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Oh dear

Wall Street to lay off at least 21K workers. That’s a lot of job losses for one city to absorb.

Don’t worry, it’s all going to be okay

I’m so reassured when the USDA and the beef industry tell me I don’t have to worry about getting a horrible brain-wasting disease because their random inspection actually caught one of the potential carriers:

There appears to be no risk to humans from the dairy cow discovered in California this week to have “mad cow” disease. That’s according to the US Department of Agriculture and the beef industry.

Mad cow, known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to be carried by animal feed made from cattle brains or spinal cord. Such feed is now banned in the US and other countries, but cases of BSE have continued to appear around the world.

The World Health Organization has called for the exclusion of the riskiest tissues (eyes and intestines as well as brains and spinal cord) from all animal feed to protect against the spread of mad cow disease.

Stanley Prusiner, who received the 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the protein associated with BSE has said the US should ban poultry waste in cattle feed as well.

“Unfortunately, the United States still allows the feeding of some of these potentially risky tissues to people, pigs, pets, poultry, and fish,” warns Michael Greger, director of public health and animal agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States.

“Cattle remains are still fed to chickens, for example, and the poultry litter (floor wastes that include the feces and spilled feed) is fed back to cows,” he writes on his Huffington Post blog. “In this way, prions – the infectious proteins that cause mad cow disease – may continue to be cycled back into cattle feed and complete the cow ‘cannibalism’ circuit blamed for the spread of the disease.”

Part of the problem, according to critics, is that only a tiny fraction of slaughtered cows (40,000 out of 35 million a year) are tested for BSE.

In this week’s instance, the cow (which was to be rendered into products other than meat for human consumption) had been unable to stand – a “downer” cow. This raised suspicions, so the cow was tested for BSE. This showed that the current inspection system works, say beef industry supporters.

According to the USDA, the infected animal discovered this week had “atypical BSE,” which means it most likely did not get the disease from eating infected cattle feed. Still, the USDA is tracking feed sources as a possible cause.

Continue Reading »

Ho boy

Property taxes have needed reassessing in Philadelphia for a very long time, because in many parts of the city, they are wildly undervalues. But doing it in the middle of a depression when so many people are already hurting seems like a really stupid idea.

Torturous

The argument that using torture produced anything like useful intelligence. It didn’t.

Marcy on last night’s 60 Minutes torture apologia:

Whether the timing–coming out just as Mitt Romney and his torturer-advisors face off against Obama in the General Election–was planned or not, the effect will be to turn torture into a campaign issue with two sides treated as legitimate by a spineless press, rather than one side with self-preservation in mind and the other with exhaustive study.

And sadly, that will probably mean the most interesting (and politically explosive) result of the investigation gets lost, relegated to paragraph 26 of 27.

Critics also say that still-classified records are likely to demonstrate that harsh interrogation techniques produced far more information that proved false than true.


Dana Priest reveals that, when Jose Rodriguez tried to persuade her not to publish news of the black sites in 2005, he tried to argue torture “was producing real results and helping to keep the country safe.” We’re about to get validation that the example of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi was not unique (though his treatment was included in the scope of the SSCI study). If torture “was producing real results” those results were false confessions, not real intelligence.


If we’re going to have a debate about torture, the fact that Cheney and his torturers used it to create false stories to–among other things–get us into the Iraq War should be at the center of that debate.

Shorter David Cameron

The double-dip recession:

“Baby, it wasn’t my fault!”

Status quo

What Digby said.

One on one

Cee Lo and Daryl:

I can’t go for that

Mayer with Daryl:

Two-party system = no change

Our homes were gambling chips, not castles. And most of us weren't even in the game.

I sometimes wonder if most formerly “middle-class” Americans really understand what hit them, and why, when the economy tanked in 2008. Robert Scheer takes a crack at summing up the catastrophe with what seems to me a perfect metaphor. But then again, I used to work in Atlantic City. More here.

Believe

Cher:

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