A study earlier this year by a nonprofit research center in Phoenix analyzed 80 brands of beef, pork, chicken and turkey from five cities and found that 47 percent contained staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause anything from minor skin infections to pneumonia and sepsis, more technically called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and commonly known as blood poisoning — but no matter what you call it, plenty scary. Of those bacteria, 52 percent were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics
It’s not like this is happening without a reason; the little germs have plenty of practice fighting the drugs designed to kill them in the industrially raised animals to which antibiotics are routinely fed. And although it’s economical for producers to drug animals prophylactically, there are many strong arguments against the use of those drugs, including their declining efficacy in humans.
Probably you’d agree with the couple of people I described this situation to earlier this week, one of whom said something like, “Ugh, that’s crazy,” and the other simply, “They gotta do something about that!”
The thing is, “they” did. In 1977.
That’s when the Food and Drug Administration, aware of the health risks of administering antibiotics to healthy farm animals, proposed to withdraw its prior approval of putting penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed. Per their procedure, the F.D.A. then issued two “notices of opportunity for a hearing,” which were put on hold by Congress until further research could be conducted. On hold is exactly where the F.D.A.’s requests have been since your dad had sideburns.
Until last week, when the agency decided to withdraw them.
Not because the situation has gotten better, that’s for sure; the agency is well aware that it’s only gotten worse. A staggering 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to farm animals, mostly, as I said, prophylactically: the low-dose drugs help the animals fatten quickly and presumably help ward off diseases caused by squalid living conditions. The animals become perfect breeding grounds for bacteria to gain resistance to the drugs, and our inadequate testing procedures allow them to make their way into stores and our guts.
It’s a recession, so everybody wants to look at the economic impact of laws. Great, I love it! As my boy Peter Drucker pointed out “What gets measured, gets managed.”
Let’s say some guy gets drunk and starts beating on his wife and kids. It’s simple, the police show up and throw him in jail for committing a crime. You don’t see economists on television saying that we need to consider the economic impact of this guy not coming into work. You don’t see stump speeches from Republican candidates about “big government” destroying the workforce. No, that would be insane because physical harm supercedes profits. Duh, right?
Yet, if someone commits a crime that is a little more complex than punching someone in the face, we go insane. Case in point:
David Roberts reports on the EPA’s decision, finally, to regulate mercury from coal plants,
This one is a Big Deal. It’s worth lifting our heads out of the news cycle and taking a moment to appreciate that history is being made. Finally controlling mercury and toxics will be an advance on par with getting lead out of gasoline. It will save save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. It will make America a more decent, just, and humane place to live.
Let me repeat part of that: it will save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. This is actually a much bigger issue, when it comes to saving American lives, than terrorism.
As Roberts explains, we’ve known about these costs of mercury pollution for decades, yet it took until now to get something done. The reason is, of course, obvious: special interests, hiding behind claims of immense economic damage if anything was done, were able to block action.
It’s worth noting that these claims of economic harm from pollution regulation have always been proved wrong when the regulation finally came. Ozone regulation was supposed to cripple the economy; so was acid rain regulation; neither did.
Oh, and if we’re going to have to scrap some power plants and replace them, it’s hard to think of a better time to do it than now, when the workers and resources needed to do the replacing would largely have been unemployed otherwise.
The point that strikes me most, however, is that this shows that it matters who holds the White House. You can complain about Obama’s lack of a strong progressive agenda, which I sometimes do, or wonder what good it is to hold the White House when the other side blocks every attempt to do good through legislation. But mercury regulation would not have happened if John McCain were president. Elections have consequences, and this is one delayed consequence of 2008 that will make a big difference.
:: Krugster on Mercury via NYTimes blogs ::
Here’s my point: For 20 years the coal industry has been punching us right in the goddamn face with one hand and choking regulations that would prevent it with the other. This isn’t some dude getting drunk and knocking his family around, it’s highly advanced, premeditated criminal behavior.
I’m with the Krugster about claims that environmental regulations harm the economy, that’s proven time and time again to be bs. Further, these arguments about regulation are infuriatingly self-serving because it’s an intentionally lopsided analysis of the problem. The EPA estimated that these regulations cost (past tense, since many coal plants already meet these regulations) about $11 billion while they actually save between $53 and $140 billion. Actually, a lot of those analyst calculations were controversial because they didn’t include lots and lots of negative externality impacts from mercury poisoning. If you’re going to claim that pollution regulations harm the economy (if you just so happen to own a coal plant) it’s exceptionally ridiculous to claim that the toxic waste spewed into communities doesn’t also harm the economy.
What I find fascinating is that people are against one guy beating on his wife but don’t seem to have a problem with a few guys poisoning 100s of thousands of wives. IT’S MADNESS!! Absolute fucking madness. AND IT TOOK 20 YEARS!!
But here’s where the Krugster is wrong. This doesn’t have anything to do with Obama, in fact, it’s in spite of Obama. Under Obama, EPA criminal investigations and prosecutions of polluters has gone down. Obama’s EPA is worse than Bush’s EPA. That’s fucking crazy!! Do you realize how hard it is to be worse than Bush on the environment?
The last line is perfect:
“It is simple. Without pollution cops on the beat, polluters will go free.”
But that’s not all, Obama has consistently rolled over when industry lobbyists fought regulations
President Barack Obama on Friday scrapped his administration’s controversial plans to tighten smog rules, bowing to the demands of congressional Republicans and some business leaders.
Obama overruled the Environmental Protection Agency — and the unanimous opinion of its independent panel of scientific advisers — and directed administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the proposed regulation to reduce concentrations of ground-level ozone, smog’s main ingredient. The decision rests in part on reducing regulatory burdens and uncertainty for businesses at a time of rampant uncertainty about an unsteady economy.
Have you seen this? Super compelling.
One of my favorite people is turning 32 and he’s giving away a burning man ticket to someone who donates to Charity:Water.
:: check it out here http://mycharitywater.org/p/campaign?campaign_id=21972 ::
My annual birthday charity drive(http://mycharitywater.org/nickturns32) could use a little punching up….so I’ve decided to add a sweetener.
If I reach my $2k goal, I’ll gift one of my freshly-minted tickets to a randomly-selected (dollar-weighted) donor or anybody they name. They can even have the fireball.
Anybody who wants to participate should forward a donation receipt to email@example.com.
The plan for this ticket was to gift it to somebody deserving regardless; this seems like a great way to do that and send some money to a great cause at the same time! Creativity is encouraged here — know somebody who people love but struggles to get a ticket? Garner donations on their behalf!
Not sure if you want to go this year? Kick in a few bucks and let the fates decide! Just want to do something nice for others this holiday season? That works too… Forward/Spread/Tweet/Plus/Whisper around. The charity drive will be open until the end of the year.
Rap news, which is at times highly delightful, has a solid riff on the occupy movement, 2012, and hippy alien conspiracies. This nails exactly how I feel about 2012 doomsday scenarios. It is also an independently dope beat.
Although this loses it when it gets to the chomsky interview.
5, 5 Grammy’s. There is an interview about that here.
If you don’t know who Skrillex is, he makes music like this
:: via Email (Thanks Olga, Griffin, and Eric!!) ::
“How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can’t even trust his own pants.”
– Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West
Fun Fackt! Henry Fonda’s grandson Troy Garity was named for Nguyễn Văn Trỗi.
Nguyễn Văn Trỗi (1947  – October 15, 1964) was a Viet Cong (National Liberation Front) bomber. He became known after being captured by the South Vietnamese when trying to assassinate United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and future ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. who were visiting South Vietnam in May 1963.
Sentenced to death at the age of 17, Troi got a brief reprieve after Venezuela’s revolutionary FALN kidnapped United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Smolen: the group threatened to kill the American if Troi was executed. Smolen was eventually released unharmed, and Troi was shot by firing squad shortly thereafter in the infamous Chi Hoa Prison.
Nguyen Van Troi became the first publicly executed member of the Viet Cong. His execution was filmed, and he remained defiant to the end. His last words before his execution in Saigon to correspondents were “You are journalists and so you must be well informed about what is happening. It is the Americans who have committed aggression on our country, it is they who have been killing our people with planes and bombs…. I have never acted against the will of my people. It is against the Americans that I have taken action.” When a priest offered him absolution, he refused, saying: “I have committed no sin. It is the Americans who have sinned.” He refused to have his eyes covered before volleys hit him saying “Let me look at our beloved land” and as the first shots were fired, he called out, “Long live Vietnam!”.
:: The Wikipedia ::
Robert MacNamara was a giant douchebag, it takes a lot of guts to try to assassinate him and even more to name your child after his assassin.
I run an interactive agency here in San Francisco. On page 10 of our employee handbook, right in between the sections on “Voting Leave” and “Military Leave,” is a little section called “The Burning Man Policy.” This policy states that Traction will prioritize requests for time off — even if people have no vacation time left — to attend events that inspire or enhance professional and/or creative development such as Burning Man or SxSW. This is part of our contract between our company and our employees. Our lawyer made us change the word “guarantee” to “prioritize” because sometimes client work is client work. But it’s written down in ink in our company HR manual because it’s something we value — and in the 10-plus years since we started this company, I don’t think a single request for time off for Burning Man has ever been turned down.
Some think it’s just because we like naked people. That’s true. We do like naked people. But there’s more to it than that. Burning Man, SxSW and other events that inspire creativity, innovation and original thought… these occasions are rare opportunities to light the fire of creative energy that fuels this business. That spark is what makes us special. It’s what enables us to generate ideas. To think outside the 468×60 pixel box. To have a culture where people can embrace their own individuality and contribute it to a collaborative mechanism for the manifestation of creativity. To have a company that is ten years old where less than ten people have ever chosen to leave.
:: Why we have a burning man policy via Adam Kleinberg ::
I’m just excerpting this whole article. If you want to check sources read the original with links which is at the bottom.
Bradley Manning deserves a medal
The prosecution of the whistleblower and alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning is an exercise in intimidation, not justice. After 17 months of pre-trial imprisonment, Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old US army private and accused WikiLeaks source, is finally going to see the inside of a courtroom. This Friday, on an army base in Maryland, the preliminary stage of his military trial will start.
He is accused of leaking to the whistleblowing site hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, war reports, and the now infamous 2007 video showing a US Apache helicopter in Baghdad gunning down civilians and a Reuters journalist. Though it is Manning who is nominally on trial, these proceedings reveal the US government’s fixation with extreme secrecy, covering up its own crimes, and intimidating future whistleblowers. Since his arrest last May in Iraq, Manning has been treated as one of America’s most dastardly traitors. He faces more than 30 charges, including one – “aiding the enemy” – that carries the death penalty (prosecutors will recommend life in prison, but military judges retain discretion to sentence him to die).
The sadistic conditions to which he was subjected for 10 months – intense solitary confinement, at one point having his clothing seized and being forced to stand nude for inspection – became an international scandal for a US president who flamboyantly vowed to end detainee abuse. Amnesty International condemned these conditions as “inhumane”; PJ Crowley, a US state department spokesman, was forced to resign after denouncing Manning’s treatment. Such conduct has been repeatedly cited by the US as human rights violations when engaged in by other countries.
The UN’s special rapporteur on torture has complained that his investigation is being obstructed by the refusal of Obama officials to permit unmonitored visits with Manning. (Even the Bush administration granted access to the International Red Cross at Guantánamo.) Such treatment is all the more remarkable in light of what Manning actually did, and did not do, if the charges are true. For these leaks have achieved enormous good and little harm.
From the start, US claims about the damage done have been wildly exaggerated, even outright false. After the release of the Afghanistan war logs, officials accused WikiLeaks of having “blood on their hands”, only to admit weeks later that they were unaware of a single case of anyone being harmed. That remains true today.
Even Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief, mocked alarmism over the diplomatic cables leak as “significantly overwrought”, dismissing its impact as “fairly modest”. Manning’s lawyer is seeking internal government documents that, he insists, concluded there was no meaningful harm to US diplomatic relations from the release of any documents. None of the leaked documents were classified at the highest level of secrecy – top secret – but rather bore only low-level classification.
By contrast, the leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits: precisely the benefits Manning, if the allegations against him are true, sought to achieve. According to chat logs purportedly between Manning and the informant who turned him in, the private decided to leak these documents after he became disillusioned with the Iraq war. He described how reading classified documents made him, for the first time, aware of the breadth of the corruption and violence committed by his country and allies.
By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for US forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war. Even Bill Keller, the former New York Times executive editor and a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credits the release of the cables with shedding light on the corruption of Tunisia’s ruling family and thus helping spark the Arab spring.
In sum, the documentsManning is alleged to have released revealed overwhelming deceit, corruption and illegality by the world’s most powerful political actors. And this is why he has been so harshly treated and punished.
Despite pledging to usher in “the most transparent administration in history”, President Obama has been obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers; his justice department has prosecuted more of them for “espionage” than all prior administrations combined.
The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.
:: Article on The Guardian ::
bête noire n.
An anathema; someone or something which is particularly disliked or avoided; an object of aversion, the bane of one’s existence.
French, literally, black beast First Known Use: 1828
[[Lulz Dept]] -> Procatinator
[[Headlines]] –> “NOT SATIRE: U.S. Calls Upon Russia to Respect Rights of Peaceful Protesters“
In China, where one-child families have been official policy since 1979, the aging population has resulted in the so-called 4-2-1 problem: four grandparents, two parents, and just one child. According to the old customs, that one child, the economic mainstay, had better be a boy.
China has attacked the 4-2-1 problem head-on. The government has started a pension program benefitting rural people over age 60 with daughters, and not sons. The amounts match or beat what the typical son would send home to his folks from the city. In the Chinese version of Medicare, insurance premiums are now discounted or in some cases eliminated for the lucky parents of girls. India offers the “Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme for Single Girl Child”–only only daughters may apply. So far these well-meaning efforts have enjoyed limited success. After five years, China’s national Care for Girls program has barely nudged the sex imbalance.
:: Branding and Girls by the inimitable Anya Kamenetz via Fast Company ::
I’ve long been aware of this problem and tend to have an “it will work itself out” kind of attitude. Obviously, when there aren’t enough women, they will become more socially valuable and the equilibrium will swing back in the right direction. Reading this article made me realize that natural equilibria frequently take more time than is socially desirable.
As you surely remember from The Dustin Boyer Easy Peasy Guide to Productivity:
3. Exercise makes my blood pump and there is blood in my brain. That’s a weak argument but running up flights of stairs makes me happy.
Turns out, when I was making stuff up, I got something right. Here’s a sweet excerpt from a recent NYTimes article:
Meanwhile, blood samples taken throughout the experiment offered a biological explanation for the boost in memory among the exercisers. Immediately after the strenuous activity, the cyclists had significantly higher levels of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which is known to promote the health of nerve cells. The men who had sat quietly showed no comparable change in BDNF levels.
For some time, scientists have believed that BDNF helps explain why mental functioning appears to improve with exercise. However, they haven’t fully understood which parts of the brain are affected or how those effects influence thinking. The Irish study suggests that the increases in BDNF prompted by exercise may play a particular role in improving memory and recall.
:: Exercise via The NYTimes ::