Foster Farms poultry plants — source for salmonella outbreak — remain open despite pleas to shut them down

Three poultry plants in California that were the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people in 20 states will continue to operate despite demands by lawmakers and consumer advocate groups that they be shut down.

Foster Farms’ plants in Fresno and Livingston will remain open after the poultry company implemented new “food safety controls over the last two months,” Ron Foster, president and CEO…said in a statement.

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it reviewed the company’s safety plans on Thursday and federal inspectors will remain at the plants.

A total of 317 people across the United States were infected by the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, with 42 percent of those needing hospitalization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

There have been no deaths, the CDC said.

So far.

Salmonella, a common bacterial foodborne illness, can cause diarrhea, nausea, fever and cramping, and can be fatal to infants and the elderly.

The decision to keep the plants open was “a disgrace” by USDA, U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, Democrat of New York, said in a statement on Friday. She said USDA should have moved to shut down the poultry plants.

The USDA’s toothless decisions endangers public health today, and encourages bad actors in the food industry to continue to break the law tomorrow,” Slaughter said.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the company should recall chicken from store shelves, a move Foster Farms resisted…

Foster Farms spokesman Michael Fineman declined to provide Reuters with details of the “new safety measures” the company has put into place.

Profits are so much more important than people’s health and safety – in the land of the free.

We don’t buy crap chicken from Foster, anyway; but, this seems like an appropriate time to recommend that folks get all thoughtful and stringent about a boycott.

Psychic guilty of stealing $138,000 in fraudulent promises

Got enough gold?

New York woman has been found guilty of using her purported psychic powers to swindle two women out of $138,000, officials said…Prosecutors had portrayed Sylvia Mitchell, 39, as promising distraught people she could resolve their problems if they gave her large sums of money for safekeeping and rituals…

Jurors had deliberated for 6 hours over two days before convicting Mitchell on 10 counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. She was acquitted on five other grand larceny counts.

Justice Gregory Carro denied Mitchell bail prior to sentencing, saying he considered her a flight risk…She faces as much as 15 years in prison.

Couldn’t she see that coming?

One witness, Debra Saalfield, said Mitchell had convinced her her problems stemmed from a past life as an Egyptian princess and her over-attachment to money. Saalfield testified Mitchell convinced her to give her $27,000 for safekeeping as an exercise in letting go of money.

Her defense attorney, William Aronwald, had argued during trial that Mitchell had fulfilled her promises, providing the women prayers, meditation and rituals to alleviate their problems. Just because the techniques might not have worked didn’t mean she was guilty of fraud, he said.

Her defense attorney is correct, of course. All she is missing is the appropriate credentials to authorize the same fraud throughout the United States every day of her life.

She has not been accredited by one or another of the guild of churches, religious colleges, chartered to make the same promises for as much money as they can pry from gullible, ignorant people.

Husband won’t divorce? Get the rabbi and a couple of his buddies, a cattle prod and…

In a bizarre plot sounding more like a scene out of The Sopranos than the affairs of an ultra-religious community, two Orthodox rabbis and eight others were charged in New Jersey Thursday in a torture-for-hire operation involving threats of kidnapping, beatings and the use of such implements as handcuffs, knives and stun guns — all aimed at convincing recalcitrant husbands to grant their wives religious divorces.

Most of those arrested were taken into custody at a Middlesex County warehouse Wednesday night — some wearing Halloween masks and one in a Metallica T-shirt — as they waited to grab a supposed victim for a rough lesson in divorce law. It was all a set-up: The woman was an FBI undercover agent, there was no husband and the conversations were all recorded.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said at least one of those charged admitted he had participated in similar kidnappings in the past and investigators believe there may have been as many as several dozen assaults conducted by the same group over a period of many years…

The cost of convincing was not cheap. According to the FBI, the going rate was $10,000 to pay off a rabbinical court to approve a kidnapping and then another $50,000 to $60,000 to pay for the “tough guys” who would mete out beatings and other torture until a reluctant spouse finally acquiesced.Those charged included Rabbi Mendel Epstein, 68, who has homes in Lakewood and Brooklyn, and Rabbi Martin Wolmark, 55, a school administrator at a yeshiva in Monsey, N.Y. Both were arrested Wednesday night at their homes.

Also charged were Ariel Potash, 40, and seven other men who were said to be enforcers or witnesses — Jay “Yaakov” Goldstein, Moshe Goldstein, Binyamin Stimler, David Hellman, Simcha Bulmash, Avrohom Goldstein and Sholom Shuchat, who were all arrested in New Jersey. Their address and ages were not given.

All 10 appeared in federal court in Trenton Thursday and were ordered held without bail.

Divorce in the Orthodox community is governed not by secular law, but by a rabbinical court. And under Jewish law, a wife may not sue for divorce unless her husband agrees to provide her with a document known as a “get.” The court, known as a “beth din,” can order the husband to issue a get, however, in a bitter divorce dispute there is often no quick resolution and no guarantee he will accept the edict.

The ways of fundamentalist religions continue to astound – even though they shouldn’t. I’ve known members of one or another religious brain-dungeon like this since I was a kid. It doesn’t matter which of the so-called mainstream religions it predates or diverges from. It’s all quite logical to the True Believers and, in any case, it is Yahweh’s law. Right?

The guardians of civil and criminal law in America should also get off their rusty dusty and remember that the law of the land takes precedence establishing civil rights and civil law. RTFA and wander through the labyrinth of this particular community…in fear of joining the real world.

Warm little bubbles for your back garden

Those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere may be mourning the end of summer, and with it the diminishing prospects of enjoying much warmth until next year. However, the Invisible Garden House, by Danish designer Simon Hjermind Jensen, may offer an opportunity to receive a regular dose of Vitamin D, even well into the colder seasons.

The Invisible Garden House was installed in the home of a Danish family who wished to extend their time spent outdoors into the fall. Essentially a large greenhouse comprising three interconnected domes, the structure is heated by the sun and ventilated naturally with adjustable holes.

The largest middle dome functions as a garden house with wooden floor, while the two smaller connecting domes are used to grow vegetables and flowers.

The domes…are constructed from polycarbonate – said to offer a degree of UV protection. All the necessary parts are designed on computer, then milled with a CNC router, and assembled with metal bolts.

Jensen reports that the project is easily reproduced in different shapes and sizes to suit, and that in addition to residential use, he reckons the Invisible Garden House practicable for public and semi-public use too – perhaps as urban gardening plots.

Dimensions and costs are in the article. Click the link. Remember this was done as a one-off. If the design catches on, they should get cheaper.

Wee greenhouses are popular throughout northern climes, from Alaska down to southerly high altitudes. One of these years I’m going to figure out how to redo our workshop – no longer used as such and on the west side of our compound – into a place where I can keep fresh tomatoes and lettuce going through the winter.