audit client after extremists stalked and harassed Deloitte employees for weeks.
Marsh & McLennan quit as Life Sciences' insurance broker, and Citicorp no longer serves as the company's banker, for the same reason. Aetna no longer writes insurance coverage for the company; Johnson & Johnson and Merck have stopped doing business with it as well.
Exchange officials paid no attention, distracted by their struggle to merge the Big Board with electronic trading platform Archipelago.
But the animal rights nuts were on a roll, and when the exchange said that Life Sciences had been accepted for a Big Board listing, the wackos simply intensified their campaign.
Within weeks, they got what they wanted. On Sept. 7, minutes before the company's shares were to begin trading, the NYSE reversed itself. According to one rumor, the flip-flop came after floor specialists said they'd received threats of violence if they dared to trade the Life Sciences shares. [My emphasis . . . ed]
The rumor about floor specialists is new . . . I don't know if it's true or not, but it's plausible. Threats of violence are par for the course for AR thugs.
News of the NYSE flip-flop was delivered to the Life Sciences brass personally — but with no explanation — by the exchange's president, Catherine Kinney, and the stonewalling has gone on ever since.
When one of America's best known and highly regarded institutions soils itself in this way, the public has a right to know why — which is what last week's Senate hearing was all about: To force the NYSE to come clean.
But save for a lone reporter from Reuters, no one from the press even bothered to show up. And perhaps because of that, at least one well-known member of the committee didn't turn up either.
The mainstream media just isn't interested in this story, or it's important implications, which at first blush is surpassingly curious: if the NYSE is so easily jerked around by a handful of Animal Rights activists, what's next? Delisting auto companies, because cars pollute? Delisting oil companies because they drill for oil? Delisting Northrop, Boeing or Texas Instruments because they do defense work? Delisting Weyerhaeuser because they cut trees?
And then there are groups like the American Nazi's, skinheads, Islamofascists, MeCHA and the anti-abortion lunatics, any one of which might well like to try their hand at intimidating the likes of the easily-swayed Ms Kinney and her NYSE.
So why haven't mainstream reporters — with Mr. Byron being a noticeable exception (and mainstream opinion piece writers (Debra Saunders (and link) and Wesley Smith also being exceptions) — glommed onto this story and made it front page news?
I hate to admit it, but I think Ms Saunders was correct when she pointed out that the perps — the Animal Rights thugs — were members of the far left, not the far right (a href="op cit).
If Ms Kinney et al had been brought to their collective knees so easily by a bunch of anti-abortion thugs, the story would have been on page one of the New York Times for several days running. The Times' editors and reporters would have seen all too clearly the threat posed by Kinney's caving and would have railed against it.
And they would have been entirely right to do so . . . but such is life.
In any event, back to Mr. Byron's piece:
That person was New York's own (and only) voice on the committee: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who joined the committee's 14 other Senate no-shows to cut class. A staff aide later said she had been busy with commitments elsewhere, but in spite of repeated requests for details, her office failed to provide any.
Too bad, since by not showing up for the hearing, the uber-ambitious junior senator from New York missed a golden opportunity to hear for herself the lengths to which animal rights extremists are prepared to go to get their way.
This came when a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front — classified by the FBI as a domestic terrorist organization — stunned the hearing by claiming that it was "morally justified" to murder medical researchers in order to save their laboratory animals, which he likened to Jewish prisoners in Nazi extermination camps.
Of course, the ALF "spokesman" would be Dr. Jerry Vlasak, who freaked out the senators with his answers to their questions.
Readers of AC will be well familiar with Dr. Vlasak, and can hear him speak the words that Senator Inhofe nailed him with (“I don’t think you’d have to kill, assassinate too many. I think for five lives, ten lives, fifteen human lives, we could save a million, two million, or ten million non-human lives.’’) by following the link here. (The creepy Dr. Vlasak didn't back off: "I made that statement, and I stand by that statement.")
And, you can watch the good doctor go further than just finding assassination to be "morally acceptable": you can see a video of him advocating the practice of assassination itself. Just follow the link here, scrolling as instructed.
Only Oklahoma's Inhofe, New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg and North Dakota Republican John Thune listened to Kinney replacement, NYSE general counsel Richard Bernard, spew forth doubletalk and spurious excuses.
Yes — and in the followup question and answer session, Mr. Mark Bibi, General Counsel of HLS, calmly and pointedly revealed just how evasive the dissembling and treacherous Mr. Bernard had been.
But Mr. Byron's point is well taken . . . most of the Committee members were absent, which is a real shame. They needed to see this first-hand. On the other hand, I take their absence to mean that they're not all that interested in opposing S. 1926, which is the bill that grew out of these hearings, one intended to provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to crack down on AR thuggery.
EVENTUALLY Sen. Lautenberg grew so incensed at Bernard's stonewalling that he started to bluster and fume about subpoenaing the NYSE's own internal records.
Whether or not the committee does issue such a subpoena, its sparsely attended hearing last Wednesday at least highlighted the larger danger that has lurked in the NYSE's appeasing behavior.
After all, if the "mighty" Big Board can be buffaloed by a handful of puppy-preferring psychos, what happens when other extremists, who think trees and other forms of plant life also have rights, see for themselves that the exchange can be pushed around?
If the resulting threats get severe enough, will the Big Board's President Flip-Flop agree to de-list International Paper Co., or perhaps Georgia Pacific?
The exchange's weaselly efforts to distance itself from its own behavior shows just how inexcusable the NYSE brass know that behavior to have been — and how embarrassed by it they still are. [My emphasis . . . ed]
That they tried to distance themselves from their own behavior is beyond question. But I'm not sure it was because they were embarrassed. I don't think these people can be shamed — call me cynical, but I think they stonewalled simply because they see that as being the easy way out, the way that requires least of them in terms of explanations and justification, the way that enables them to avoid looking closely at themselves and admitting what they did.
I think Ms Kinney and Mr. Bernard stonewalled because they're lazy and cowardly.
But every day that passes without fessing up to it is a day that brings the Big Board closer to becoming a target all over again.
Indeed. Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .
Well done, Mr. Byron.