Archive for August 2008
I’ve blogged about this before, and I thought Creekstone Farms had prevailed. But no. AP’s Mike Apuzzo reports:
The Bush administration can prohibit meat packers from testing their animals for mad cow disease, a federal appeals court said Friday.
The dispute pits the Agriculture Department, which tests about 1 percent of cows for the potentially deadly disease, against a Kansas meat packer that wants to test all its animals.
Larger meat packers opposed such testing. If Creekstone Farms Premium Beef began advertising that its cows have all been tested, other companies fear they too will have to conduct the expensive tests.
The Bush administration says the low level of testing reflects the rareness of the disease. Mad cow disease has been linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Great Britain. Only three cases have been reported in the U.S., all involving cows, not humans.
A federal judge ruled last year that Creekstone must be allowed to conduct the test because the Agriculture Department can only regulate disease “treatment.” Since there is no cure for mad cow disease and the test is performed on dead animals, the judge ruled, the test is not a treatment.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned that ruling, saying diagnosis can be considered part of treatment. …
Creekstone wants to test all its cattle because it sells to Japan, which insists on 100% testing. And the cost of 100% testing would add about 1¢/lb to the cost of beef—plus would probably find a lot of mad cow disease, which I believe is the beef industry’s fear.
Note how the Dept. of Agriculture does whatever the big beef producers tell it to do?
Read it. It begins:
For my sins, I was once a public relations guy, for an educational institution, and I held positions roughly in that domain (e.g., as public communications manager for a medical research institute, although I managed the means not the message) for the bulk of my professional life until I finally took up a position as an academic philosopher four years ago. It was not my vocation, I hasten to add, but the way I supported my book habit and fondness for eating and feeding my family.
I have been asked to address a science communication class on the failure of science to communicate to the public, and that led me to reflect upon my former life in the dark side. I have come to this conclusion: the greatest tragedy of public polity, in science and without, in the democratic nations, one that looks very likely to me to be the major proximal cause of the ultimate failure of democracy, is the invention of public relations.
It’s worth noting that before the second world war, what we now call public relations was called propaganda: that which is propagated (to the audience). Goebbels‘ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was, in effect, a public relations campaign designed to ensure not that the audience was enlightened, but the contrary. Propaganda, and modern public relations, is fundamentally about changing attitudes, not informing.
And moreover, it is about changing attitudes not informing people, despite what the erstwhile founder of modern PR, Edward Bernays, said. From the very beginning, including the work done by Bernays himself, public relations has deliberately worked to promote products that were known to be unsafe or unhealthy, such as tobacco. For that reason the public relations “official” body, the Public Relations Society of America, was formed in 1948 and immediately failed to take action on unethical behaviours.
The history of propaganda is often separated from that of public relations, due in no small part to the efforts of public relations professionals writing their “history”, but an unbiassed view sees the identity immediately. And from the start, PR worked against science, especially medical science. Here is a list of the use of PR to defend the indefensible, which I quote in the indented parts: …
It’s worse than I thought. Glenn Greenwald:
As the police attacks on protesters in Minnesota continue — see this video of the police swarming a bus transporting members of Earth Justice, seizing the bus and leaving the group members stranded on the side of the highway — it appears increasingly clear that it is the Federal Government that is directing this intimidation campaign. Minnesota Public Radio reported yesterday that “the searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office. Deputies coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Today’s Star Tribune added that the raids were specifically “aided by informants planted in protest groups.” Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force — an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI — was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate “vegan groups” and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.
So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do. And as extraordinary as that conduct is, more extraordinary is the fact that …
A commenter asked me whether he could get an RSS feed of just the shaving posts. I told him I would check, and on looking at the WordPress FAQs, I see:
Just go to any tag page, like this one, and add /feed/ to the end of it. To get an Atom feed just add /feed/atom/ to the end of it.
So http://leisureguy.wordpress.com/category/shaving/feed/ should get you only the shaving posts, http://leisureguy.wordpress.com/category/megs/feed/ only the Megs posts, and so on.
I just tried it in Google Reader, and it works.
Rove is right on target, no?
Republican strategist Karl Rove said on Face The Nation Sunday that he expects presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to choose a running mate based on political calculations, not the person’s readiness for the job.
“I think he’s going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice,” Rove said. “He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.”
Rove singled out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, also a Face The Nation guest, as an example of such a pick.
“With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished,” Rove said. “I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America.” [i.e., Richmond, VA, with a metropolitan area population of 1.1 million ; Palin has been governor of Alaska for a few months, Alaska pop. 683,478. – LG]
Rove continued: “So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I’m really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States.”