Sunday, November 27, 2011

Headlines - Sunday November 27

The best ad for marriage equality.
Pakistan Blocks NATO Supply Route to Afghanistan After Raid Kills 28
Is Homeland Security Coordinating the OWS Evictions? No! They're not.
I've been sick for the past few weeks, and my relationship with food is becoming very complicated. That whole food equals pain thing is really getting to me. Plus, there's a limited overlap between the gall bladder diet and the diverticulitis diet (you can't eat any fiber during a flareup). Now, after a week eating canned soup, I read this:

Is it safe to eat canned foods?

That's a question worth asking after a new study found a huge spike in urinary levels of the chemical bisphenol A – commonly known as BPA – in a group of volunteers who ate canned vegetable soup for several days. BPA, which has been linked to a variety of health disorders, is used in the lining of many food and beverage cans.

The results suggest BPA is being absorbed by the canned food and then ingested by consumers.

"We were very surprised by the numbers," said the senior author of the study, Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It makes you feel a little uneasy about cans."

The experiment involved 75 participants. Half of them were asked to eat a 12-ounce bowl of canned vegetable soup at lunch for five consecutive days. After a two-day break, they consumed the same-sized serving of fresh vegetable soup for five lunches in a row. The other volunteers did the experiment in the reverse order – starting with five days of fresh soup, followed by five lunches of canned soup.

Urine samples were collected on several occasions, usually a few hours after the noon-time meal.

The analysis revealed that when participants ate the canned soup they experienced more than a 1,000 per cent increase in their urinary concentrations of BPA, compared to when they dined on fresh soup.

Oh, and Americans had twice as much BPA in their systems as Canadians.


When for-profit get public dollars ......

The public gets screwed. Every. Time. The latest in an infinite line of examples is the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

John Cheves at the Herald:

Kentucky has paid $97 million since 1999 through its state scholarships to privately owned, for-profit colleges, including several under investigation for alleged consumer fraud or other possible wrongdoing, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader review of public records.

Some states, such as Ohio, have moved to reduce for-profit colleges' access to state educational aid, citing a need to put students at state colleges first in a time of repeated budget cuts.

Kentucky has not. The state gives nearly 8 percent of need-based student aid to for-profit colleges, which is twice the national average, according to a survey by the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. Only four states give a bigger portion of need-based aid to the industry, the association found.

Among Kentucky's for-profit schools to collect state aid was Decker College in Louisville, which went bankrupt in 2005 amid allegations of fraud and inadequate accreditation, leaving hundreds of students with loan debt and no chance to obtain degrees. Another, the Sullivan University System, saw a nearly 1,000 percent increase in its assets from 1998 to 2009, accumulating $76 million, according to court records.

A few Democratic lawmakers want to regulate this taxpayer subsidy in the upcoming session of the General Assembly. I don't know how much money the for-profit "college" industry invests in our lege, but my guess is that it's enough to at least kill any such bill, and might be enough to force a bill that actually increases the subsidy.

Some for-profit colleges in Kentucky charge $30,000 a year or more for two-year vocational degrees related to clerical jobs in offices or cooking in restaurants. Data suggest that many of the students struggle later. Nationally, students at for-profit schools represent 26 percent of federal student loan borrowers and 43 percent of subsequent loan defaults, according to federal data.

Funny how the most egregious examples of government "waste" always involve money given to private companies.


Shifting blame for pollution onto individuals is a long-standing corporate trick. Never mind that industrial sludge setting the Cuyahoga River on fire - look at the trash litter bugs throw along the road! It's not coal dust from the mines that's killing you - it's your smoking! Toxins in your drinking water didn't cause your miscarriage - it's that beer you had six months ago!

Industrial poisoning by corporations isn't threatening human survival; it's that seven billionth baby!

Erik Loomis:

A bit of an older piece now, but Ian Angus and Simon Butler provide some real solid evidence to a point I have made repeatedly - that overpopulation is far from the greatest environmental problem we face:

But most of the 7 billion are not endangering the earth. The majority of the world's people don't destroy forests, don't wipe out endangered species, don't pollute rivers and oceans, and emit essentially no greenhouse gases.

Even in the rich countries of the Global North, most environmental destruction is caused not by individuals or households, but by mines, factories, and power plants run by corporations that care more about profit than about humanity's survival.

No reduction in U.S. population would have stopped BP from poisoning the Gulf of Mexico last year.

Lower birthrates won't shut down Canada's tar sands, which Bill McKibben has justly called one of the most staggering crimes the world has ever seen.

Universal access to birth control should be a fundamental human right - but it would not have prevented Shell's massive destruction of ecosystems in the Niger River delta, or the immeasurable damage that Chevron has caused to rainforests in Ecuador.

Ironically, while populationist groups focus attention on the 7 billion, protestors in the worldwide Occupy movement have identified the real source of environmental destruction: not the 7 billion, but the 1%, the handful of millionaires and billionaires who own more, consume more, control more, and destroy more than all the rest of us put together.

Of course, rising consumption rates by a growing middle class in China, India, Brazil, and other developing world nations complicate this narrative, but the larger point stands-population is not the major cause for environmental degradation. Rather, the profit motive and capitalist control over the potential regulatory power of governments are much greater problems.

Keep recycling, keep rejecting over-packaging, keep cutting back on the driving and flying - but never forget who the big culprits are.


h/t Dick:

God and man and William F. Buckley 

Climate summit faces big emitters' stalling tactics 

War By Remote Control: Drones Make It Easy

No comments: