Alabama has a vampire judge

Give blood or go to jail – Alabama

Judge Marvin Wiggins of Marion, Alabama, is offering destitute people who owe court fees a dangerous choice: donate blood, or risk going to jail. According to audio posted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, recorded in September on the day of a blood drive, Wiggins allegedly told those with fines: “If you do not have any money, and you don’t want to go to jail – you can give blood today”, adding: “consider that a discount”.

Wiggins’s choice is a terrible, likely unconstitutional and ethically dubious proposition, which could have potentially mortal consequences for the public blood supply. This kind of rampant capitalism, in which a local court essentially says: ‘value will be extracted from you, akin to squeezing blood from a stone’ is a barbaric violation of the rights of the poor…

Keep in mind that a 1983 supreme court case, Bearden v Georgia, prohibits judges from “imprisoning people who are too poor to pay their legal debts”. This still happens, sadly, even though the Bearden ruling effectively made debtors prisons illegal. While judges are allowed to mandate alternatives to incarceration for indigent debtors, such as performing community services, biomedical ethicists would probably say forcing them to give up their blood under threat of imprisonment doesn’t fly.

The Southern Law Center has filed an ethics complaint against Judge Wiggins for enacting “a violation of bodily integrity”, and the New York Times quotes a medical ethicist calling this plan “wrong in about 3,000 ways”.

Not that reason, rationality or American constitutional law has any resemblance to governance in the Confederacy.

Killer blames binge-watching zombies on Netflix for murder

A Prewitt, NM man was arrested Thursday afternoon after allegedly beating his friend to death while they were drunk after the man said his friend began “to change into a zombie.”…

The man, identified as 23-year-old Damon Perry, told police he had been binge-watching “The Walking Dead” on Netflix recently.

Grants police originally responded to a Grants apartment complex after 911 callers said a man – later identified as Perry – was running around the complex threatening people with a knife.

When officers arrived, two maintenance workers were holding Perry down. Inside a nearby apartment, an officer found the friend unresponsive with signs of trauma. The friend was pronounced dead at the scene.

Perry was taken to police headquarters and interviewed. There, he told detectives that while the two were drinking the friend began “to change into a zombie” and tried to bite him…

He allegedly then punched and kicked the friend, and also hit the friend with an electric guitar and microwave, among other household items…

Perry has been charged with an open count of murder and is being held at the Cibola County Detention Center.

Well, a little advanced over the usual excuses – demons, ghosts, possession. A contemporary addition to the range of stupid excuses used by substance-abusing killers.

USDA scrambles to investigate egg lobby

Joshua Tetrick showing yellow peas which are the base for his egg substitute

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has opened an investigation into the American Egg Board (AEB) after revelations by the Guardian that the USDA-appointed group conducted a months-long campaign against a San Francisco food startup called Hampton Creek.

Joanne Ivy, CEO of the AEB and 2015’s Egg Person of the Year, has stepped down and taken early retirement. She was originally due to leave at the end of the year.

The investigation comes after Utah senator Mike Lee called for an investigation into reports that the government-backed egg lobby had organized a concerted effort to tackle Hampton Creek, a company described in leaked emails as a “major threat” and “crisis” for the $5.5 billion-a-year egg industry…

A USDA official confirmed an investigation was now under way by its agricultural marketing service (AMS) arm, which carries out the day-to-day oversight of boards…

Emails obtained through a Foia request by attorney Jeffrey Light and passed to the Guardian showed what Lee called “a strategic, multifaceted campaign to use the power and resources of the federal government to undermine the economic prospects of Hampton Creek”.

Members of AEB leadership are alleged to have tried to prevent the sale of Hampton Creek’s product Just Mayo at Whole Foods; to have advised Unilever on its lawsuit against the company (including suggesting Unilever solicit action from the Food and Drug Administration); and to have assessed the company’s patents for flaws.

They also joked about killing Joshua Tetrick himself: “Can we pool our money and put a hit on him?” asked Mike Sencer, executive vice-president of AEB member organization Hidden Villa Ranch. Mitch Kanter, executive vice president of the AEB, jokingly offered “to contact some of my old buddies in Brooklyn to pay Mr Tetrick a visit”. (AEB apologized for those statements when contacted by the Guardian.)

While the Egg Board is a “checkoff” organization into which egg farmers are required to pay, it is specifically prohibited from influencing governmental action or disparaging non-egg commodities

Just Mayo, a plant-based egg substitute, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the American Egg Board. But it caused consternation among its members, especially when Hampton Creek began to win lucrative industry contracts. The product became the mayonnaise of choice for the Compass Group, a catering firm that provides food for school cafeterias and smaller restaurant groups.

I’ve been looking forward to trying Just Mayo since I first saw interviews on AlJazeera America’s TechKnow program. Since then, I’ve seen positive reviews from other folks – and interest in other vegetarian replacements they’re developing for everything up to and including cheeseburgers. A significant part of their mission statement is to diminish and displace the energy wasted by commercial giants like the battery egg producers and feedlot cattle.

Glad to see they’re doing well enough to raise the ire of scumbags like the American Egg Board. Now, we just need to see the USDA do something for American consumers instead of the Agribusiness Mafia.