When is an animal more than an animal?

It's pretty widely accepted than animals and humans are different, having evolved separately. But apparently some aren't sold on this whole Darwin thing and they're taking it to the courts. And this isn't just Scopes Monkey Trial 2.0. No, a group in Austria is legitimately trying to get an ape recognized as a person.

Last month, a judge in Austria tossed out the case, where the Association Against Animal Factories was trying get a chimp granted the rights of a person (but not a human). The group was lobbying for 26-year-old Matthew Hiasl Pan (see, he's already got a full human name) to be declared a person so that a guardian could take care of him. They're concerned that the shelter currently caring for him will close and that he'll be abandoned unless a legal guardian is appointed, an action reserved only for humans. With all the potential problems with this case (such as Pan not actually being a person), it's unexpected that the case could be thrown out because of a technicality. But it was; the judge said the AAAF didn't have the legal status to represent Pan. They've promised to appeal the case in the Austrian Supreme Court.

Neighboring Germany has been more accepting of animal rights. In 2002, Germany became the first country in the European union to legally recognize animal rights when the legislature voted to add "and animals" to their constitution. With the move, Germany promised to protect the dignity of animals. Switzerland (not an EU member) has a similar provision in their constitution, which recognizes animals as "beings," not themes. If only the AAAF had moved Pan abroad.

Still, others have tried to humanize animals outside of the legal system. Take George Willard and his wife Pixel. What's so special about Pixel? Well, for one thing, she's a horse. George and Pixel have been hitched for 14 years. They found fame when they were featured on an episode of the Jerry Springer Show entitled "I Married a Horse." You may not remember the episode because some local stations opted not to air it. That's right, the episode, which also featured two others' relationships with dogs, was even too racy for some normal Jerry Springer viewers. There are other examples of human-animal marriages chicken boo.gifout there, including a man in Nepal who married a dog for good luck.

But in terms of animals passing as humans, nothing trumps the classic Animaniacs character Chicken Boo. This six-foot tall chicken who looked suspiciously like Foghorn Leghorn, was able to make it as anything from a dancer to a Confederate general, without anyone realizing he was a chicken. Who knows, maybe some animals have already bypassed the legal requirements and are walking among us.

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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