Peanut butter linked to salmonella sickens 288 nationwide
By JOSH FUNK
OMAHA, Neb. — ConAgra Foods Inc. told consumers to discard certain jars of Peter Pan and Great Value
peanut butter after the spread was linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened almost 300 people
Lids of jars with a product code beginning "2111" can be returned to ConAgra for a refund, the company
The salmonella outbreak, which federal health officials said Wednesday has sickened 288 people in 39
states since August, was linked to tainted peanut butter produced by ConAgra at a plant in Sylvester,
Ga. How salmonella got into peanut butter is still under investigation, said Dr. Mike Lynch, an
epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
nails it. Quoting from a GOP talking points letter by Reps. John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra,
Thanks to the liberal mainstream media, Americans fully understand the consequences of continuing
our efforts in Iraq -- both in American lives and dollars. The American people do not understand
the consequences of abandoning that effort or the extreme views, goals, and intentions of the radical
Islamist movement that is fueling the war in Iraq and the attacks on westerners and unbelievers
throughout the world.
Oh, that "liberal" media... hammering the unwitting public with facts until they actually understand
the consequences of war. What could be more evil!
has kindly enlisted me in the latest meme: five blogs that make you think. He rightly observes that I
am often the dead leaf on the meme tree, and indeed I am not asking my five linked bloggers to
continue the meme unless they have a burning desire to do so. Here's the meme:
If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.
Here's my list, and it wasn't easy to choose... in part because many fine blogs were already chosen,
either in Mustang Bobby's list or in its close relatives:
Notes: One, the list is, quite arbitrarily, in reverse alphabetical order. Two, only two of the blogs
are truly well-known, but all are worth reading... indeed, all are on my daily list (though terrette
and Constance Reader tend not to blog daily, being constrained by their academic life and business
travel respectively), and all are inevitably thought- provoking. Three, I suspect most of the bloggers
at these blogs feel the same way about memes that I do... they're fun if one has time, but one should
never have a sense of obligation about them, and "real" blogging takes precedence.
PRIME Minister John Howard has launched a broadside against US presidential hopeful Barack Obama,
warning his victory could destroy Iraq and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Mr Howard's stinging attack against the popular Democrat, who formally launched his bid for the
Democratic candidacy overnight, also appears to commit Australian troops to staying in Iraq well into
Only days after saying Australia's alliance with the US was about more than his personal friendship
with US President George W Bush, Mr Howard warned that an Obama victory would be a boost for the
"If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as
possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats."
For the record, this is not the opinion of all Aussies:
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland said Mr Howard was virtually telling people not
to vote Democrat.
"It's the first time that I can recall that an Australian prime minister has engaged in US politics in
such a partisan way... actually telling US citizens what side of politics they should vote for," he
"It's most inappropriate, it demeans the Australia-US alliance to suggest its a relationship between
political parties rather than an enduring relationship between two people."
I have only two words for PM Howard. The second word is "off."
And I'll have to reevaluate my heretofore lukewarm response to Sen. Obama, who just announced his run.
Anyone who can draw that much of a response from a right-wing pro-Iraq-war politician half a world
away has to have something going for him.
This cat, whose human name I do not know, lives directly across the walkway from my front door. Its
humans are Asian, and appear to speak very little English. I've met the cat "in the fur" only one
time; it is the sweetest cat you could imagine, and is well cared-for and beautifully groomed...
although its tail appears to have had a possibly culture-related accident. In any case, for some
reason, the humans put those boots in the window about two days ago, and when the cat came to greet me
through the window when I came home yesterday, this post title immediately entered my mind.
Many doctors believe they have the right not to tell patients about treatments that they object to on
moral or religious grounds and to refuse to refer patients elsewhere for the care, according to the
first study to examine physicians' views on such situations.
In the survey of 1,144 doctors nationwide, 8 percent said they had no obligation to present all
possible options to patients, and 18 percent said they did not have to tell patients about other
doctors who provide care they found objectionable.
Based on the findings, the researchers estimate that more than 40 million Americans may be seeing
physicians who do not believe that they are obligated to disclose information about legal treatments
the doctor objects to, and 100 million have doctors who do not feel the need to refer patients to
Of the 1,144 who responded, 17 percent objected to "terminal sedation," 42 percent objected to
providing birth control to teens without parents' consent and 52 percent objected to abortion after
When the researchers asked the doctors about their sense of obligation when patients request such
procedures, they found that 86 percent felt obliged to present all possible options. But 6 percent
were undecided and 8 percent felt no such responsibility. Sixty-three percent felt it was ethical to
tell patients about their objections, and 18 percent felt no duty to refer patients to another
doctor. Eleven percent were undecided.
Male doctors and those who described themselves as religious were the most likely to feel that doctors
could tell patients about their objections and less likely to believe doctors must present all options
or offer a referral.
(Yeah, yeah; emphasis mine.)
If you are among those who believe as I do... that it's your body and your choice... you might want to
confirm up front that the doctor you are seeing will explore all legal treatment options with you
under all circumstances, or at the very least tell you when s/he is omitting a treatment option
because of personal moral objections, and offer you the opportunity to be referred to another doctor
who will address your concerns.
If you think this is only about abortion, you are likely to find yourself sadly mistaken.
I've worked for a lot of doctors over the span of my IT career, and they are a varied lot. Some of
them I have admired a great deal. Some have been downright offensive. But a great many of them,
however skilled, however professional, however well-intended, have a God complex to a degree I've not
found in any other profession (except maybe presidentin' 'n' deciderin'). They are accustomed to
making big decisions for people, and some of them are not reluctant to make those decisions on their
own initiative and without patient input.
No one will help us in dealing with that. No law will materially impact physicians' tendencies to
involve their own religious beliefs in what by rights should be purely medical decisions made by the
patient or his or her guardian. I doubt one could even effectively legislate this matter in this
direction (though it has been established that doctors can be legally prevented from mentioning
certain lawful options if their institution is federally funded). It is up to you to ask your doctor:
"Will you discuss with me all legal options in pursuit of my wellbeing?"
What's $2.9 trillion?
that's what. Not only that, but he's going to balance the budget by 2012, if he has to sell your
grandmother to do it. Considering his planned cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, that's not a bad
description of what he intends to do.
Democrats in Congress: this is your opportunity for a bit of Bush-whacking. If you can't get more than
a few concessions out of Bush in exchange for retaining a few of his favorite items (not including
wars) in this hail-Mary pass he's throwing, you don't deserve our support. Take him to the woodshed.
Mix even more metaphors than I have mixed in this paragraph if you have to, but use this obscene
budget to put a stop to Bush's wars!
UPDATE: as we should have anticipated, it's worse even than that...
Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake
has details, along with a link to a
scathing column in National Journal...
not exactly a liberal rag... explaining that so much of the funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, along
with the money required to deal with tax reform Bush supports, is off-budget, because if it
were not off-budget, the deficit would be too large for Bush to claim that he balanced the 2012
budget. In other words, as large as it is, even the nearly three trillion dollar Bush budget is a
lie... as is the claim that the budget balances in 2012.
Has Bush certifiably lost America now that he has lost
The ever-obnoxious Kurtz cannot resist a Bill Clinton potshot comparison, but goes on to list
many other media figures (one hesitates to say "reporters" or "news analysts" these days), mostly
those on the right, whom Bush has effectively lost.
Of course it's all silliness... Bush will do what he will do, public opinion and opinion-makers be
damned. But once in a while it's good to be reminded how few are now willing to join Bush in his
insanity. "The cheese stands alone... the cheese stands alone..."
You've all heard about the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
report on global warming... how human activity almost certainly is causing it, and how much worse it
is... and will become... than previously thought. Many news sources... especially those NOT
based in the U.S. ... have highlighted this milestone report. Here's a clip from the
The authors have reached some pretty depressing conclusions: that human activity has contributed to
climate change, and that even if we change our behaviour today, the planet will become a more
What is the background to the report?
The UN's Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation established the IPCC in 1988.
It does not do its own research, but rather assesses published data to provide regular updates on the
state of our knowledge about climate change. It last published an assessment in September 2001.
On April 6, the IPCC will report on the impact of climate change and the adaptation and vulnerability
of people and wildlife; and on May 4, it will report on potential ways to mitigate the problem.
Who wrote it?
The report has around 130 lead authors, including meteorologists and climatologists from across the
The three reports will bring together the work of hundreds of scientists. More than 800 scientists
have contributed, and more than 450 lead authors from more than 130 countries have been involved. At
least 2,500 expert reviewers have looked over, and commented on, the draft versions.
What does it say?
Emissions of greenhouse gases are expected to further change the climate over the next 100 years, it
says. As a result, sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre, snow will disappear
from all but the highest mountains, deserts will spread, oceans will become acidic, leading to the
destruction of coral reefs, and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.
A big rise in sea levels would be catastrophic, with millions of people forced to leave their homes,
particularly those living in tropical, low-lying areas. This will create waves of immigrants into
countries that may struggle to cope with the influx.
So is Mr. Bush ready to jump right in and save us from this impending environmental catastrophe?
Not so much:
Bush administration rejects demands for caps on greenhouse gasses
By William Neikirk
The Bush administration embraced the report but rejected demands for a mandatory system of capping
"greenhouse gas" emissions, such as carbon dioxide. Instead, the administration said President Bush
would rely on his plans to develop more renewable fuel and require more efficient vehicles.
It's not enough. Bush knows it's not enough. He knows we know it's not enough. He knows Jenna and
not-Jenna will live to see the result of his negligence. He knows his inaction ultimately will not
even benefit his owners, um, I mean, campaign contributors. He knows that, however little he cares
about the lives of people in New Orleans, Katrina was bad for business... and a hurricane like
Katrina is an event almost certain to be repeated, possibly within Mr. Bush's term in office. At
this point, there is nothing to be gained... nothing... by delaying action on the few avenues left to
humanity to address the problem.
Yet Mr. Bush is unmoved. What will it take before we remove him from the office from which he has done
such a vast amount of harm to the whole world?
is the IPCC summary for policy makers (.pdf, about 21 pages).
"There are no hereditary kings in America," wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States
District Court in Detroit in her ruling last August that Mr. Bush, in ordering the NSA to conduct
wiretaps without FISA warrants, not just on specific terrorist suspects but on an unknown large swath
of the American public, violated the First and Fourth Amendments as well as FISA.
of the ACLU could tell you otherwise. We do, after all, seem to have a king.
For possibly the first time in American history, a Justice Department has not only declined to order
an FBI investigation of the matter, even though such an investigation could lead to findings that Bush
violated the law and the Constitution, but has also attempted to moot the case on appeal by a bit of
chicanery that doesn't begin to pass the sniff test. Such an FBI investigation happened to Nixon in
response to Watergate. It happened to Clinton in response to Clenisgate, or actually to the subsequent
perjury charges against Clinton (of which he was acquitted). But it took an ACLU lawsuit against the
NSA to initiate this case that the increasingly misnamed Justice Department would not begin.
Why does Bush get to skate free? Are we a nation of laws, or are we not?
What happened next is well-known to most of you, but no less shocking for that. Bamford:
On Jan. 17, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales unexpectedly declared that President Bush had ended the
program, deciding to again seek warrants in all cases. Exactly what kind of warrants — individual, as
is required by the law, or broad-based, which would probably still be illegal — is as yet unknown.
The action may have been designed to forestall a potentially adverse ruling by the federal appeals
court in Cincinnati, which had scheduled oral arguments on the case for today. At that hearing, the
administration is now expected to argue that the case is moot and should be thrown out — while
reserving the right to restart the program at any time.
But that’s a bit like a bank robber coming into court and arguing that, although he has been sticking
up banks for the past half-decade, he has agreed to a temporary halt and therefore he shouldn’t be
prosecuted. Independent of the A.C.L.U. case, a criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and a special
prosecutor should begin immediately. The question that must finally be answered is whether the
president is guilty of committing a felony by continuously reauthorizing the warrantless eavesdropping
program for the past five years. And if so, what action must be taken?
Bush is like a bank robber arguing that he's gone straight and (by his twisted logic) shouldn't be
charged with past robberies... now there's a simile for you. But if this case is mooted, Bush will
have gotten away with indisputably illegal and unconstitutional acts... and will be in a position to
resume committing them immediately (if indeed he has ever ceased committing them).
I ask again: have we a government of laws? and if so, is the President (or whatever kind of occupant
of the White House Mr. Bush is) above the law? and if he is, in what meaningful way is he different
from a king?
I'm sorry; I didn't sign up for monarchy... and neither did you, if you're an American citizen. One
central founding principle of our nation is on the line here. We can only hope that our federal courts
are up to the task of denying George W. Bush the crown that George Washington, according to tradition,
He seems constitutionally incapable (pun intended) of telling the truth about anything. From
Analysis: "Surge" Far Larger Than 20,000 Troops
By Paul Kiel - February 1, 2007, 12:43 PM
A[n] analysis released today by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the administration, in its
public comments, has vastly underestimated the actual number of extra troops that will be deployed to
Iraq under the president's "surge" plan.
The administration's estimate of approximately 21,000 extra troops only counts combat units, according
to the analysis, and because combat units require support forces, the actual number of additional
troops who will be in Iraq will likely exceed 35,000.
And that's the low-end troop estimate of the
The high end is 48,000 troops... more than twice the number the preznit has spoken of in public.
What's that? you want to know how much it costs in dollars? Again from the TPMmuckraker article:
Update: A statement out from Spratt says that the administration, in an estimate given to
Congress, gave a cost far below (about $3 billion) the actual one:
According to CBO, these additional troop deployments will cost between $7 billion and $10 billion
this year alone, $4 billion to $7 billion more than the Administration’s estimate. Total cost of
the troop increase could range between $9 billion and $49 billion, which reflects the costs of a
four-month and a 24-month troop increase.
Count on 48,000 troops... or more. Count on a 24-month increase... or longer. Count on the $49
billion... or higher.
I have a mental image of George W. Bush getting up in the morning and immediately, before he leaves
the bedroom, lying to Laura about something, just to make sure everything is in working order before
he goes out to lie to the whole rest of the world.
The thing that astonishes me is that Bush is unfazed when caught in a lie, which seems to happen
several times a day... he is unapologetic and he does not change his behavior.
Then again, why should he? Bush seems to have a whole team of people whose primary occupation is
destroying the careers of his critics, including people who point out that he has lied. Absent a moral
center (and Bush's is most certainly absent), what motivation does he have to tell the truth... ever?
OK. Here I sit, with my comfort food and my Shiner Bock beside me (I gather from something I read today
that in her last years, Molly quit drinking, intending to "die sober" (and succeeding), but it seems
appropriate to drink a real Texas beer in her memory), thinking of days past and days that might have
been, had Molly lived.
For the record, I did not know Molly Ivins. I never met her. I never spoke with her. I never heard her
give a speech... that was Ann Richards's forte; Molly gave relatively few speeches. I wrote Molly only
once, sending her a particularly juicy, astringent bit of doggerel about Ken Starr during the "late
unpleasantness" (Molly's favorite term for the impeachment of Bill Clinton). So I don't have any
unique firsthand stories to tell.
But oh, how Ms. Ivins influenced me. I don't know how many hundreds of columns she wrote, but of those
published in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram and its online equivalent, I read no fewer than a hundred,
maybe two hundred. A lot of those were published on lists in the days prior to the web, and I saved
many of them as text files. It's possible I still have those files, stored away somewhere.
I learned a lot from Molly, more even than from my local comrades in the liberal politicking business,
I learned that Texans can be, and frequently are, liberal, that we must be upfront about it, that we
cannot be shut up (short of killing us or putting us in solitary confinement, which the preznit may
yet manage to do), and that we can be gracious and civil without compromising our message in the
least. I wish I had Molly's gift for graciousness, but it seems to be lacking in this
son-of-a-railroad-worker/schoolteacher. Now that Molly's dead, we'll have to do without it.
I first heard a conservative use the word "shrill" as a description of Molly Ivins, back in the late
1990's before it was fashionable the way it is now. Indirectly, then, Molly taught me that being
designated "shrill" by a conservative is a compliment. I'd rather be shrill any day than be a liar in
the manner of George W. Bush, or even mistaken as often as more sincere conservatives. Yes, "shrill"
is just fine with me. The real irony is that Molly was anything but shrill. She showed her adversaries
a grace and a presumption of good faith that I find difficult in my own work. Initially she even
showed George W. Bush the respect due his office, though in recent years she was compelled, as all of
us have been, to confront the person who stole the office, the man who would be king. But there was
never a columnist more respectful of her adversaries than Ms. Ivins. Ever. (Maybe a background at St.
John's School in Houston, followed by a degree at Smith College, followed by a year in Paris, really
does refine one. I was a poor kid; I wouldn't know... though I did manage by hook and crook to attend
the public high school next door to St. John's, and that public school was far from shabby.)
I'm certain I've forgotten nine-tenths of what I intended to write here... that's due either to my
grief or to the Shiner Bock. You may hear more Molly lore as I rediscover my archives... or,
considering my age and memory, you may not. Either way, Molly has made her mark, on me and on our
society as a whole. Any one of us can only dream of accomplishing what she did in her all-too-short
Molly died at age 62. I am 58. My family is not particularly long-lived, as such things go. I cannot
help wondering what I would do if I knew I had only four years left. I am not a mover and shaker;
I can only hope to live to see a restoration of the Constitution to the center of our government in
fact as well as in principle... and to watch Bush and Cheney sweat in the dock in The Hague. Molly did
not live to see these things herself; all of us will have to do it for her. Let us take up the battle
and the challenge she has left us.
The title is parodied from a line in the superb Chicago jazz singer/pianist Patricia Barber's
"Postmodern Blues," on her CD "Modern Cool" from 1992 (I think). If you are not familiar with this
most excellent musician, by all means, check her out. Apart from her stellar musicianship, she is
a socialist (her critics might say communist), an intellectual, and an out lesbian. My kind of gal.
(Well, I wouldn't want to date her...)
UPDATE: be sure to visit Kevin Hayden's moving
memorial to Molly
at The American Street. If you're surfing from home, be sure to click through from Kevin's post to
Daniel DiRito's YouTube video of Molly's appearance in The Dildo Diaries. NOT safe for work... but
utterly hilarious, especially the joke at the very end of the video.
UPDATE: OK. I decided I wanted to be able to find this video later. The
easiest way to assure that is to place a link in my own blog. So here it is: an excerpt from
The Dildo Diaries.
So there... that ought to trigger the web filters at a few businesses.
was 62 years old. She died of breast cancer; this was her third episode that I know about.
is the AP obit.
is the last of Molly's columns that I can find.
Her Wikipedia biography is somewhat... derogatory, and has been rightly cited for lack of balance.
I will not link it.
(UPDATE:The Texas Observer
has several columns memorializing Molly... I should have looked there first.)
Losing Molly Ivins less than a half year after losing Ann Richards is just too much. I'll write
more about Molly and her influence on me when I can see the screen a little better. Meanwhile,
please heed her advice in the last paragraph of her last column:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of
us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to
make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of
there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in
Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop
R.I.P., Molly Ivins.
UPDATE: Here's a
short video clip
from "The Big Buy" in which Molly and Jim Hightower speak about Tom DeLay. As grievous an omission as
it seems now, I never met Molly or heard her speak in real life. Her primary medium was print, and it
was in that medium that I came to appreciate her greatness.
UPDATE: The Texas Observer's web site seems to be overwhelmed tonight,
but of course
has published the Observer's statement and obituary.
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