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It was a month ago today that I had my gall bladder whacked. I have to say, there were times I wondered if I’d ever feel normal again, but here it is, and after “only” one month. Yes, it was worth all the aggravation.

I’m still a little bit tired, but I’m going back to the gym next week.


I bought a giant box of Kashi granola bars at Costco. “No high fructose corn syrup, nothing artificial”, they trumpet on the box. Instead, they use brown rice syrup. Since I’m a good little diverticulosis patient, I’ve been eating at least two a day.

So today I read this:

Worrisome levels of arsenic have been found in two infant formulas that contain organic brown rice syrup as a main ingredient, researchers reported Thursday. Arsenic was also found in some cereal bars that contain organic brown rice syrup.

The toxic element is a known contaminate found in rice because the crop absorbs arsenic from soil. According to the authors of the study, from Dartmouth College, the type found in the food products has been identified as a human carcinogen. Arsenic can also cause skin, lung and intestinal irritation as well as miscarriage and infertility.

The paper, published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found arsenic in two of 17 infant formulas tested. One sample had an arsenic concentration six times the federal limit for arsenic allowable in bottled water or drinking water. In infants, such a level could be toxic because they consume more per pound of body weight compared to adults.

Among 29 cereal bars tested, those containing syrup or other forms of rice had arsenic levels two to 12 times higher than the allowable limit.


It’s not as if I think women should have any say about their reproductive organs, so it’s perfectly okay that Darrell Issa’s committee meeting yesterday didn’t invite any women who would speak out against their slut-shaming party yesterday:

This morning, Democrats tore into House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for preventing women from testifying before a hearing examining the Obama administration’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Republicans oppose the administration’s rule and have sponsored legislation that would allow employers to limit the availability of birth control to women.

Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules’ alleged infringement on “religious liberty,” not contraception coverage, and denied the request.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa’s chairmanship an “autocratic regime.”

The new GOP Medicare plan

Rich Eskow explains it all for you:

Coburn and Burr don’t even pretend to show how their anti-Medicare plan – excuse me, “choice” plan – will save money. They just say this:

We do not yet have a concrete, specific amount of “savings” outlined, but we believe our proposal could save between $200 billion and $500 billion over a decade.

Well, I do not yet have a concrete, specific schedule, but I believe that “monkeys” will fly out of my butt any moment now, and that there will be somewhere between two hundred and eight hundred of these aeronautical primates by the time the process concludes.

Burr and Coburn want you to believe that they can raise the Medicare eligibility age, make you pay more in premiums, turn your health care over to the same insurers that are bankrupting you before you’re sixty-five (if you’re lucky enough to have insurance) – and that somehow you’ll save money!

Go read the ludicrous details.


Today would have been my mom’s 89th birthday. Randy Newman:

The war on medical marijuana

Seriously, WTF is happening with this?


Very addictive and lots of fun! Also the fastest-growing social media ever, also being accused of major copyright violations, also ridiculed and disparaged by many of the men folks. Go check it out, I really like it.


CNN’s Erin Burnett. I try not to hold it against young people when they’re ill-informed and poor thinkers to boot, but at least they’re not spouting their crap on a “major” news network.

Child hunger

Of course, if we admitted that the U.S. is refusing to stop speculators from driving up the cost of food, it might make people angry and we can’t have that:

Aid agency Save the Children has launched a report and survey examining what the world’s hungriest children are eating and the tough choices parents are making amid rising food prices.

“The issue with stunting is that if it happens in the first two years of your life, it’s very, very difficult to repair and reverse that. It tends to be irreparable in most of these situations. If we can focus efforts on that 1,000-day window from conception until the second birthday, we will have a transformational impact.”

– Brendan Cox, the director of policy and advocacy for Save the Children

The report entitled A life free from hunger says 300 children are dying of malnutrition each hour, totaling 2.6 million every year.

It also looks at the lost potential of 170 million children who are physically and mentally stunted and therefore set to earn 20 per cent less than their healthier counterparts.

A year of record food prices has forced millions of parents in the developing world to cut back on food for their children, says the agency.

The survey was conducted with families in India, Bangladesh, Peru, Pakistan and Nigeria.

One-in-six parents said their children were abandoning school to help out by working for food.

“The emphasis in the developed world has been on too much food, going by the debates on the European Union’s common agricultural policy. Not so long ago we were worrying about wine lakes, cereal mountains and milk lakes, and they were just an artefact of a very distorted system.”

– Richard Tiffin, the director of the Centre for Food Security at the University of Reading

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the report is that there are numerous viable solutions to this crisis that are not being exercised because of failed public policy and chronic under-investment.


Finally! Recourse, thanks to Elizabeth Warren and the agency she designed.

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