Archive for February 21st, 2007
Maybe Congress can put a stop to this sort of thing:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from dangerous consumer products. Currently, the three-person commission has a vacancy. Media reports indicate that President Bush will likely fill the position with Michael Baroody, “executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation” and “has called for weakening the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
While at NAM, Baroody repeatedly lobbied for looser business regulations, at the expense of public safety:
– Asbestos Regulations: NAM opposes tougher rules regulating asbestos and in 2003, teamed up with the asbestos industry and spent $180,000 opposing asbestos reform legislation.
– Highway Safety: In 2000, NAM successfully killed a bill in the Senate that would have helped reduce safety risks to motorists by requiring tire manufacturers to report accident data and potential defects to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Board.
– Global Warming: NAM’s official position states that scientific data have “not confirmed evidence of global warming that can be attributed to human activities” and calls for “voluntary” measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It “opposes any federal or state government actions regarding climate change that could adversely affect the international competitiveness of the U.S. marketplace economy.” In 2001, Baroody wrote to Bush and personally thanked him for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol.
– Occupational Hazards: In 2001, NAM opposed the reduction of occupational hazards by attempting to kill the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s ergonomics standard. In an attempt to mitigate the “unwarranted litigation” that NAM argued would result from the standard’s implementation, NAM filed suit in federal court.
Bush has repeatedly attempted to weaken regulations that protect the American public. He nominated Susan Dudley, who was formerly director of regulatory studies at the industry-backed Mercatus Center, to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which holds sway over federal regulatory agencies like the EPA. More recently, Bush issued a directive that would give the White House greater control over federal regulations.
From today’s LA Times, this stir-fry pan:
Though it’s made in Sheboygan, Wis., this is the pan that Vicki Fan and the crew at Beacon use for stir-frying rather than a Chinese (or Japanese) wok. Smaller and easier to handle than many traditional woks, the Vollrath pan has a single long handle with a “Gatorgrip” coating — which means the handle won’t get hot and you can maneuver it much like a sauté pan. The flat bottom sits level on the stove and doesn’t require a separate base like many older-style woks do. And it’s made from carbon steel, which heats more evenly and is more durable than aluminum. (Though you can purchase woks with nonstick coating, it’s unadvisable, due to the high heat used in many cooking techniques.) This stir-fry pan, like most woks, needs to be seasoned, a simple procedure in which you repeatedly heat and oil the pan. Properly seasoned and cared for, a good wok can last years, even decades. Vollrath carbon steel stir-fry pan, $45.50
More work needs to be done to find programs that work, rather than continuing to spend money on programs that don’t:
California’s $1-billion investment in drug treatment for prisoners since 1989 has been “a complete waste of money,” the independent Office of the Inspector General said today, doing nothing to reduce the number of inmates cycling in and out of prison.
One lengthy UCLA study of the state’s two largest in-prison programs found that recidivism rates for inmates who participated were slightly higher than those of a group of convicts who did not receive treatment, Inspector General Matt Cate said.
Perhaps most distressing, Cate said, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been told in more than 20 reports since 1997 that the programs are failing. Yet officials have done nothing to fix them, choosing instead to expand them and fund additional studies of their results.
“Successful treatment programs could reduce the cost to society of criminal activity related to drug abuse, change lives, and help relieve the state’s prison overcrowding crisis,” Cate, the nonpartisan watchdog over corrections, said in a 50-page report. “But so far the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has squandered that opportunity.”
The Office of the Inspector General is an independent state agency responsible for oversight of the corrections department.
In anticipation of the scathing report, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday ordered a shake-up of the department’s drug-treatment operation and put a new person in charge.
Kathryn Jett, director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs since November 2000, now serves as head of the newly reorganized Division of Addiction and Recovery Services within the corrections department.
In a news release, the governor called Jett, 53, “the right person at the right time to take on this critical responsibility. There is no one more experienced in addiction and recovery services and no one more committed to making substance abuse treatment the cornerstone of our rehabilitation efforts in corrections.”
A spokesman for the department, Oscar Hidalgo, said officials agree with many points in the report, calling it “consistent with our own recent reviews and recommendations.”
Or so some in the GOP believe: 25 Republicans who criticized strongly the “surge” (escalation) in Iraq, but voted for it anyway in obedience to their party. From ThinkProgress:
Last week, Iraq war veteran and VoteVets founder Jon Soltz appealed for members of Congress to “put country above party” and vote against escalation in Iraq.
Majorities in both the House and Senate answered Soltz’s call. But at least 25 members of Congress caved to partisan pressure and voted in favor of escalation, despite having publicly criticized President Bush’s strategy in the weeks prior to the vote. Here are four examples:
Rep. Virginia Brown-Waite (R-FL): “It’s too little, too late, and should have been done a year ago. … I just get a feeling our country is being used.”
Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM): “I am not a supporter of a surge to do for the Iraqis what the Iraqis will not do for themselves.”
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “I have little confidence that a surge in troop levels will change the situation in Iraq in any substantive fashion. It seems clear that the violence in Iraq is increasingly sectarian, and inserting more troops in this atmosphere is unlikely to improve the situation.
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH): “I am skeptical that a surge of troops will bring an end to the escalation of violence and the insurgency in Iraq… I’m absolutely against the surge.“
When it came time to vote, these four members — and 21 of their colleagues — couldn’t muster the courage to buck their own party and vote against escalation. These members appear to understand the danger of sending tens of thousands of U.S. troops into Iraq’s bloody civil war. They just don’t care enough to do something about it.
The full list of the “Party-Over-Country” 25:
Came across this recipe on the shaving forum (thanks, Ben). (You didn’t think we talked only about shaving, did you?)
Strips of Beef in Whisky Sauce
This quick-cooking dish requires prime meat. The whisky liqueur will reduce to a sweet glistening glaze. The creamy sauce has a delicious boozy flavour. Serves: 4
700 Gram Sirloin steak (1 1/2 lb), preferably Aberdeen Angus
15 Gram Butter ( 1/2 oz)
1 Large Onion, chopped
3 Tablespoon Whisky, or whisky liqueur such as Drambuie
5 Tablespoon Double cream
Salt and pepper
Cut the beef up into thin strips. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan.
Add the beef strips and onion and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the beef is brown and cooked to taste.
Stir in the liqueur and cream. Heat gently to reduce slightly. Serve at once with vegetables.
And I recall one of my tutors, Duncan MacDonald, telling us of a wonderful punch he had at a party in Scotland: fill punch bowl with Scotch whisky, add a large block of ice, and enjoy.
From the Marijuana Policy Project:
Did you know that college students convicted of possessing just one marijuana joint — or of any other drug offense — are automatically stripped of their federal financial aid, while murderers and rapists are still eligible to receive federal loans and grants?
If you agree that this penalty is unfair, why not ask the people who represent you in Congress to do something about it? All you have to do is visit www.ssdp.org/aid and enter your name and address. We’ve put together a pre-written letter that you can easily edit and send to your members of Congress urging them to co-sponsor upcoming legislation to repeal the penalty.
The student aid elimination penalty, which was first enforced in 2000, has since blocked educational assistance to nearly 200,000 aspiring students, most of them caught with small amounts of marijuana. Students for Sensible Drug Policy has been lobbying to overturn this harmful law since day one. However, with the new leadership in Congress, this is the first real chance we have to help students get back into school and on the path to success. But we simply cannot do it without your help.
Last year, a bill to repeal the penalty — the Removing Impediments to Students’ Education (RISE) Act — had 71 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. Won’t you help us ensure that this year’s bill has even more support when it is introduced in the U.S. House in the next few weeks?
Please visit www.ssdp.org/aid right now to send a message to your members of Congress. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you to take action: All you have to do is enter your name and contact information, and a pre-written letter will be sent on your behalf with just a few clicks.
If concerned citizens like you don’t let legislators know how you feel about this law, Congress will have absolutely no reason to do anything about it. But senators and representatives work for you, and when thousands of messages pour into offices on Capitol Hill, legislators will be forced to take a stand. Please do your part to ensure that a record number of co-sponsors signs on to the RISE Act this year.
With your help, we can and will repeal the aid elimination penalty once and for all. Thousands of young people are waiting to get back into school. Won’t you help them today by visiting www.ssdp.org/aid and clicking a few buttons?
Thanks for taking action,
SSDP Executive Director
P.S. Please view the letter that more than 150 prominent education, substance abuse recovery, civil rights, and law organizations are sending to Congress this week to call for the repeal of the aid elimination penalty.
P.P.S. Join the SSDP group on Facebook.
The Hipster PDA is simply a stack of index cards, gathered together with a rubber band or clip or whatever. Several sites have developed templates so you can print your info neatly, provided your printer will print index cards. There was even an index-card printer made specifically for this, but it seems to be no longer available. At any rate, here are some templates for you Hipster PDA fans.