Euro politicians have time to tell restaurants how to serve olive oil

olive oil

Critics ridiculed European Union bureaucrats on Saturday for taking time off fighting the euro zone’s debt crisis to impose strict new rules on how restaurants serve olive oil.

From January 1, 2014, eateries will be banned from serving oil to diners in small glass jugs or dipping bowls, and forced instead to use pre-sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty…

…Critics say the rules are a sop to Europe’s olive oil producers, and will only add to the frustration felt by many towards a bloated EU bureaucracy regarded as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Europeans…

The Commission said its proposal was supported by 15 out of 27 EU member governments, including the continent’s main olive oil producers – Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal – which are among the countries worst affected by the euro crisis…

German newspaper Sueddetsche Zeitung described the plan as “the weirdest decision since the legendary curvy cucumber regulation”, referring to now-defunct EU rules on the shape of fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

The regulations are based on rules in force in Portugal since 2005, and are part of an EU initiative to help olive oil producers hit by rising operating costs and falling profits in recent years.

But Enzo Sica, owner of Italian restaurant Creche des Artistes close to the EU quarter of Brussels, said the rules would prevent him from buying his extra virgin olive oil direct from a traditional supplier in Italy.

“They say they’re thinking about consumers, but this will increase costs for us and our customers as well. In this time of crisis, surely they should be worrying about other things rather than stupid stuff like this.”

Who says Europeans can’t and won’t learn from Americans. The EU is simply following the examples of social stupidity expressed in reactionary regulations embraced so thoroughly by Republicans and a few other idiots in Congress.

EU hacks understand they’d be thrown out of office if they tried to pass useless laws banning medical care and women’s rights – so, they pick on absurdities which will at least get the support of anachronistic segments of Euro-capitalism.

UPDATE: Olive oil still drives the pols bonkers – but, uproar from citizens stopped this particular bit of stupidity from succeeding.

Stodgiest political cowards in the hemisphere put marijuana legalization up for discussion

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A comprehensive report on drug policy in the Americas released Friday by a consortium of nations suggests that the legalization of marijuana, but not other illicit drugs, be considered among a range of ideas to reassess how the drug war is carried out.

The report, released by the Organization of American States walked a careful line in not recommending any single approach to the drug problem and encouraging “flexibility.”

Prompted by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at the Summit of the Americas last year to answer growing dissatisfaction and calls for new strategies in the drug war, the report’s 400 pages mainly summarize and distill previous research and debate on the subject.

But the fact that it gave weight to exploring legalizing or de-penalizing marijuana was seized on by advocates of more liberal drug use laws as a landmark and a potential catalyst for less restrictive laws in a number of countries…

The report said “the drug problem requires a flexible approach,” and “it would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale and use of marijuana.

“Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken,” it said. “On the other hand, our report finds no significant support, in any country, for the decriminalization or legalization of the trafficking of other illicit drugs…”

“The region’s leaders expressed their frustration with the limits and exorbitant costs of current policies and their hunger for a fuller, more creative debate,” said John Walsh, a drug policy analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.

But the United States has so far rejected legalization as a solution to drug violence…A State Department spokesman, William Ostick, said “blah, blah, blah”

Yes, the OAS statement on decriminalizing is rather like the American Institute of CPA’s noting that little solid-state hand calculators work as well as pencil and paper and may be faster. Still, even an acknowledgement of solutions without prior approval from the US State Department is an achievement for the OAS.

Outdoor recess time reduces your kid’s risk of nearsightedness

Two new studies add to the growing evidence that spending time outdoors may help prevent or minimize nearsightedness in children. A study conducted in Taiwan, which is the first to use an educational policy as a public vision health intervention, finds that when children are required to spend recess time outdoors, their risk of nearsightedness is reduced. A separate study in Danish children is the first to show a direct correlation between seasonal fluctuations in daylight, eye growth and the rate of nearsightedness progression…

In one of the new studies, an elementary school in Taiwan required its 333 students to spend recess outdoors for a year from 2009-10 so that researchers could learn whether this would reduce myopia rates. A similar school nearby served as the control group and did not require outdoor recess. The children in the intervention school, many of whom had formerly spent recess indoors, now spent a total of 80 minutes per day outdoors.

Students at both schools received eye exams at the study outset and one year later. The results showed that significantly fewer children became nearsighted or shifted toward nearsightedness in the school that required outdoor recess, compared with the control school. The researchers recommend that elementary schools in Asia and other regions add frequent recess breaks and other outdoor activities to their daily schedules to help protect children’s eye development and vision…

“Because children spend a lot of time in school, a school-based intervention is a direct and practical way to tackle the increasing prevalence of myopia,” said the leader of the study, Pei-Chang Wu, M.D., Ph.D., of Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

A separate study on the impact of daylight exposure on eye development analyzed data collected in a 2005 clinical trial that included 235 Danish school children with myopia. The participants were divided into seven groups, each of which represented a different seasonal interval. Because daylight hours fluctuate markedly with the seasons in Denmark, from seven hours in winter to nearly 18 in summer, access to daylight was distinct for each group. Axial eye length — the distance from the front to the back of the eye — and vision were tested in each group of children at the beginning and end of their seasonal interval. Axial length is an important measurement because elongation of the eye indicates that the person’s myopia is worsening. In the children with access to the fewest hours of daylight, eye growth averaged 0.19 mm; in those with access to the most daylight, eye growth was just 0.12 mm.

“Our results indicate that exposure to daylight helps protect children from myopia,” said the leader of the study, Dongmei Cui, M.D., Ph.D., of Sun Yat-sen University, China. “This means that parents and others who manage children’s time should encourage them to spend time outdoors daily. When that’s impractical due to weather or other factors, use of daylight-spectrum indoor lights should be considered as a way to minimize myopia.”

Bravo! Great start to in-depth research. Tell your local beancounter school board to pay attention.