Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rat Racists

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You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!

The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.

Here's the back story.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.

Dangerous Food Safety Lies

When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to "different risks" than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent.

This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them -- companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe.

GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled -- from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.

In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world's top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.

In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation

In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies "systematically overlook the side effects" and significantly underestimate "the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others."

The Fox Guarding the Chickens

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.

This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done?
 
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18691.cfm
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From planet Zardon

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Chlorine in Your Baby Carrots


carrots, chlorineThe small cocktail or "baby" carrots you buy are made using the larger crooked or deformed carrots which are put through a machine which cuts and shapes them into cocktail carrots. You might have known that already. But what you might not know is that once the carrots are cut and shaped into cocktail carrots, they are dipped in a solution of water and chlorine in order to preserve them.

When a baby carrot turns white ("white blushing"), this causes the bags of carrots to be pulled from the shelf and thrown away. To prevent this consumer waste, the carrots are dipped in chlorine to prevent the white blushing from happening.

Chlorine is a very well-known carcinogen. Organic growers instead use a citrus based, nontoxic solution called Citrox.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/28/Chlorine-in-Your-Baby-Carrots.aspx

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Four Takes on Health Care


HEALTH CARE

Peter Singer's recent New York Times Sunday Magazine piece on health care rationing – we already ration health care even though we prefer not to think of it that way – concludes:

 

It is common for opponents of health care rationing to point to Canada and Britain as examples of where we might end up if we get "socialized medicine."  On a blog on Fox News earlier this year, the conservative writer John Lott wrote, "Americans should ask Canadians and Brits — people who have long suffered from rationing — how happy they are with central government decisions on eliminating 'unnecessary' health care."  There is no particular reason that the United States should copy the British or Canadian forms of universal coverage, rather than one of the different arrangements that have developed in other industrialized nations, some of which may be better.  But as it happens, last year the Gallup organization did ask Canadians and Brits, and people in many different countries, if they have confidence in "health care or medical systems" in their country.  In Canada, 73 percent answered this question affirmatively.  Coincidentally, an identical percentage of Britons gave the same answer. In the United States, despite spending much more, per person, on health care, the figure was only 56 percent.

 

☞  We should have the Canadian system with a uniquely American twist – namely, the freedom to pay extra for "premium" care: a luxury room, "no-wait" elective surgery, house calls . . . anything the basic, decent plan won't cover. 

 

HEALTH CARE II

Ted Strange:  "I am distressed by the way the Republicans are portraying the Canadian health system.  They are unfairly distorting the truth:  We can walk in to a 'Walk-in Clinic' without an appointment any time during office hours.  (Free.)  We can go to the emergency room at a General Hospital any time 24 hours a day.  There we will be triaged immediately.  If it is acute, we will be looked after IMMEDIATELY.  (Free.)  If it is not acute, yes we may have to waitYour American system is an anomaly, as you are ordinarily noted for being efficient.  There was a documentary on TV a while back that compared a hospital in Seattle with a hospital in Vancouver, cities of comparable size.  The billing department in Vancouver took up one floor of a building.  The billing department in Seattle was a five-storey building.  Yes you do have to wait for elective surgery and that is sad.  But no one is bankrupted by major medical events."

 

HEALTH CARE III

Paul Krugman, in small part:  "There are no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn't work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence."

 

HEALTH CARE IV

Here's an out-of-the-box idea.  Bill Press asks:  Why does Congress have to take an August recess?  Why not spend the time getting health insurance reform done and then take whatever might be left of August?  Hmmm?

 

http://www.andrewtobias.com/newcolumns/090727.html

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Rural Medical Camp Tackles Health Care Gaps

It was a Third World scene with an American setting. Hundreds of tired and desperate people crowded around an aid worker with a bullhorn, straining to hear the instructions and worried they might be left out.

Some had arrived at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Wise, Va., two days before. They slept in cars, tents and the beds of pickup trucks, hoping to be among the first in line when the gate opened Friday before dawn. They drove in from 16 states, anxious to relieve pain, diagnose aches and see and hear better.

"I came here because of health care — being able to get things that we can't afford to have ordinarily," explained 52-year-old Otis Reece of Gate City, Va., as he waited in a wheelchair beside his red F-150 pickup. "Being on a fixed income, this is a fantastic situation to have things done we ordinarily would put off."

A photo gallery of the rural medical clinic in Wise, Va.For the past 10 years, during late weekends in July, the fairgrounds in Wise have been transformed into a mobile and makeshift field hospital providing free care for those in need. Sanitized horse stalls become draped examination rooms. A poultry barn is fixed with optometry equipment. And a vast, open-air pavilion is crammed with dozens of portable dental chairs and lamps.

A converted 18-wheeler with a mobile X-ray room makes chest X-rays possible. Technicians grind hundreds of lenses for new eyeglasses in two massive trailers. At a concession stand, dentures are molded and sculpted.

Desperate For Health Care

The 2009 Remote Area Medical (RAM) Expedition comes to the Virginia Appalachian mountains as Congress and President Obama wrestle with a health care overhaul. The event graphically illustrates gaps in the existing health care system.

See Portraits Of Patients And Providers At The Rural Area Medical Expedition."We're willing to sleep in pickup trucks or cars and deal with the elements to at least get some kind of health care," Reece adds. He earned a six-figure income working for an international industrial supply firm until an accident five years ago left him disabled. Joining him for dental, vision and medical checks are his wife, daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.

"Tomorrow, I'm going to see the doctor to get my ear and my nose fixed!" grandson Jacob shouts excitedly. His nose appears battered and his ear has an oozing scab.

Before the gate opened, Loretta Miller, 41, of Honaker, Va., got four hours' sleep behind the wheel of her parked minivan. She was No. 39 in line for her eighth RAM expedition. Her visit last year saved her life.

"They done an ultrasound and told me that my gallbladder was enlarged and was ready to burst and it could kill me," Miller recalls. "They told me if I hadn't got help when I did, literally I could have died."

Medical, dental and vision help is often elusive for the 2,700 people seeking treatment during the three-day RAM event. Just over half of the people attending this year have no insurance at all, according to a survey of the patients conducted by RAM. Forty-seven percent could be considered underinsured, given unaffordable copays or gaps in coverage provided by Medicare, Medicaid and conventional insurance plans. Only 11 patients have dental insurance, and just seven have vision coverage.

By The Numbers

A survey of RAM attendees by the event's organizers provides some insight into who is left out of conventional medical, dental and vision care.

What: Health care providers saw 2,715 patients and performed 2,671 medical exams, 1,088 eye tests and 1,850 dental exams. They extracted 3,857 teeth and put in 1,628 fillings.

Who: Patients came from 16 different states; 30 percent were repeat patients.

Of the patients, 51 percent are uninsured, 40.3 percent are on Medicaid or Medicare, and just 7.3 percent have employer or private insurance. Fewer than 1 percent of patients have dental or vision insurance.

Twenty-six percent of the people are employed, 40.6 are unemployed, 4.7 percent are retired and 4.8 percent are children.

Cost: The organizers paid about $250,000 out of pocket to run the event, and they provided an estimated $1.5 million worth of care.

"There's no doubt about it. There is a Third World right here in the United States," concludes Stan Brock, RAM's founder

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111066576

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How Leonard Peltier could leave prison by August 18

 
by Harvey Wasserman

For a formidable and growing global community of supporters, the prospect of Native American activist Leonard Peltier finally leaving prison inspires a longing that cuts to the depths of the soul.

So Peltier's first parole hearing of the Obama Era---on Tuesday, July 28---inspired hope of an intensity that will have a major impact on the new presidency. A decision must come from the Federal Parole Commission within three weeks. His attorney is calling for a surge of public support that would create an irresistible political climate for Leonard's release.

The relationship between Peltier and those who have followed his case over the decades can be intensely personal. His imprisonment has come to stand not only for five centuries of unjust violence waged against Native Americans, but also for the inhumane theft of the life of a man who has handled his 33 years in jail with epic dignity, effectiveness and grace.

Peltier's latest parole hearing convened at the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he is currently held. According to Eric Seitz, Peltier's Honolulu-based attorney, Peltier spoke for more than an hour "with great eloquence" about the nature of his case, his imprisonment and his plans for freedom. "The hearing officer seemed to listen carefully," said Seitz. "We thought it went very well."

The decision on Peltier's parole will be made by the four sitting members of the Federal Parole Commission (http://www.usdoj.gov/uspc/ ) whose offices are in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Commissioners Isaac Fulwood, Jr., Cranston Mitchell, Edward Reilly and Patricia Cushware are all Bush appointees. One seat is vacant; Fulwood was elevated to the Chairman's seat in May by President Obama.

According to Seitz, the hearing was taped by an officer charged with reporting to the Commissioners within 48 hours. The Commissioners are required to render a decision within 21 days---by August 18. Should they rule in his favor, Peltier could walk out of prison very soon after the decision is issued.
 
 
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Nine More Go to Jail for Single Payer

By David Swanson

Following a pattern of civil resistance in Washington D.C. and around the country, citizens in Des Moines Iowa on Monday risked arrest to press for the creation of single-payer healthcare, the establishment of healthcare as a human right, and an end to the deadly practices of Iowa's largest health insurance company, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Dr. Margaret Flowers, who has herself gone to jail for single-payer in our nation's capital, was on hand to speak in Des Moines. She called me with this report. Nearly a month earlier, on June 19, 2009, Des Moines Catholic Workers had delivered a letter (PDF) to Wellmark addressed to its CEO John Forsyth requesting disclosure of Wellmark's profits, salaries, benefits, denials and restrictions on care. The letter had not been acknowledged by Monday, and the Catholic Workers and their allies decided to take action again.

Thirty people arrived in the Wellmark lobby in Des Moines and asked to see Forsyth or any of the members of the board of directors or the operating officers. They were told that none were available, and instead the police arrived. Nine of the 30 refused to leave and were arrested. Flowers did not yet know what the charges will be but suspected trespassing. The nine latest supporters of single-payer to go to jail for justice are:

Mona Shaw, Renee Espeland, Frankie Hughes (age 11), and Frank Cordaro, all from Des Moines Catholic Workers; Leonard Simmons from Massachusetts; Robert Cook; Eddie Blomer from Des Moines; Kirk Brown from Des Moines; and Chris Gaunt from Grinnell, Iowa.

These nine and others like them around the country represent, I think, the incredible potential to energize the American public on behalf of a struggle for the basic human right of healthcare, a potential being blocked by the work of activist organizations that reach out from Washington to tell the public that single-payer is not possible, rather than reaching into Washington from outside to tell our public servants what we demand.

Here's a blog from Digby acknowledging the reduction of the public option from where it started to next-to-nothing. It's not clear whether Digby thinks it would have been smarter to start with single-payer, in order to end up with a better compromise than what you get by initially proposing the weakest plan you'll settle for. But Digby argues that proposing single-payer from the start would not have given single-payer itself any chance of succeeding, and this is proven -- Digby says -- from the fact that the public option is having such a hard time succeeding.

I can't prove this is wrong. Everything Digby writes is smart and to the point. But this does omit an important factor or two. Namely: single-payer turns an obscure wonkish policy mush into a clear and comprehensible civil rights issue. Even with it blacked out and shunned by the White House and astroturfing activist groups, single-payer still has people sacrificing and going to jail for it. Nobody goes to jail for a public option.* Nobody even knows what it is. Nobody will even know whether they got it if a bill is passed until experts debate the point for them -- at which point it's too late. Making healthcare a right rather than a legislative policy energizes people, and that potential has hardly been tapped and should not be written out of consideration.

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/44784

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We shall overcompensate

 

By TBogg

John Hawkins struggles beneath the white man's burden

callingmenamesmakesmesad.jpg

Calling people like Hawkins a racist is equal to:

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black-lynching.jpg

I can't wait until conservatives start demanding reparations.

http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2009/07/28/we-shall-overcompensate/

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CFTC: Speculators caused 2008 oil price crisis

 

By Daniel Tencer


In a major U-turn from its claims during the Bush administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is now set to admit that speculation in oil markets — and not the forces of supply and demand — are behind last year's massive oil price spike.

In the summer of 2008, oil prices on the open market reached an unprecedented $147 per barrel. Many economists argue the spike helped push the US into an economic free-fall last autumn.

At the time, the CFTC — which is tasked with regulating commodity and financial futures — said that the huge price spike was a result of supply and demand. That explanation was met with ridicule from many market-watchers, who said it was impossible that demand for oil increased by such a huge margin even as the North American, European and Japanese economies were slowing down.

Now, according to a scoop in the Wall Street Journal, the CFTC is about to reverse its Bush-era position, and admit that market speculators — investors who bought oil futures on the expectation they would rise in value — "played a significant role" in the oil spike.

Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, told the WSJ that the original assessment was based on "flawed data." He told the newspaper that the CFTC's report, which will be released next month, will acknowledge the role of speculators in oil markets.

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/07/28/cftc-speculators-caused-2008-oil-price-crisis/

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Segregation and Friends

Jeffrey Feldman

by Jeffrey Feldman

Recently, Glenn Beck sat on the comfy couch of Fox's morning show Fox & Friends and declared that President Obama is a racist who hates white culture.   Of the three hosts who convened this broadcast gem, the one who disagreed with Beck -- Brian Kilmeade -- had recently declared on air that the white race in America had been weakened through interbreeding with non-whites, a statement for which he apologized after it sparked wide-scale outrage.  So on this particular morning, viewers who tuned into Fox & Friends watched a host who espouses white Aryan eugenics mix it up with a guest inciting white anger at blacks, followed by some tips on summertime grilling. 

The fact that brand management rules broadcast media -- particularly at Fox -- leads me to question whether the segregationist flavor of Fox's morning could possibly be accidental.  Is it possible that nobody at Fox had an inkling about Kilmeade's belief in racial purity prior to his blurting it out on air?  They had to know.  A man who gleefully turns to the camera and bemoans racial mixing is also a guy who spouts off eugenic theories at parties and office meetings.  Fox knew about Kilmeade's views and they kept him on air anyway. 

The same is true of Beck's foolish idea that President Obama hates white culture.  The only way the bookers and marketing folks at Fox & Friends could not know Beck plays to segregationist fears of blacks when talking about the president is if they have all been in a coma for the past year.  And yet they booked him anyway, putting him on set for a chat with a guy who thinks that white blood in America has been contaminated by miscegenation. 

A morning show that positions itself to appeal to whites uncomfortable with the idea of racial integration in America? So long as the numbers are solid, the media brand experts would say, why the heck not?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-feldman/segregation-friends_b_246942.html

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Mexico Builds Border Wall To Keep Out US Assholes

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Limbaugh’s Syndicators Turn Up Their Noses at Sarah Palin

has declined to hire Palin even as a fill in, according Broadcasting & Cable's Paige Albiniak who writes:

My own sources say much what they said when asked about a TV show for Palin: Don't think so. While you might assume Palin would be a better fit for conservative radio than the less partisan world of syndicated broadcast TV, my sources say the country's biggest radio conglomerate, Clear Channel, has already passed on her.

The main objection to Palin as radio talk-show host is that she would have to hold forth for three hours a day. While some of her recent remarks may indicate a talent for improvisation, anyone who's listened to Rush Limbaugh or Thom Hartmann or Don Imus or Howard Stern or even Ryan Seacrest knows it's the rare personality who can blab extemporaneously for 15 hours a week.

There's always podcasts...and not hiring Palin could save radio!

http://lafiga.firedoglake.com/2009/07/29/limbaughs-syndicators-turn-up-their-noses-at-sarah-palin/

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Taliban field manual: A kinder, gentler militant?

Manual bans filming executions

The Taliban is mounting a public-relations campaign to try to win the hearts and minds of Afghans with their own version of a field manual that urges efforts to limit civilian casualties.

The little book with a blue cover, Rules for Mujahedeen, directs Taliban militants on how to behave while on deployment and how to deal with enemy combatants, treat prisoners of war and interact with civilians.

The manual, which has been given extensive coverage on Al Jazeera's Arabic service, appears aimed at renewing popular support among Afghans in the face of a U.S.-led offensive against the militants.

The directive also could be an attempt by Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader, to reassert himself as the uncontested chief of an entire flock of Taliban subgroups.

"This is part of their strategic thinking," said Yonah Alexander, a specialist on counterterrorism with the Potomac Institute in Washington. "This is an old trick to play both ends of the stick and to gain time."

The booklet was issued in May and is the first of its kind in the history of the Taliban, according to a State Department report on counterterrorism.

The report, which was made available to The Washington Times, said the emphasis is on "improving their image and winning over civilians."

The manual also aims to transform the group into a more disciplined and organized political force by centralizing decision-making and discouraging formation of unauthorized factions.

The Taliban, especially with its recent expansion in Afghanistan, has not been monolithic but an amalgam of splinter groups.

In keeping with its religious teachings, the Taliban stresses that the new rules are based on Islamic law. The manual admonishes fighters to:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/30/a-kinder-gentler-taliban/

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Meanwhile, back in Crawford...

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