Friday, October 10


Quebec farmer shoots cow It was one of two cows that were shot to protest what farmers see as a lack of provincial government compensation after the mad cow outbreak. The comic parallels to this are myriad. Other than the NatLamp reference, another that comes to mind is the Monkees, when they're being threatened by gangsters. One warns that if they don't comply "we'll do this" and smacks Peter. Micky responds, "Oh yeah? Well you better watch out or we'll do this!" and smacks Peter harder. Ah, the Monkees. It was a simpler time.

Thursday, October 9


The latest case of mad cow disease in Japan raises concerns that our re-opened border to Canadian beef has allowed mad-cow-infected cattle into the country. Japanese authorities said a 23-month-old bull slaughtered on Sept. 29 tested positive for mad cow, the eighth case detected in the country. Finding the disease in such a young animal could have global implications because it was widely thought mad cow does not develop until cattle are 2-to-3 years old. The US is letting 30-month-old cows in right now.

"The implications of this case are not good for the USDA because it suggests infected animals could be coming over from Canada into the United States and into our food supply," said Michael Hansen, a senior research associate with Consumers Union in Yonkers, N.Y., who has focused on mad cow issues.

Wednesday, October 8


Here's some news that got no play in the current climate: "Meat inspectors repeatedly warned the USDA that ground beef at a ConAgra plant was contaminated with harmful bacteria months before a food-poisoning outbreak last year, but their concerns were ignored, an audit by the department's inspector general says."

But there's more: The USDA caused consumers' sickness and death by breaking the law, that's right, I said breaking the law! "The audit also found that inspectors didn't perform their own tests and failed to review other test results available to them, even though law requires them to."

By the way, in case anyone hands out that HACCP-is-working crapola, remind them that "the auditors blamed some of the inspectors' shortcomings on gaps in the Agriculture Department's meat safety policies."

It's not like ConAgra was squeaky clean - or, well, anything other than covered in feces. "Auditors also said ConAgra failed to respond to the contamination quickly. They noted the company was aware its own tests on meat trimmings, which are ground into hamburger, showed 63 samples were positive for E. coli months before the recall."

In related non-covered news: "In 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture impaired the government's ability to obtain the best possible advice on foodborne illness" by stacking an important advisory committee with such industry luminaries as the American Meat Institute.

Tuesday, October 7


Another study has confirmed that tea lowers cholesterol, while a still different study reveals that tea fights inflammation. All benefits are increased by 23% if you hold your pinkie out while drinking it.

Monday, October 6


It's not funny, really, but the mauling of Roy Horn by one of the tigers he kept imprisoned in order to provide his million-dollar livelihood, a tiger he had just swatted in the face with a microphone five times, is at the very least highly ironic. So while we should all wish the man a full recovery from the serious wounds he suffered, I go further, wishing also that a recovered Roy Horn will devote his life to disabusing Americans of the notion that big exotic animals exist as playthings to entertain us.

Perhaps he could join forces with Sarah Baeckler, a researcher who worked undercover for 1,000 hours at a Malibu, Calif., facility that trains chimpanzees for Hollywood movies. "Trainers, she says, repeatedly kicked, punched and beat chimps with hammers to make them obedient." While I'm not alleging any particular animal abuse on the part of Roy, there's a simple point here: Wild animals don't want to do tricks. They have to be pressured into it, one way or another. It's not funny, it's not educational, and it certainly doesn't speak well of us as humans. It's got to stop.