FBI raids home of former Gov. Walker aide. [...]
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Agriculture Department Toughens Regulations on Beef
The New York Times reports that the beef industry is upset with the Agriculture Department for its promulgation of new regulations regarding deadly food toxins found in ground beef. (NYT Business Day 9-13-2011).
Millions of pounds of beef (primarily hamburger) have had to be recalled since 1994 when a strain of Escherichia coli was banned in ground beef. This strain of E coli is a deadly bacteria whose home base is the lower intestine of warm blooded animals. Due to that way we raise cattle and process meat (don't ask) the bacteria finds its way into our hamburgers as well as onto fruits and vegetables we buy.
Not all E. coli is dangerous, there are many strains, but E. coli 0157:H7 is deadly and has been the focus of attention by the Agriculture Department. Now, to the dismay of the beef industry, SIX more deadly, but rare, strains of E. coli are also to be banned and won't be going to market-- at least not in raw hamburger and similar products.
Dr. Elizabeth Hagen of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was quoted as saying, "We're doing this to prevent illness and to save lives. This is one of the biggest steps forward in the protection of the beef supply in some time."
It is certainly a noble objective to want to save lives and prevent sickness, but unfortunately it conflicts with an even more noble objective valued by the bourgeoisie-- namely making profits and getting rid of government regulations (bad for business).
Business already has it too good since its perfectly legal to sell food that is full of toxins as it is. Salmonella infested food can be sold to the public with just a warning to cook the food at a suitably high temperature or to wash it throughly. The government doesn't want to overly stress business interests by making them clean up their processing factories to eliminate salmonella contamination. What more do they want?
Well, for one, they want the new regulations against the six new strains of E. coli to go away. Here is what the American Meat Institute says: "Imposing this new regulatory program on ground beef will cost tens of millions of federal and industry dollars-- costs that likely will be borne by taxpayers and consumers. It is neither likely to yield a significant public health benefit nor is it good public policy."
Well it may cost tax payers money-- we have to pay for some things besides war after all, and the industry will certainly try to pass along the cost of cleaning up their processing plants to their customers; but what is the alternative? The Times reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates these six additional strains of E. coli sicken 133,000 people yearly and a third of them get sick from contaminated beef.
Nevertheless, the American Meat Institute not only says it is not good public policy to regulate against this contamination, it also concludes the need for regulation is "just not supported by the science." It is at least reassuring that the industry is aware that there is something out there called "science" that should be taken into account even if its use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is misguided.
Anyway, waste not want not, the tainted meat can still be sold to the public-- it just can't be sold as fresh meat. E. coli 157 and the six new strains under regulation will be heated to 160 degrees F and sold to us in all those nice meat dishes that are labeled pre-cooked and all we have to do is warm and serve. The millions of little dead E. coli cells can then be happily consumed without, we are told, any ill effects. Yum, yum.
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Sure there is a presumption of innocence and all that, but the courts and society take a dim view of fathers who fail to pay child support.
"Family Values" candidate Lying hypocrite and once tea party favorite Joe Walsh looks to be toxic for everyone at this point.
The news video is from late July by CBS Chicago. The story below is from earlier today.
CHICAGO (CBS) ? A Cook County judge ruled Wednesday that Congressman Joe Walsh must prove that he made nearly $100,000 in child-support payments as part of his ongoing legal dispute with his ex-wife, Laura Walsh.
Earlier this year, Laura Walsh sued the Republican congressman from McHenry $117,000 in unpaid child support. Rep. Walsh, a Tea Party favorite, has disputed that he owes that much in child support.
Laura Walsh was at Wednesday?s hearing before Cook County Judge Raul Vega, but the congressman was not, prompting the judge to ask Rep. Walsh?s attorney why he wasn?t there.
Walsh?s new attorney, Janet Boyle, asked Vega ?for what purpose? he wanted the congressman in court.
Vega gave her a puzzled look.
To which Boyle responded: ?Mr. Walsh is a U.S. congressman.?
?Well, he?s no different than anyone else,? the judge said. Vega said he expects Rep. Walsh to show up at the next hearing, in November.
But Laura Walsh?s attorney later said the congressman probably wouldn?t have to come to court for the next hearing after all.
Meantime, Vega said he was going to issue a ?rule to show cause? why Walsh shouldn?t be held in contempt for falling behind on child support over the past five years.
The effect of that ruling is that, instead of Laura Walsh having to prove the congressman owes the money, the burden shifts to the congressman to prove that he doesn?t owe money, according to attorneys for both Walshes.
The cult newspaper Washington Times, and conservative bloggers, are claiming - based on their super lip-reading skills - that the First Lady supposedly disparaged the "damn" US flag during a military ceremony commemorating the 9/11 attacks, in public no less.
But why stop there. The President clearly nods in agreement right after the First Lady's lips move. So if she's upset at that "damn" American flag, then the Commander in Chief is agreeing, in public, on camera.
Again, yeah right. Obama isn't exactly my favorite politician of late, and I don't think his political skills are very well honed, but even a total idiot would not nod in agreement to their spouse saying, on camera, in public, on 9/11, that the flag sucked. If anything, your brow would furrow and you'd look at her like she was nuts. That didn't happen, because the entire thing never happened.
I've looked at the video. And good luck discerning what she's saying. It's impossible. There's no audio. And her mouth is obscured at one point by an object. All you can tell is that maybe the last word is "flag" - and they are watching a flag ceremony, so it's a good bet. But that's it. But that didn't stop the Washington Times, a paper founded by a cult, from claiming in print that it knew exactly what she said - and she disparaged that "damn" flag.
Misogyny, racism? It's hard to tell. Republicans do enjoy beating up on the wives of politicians, and there's no special love in the GOP heart for minorities. What amazes me, however, is the level of hate that exists, at an institutional level, in the Republican party. It's part and parcel with the fundamentalist takeover of the GOP. You simply can't run for public office as a Republican in this country unless you publicly profess your hate for a large segment of society (extra credit if you add in your hate of science and facts). It's seriously messed up.
Watch the video for yourself, and be sure to check out all the racist comments from the Republicans.
UPDATE: Now that I think about it, the First Lady does need to speak out about this. After all, what if she's not saying "that damn flag" but is instead saying "that damn fag," in reference to Rick Perry, or Lindsey Graham, or Michelle Bachmann's husband, or Eric Cantor? And while we're at it, let's hear from Rick Perry, Graham, Bachmann and Cantor as well. (Perry can just send us a written statement - you know the ones, with the little hearts he draws about the "i"s.)
ThinkProgress filed this report from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The most distasteful moment in Monday’s Republican presidential debate was when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked whether a 30 year old who gets in a catastrophic accident should be allowed to die if he doesn’t have health insurance and the Tea Party audience cheered in approval, shouting “yes!”
Yesterday, ThinkProgress discussed the matter with a number of students at Liberty University, a conservative Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Virginia. The students were unanimous in their disapproval, calling it “un-Christian” to simply allow a person to die because they were uninsured. Unlike the cheering Tea Party audience, Liberty students we spoke with said the “Christian thing to do” would be to provide care to those in need, regardless of their personal situation.
The disturbing incident in Monday’s debate was actually the second time in as many weeks that Republican debate attendees have applauded death. During the California debate last week, the audience cheered the fact that 234 people have been executed under Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) watch in Texas.
Though the Republican Party that used to say it represented “compassionate conservatism,” their base has taken an ugly turn of late. For many Christian conservatives, the idea of cheering anybody’s death may finally be a bridge too far.
Transcript following the jump:
KEYES: In the debate on Monday, there was the question of whether or not a 30 year old who doesn’t have health insurance and gets in a major accident, we ought to just let him die or we ought to provide care for him. What do you think would be the Christian thing to do?
STUDENT 1: Definitely to give him care, no matter what your age is.
KEYES: What do you think the Christian thing to do there is?
STUDENT 2: If he didn’t have health insurance?
STUDENT 2: I would say take care of him.
KEYES: Do you think it’s un-Christian to be letting uninsured people die? What would you do?
STUDENT 3: Why would someone let anyone die just because they can’t pay for something? That’s the thing I don’t understand. Me and my family, we’re financially impaired right now, we’re in a shelter. We have insurance and all that, but at the same time for those who don’t have insurance, what’s the point of killing someone, taking a life, just because they can’t pay for something? It’s like going to a hospital, charging millions of dollars to have an operation to save someone’s life, they can’t pay for it, okay so we’ve got to kill them? We can’t save a life because they can’t pay for it? That doesn’t make any sense to me, I don’t understand.
KEYES: Do you think that’s a Christian thing to let an uninsured person die?
STUDENT 4: Absolutely not. I don’t see how that’s Christian in any way. I mean “Christian.” I think everyone has the right to life, including I don’t agree with capital punishment, I think that those people also have a right to life.
KEYES: What do you think the Christian thing to do there would be?
STUDENT 5: I believe provide care for him. I believe we should provide some care for him.
KEYES: What do you think, do you think that it would be Christian to let uninsured people die?
STUDENT 6: I don’t think it is. I think that they should work towards making sure that people no matter what should live.
STUDENT 3: I bet if Jesus came back right now, all them politicians, all them doctors who had to do something like that would probably give their life to Christ because they felt so bad about themselves. Because they knew that they took a life just because someone couldn’t pay for it.
Unless Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) intervenes, Duane Edward Buck is set to be executed today, becoming the 236th person to be put to death during Perry’s tenure. On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles denied Buck clemency, refusing to commute his death sentence to life without parole. That’s despite the fact that Buck’s former prosecutor and now-Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) have both called for a retrial because his case was so tainted by racist testimony:
[H]is lawyers are fighting to overturn his death sentence on the grounds that a psychologist told jurors at Buck?s 1997 trial that because Buck was black, he was more likely to be violent in the future, the Dallas Morning News reports.
A defendant is likelier to receive a death sentence if a jury determines that the defendant poses a future danger. It was improper to use Buck?s race as a factor in deciding whether he posed a future danger, his lawyers contend.
In 2001, Texas passed a law explicitly prohibiting the state from introducing evidence that a defendant?s race or ethnicity makes it likelier that he will commit a future act of violence.
Former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn (now a U.S. senator) wanted Buck?s case reviewed because of the sentencing testimony at issue. [...]
Buck also has on his side one of the Harris County prosecutors who helped secure Buck’s conviction. Last week the prosecutor, Linda Geffen, wrote a letter to Perry urging him to grant a retrial. When he was Texas Attorney General, Cornyn called for Buck and five others to receive a re-trial based on the racially-charged testimony that is now illegal. Over the last 10 years, Buck is the only one who hasn’t.
Cornyn admitted that all of the cases were tainted by a constitutional error — relying on race as a consideration for the death penalty violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. But Buck’s case “has fallen through the cracks,” his lawyer says.
In a strange twist, the very same psychologist whose testimony is in question ultimately told jurors that he did not believe Buck presented a future danger to society.
One of Buck’s victims who survived, Phyllis Taylor, is also urging Texas to halt the execution. “This execution would only add to my pain, and it wouldn?t give me closure,” said Taylor. “I feel that he deserves a fair trial,” she added.
Perry has the power to grant a temporary stay of execution, which would give Buck additional time to push for a new sentencing hearing, but seems unlikely to do so.
Kevin Drum has some interesting thoughts on how some seemingly non-gendered elements of political institution design may drastically impact the number of women inclined to run for office. In particular, it looks like systems where people run as part of a list of candidates may attract more women into the field than do systems (like the ones that predominate in the USA) where candidates run as lone wolfs.
This whole question of the relative paucity of woman candidates (research shows that women who do run do about as well as men) is something that I think progressives need to care more about. And not ? or not just ? for the obvious reasons. To be a bit reductive about it, assume there’s such a thing as “political talent” that some people have. It’s not the most important determinant of electoral outcomes, but it does matter at the margins and also impacts your ability to get things done while in office. There’s also such a thing as ideology. And as it happens, most of the people with progressive ideology are women. This is particularly true among people with college degrees. This means that if you’re fishing for extreme outliers in terms of political talent, and your pools only include men, that the conservative pool is going to have a much larger number of fish in it and you’ll have a much easier time catching some good ones. Conversely, if progressives manage to get more women running for city council and county commissioner and state assembly and district attorney, we’ll find that a much deeper bench of talent exists to run for mayor, attorney-general, U.S. House of Representatives, etc. Then at the next level, that’s where your governors, senators, cabinet secretaries, etc come from.
In the long run, this matters a lot. Candidate quality has a small but consistent impact on election outcomes. Absent an adequate pool of talent, progressives end up either backing candidates who aren’t so great or who aren’t so progressive. To improve the pool, you have to go to where the progressive people are?that’s women.
The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality continues in London, England. Great Britain is already starting to abandon its coasts as sea levels rise, and extraordinary floods in recent years are reshaping the island country’s landscape, as it endeavors to shift away from dirty fuels. Presented by Evan Williams, the former head of Economics and Sustainable Development for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and the founder of the Environmental and Resource Economics consulting firm.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress brought you the tragic story of Kent Snyder, the campaign manager for Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) 2008 presidential bid, who died at 49 from pneumonia because he lacked health insurance. Snyder convinced Paul to run that year, but his story is getting renewed attention this year in light of Paul’s exchange with moderator Wolf Blitzer at CNN’s debate Monday night in which he was asked what should be done with a hypothetical comatose 30-year-old man who lacked insurance. Some members of the audience yelled “yes!” he should be left to die.
Now, CNN reports that Snyder lacked insurance because he had a pre-existing medical condition, which “made it impossible for him to find coverage.” Watch the segment from last night’s Situation Room:
There are an estimated 50 to 129 million Americans who, like Snyder, have medical conditions that lead to higher health insurance costs or an inability to find coverage at any price. Solving this problem is one of the core goals of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
By 2014, the law will forbid insurers from charging sick patients more or rejecting them out of hand, something that is only possible when coupled with the individual health insurance mandate conservatives despise. But even before 2014, Snyder could potentially have been eligible for a federal high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions, which was established last year.
People like Snyder, who cannot find affordable insurance, are exactly who the law is intended to help. Perhaps Paul — who has said “Obamacare” is “monstrous” and “bad for your health” — will soften his opposition to the law, given that it potentially could have saved his friend’s life.
Bob Turner, the Republican congressman from the New York seat once held by Democrat Anthony Weiner, won in part by running against the national GOP agenda on entitlements. He said explicitly that he would vote against the House GOP’s Medicare-privatizing budget plan, a stance that would separate him from the entire House Republican caucus. Turner’s own website even claimed that he wants to “strengthen and preserve” programs like Social Security and Medicare.
However, in an interview given to a radio program shortly before the election, Turner took a different approach. At one point, he said the Medicare retirement age should be changed and there should be higher co-pays. A few minutes later, he seemed to endorse the idea that Social Security is simply a welfare program for the poor. The host, Karen Jenelle, confused Bush’s privatization plan with her own idea of completely opting out of Social Security (which would unravel and destroy Social Security’s ability to continue as a retirement program):
JENELLE: I’m still for Bush’s plan for keeping the money for myself. You know, being able to opt out of it. Clearly the government cannot manage money to begin with. For them to just feel entitled to a significant percentage of my paycheck every single time I get one and they are going to be able to save it or spend it better than I can, is offensive to me. Let’s call Social Security what it really is, it’s another program that really aids the poor. That’s what it is for the most part.
TURNER: Uh, true!
TURNER: You are on the right side of the great divide. [...]
PORTER: The truth is, back in the good old days when there was no Social Security, we took care of our own parents. They lived with us and that sort of thing.
So-called campaign watchdogs like FactCheck.org smeared critics of Turner by claiming that Turner’s own website proved that he supported strengthening entitlements. Instead of reading websites that are typically created by outside political consultants, the fact checkers at FactCheck.org should have actually listened to Turner’s own words.