A week of top AP photos


Click to get to slide showAP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Photographers capture the liftoff of the Soyuz-FG rocket booster with the Soyuz TMA-11M spaceship carrying new crew members to the International Space Station from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan…

The rocket also carried the Olympic flame in preparation for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

I’ve been a photo bug since before most of y’all were born. I have a special feeling about photo journalists – growing up when B&W news photos were the most striking element of news coverage. AP is pretty good.

Good news — FDA will ban artery-clogging trans fats

cigs

Heart-clogging trans fats have been slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurant menus in the last decade. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is finishing the job.

The FDA announced today it will require the food industry to gradually phase out artificial trans fats, saying they are a threat to people’s health. Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year…

Though they have been removed from many items, the fats are still found in processed foods, including in some microwave popcorns and frozen pizzas, refrigerated doughs, cookies, biscuits and ready-to-use frostings. They are also sometimes used by restaurants that use the fats for frying. Many larger chains have phased them out, but smaller restaurants may still get food containing trans fats from suppliers.

Trans fats are widely considered the worst kind for your heart, even worse than saturated fats, which also can contribute to heart disease. Trans fats are used both in processed food and in restaurants, often to improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of foods. Diners shouldn’t be able to detect a taste difference if trans fats are replaced by other fats.

To phase them out, the FDA said it had made a preliminary determination that trans fats no longer fall in the agency’s “generally recognized as safe” category, which is reserved for thousands of additives that manufacturers can add to foods without FDA review. Once trans fats are off the list, anyone who wants to use them would have to petition the agency for a regulation allowing it, and that would likely not be approved.

The fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils. The FDA is not targeting small amounts of trans fats that occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, because they would be too difficult to remove and aren’t considered a major public health threat on their own.

Scientists say there are no health benefits to trans fats and say they can raise levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the United States…

The advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest first petitioned FDA to ban trans fats nine years ago. The group’s director, Michael Jacobson, says the move is “one of the most important lifesaving actions the FDA could take.”

Bravo! And as usual – overdue. The essential scientific analysis which concluded that trans fats are not only useless but harmful was completed before that first petition to the FDA nine years ago. All the rest is American politics at its worst.

Snowden revealed crimes against US constitution – Al Gore

Gore Snowden

Former US vice-president Al Gore has described the activities of the National Security Agency as “outrageous” and “completely unacceptable” and said whistleblower Edward Snowden has “revealed evidence” of crimes against the US constitution.

Gore, speaking Tuesday night at McGill University in Montreal, said he was in favour of using surveillance to ensure national security, but Snowden’s revelations showed that those measures had gone too far…

Gore had previously said he believed the practice of the NSA collecting US citizens phone records was unlawful and “not really the American way”, but his comments on Tuesday represent his strongest criticism yet.

Asked about Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose revelations have been reported extensively by the Guardian, Gore said the leaks had revealed unconstitutional practices

Gore, the former vice-president, 2000 Democratic presidential nominee and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the NSA’s efforts to monitor communications had gone to “absurd” lengths, the Canadian Press reported.

“When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s not always wise to pile more hay on the haystack,” he said…

I voted for Gore in 2000 and he won the vote – just not the election. Courtesy of creeps in black robes in Washington, DC.

I would have voted for him, again, in 2004. John Kerry has inspired nothing but distrust in my mind going all the way back to his opportunist decision to use the anti-war movement to launch his political career.

Kerry – as Obama turned out to be – was the lesser of two evils. Or as I like to put it, I voted against the evil of two lessers.