Thursday, May 10, 2007

Why Going On a Diet Could Save Your Life

Forget esthetics! Forget being able to fit into the teeny-weeny clothes at Old Navy. Controlling and limiting your intake could prevent kidney failure.

You probably remember the pet food recall last month, after several dogs and cats died suddenly. This was due to the addition of the industrial chemical melamine to their food. Multiple Chinese manufacturers have been adding it to the wheat, corn and rice gluten they sell us to boost the protein count and enable them to sell an otherwise inferior (cheaper) product. They've learned from Westerners that it's all about the bottom line.

Well, it’s not just pet food that’s been contaminated. It’s human food, too.

In "FDA: the Faith-Based Dining Association", Goldy from HorsesAss reports:
First we were told that none of the adulterated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate had made its way into the human food supply, and then we were informed that a mere 6,000 hogs had eaten feed contaminated by "salvaged" pet food. Next it was chickens. 3 million of them. Slaughtered, butchered and eaten by unsuspecting Americans.

Then 20 million more chickens, and today another 50,000 hogs... not to mention the God-knows-how-many fish in the US and Canada raised on farms now known to have received Canadian fish meal manufactured from contaminated Chinese flours.
Today, CNN gave more details on the crap-fed fish. They also reported that the manager of one of the Chinese suppliers has been detained, and he claims he doesn't even know what melamine is, much less anyone who would use it. I suggest that they only provide pet food for his meals, and see how quickly his memory comes back.

I’m sure these events will help convert more people to veganism, which should make PETA happy. Unfortunately, there’s this little problem of E.coli popping up in spinach and other lettuces. Just ask Taco Bell about the grief E. coli has given them over the last year.

Me, I'm thinking about spending more money at my local farmer's market, where one knows the provenance of the food. That, and praying that the chocolate supply is safe.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

For Big Pharma, Business as Usual

In "How Many “Free Trade” Senators Can PhRMA Turn Into Corporate Protectionists?", David Sirota kvetches:
How many self-described “free” trade lawmakers in Congress can the drug industry make head to the floor of the Senate and bare their corporate protectionist corruption for all to see? Based on a key vote yesterday, the answer appears to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 49 (including 14 Democrats) - well over what’s necessary to control the federal government.

That’s right, as the Associated Press reports, “In a triumph for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate killed a drive to allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from abroad at a significant savings from domestic prices.” The legislation to allow imports of FDA-approved medicines from other industrialized nations (a practice used by other industrialized nations themselves) was sponsored by North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) and has long been supported by the vast majority of the American public in opinion polls. Yet right there on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday afternoon, 49 senators voted through a poison pill amendment, invalidating Dorgan’s legislation and protecting drug industry profiteering. The sheer disregard for the truth and for consistency when it came to both the policy and politics of this vote was, in a word, stunning.
Why would our congressmen and senators vote for a plan like this? Because Big Pharma promoted it under the radar with "stealth PACs", and rewarded supporters by paying for campaign commercials.

You may have also seen the commercials claiming that seniors are doing better and seeing 'real savings' under the current Medicaid structure. Those commercials are sponsored by PhRMA, a major funder of the stealth PACs.

What they don't tell you is that the most inexpensive plan puts a strict cap on how much Medicaid will pay for medicine each year. Naturally, the people who take the plan are the ones with the lowest incomes, and thus are the least able to pay if they have real health problems. Since lower income people are less able to afford good health care, their conditions tend to worsen more quickly, yada yada yada.

At least one friend's family hit this ceiling in about March or April last year, and the rest of the cost went on their credit cards. Credit cards charge interest, so... let's just say that those 'real savings' get swallowed up quickly by interest charges.

What can you do? Find your senators, and learn how they voted. Then, most importantly, do something about it. Contact them to offer thanks or criticism, phone their offices, and write letters to your newspaper. Tell your friends. Finally, work for their re-election or defeat. Your personal time and effort is worth more than ten commercials.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Merry Month of May

I hope everyone had a happy Beltane. I spent it at a cousin's wedding in North Carolina. At the right, you can see the pole they set up for the post-nuptial celebration.
The rest of the month promises to be a busy one: it's primary season in Kentucky, and I'll be calling and canvassing for the Jonathan Miller campaign.

That may sound like a boring thing to do when the weather is finally improving, but I would rarely leave my library or my precious air conditioning otherwise. See, politics can bring you closer to nature!

Sarah G