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Archive for December 9th, 2012

The Republican War on Women is over. Women lost

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Candice Miller

Remember the “war on women”? Republicans expected to win that, along with the election.

But losing doesn’t mean having to say they’re sorry for letting an employer opt out of insurance coverage for birth control, or letting any doctor in Virginia opt in for vaginal probes. Nor does it mean inviting women into the room when the door closes on Capitol Hill.

Instead, Republican bosses continued the war by other means, initially failing to choose one woman to run a House committee in the new 113th Congress, as this helpful photo illustrates. The 19 male leaders presented such a rogue’s gallery of 1950s-era white male power, the image could have been a promo shot for “Mad Men.”

Maybe Republicans didn’t see anything wrong with that, but it was news enough for Brian Williams to throw it on screen last week on “NBC Nightly News,” where it spoke for itself. “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart presented it as proof there would be little effort to reach out to women beyond “a free pedicure during every mandatory ultrasound.”

Who says Speaker John Boehner is too old and orange to change? Very quickly he found a job for a woman, last week appointing Representative Candice Miller of Michigan to run the House Administration Committee. Yes, it sounds exactly like what it is: The committee’s purpose, as Boehner said, is “ensuring the House runs efficiently and smoothly.” We don’t know if Miller will be seeing to the coffee.

It isn’t much of a committee assignment. But you can bet they won’t sit for a group photo without her.

Margaret Carlson is a gas. She manages most of the time to stay on a sufficiently even keel to laugh at the foibles of evil-doers as corrupt and backwards as the Republican Party. I’m sorry; but, I never have pretended to be a nice guy. I can laugh at them, OK. But, I’d rather spend all my waking hours encouraging other Americans to vote these thugs so far out of office they’d need a GPS to find the Beltway.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm

First same-sex couples marry in Washington state

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Sarah and Emily Cofer hug Superior Court Judge Mary Yu

Hundreds of well-wishers braved a damp and chilly Seattle morning to celebrate the first of 140 weddings at City Hall on Sunday, marking the first day that same-sex couples can marry in Washington state.

Washington, Maine and Maryland last month became the first U.S. states to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples by a popular vote, in a leap forward for gay rights.

“It means that I can use the word husband without question or explaining,” said Corianton Hale, a 34-year-old graphic designer, who was one of the first to tie the knot at City Hall. He married freelance copywriter Keith Bacon, 44.

“We originally registered to come down here to get married at City Hall because we thought we’d just get in and get out,” said Bacon. “It ended up being this incredible experience.”

About 300 people waited outside City Hall in frigid temperatures, cheering couples as they descended the steps to street level, some throwing rice, blowing bubbles and handing flowers to the newlyweds.

The first of the ceremonies – which are scheduled to go on all day – were watched by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a same-sex marriage supporter.

“What a wonderful thing to be able to support the commitment of these couples to each other and to herald the beginning of a new civil right,” McGinn told Reuters inside City Hall.

Hours earlier, as midnight chimed, the first couples were married at a state court ceremony, starting with public elementary school teachers Sarah and Emily Cofer.

“We’re so proud to live in this state that recognizes love and commitment,” said Sarah Cofer, 31, after she and Emily Cofer, 32, uttered the words “I will” before judge Mary Yu at Seattle’s King County Courthouse.

The Cofers’ union was the state’s first same-sex wedding. Cameras clicked, observers clapped and their 9-month-old daughter Carter – born to one of the pair and adopted by the other – cried.

The couple said they would head home and put Carter to bed.

They were followed by 11 other couples who took their vows at 30-minute intervals through the night in Yu’s 9th-floor courtroom decorated with poinsettia.

Bravo! Wonder how long it will take the rest of the country to catch up – and which state will be last to join the 21st Century?

Written by Ed Campbell

December 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm

We whine when the world rejects our beef and pork – now they don’t even want our horsemeat!

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The post preceding this one is about 100 or so countries rejecting import of US beef and pork because of drugs contamination. Sort of fitting that I found this article, this morning, to follow on.


Horsemeat butcher shop in France

For decades, American horses, many of them retired or damaged racehorses, have been shipped to Canada and Mexico, where it is legal to slaughter horses, and then processed and sold for consumption in Europe and beyond.

Lately, however, European food safety officials have notified Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses of a growing concern: The meat of American racehorses may be too toxic to eat safely because the horses have been injected repeatedly with drugs.

Despite the fact that racehorses make up only a fraction of the trade in horse meat, the European officials have indicated that they may nonetheless require lifetime medication records for slaughter-bound horses from Canada and Mexico, and perhaps require them to be held on feedlots or some other holding area for six months before they are slaughtered…

In October, Stephan Giguere, the general manager of a major slaughterhouse in Quebec, said he turned away truckloads of horses coming from the United States because his clients were worried about potential drug issues. Mr. Giguere said he told his buyers to stay away from horses coming from American racetracks.

We don’t want them,” he said. “It’s too risky.”

The action is just the latest indication of the troubled state of American racing and its problems with the doping of horses. Some prominent trainers have been disciplined for using legal and illegal drugs, and horses loaded with painkillers have been breaking down in arresting numbers…

But for pure emotional effect, the alarm raised in the international horse-meat marketplace packs a distinctive punch.

RTFA for extensive details. I realize there is a cultural question about eating horsemeat in American minds to begin with. Still, the critical question – once again – comes down to our government doing little or nothing to guarantee either a safe lifespan for “cattle” or regulating and testing what becomes food for domestic and foreign consumers.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Russia set to halt imports of U.S. beef, pork

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U.S. pork and beef exports to Russia could come to a halt on Saturday following Moscow’s requirement that the meat be tested and certified free of the feed additive ractopamine…

The move could jeopardize the more than $500 million a year in exports of U.S. beef and pork to Russia…

The United States asked Russia, the sixth-largest market for U.S. beef and pork, to suspend the requirement even as it warned domestic meat companies that Moscow might reject their pork shipments that contained ractopamine and stop buying pork from processing plants that produced pork with the drug.

Ractopamine is used as a feed additive to make meat leaner, but countries such as China have banned its use despite scientific evidence that it is safe…

The U.S. Meat Export Federation told its members by email that since the U.S. Department of Agriculture had no testing and certification program in place for ractopamine, the Russian requirement could effectively halt U.S. pork and beef exports to the country by Saturday…

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, in a note posted on its website on Friday afternoon, said: “Exporters are cautioned that Russia may reject U.S. pork shipments and delist producing establishments if ractopamine residues are detected in exported product.”

FSIS also said at the moment it was not requiring meat companies for documentation attesting their pork was free of ractopamine before issuing its export certification.

Are there requirements for measuring ractopamine sold for consumption to Americans, eh?

Analysts said the Russian move was linked to the Senate’s passage of the trade bill and blah, blah, blah

Tyson Foods…a leading U.S. meat company, and agriculture powerhouse Cargill…declined to comment on how a halt in exports would impact them, but both noted the U.S. and Russian governments were in discussions.

Yes, there are 100 countries including the European Union rejecting pork with ractopamine residues. Mother Jones wrote a delightful article in February when Taiwan rejected US shipments – entitled “US Pushes the World to Import Our Dodgy Meat” – and if you’d like some delightful midnight snack reading matter, try this report from the USDA describing the symptoms of some pigs tested with the stuff.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

Swaziland government urged to increase witch-doctor tax

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Dr-Juma-Withdoctor
 

A Swazi Member of Parliament has urged the government to hike taxes on traditional healers and soothsayers to help solve a funding crisis in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

The mediums, known as sangomas in the landlocked southern African nation, pay an annual $1.15 license fee, but MP Majahodvwa Khumalo said they had jacked up their fees fourfold in the last few years and should pay more…

Swaziland’s budget deficit ballooned to 15 percent of its annual economic output in 2010 but the government managed to keep itself afloat by running through central bank reserves and delaying payment of wages to civil servants.

The International Monetary Fund declined to launch a bailout because of reluctance by King Mswati III, who has at least a dozen wives and a personal fortune estimated at $200 million, to cut royal or military spending.

Well, they asked him to do twice as much as would satisfy most Americans. We don’t have any royals to get rid of.

Excepting the ones in Congress, that is.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 9, 2012 at 2:00 am

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