Violence Against Women Act passes – in spite of Republicans

The House on Thursday gave final approval to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, sending a bipartisan Senate measure to President Obama after a House plan endorsed by conservatives was defeated…It amounted to a significant victory for the president and Congressional Democrats, who have assailed Republicans for months for stalling the legislation.

The successful measure passed the Senate last month with 78 votes — including those of every woman, all Democrats and just over half of Republicans.

The alternative unveiled by the House last Friday immediately came under sharp criticism from Democrats and women’s and human rights groups for failing to include protections in the Senate bill for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse. The House bill also eliminated “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from a list of “populations” that face barriers to receiving victim services — and stripped certain provisions regarding American Indian women on reservations.

With House Republicans divided, the leadership agreed that it would allow a vote on the Senate bill if the House version could not attract sufficient votes, and it failed on a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans joined 197 Democrats in opposition; 164 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted for it.

The newly passed legislation creates and expands federal programs to assist local communities with law enforcement and aiding victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Most notably, the bill goes further by offering protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse, as well as allowing American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to take their case to tribal courts, which otherwise would not have jurisdiction over assailants who do not live on tribal land…

The legislation’s approval underscored the divide in the Republican party as it struggles to regain its footing with women after its 2012 electoral drubbing among female voters. House Republicans — even split at the leadership level — ultimately bowed to what they saw as the best interests of their party nationally, even if that meant overriding the will of the majority of rank-and-file Republicans.

Last month, more than 1,300 women’s and human rights groups signed a letter supporting the Senate legislation.

“Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the L.G.B.T. community.”

“Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk,” Mr. Obama said…

Various flavors of House Republicans will now spend the next few weeks fabricating the next generation of lies about why they voted against the Senate bill, why they tried to pass a bill riddled with loopholes.

This has been a bill generating automatic bi-partisan support for decades. It has grown in breadth and concern as have the same qualities among American voters. But, now, the nutballs in charge of the Republican Party not only reject growing and learning, they reject bipartisan discussion and negotiation – and most of all – they reject any bill which appears to reflect the leadership of President Obama.

They have the stature that tiny minds deserve. An STD infecting Congress!

A whole new meaning to “smartphone culture” – Har!


A relatively straightforward classroom experiment this may be, but the fascinating (and beautiful) images produced by students at the University of Surrey when they imprinted their smartphone onto a bacterial growth medium will inevitably give owners of similar devices pause for thought.

Though identifying bacteria by appearance can be difficult…the University of Surrey’s Dr. Simon Park, who teaches course BMS1035, Practical and Biomedical Bacteriology, tells Gizmag that most of the bacteria seen, which have been grown in Plate Count Agar…for three days, are harmless and typically found on human skin, such as those in the genus Micrococcus.

The exercise does occasionally show the presence of disease-causing bacterial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, associated with a number of infectious diseases of varying severity. Dr. Park tells Gizmag that this isn’t surprising considering that 20 percent of people are persistent carriers, and 60 percent intermittent carriers, of this species of bacteria. “The ecological niche on the body for Staphylococcus aureus is the nostrils,” Dr. Park said. “So a furtive pick of the nose, and quick text after, and you end up with this pathogen on your smartphone…”

Asked how his students initially reacted to the cultures, Dr. Park told Gizmag that they were surprised at first, but fine once informed the bacteria are mostly harmless. “It’s a really good example of just how ubiquitous bacteria are in our environment and how easily they can be transferred,” Dr. Park summarized.


Class action lawsuit claims InBev watering down Budweiser beer

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), the world’s biggest brewer, was sued by consumers in three U.S. states for allegedly overstating the alcohol content in its Budweiser beer.

AB InBev’s St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. routinely adds extra water to its finished products to produce malt beverages with significantly less alcohol content than displayed on its labels, violating state statutes on consumer protection, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia. Similar lawsuits were filed in federal courts in New Jersey and San Francisco.

“AB’s customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell,” Thomas and Gerald Greenberg said in the Philadelphia complaint…

The claims against Anheuser-Busch are “completely false,” Peter Kraemer, the company’s vice president of brewing and supply, said in an e-mail…“Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws,” Kraemer said….

The complaints accuse the AB InBev unit of also mislabeling the amount of alcohol in Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Black Crown, Bud Light Lime, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, Natural Ice and Michelob Ultra.

Josh Boxer, an attorney for plaintiffs in California, said additional lawsuits will be filed against the company in Ohio and Colorado. The California complaint, filed by Sonoma County residents Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert, seek to represent consumers in the state and consumers nationwide who have purchased AB InBev products in the past five years. All three complaints seek damages exceeding $5 million.

Total damages “could be quite significant based on the volume of products that AB produces a year,” Boxer said…

You betcha!

AB InBev allegedly keeps the alcohol level for each batch of malt beverage at specifications above the desired final product at least initially then adds water and CO2 to the final stage of the brewing process, according to the complaint.

The company began using in-line alcohol measuring instruments known as Anton Paar meters that can measure the alcohol content in malt beverages to within hundredths of one percent, according to the complaint. AB allegedly uses the precision technology to shave the alcohol content instead of providing consumers with a product based on the stated label, the Greenbergs said in the complaint.

Adding water to the brewing process cuts the stated alcohol content by 3 to 8 percent, Boxer said.

Budweiser announced the takeover move by InBev in 2006 – which was completed in 2009. Beaucoup Budweiser fans worried about an even larger corporate entity screwing with their favorite beer. I not only don’t drink anything from either, I don’t think anyone in my family does either. So, we never especially worried about their business ethics except within the context of marketing. Like could they screwup the English Football Association even more than the Brits managed to on their own?

Still, there is nothing more classic about capitalism than some scumbag “watering the beer” to increase profits. Should be an interesting case to follow.