Friday, April 9


While his national security adviser sat in front of the 9/11 commission to argue that there was no mention of attacks on the U.S. in the 8/6/2001 memo about attacks on the U.S., our president shamelessly pandered to his far right, the "conservationists" who also happen to be gun lovers - folks like Ducks Unlimited, Quai Unlimited, the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association. The Guardian (er, "Guardian Unlimited") mentions that another guest, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance proudly "provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, fishermen, trappers and scientific wildlife management professionals." What I want to know is, how come conservatives are so adamant about no "special rights" for homosexuals, but when it comes to another minority - one that's demonstrably dangerous to the life and limb of ordinary citizens - they're willing to push as hard as they can for... special rights? How does that work?

Thursday, April 8


That's USA Today's headline. It's no longer an abstract theory: A new EPA study says that 300,000 to 600,000 babies born in 2000 got "unacceptable" levels of methyl mercury from their mothers eating "a diet rich in fish," potentially dooming them to "developmental problems and difficulties with visual and motor integration." The study's author says it emphasizes "the importance of paying attention to the advisories" - you know, the convoluted instructions about which fish you can have more than once a week, or once a month, and which will kill you straight out, etc. yet being sure you eat enough fish to get those fantastical health benefits. I thought veganism was the one where you had to be constantly paying attention to what you ate.

Wednesday, April 7


"Scientists have detected the first signs that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may have crossed into sheep in a study that is likely to rekindle anxieties over the safety of lamb and mutton. One of three tests used to determine whether sheep that had seemingly died from scrapie were in fact infected with BSE (also known as "mad cow" disease) has produced positive results," reports the Independent. Oh no! But wait: "Scientific experts who carried out the tests have nevertheless concluded that the case "could not be considered to be" BSE, although they have not ruled out the possibility that this is the first case of BSE disease in sheep. 'Some characteristics [of the test] were similar to experimental BSE in sheep and also to [an] experimental strain of sheep scrapie.'" Phew! But wait: "Experiments suggest that BSE could be easily transmitted to sheep, and it could, like scrapie, be passed down the generations. This would mean that BSE could still be infecting the national flock today, more than a decade after meat and bonemeal was banned."

Tuesday, April 6


"New Jersey's senators, Corzine and Lautenberg, are urging federal scientists to determine whether eating mad cow-tainted meat could have caused a cluster of deaths from the fatal, brain-destroying disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease among people linked to the defunct Garden State Racetrack." Skarbek seems to have picked up another couple of confirmed CJD cases after the NYT Magazine piece; she "has documented 13 deaths among residents of New Jersey and nearby states since 1995, all listed as due to classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease on their death certificates, in track workers and patrons presumed to have eaten at the track's restaurant. Another six deaths also appear to fit the pattern," but they're awaiting confirmation either of the cause of death or the racetrack connection. So it looks like according to Skarbek, we have 13 definites, 19 probables for a one-in-a-million disease.


Nearly 250,000 people signed a petition calling for the abolition of bullfighting in Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital. The BBC reports that 21 councillors voted in favour, 15 against, with two abstentions. The ban still could theoretically be vetoed, and "traditionalists" are wringing their hands and stomping their feet, but it looks like the tide has really turned in this town, which had staged the third most bullfights of any city, killing 100 bulls a year. On to Madrid and Seville, number one and two, next. Either way, Beijing ain't gonna be catching up - it has "given up its drive to host a bullfighting performance in Asia's biggest bull ring. The bullring has a seating capacity of 3,000 and is intended to open this May. However, project officials are now consulting with investment companies about converting the area into a multifaceted entertainment facility. Many people have argued that bullfighting is a cruel form of entertainment, which will not only injures and kills bulls but also has the potential to tarnish Beijing's-and China's-image." Not if you keep that crap out, it doesn't.

Monday, April 5


Amazing that they had to study 38,000 men and women aged 20 to 97 to confirm this, they found that "fish-eaters, vegetarians and especially vegans had lower Body Mass Index than meat-eaters." What were the greatest contributors to the meat-eaters' heaviness? "High protein and low fibre intakes," according to Nature. (via Vegan Porn) But at least those who are overdoing the meat are cutting back on the dreaded carbs, right? Oh, except that "low-carb dieters eat too many carbs!" Yes, "adults who are reducing their carb intakes are still eating about 128 grams of refined carbohydrates a day, the study found. That compares with the estimated 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day recommended by some low-carb diets." Hmmm, so what do you get when you eat not enoug fiber, too much protein, and too many carbs? Fat, it would seem.