Archive | Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Weed Killer In The Water

Oh, swell:

Companies with a financial interest in a weed-killer sometimes found in drinking water paid for thousands of studies federal regulators are using to assess the herbicide’s health risks, records of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show. Many of these industry-funded studies, which largely support atrazine’s safety, have never been published or subjected to an independent scientific peer review.

Meanwhile, some independent studies documenting potentially harmful effects on animals and humans are not included in the body of research the EPA deems relevant to its safety review, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found. These studies include many that have been published in respected scientific journals.

Even so, the EPA says that it would be “very difficult for someone to put a thumb on the scale” to slant the outcome.

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. An estimated 76 million pounds of the chemical are sprayed on corn and other fields in the U.S. each year, sometimes ending up in rivers, streams, and drinking water supplies. It has been the focus of intense scientific debate over its potential to cause cancer, birth defects, and hormonal and reproductive problems. As the Huffington Post Investigative Fund reported in a series of articles last fall, the EPA failed to warn the public that the weed-killer had been found at levels above federal safety limits in drinking water in at least four states. Some water utilities are suing Syngenta to have it pay their costs of filtering the chemical.

With God On Our Side

This is why you want separation of church and state, no matter how silly it seems at times. Because you have people who want to make the military into a “weapon for Christ.”

Mikey talks about Christian supremacists like they’re vampires, demons determined to drain secularism and pluralism out of the military. That realization turned what was once a personal fight against anti-Semitism into a more lofty principle. “Wherever I see unconstitutional religious predators in the U.S. military, of any stripe, I don’t care if I live or die. Someone’s gonna get a beating and we’re going to do it,” he says. “The two ways to administer the beating is to go into the media or into court,” he explains, a strategy distilled from his fight at the Academy. Lance Benzel, a journalist for Colorado Spring’s The Gazette, recently summarized Mikey’s civil rights agitation aptly: “Condemn in the strongest language possible. Publicly embarrass. Sue if necessary. Each new step raises the pressure on his publicity-averse targets.” What the U.S. military has realized over the years is that the mosquito they swatted at didn’t only have bite, it had malaria.

Some Christians, out of ignorance or sincere apocalyptic belief, believe Mikey is the anti-Christ. (He’s actually a reluctant agnostic.) Google “Mikey Weinstein” and you’ll see descriptions like “Jesus-basher,” “AntiChrist,” and “anti-Christian Jewish supremacist.” One “Concerned American” on the website “Powered by Christ” argued Weinstein’s “doing all he can to create an anti-Jewish backlash and help bring about the predicted endtime Holocaust of Jews that’ll be worse than Hitler’s.”

There’s one problem with this assumption. Ninety-six percent of MRFF’s 18,300 military clients are Christians — many Roman Catholics and mainline Protestant — that have been treated by their more spirit-filled comrades and commanders as not Christian enough. “This is not a Christian-Jewish issue,” Mikey argues, “it’s a constitutional right and wrong issue, and Christian fundamentalism does not recognize the supremacy of the Constitution over its sectarian theocratic dictates.”

[…] MRFF receives multitudes of thank you’s from veterans and service members serving across the globe. One thank you came from a U.S. Navy veteran, a self described “religious Jew,” who described extreme religious coercion during hospital stays at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2007. “During two hospitalizations, despite my written and verbal instructions to the contrary, the hospital staff was not content to just refuse to contact my rabbi,” wrote Akiva David Miller, now the director veterans affairs for MRFF, “they sent a proselytizing Protestant chaplain in to see me — while I was bedridden and wired to a heart monitor — to tell me that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews too, and that my only hope was salvation through Jesus Christ.”

Miller and his rabbi protested and the medical center retaliated by discontinuing Miller’s care. When they cut of his pain medication, Miller asked his doctor why. He response: “You’re a religious Jew. Why don’t you try prayer or meditation?” Miller contacted MRFF. Mikey flew out to Des Moines and held a press conference that launched a full investigation that confirmed Miller’s discrimination. And with the help of his old boss Ross Perot, Mikey got Miller care at the Dallas V.A. Medical Center.

Single Payer Would Have Fixed This

Race to the bottom!

The relentlessly rising cost of health insurance is prompting some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care instead, a trend that, some analysts say, could eventually weigh heavily on the state’s already-stressed budget.

Since April 1, the date many insurance contracts are renewed for small businesses, the owners of about 90 small companies terminated their insurance plans with Braintree-based broker Jeff Rich and indicated in a follow-up survey that they were relying on publicly-funded insurance for their employees.

In Sandwich, business consultant Bill Fields said he has been hired by small businesses to enroll about 400 workers in state-subsidized care since April, because the company owners said they could no longer afford to provide coverage. Fields said that is by far the largest number he has handled in such a short time.

And the solution? Tightly restricting provider networks — which often means you don’t get to go the best hospitals when you need to. Wheee!

But I’m guessing (just call it a hunch) that the insurance companies will report record profits, anyway.

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