Bacteria in grocery meat resistant to antibiotics
Reuters) - Researchers have found high levels of bacteria in meat commonly found on grocery store shelves, with more than half of the bacteria resistant to multiple types of antibiotics, according to a study released on Friday.
While the meat commonly found in grocery stores is still safe to eat, consumers should take precautions especially in handling and cooking, the chief researcher for the study said.
The study by the Arizona-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGRI) examined 136 meat samples from 26 grocery stores in Illinois, Florida, California, Arizona and Washington D.C.
Dr. Lance Price, the head researcher on the study, said high levels of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) bacteria were found in the meat.
"Staph causes hundreds of thousands of infections in the United States every year," Price said in an interview. "It causes a whole slew of infections ranging from skin infections to really bad respiratory infections like pneumonia."
Staph infections also kill more people in the United States each year than HIV, he said.
A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said that the agency was aware of the TGRI findings, and similar studies of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meats, and was working with the U.S. Agriculture Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the causes and effects.
"FDA has been monitoring the situation. The TGRI study points out that the public health relevance of the findings is unclear. FDA continues to work with CDC and USDA to better understand this issue," the FDA spokeswoman said.
Price said the most significant findings from the study aren't the level of bacteria they found, but rather how the bacteria in the meat was becoming strongly resistant to antibiotics farmers use to treat the animals they slaughter.
The study found that in 96 percent of the meats with staph bacteria the bacteria were resistant to at least one type of antibiotic, and 52 percent were resistant to three or more types.
"The bacteria is always going to be there. But the reason why they're resistant is directly related to antibiotic use in food animal production," Price said. "Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to public health we face today."
"This is one more reason to be very careful when you're handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen," Price said. "You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in that raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen with these bacteria."
Washing hands and counters before and after handling meat and keeping other foods away from uncooked meat are ways to prevent disease from spreading, Price said. But consumer initiatives aren't going to solve the bigger problem, he said.
"To put it all on the consumer is really directing blame at the wrong end of the food chain," Price said.
Of all the types of meats where bacteria was resistant to three or more antibiotics in the study, turkey was the most resistant, followed by pork, beef and then chicken. Price said it's not clear why turkey was the most resistant.
USDA officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
Source: bit.ly/e31Duc Clinical Infectious Diseases, online April 15, 2011.
I have posted articles about food safety previously. It is a huge problem - you have to eat, right?
All animals are pumped full of drugs and 'vitamins' to bring them to market faster, and faster and faster. These animal's systems are being screwed-up from accelerated growth even beyond the additive problems.
Nah - we don't need no stinkin enforced regulations. There are no problems that cannot be corrected by the companies themselves, right? Let em alone - the market will correct everything. They're only 'animals'!
Throw Out the Money Changers
By Chris Hedges
These are remarks Chris Hedges made in Union Square in New York City last Friday during a protest outside a branch office of the Bank of America.
We stand today before the gates of one of our temples of finance. It is a temple where greed and profit are the highest good, where self-worth is determined by the ability to amass wealth and power at the expense of others, where laws are manipulated, rewritten and broken, where the endless treadmill of consumption defines human progress, where fraud and crimes are the tools of business.
The two most destructive forces of human nature—greed and envy—drive the financiers, the bankers, the corporate mandarins and the leaders of our two major political parties, all of whom profit from this system. They place themselves at the center of creation. They disdain or ignore the cries of those below them. They take from us our rights, our dignity and thwart our capacity for resistance. They seek to make us prisoners in our own land. They view human beings and the natural world as mere commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. Human suffering, wars, climate change, poverty, it is all the price of business. Nothing is sacred. The Lord of Profit is the Lord of Death.
The pharisees of high finance who can see us this morning from their cubicles and corner officers mock virtue. Life for them is solely about self-gain. The suffering of the poor is not their concern. The 6 million families thrown out of their homes are not their concern. The tens of millions of pensioners whose retirement savings were wiped out because of the fraud and dishonesty of Wall Street are not their concern. The failure to halt carbon emissions is not their concern. Justice is not their concern. Truth is not their concern. A hungry child is not their concern.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky in “Crime and Punishment” understood the radical evil behind the human yearning not to be ordinary but to be extraordinary, the desire that allows men and women to serve systems of self-glorification and naked greed. Raskolnikov in the novel believes—like those in this temple—that humankind can be divided into two groups. The first is composed of ordinary people. These ordinary people are meek and submissive. They do little more than reproduce other human beings in their own likeness, grow old and die. And Raskolnikov is dismissive of these lesser forms of human life.
The second group, he believes, is extraordinary. These are, according to Raskolnikov, the Napoleons of the world, those who flout law and custom, those who shred conventions and traditions to create a finer, more glorious future. Raskolnikov argues that, although we live in the world, we can free ourselves from the consequences of living with others, consequences that will not always be in our favor. The Raskolnikovs of the world place unbridled and total faith in the human intellect. They disdain the attributes of compassion, empathy, beauty, justice and truth. And this demented vision of human existence leads Raskolnikov to murder a pawnbroker and steal her money.
The priests in these corporate temples, in the name of profit, kill with even more ruthlessness, finesse and cunning than Raskolnikov. Corporations let 50,000 people die last year because they could not pay them for proper medical care. They have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis, Palestinians and Pakistanis, and gleefully watched as the stock price of weapons contractors quadrupled. They have turned cancer into an epidemic in the coal fields of West Virginia where families breathe polluted air, drink poisoned water and watch the Appalachian Mountains blasted into a desolate wasteland while coal companies can make billions. And after looting the U.S. treasury these corporations demand, in the name of austerity, that we abolish food programs for children, heating assistance and medical care for our elderly, and good public education. They demand that we tolerate a permanent underclass that will leave one in six workers without jobs, that condemns tens of millions of Americans to poverty and tosses our mentally ill onto heating grates. Those without power, those whom these corporations deem to be ordinary, are cast aside like human refuse. It is what the god of the market demands.
When Dante enters the “city of woes” in the Inferno he hears the cries of “those whose lives earned neither honor nor bad fame,” those rejected by Heaven and Hell, those who dedicated their lives solely to the pursuit of happiness. These are all the “good” people, the ones who never made a fuss, who filled their lives with vain and empty pursuits, harmless perhaps, to amuse themselves, who never took a stand for anything, never risked anything, who went along. They never looked hard at their lives, never felt the need, never wanted to look.
Those who chase the glittering rainbows of the consumer society, who buy into the perverted ideology of consumer culture, become, as Dante knew, moral cowards. They are indoctrinated by our corporate systems of information and remain passive as our legislative, executive and judicial branches of government—tools of the corporate state—strip us of the capacity to resist. Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative. It makes no difference. Barack Obama serves corporate interests as assiduously as did George W. Bush. And to place our faith in any party or established institution as a mechanism for reform is to be entranced by the celluloid shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave.
We must defy the cant of consumer culture and recover the primacy in our lives of mercy and justice. And this requires courage, not just physical courage but the harder moral courage of listening to our conscience. If we are to save our country, and our planet, we must turn from exalting the self, to subsuming of the self for our neighbor. Self-sacrifice defies the sickness of corporate ideology. Self-sacrifice mocks opportunities for advancement, money and power. Self-sacrifice smashes the idols of greed and envy. Self-sacrifice demands that we rise up against the abuse, injury and injustice forced upon us by the mandarins of corporate power. There is a profound truth in the biblical admonition “He who loves his life will lose it.”
Life is not only about us. We can never have justice until our neighbor has justice. And we can never recover our freedom until we are willing to sacrifice our comfort for open rebellion. The president has failed us. The Congress has failed us. The courts have failed us. The press has failed us. The universities have failed us. Our process of electoral democracy has failed us. There are no structures or institutions left that have not been contaminated or destroyed by corporations. And this means it is up to us. Civil disobedience, which will entail hardship and suffering, which will be long and difficult, which at its core means self-sacrifice, is the only mechanism left.
The bankers and hedge fund managers, the corporate and governmental elites, are the modern version of the misguided Israelites who prostrated themselves before the golden calf. The sparkle of wealth glitters before them, spurring them faster and faster on the treadmill towards destruction. And they seek to make us worship at their altar. As long as greed inspires us, greed keeps us complicit and silent. But once we defy the religion of unfettered capitalism, once we demand that a society serve the needs of citizens and the ecosystem that sustains life, rather than the needs of the marketplace, once we learn to speak with a new humility and live with a new simplicity, once we love our neighbor as ourself, we break our chains and make hope visible.
The Battle Is Over Money, Not Philosophy
Monday 25 April 2011
by: Dean Baker, Truthout
Ever since House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan put out his proposal for voucherizing Medicare we have seen a steady drumbeat of stories telling us that this is a battle over the size and role of government. This is not true. It is a battle over money.
This point is important because there are very few people in this country who are interested in debates over philosophy. Insofar as they do give it any thought, most people will say that they prefer small government over big government. They want to see government play a less intrusive role in our lives.
There are probably less than a hundred people in the entire country who support "big government" as a matter of principle. Unfortunately, most of them write columns in major national papers.
This is bad news for progressives because insofar as the Ryan plan is seen as being about reducing the size of government, then it could be acceptable to a substantial portion of the electorate. On the other hand, if the public understands that the Ryan plan will transfer tens of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the insurance and health care industries, the plan will become radioactive to politicians seeking re-election.
The basic story is that the Medicare system is far more efficient than the private insurance sector in delivering health care and holding down costs. This has nothing to do with whether we prefer the government or the private sector. It just happens to be true.
We know this because we have tested it. The government first opened up Medicare in a big way to private insurers in the mid-'90s when the Gingrich Congress pushed through Medicare Plus Choice. It turned out that Medicare Plus Choice raised costs. Beneficiaries with comparable histories cost about 10 percent more to treat in the private program than in the traditional Medicare program.
We tested the private-sector route a second time when President Bush pushed through his Medicare Advantage plan along with the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that Medicare Advantage also raised costs.
This is why the CBO calculated that Representative Ryan's voucher system would raise costs compared with the existing Medicare system. The CBO's projections imply that switching to the Ryan voucher system would raise the cost of buying Medicare equivalent policies by $30 trillion over Medicare's 75-year planning period.
This amount is approximately six times the size of the projected shortfall in Social Security over its 75-year planning period. It comes to almost $100,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. In other words, even in Washington, the burden of the Ryan plan is real money.
It is important to recognize that this $30 trillion figure is simply the increase in the cost to the economy of providing health care. This number does not include the shift in costs from the government to beneficiaries. The $30 trillion represents higher payments that would go to insurers, pharmaceutical companies, medical supply companies, doctors and other health care providers because the private system put in place under Ryan's plan is less efficient than the Medicare program.
This enormous waste, and the resulting transfer of income from taxpayers and beneficiaries to insurers and providers, has absolutely nothing to do with whether our preference is for big or small government. The relevant question is whether we want ordinary workers and retirees to pay tens of trillions more for their health care in the decades ahead in order to enrich the insurers and health care industry.
The answer to that question for the vast majority of voters would be a loud "no." If the public understood what the CBO is telling us - that the Ryan plan will hugely raise the cost of health care for retirees so that the vast majority will no longer be able to afford plans that are anywhere near the quality provided by Medicare - then there is no doubt that there would be massive opposition to his proposal.
However, if this massive upward redistribution of income is concealed as a debate over the size and role of government, then those who want to destroy Medicare may get their way. So, just remember, tell the "size and role" folks to shove it. The debate over the Ryan plan is about money; it's that simple.
This is the truth, folks! There is nothing of value in conservatism. The problem is that democrats don't want to exploit that failure. They are essentially beholden to the same payers that repukes are. If they wanted, they could accomplish any reasonable conservative suggestion that had merit. They apparently don't want to.
There are not two parties; one has less danger than the other, but both serve corporate masters.
Some Good News For A Change
How the Florida Tomato Industry Went from Being One of the Most Repressive Employers to the Most Progressive
For an industry that has nine cases of slavery prosecuted in the last 15 years, that's really saying something.
The Atlantic / By Barry Estabrook
Sitting in a room at a packing plant near Immokalee in southwest Florida with about 50 migrant laborers, I learned that I had a right to earn a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and could take regular breaks in a shady area provided by the farm—including a lunch break. I was told exactly what constituted a full bucket of tomatoes when I was working on a "piece," or per-bucket basis. For some of my work, I would get an extra penny per pound for the tomatoes I picked—which amounted to a 50-percent raise. I was informed that sexual harassment would not be tolerated. And finally I received a card with the number of a 24-hour confidential help line. "If you see a problem, talk to someone—your friends, your boss, us, anyone, just say something," said Lucas Benitez, one of the members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a grassroots labor rights group that was responsible for the lesson. Until this year none of my classmates, many of whom were veteran tomato workers, had ever attended a session like this one, where their fellow workers outlined their new rights and responsibilities under the CIW's Fair Food Code of Conduct as employees of Pacific Tomato Growers, a major corporation that markets its products under the brand names Sunripe and Suncoast.
Last November, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a cooperative of agribusinesses that grow the vast majority of Florida tomatoes, signed the Fair Food agreement with the CIW. The CIW had been working since 1993 to improve the lot of farm workers. With a few pen strokes, the Florida tomato industry went from being one of the most repressive employers in the country (nine cases involving abject slavery in Florida fields have been prosecuted in the past 15 years) to being on the road to becoming the most progressive groups in the fruit and vegetable industry.
"You cannot believe how big a change it has been," said one CIW member, recalling that the last time she had tried to gain entry to Pacific's facility in the mid-1990s, she'd been met by locked gates and armed sheriff's deputies. "It's like a time machine has suddenly whisked us from a Charles Dickens workhouse to an auto plant in the 21st century. The difference in attitude is that great."
After signing the agreement, the growers and CIW members decided that the 2010-2011 growing season would be a transitional year. Two companies—Pacific and Six L's—would work with the CIW to create a template for how the words of the agreement would be translated into actions in the fields. The course I attended was one result of those efforts. The plan is that all 33,000 Florida tomato pickers will receive similar training next year. Together, the workers group and the growers also decided what would constitute a full bucket of tomatoes. They instituted a safety program that includes regular breaks in shady areas, establishes a complaints line, banned all forms of sexual harassment, and took steps to ensure that any incidents of slavery were identified and prosecuted.
Every major fast food chain and food service corporation has agreed to the Fair Foods principles and, as a key part of the deal, has begun to funnel an extra penny per pound for the tomatoes they buy directly to workers. But unfortunately, a single dark cloud still hangs over the efforts of the CIW and the growers. With the notable exception of Whole Foods Market, not a single supermarket chain has come aboard. Supermarkets buy about half of Florida's tomatoes, so they represent an enormous amount of lost wages to workers. The noncompliance of the grocery giants also deprives the workers of the moral and financial suasion that such large buyers can exert to make growers adhere to the agreement.
In recent months, the CIW has intensified its efforts against grocery chains, holding a series of demonstrations at Publix Super Markets, Stop & Shop, Giant Food Supermarkets, and Trader Joe's. "We didn't come this far by fainting if companies didn't come to the table the first time we called," said the coalition's Greg Asbed.
You mean unions can be good?
You mean workers should be treated fairly, and, gasp, nicely too?
You mean being considerate to people is worthwhile?
You mean people should make fair wages for back-breaking work?
BUT, grocery chains are not on-board.
Guess I can't get too excited then.
Compliments to the growers.
Get Your Brain Around This Crap!
Senator Bernie Sanders
April 26, 2011
The Federal Reserve propped up banks with big infusions of cash during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Banks that took billions of dollars from the Fed then turned around and loaned money back to the federal government. It was a sweet deal for the bankers. They received interest payments on the government securities that were up to 12 times greater than the Fed's rock bottom rates, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis conducted for Sen. Bernie Sanders. "This report confirms that ultra-low interest loans provided by the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis turned out to be direct corporate welfare to big banks," Sanders said. "Instead of using the Fed loans to reinvest in the economy, some of the largest financial institutions in this country appear to have lent this money back to the federal government at a higher rate of interest by purchasing U.S. government securities."
The Federal Reserve claimed at the time that the emergency loans were needed so banks could provide credit to small- and medium-sized businesses that desperately needed money to create jobs or to prevent layoffs. "Instead of using this money to reinvest in the productive economy, however, it appears that JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America used a large portion of these near-zero-interest loans to buy U.S. government securities and earn a higher interest rate at the same time, providing free money to some of the largest financial institutions in this country," Sanders said.
The Fed transactions during the financial crisis were detailed in documents that the central bank was forced to disclose last Dec. 1 to comply with a Sanders provision in the Wall Street reform law. Sanders subsequently asked the Congressional Research Service to compare the emergency Fed loans with investments in government securities by the nation's six largest bank holding companies. The study found, for example, that:
In the 1st quarter of 2008, JPMorgan Chase had an average of $1.2 billion in outstanding Fed loans with a 2.1 percent interest rate while it held $2.2 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 4.6 percent.
In the 4th quarter of 2008, JPMorgan Chase had an average of $10.1 billion in outstanding Fed loans with a 0.6 percent interest rate while it held $10.3 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 1.7 percent.
In the 1st quarter of 2009, JPMorgan Chase had an average of $29.2 billion in outstanding Fed loans with a 0.3 percent interest rate and held $34.6 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 2.1 percent.
In the 2nd quarter of 2009, JPMorgan Chase had an average of $7.6 billion in outstanding Fed loans with an interest rate of 0.25 percent interest. Meanwhile, it held $34.6 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 2.3 percent.
In the 1st quarter of 2008, Citigroup received over $5.2 billion in Fed loans with a 3.3 percent interest rate and held $7.9 billion in U.S. Treasury Securities with an average yield of 4.4 percent.
In the 4th quarter of 2008, Citigroup received $15.8 billion in Fed loans through the Fed's Primary Dealer Credit Facility with a 1.2 percent interest rate; $11.6 billion in Term Auction Facility loans with a 1.1 percent interest rate; and $4.9 billion in Commercial Paper Funding Facility loans with a 2.7 percent interest rate. It simultaneously held $24 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 3.1 percent.
In the 1st quarter of 2009, Citigroup received over $12.1 billion in Fed loans with an interest rate of 0.5 percent while holding $14.3 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 3.9 percent.
In the 2nd quarter of 2009, Citigroup received over $23 billion in Fed loans with an interest rate of 0.5 percent while holding $24.3 billion in U.S. government securities with an average yield of 2.3 percent.
In the 3rd quarter of 2009, Bank of America had an average of $2.9 billion in outstanding Fed loans with an interest rate of 0.25 percent while purchasing $23.5 billion in Treasury Securities with an average yield of 3.2 percent.
Another Sanders provision in the financial reform law required the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed's activities during the financial crisis. Sanders asked the non-partisan research arm of Congress to examine in greater detail the sorts of transactions that the Congressional Research Service highlighted. "I hope the GAO will closely investigate this issue as part of the top-to-bottom audit that I included in the Wall Street reform bill last year," the senator said.
Remember whose administration allowed this. Bush!
Remember whose administration continued this scam. Obama!
Remember that our MSM has not said anything about this - because they are bought and paid for by...
Remember we live in the United Corporate States of America.
And remember, NO ONE HAS GONE TO PRISON OVER THIS ENTIRE RIP-OFF! PEOPLE LOST TRILLIONS; ECONOMIES ARE STILL REELING; AND WALL STREET IS DOING BETTER THAN EVER. AIN'T CAPITALISM GREAT! PRIVATIZE PROFITS AND SOCIALIZE LOSSES.
WHAT A COUNTRY!