Archive | March, 2010

Enough

I found out today that I’m getting one last extension on the unemployment, so I feel funny about the donations you all gave. But I do have an expensive car repair I need, and now I have exactly enough.

So thanks for your kindness. My Subaru appreciates it, and so do I.

Organicized!

Hmm. So Michelle Obama’s organic garden doesn’t actually translate into policy:

WASHINGTON – Sidestepping a stalled Senate confirmation vote, yesterday President Obama recess-appointed Islam Siddiqui to be chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the U.S. trade representative. Dr. Siddiqui’s nomination was held up in the Senate and was opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 80 other environmental, small-farm, and consumer groups. More than 90,000 concerned citizens contacted the White House and Senate to oppose the nomination. Siddiqui is a former pesticide lobbyist and is currently vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, a biotech and pesticide trade group that lobbies to weaken environmental laws.

“Dr. Siddiqui’s confirmation is a step backward,” said Tierra Curry, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “His appointment ensures the perpetuation of pesticide- and fossil-fuel-intensive policies, which undermine global food security and imperil public health and wildlife.”

As undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Siddiqui oversaw the development of the first national organic labeling standards, which allowed sewage sludge-fertilized, genetically modified, and irradiated food to be labeled as organic before public outcry forced more stringent standards. Siddiqui has derided the European Union’s ban on hormone-treated beef and has vowed to pressure the European Union to accept more genetically modified crops.

Appointments like this tell us the continuing mixed messages of the Obama administration. Stay tuned!

The Obscenity of War

Amy Goodman:

Daniel Ellsberg, who Henry Kissinger once called “the most dangerous man in America,” leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg, who was a top Pentagon analyst, photocopied this secret, 7,000-page history of the U.S. role in Vietnam and released it to the press, helping to end the Vietnam War.

“President Obama is taking every symbolic step he can to nominate this as Obama’s war,” Ellsberg told me recently. He cites the “Eikenberry memos,” written by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, which were leaked, then printed last January by The New York Times.

Ellsberg said: “Eikenberry’s cables read like a summary of the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan. … Just change the place names from ‘Saigon’ to ‘Kabul’ … and they read almost exactly the same.”

The Eikenberry memos recommend policies opposite those of Gens. David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, who advocated for the surge and a counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. Eikenberry wrote that President Hamid Karzai is “not an adequate strategic partner,” and that “sending additional forces will delay the day when Afghans will take over, and make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring our people home on a reasonable timetable.” Petraeus and McChrystal prevailed . . .

The public is unlikely to oppose something that gets less and less coverage. While the press is focused on the salacious details of Republican National Committee spending on lavish trips, especially one outing to a Los Angeles strip club, the cost to the U.S. taxpayer for the war in Afghanistan is estimated now to be more than $260 billion. The cost in lives lost, in people maimed, is incalculable. The real obscenity is war. Ellsberg hopes that the Eikenberry memos will just be the first of many leaks, and that a new wave of Pentagon Papers will educate the public about the urgent need to end Obama’s war.

Pervs

I am so very, very shocked!

Dr. Aubrey Levin, a Canadian psychiatrist who gained notoriety for claiming to “cure” homosexuality through shock treatments, has been charged with sexually abusing a male patient, and many other allegations are being investigated. Levin’s right wing views and membership in South Africa’s ruling National Party during apartheid are widely known, as well as his extreme homophobia.

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that Levin was guilty of “gross human rights abuses” including chemical castration of gay men. But after arriving in Canada in 1995 he managed to suppress public discussion of his past by threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it.

“Doctor Shock,” as he is known in South Africa, was secretly filmed by a patient and arrested after the recording was presented to authorities. He has been suspended from practicing medicine and is free on $50,000 bail on charges of repeatedly sexually assaulting his 36 year old patient. Police are investing at least 30 similar claims.

Food Fraud

I kind of give up in the winter, but now that it’s spring, I’ll revert to being a locavore and buying food from the local urban farm. Which means I’ll be able to sidestep practices like these:

The expensive “sheep’s milk” cheese in a Manhattan market was really made from cow’s milk. And a jar of “Sturgeon caviar” was, in fact, Mississippi paddlefish.

And last year, a Fairfax man was convicted of selling 10 million pounds of cheap, frozen catfish fillets from Vietnam as much more expensive grouper, red snapper and flounder. The fish was bought by national chain retailers, wholesalers and food service companies, and ended up on dinner plates across the country.

“Food fraud” has been documented in fruit juice, olive oil, spices, vinegar, wine, spirits and maple syrup, and appears to pose a significant problem in the seafood industry. Victims range from the shopper at the local supermarket to multimillion companies, including E&J Gallo and Heinz USA.

Such deception has been happening since Roman times, but it is getting new attention as more products are imported and a tight economy heightens competition. And the U.S. food industry says federal regulators are not doing enough to combat it.

Now, think about how bad it is when the industry is begging for MORE regulation! [Via Shoq Value.]

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