Tuesday Mashup Part One (7/27/10)

  • 1) Gee, what a typically hilarious Fix Noise headline.

    Of course, as you read the actual story, you discover the following…

    The extreme overgrowth and underbrush on the hillside behind the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena, California, prompted GSA’s Pacific Rim Region property management to take quick action to avoid summer fires.

    Ultimately, the choice was easy: Use a herd of goats. The decision meant a cost-saving to taxpayers over hiring manual labor and proved to be better for the environment than bulldozers.

    The unusually wet winter and spring caused the overgrowth, which, in California, always means the risk of summer wildfires and grass fires because of tinder underbrush.

    And by the way, GSA stands for Government Services Administration.

    So, basically, it was the idea of the government to save money using the goats to clear the brush instead of paying workers to do it.

    Gosh, what will the public sector think of next?

  • 2) Also, this AP story tells us the following (on Obama and the economy)…

    “This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess or the policies that are leading out of the mess,” Obama said recently in Las Vegas.

    Trouble is, it’s a tough sell to voters who’ve seen little progress.

    Unemployment is stuck near double digits and polls show many voters have decided Obama’s policies are to blame, not his predecessor’s.

    Oh, I beg to differ (here) – not saying Obama couldn’t have done more, but let’s be fair here.

  • 3) Also, The New York Times recently reported the following (here)…

    At a closed-door meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, participants said Democrats were clearly divided while Republicans wanted assurances that any bill would be developed openly, allowing them to propose amendments. In a sign of how combustible the issue could be, Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and the committee’s chairman, has so far refused to make that commitment.

    Gee, I wonder why Baucus wouldn’t commit to allowing the Repugs to propose amendments?

    Maybe this explains it (the headline says it all).

  • 4) Finally (sticking with the Times), Eric Schlosser, the author of “Fast Food Nation,” wrote the following Op-Ed recently (here)…

    EVERY day, about 200,000 Americans are sickened by contaminated food. Every year, about 325,000 are hospitalized by a food-borne illness. And the number who are killed annually by something they ate is roughly the same as the number of Americans who’ve been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

    Those estimates, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest the scale of the problem. But they fail to convey the human toll. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems face an elevated risk from food-borne pathogens like listeria, campylobacter and salmonella. By far the most vulnerable group, however, are children under the age of 4. Our food will never be perfectly safe — and yet if the Senate fails to pass the food safety legislation now awaiting a vote, tens of thousands of American children will become needlessly and sometimes fatally ill.

    Almost one year ago, the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act with bipartisan support. A similar bill, the F.D.A. Food Safety Modernization Act, was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in November. This legislation would grant the Food and Drug Administration, which has oversight over 80 percent of the nation’s food, the authority to test widely for dangerous pathogens and improve the agency’s ability to trace outbreaks back to their source. Most important, it would finally give the agency the power to order the recall of contaminated foods — and to punish companies that knowingly sell them.

    This bill is supported by an unusual set of advocacy groups: the American Public Health Association, Consumers Union, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, among others. Last week, a poll for Consumers Union found that 80 percent of Americans want Congress to empower the F.D.A. to recall tainted foods.

    You’d think that a bill with such broad support, on a public health issue of such fundamental importance, would easily reach the floor of the Senate for a vote. But it has been languishing, stuck in some legislative limbo. If it fails to gain passage by the end of this session, Congress will have to start from scratch again next year.

    Here is more information on the Food Safety Modernization Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin. I would strongly urge anyone from Illinois or any other state of a senatorial cosponsor to contact the individuals listed to let them know that you support this legislation (and to contact any other senator to let them know also, click here).

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