Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FDA Unfairly Maligns Tobacco Plant With Graphic New Cigarette Warning Labels

Read the title of this piece by Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com carefully before you dismiss it. I didn't even read the piece for several days, because I didn't understand where he was coming from. The pint is that tobacco by itself, without hundreds of chemical additives, is far less dangerous than conventional cigarettes. There are 599 chemical additives that produce over 4,000 chemicals that are inhaled when the user lights up. Smoking the tobacco plant is not a safe practice, due to the naturally produced chemicals released when burning substances, but it does not deliver the toxic cocktail you get with processed cigarettes. The FDA refuses to acknowledge this distinction and as such is being intellectually bankrupt in its duties to ensure the safety of food and drugs in our society. The FDA refuses to put warning labels pointing out the dangers of chemical additives in processed food, such as sodium nitrate, aspartame, MSG, partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils, and artificial food colors, all known to cause diseases that are a common cause of human suffering and burdensome expense in America. This is a contradiction that citizens should no longer tolerate and it's got to change.

A nuclear-free future for America

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, writing for the Guardian, reviews the mounting problems, conflicts and safety issues facing the nuclear energy industry in this country. She also points out that the public in Georgia has already paid $1 billion in increased rates for the Vogtle plant there, despite $8.3 billion in federal guarantees awarded by the Obama Administration to the project. We learn some details about Obama's connections to the industry and more on the lax regulatory culture promoted by the NRC. Goodman argues that we should scrap nuclear energy altogether and begin a public works program to retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient as we continue develop alternative energy capabilities, and I agree. Let's create some jobs that benefit society as a whole and can't be outsourced!

U.S. Regulators Opening Up on Flawed Nuclear Power Plant Policing


Bribery, but Nobody Was Charged

When a manager in a Mexican livestock operation owned by Tyson Foods uncovered payments to the wives of staff veterinarians tasked with ensuring the safety of food processing there, executives decided to pay the vets directly through honorariums so that they would continue to overlook regulatory abuses at the plant. These payments represented bribery and the practice put public health at risk, but when the company finally came clean they only paid a fine and no prosecutions resulted. A new writer for the NYT, James B. Stewart, author of Den Of Thieves, does an excellent job of running down clues and clarifying issues of effective enforcement of corruption laws, pointing out the value of prosecution of executives as a deterrent, in his very first article for the paper.

Fracking In California Prompts State Legislators To Introduce Regulation Bill

It turns out that there has been a frack well operating in a wine region of California, unbeknownst to the public and many government officials, and the discovery has lead state legislators to introduce more stringent laws to govern or restrict the activity. Man, these greedy bastards are not only reckless but brazen as hell too. The law, if passed in the State Assembly, would be one of the toughest in the country and require operators to disclose the chemicals they use as well as the vast amounts of water require in the process.

Gov. Perdue vetoes voter ID bill

This is welcome news as the Governor of North Carolina pushes back against a restrictive Voter ID bill that would disenfranchise many eligible voters in her state. Unfortunately, it also appears that Perdue would be willing to sign a less restrictive Voter ID bill. There's a flurry of such activity around the country in response to the US Supreme Court upholding Indiana's voter ID bill in 2008. The post also details many of the intricate legislation tactics that are being employed in the effort to reduce democratic-leaning voters.
“The right to choose our leaders is among the most precious freedoms we have – both as Americans and North Carolinians. North Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right.
“We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it.  This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters.  The legislature should pass a less extreme bill that allows for other forms of identification, such as those permitted under federal law.
“There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.
“Therefore, I veto this bill.”


Eric Cantor's glaring conflict of interest

This is rather unbelievable: Eric Cantor, the #2 Republican in the House, has an investment that profits when US debt becomes undesirable, say in the case of Congress voting NOT to increase the debt ceiling. Of course, conflicts of interests are rampant in our government and academic institutions but that doesn't make it right. Check it out.

What will replace oil?

This is a thoughtful and I think quite fair discussion of the prospects for energy production thirty years from now, when oil and gas will most certainly be largely phased out due to global warming concerns as well as supply issues. The author claims that without technological advancements related to storage and a new integrated energy grid that solar and wind are likely to produce only about 4% of world energy (from 1%) by 2041. Let's get going on that new energy grid!