Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 10th, 2015

Hah! A CEO found guilty (and given a life sentence) for causing deaths?

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This is new, and I would be that quite a few CEOs are very uneasy. Wil S. Hylton reports for the New Yorker:

Advocates for food safety recently got some startling news: Stewart Parnell, a former president of the Peanut Corporation of America (P.C.A.), may soon be sentenced to life in prison for his role in a salmonella outbreak that began in 2008. Parnell was found guilty last fall—after a five-year inquiry headed by the Food and Drug Administration—of seventy-one criminal counts, including conspiracy, fraud, and obstruction of justice. He is the first food executive to be the subject of a federal felony conviction in connection with an outbreak, and if he receives a life sentence at his next hearing, on September 21st, as new court documents seem to suggest, it will be the most extreme penalty ever levied in a food-poisoning case.

The line between negligence and fraud can be slender, but the fifty-two-page indictment of Parnell and his associates left little room for debate over how much they knew about the contamination, when they knew it, and what they did to stop it—or didn’t. The document reproduces e-mail exchanges in which Parnell colludes with his brother, Michael, who was a broker for P.C.A., and Mary Wilkerson, the company’s quality-assurance manager, not to contain the incipient contamination but to conceal it. Even as P.C.A.’s internal testing showed a persistent infestation (“We have a problem with the granulation line and salmonella at least every other week, if not every week,” Wilkerson wrote at one point), Parnell assured customers and investigators that his company had “never seen any traces of salmonella in any other of our products,” “never had any issue with this, ever before,” and “run countless tests and show absolutely no evidence of salmonella.” When Parnell was informed that a batch of peanuts might be delayed for testing, he wrote, “Just ship it. I cannot afford to lose another customer.”

Meanwhile, Parnell’s brother was apparently forging so-called certificates of analysis that attested to the purity of contaminated lots. At trial, a P.C.A. executive named Samuel Lightsey testified that, when he expressed concern to Parnell that a customer might discover the fraud, Parnell replied, “We’ve been shipping to them with false COA’s since before you got here,” adding, in a line straight out of a seventies cop drama, “I’ll handle Kellogg’s. Don’t worry about it.”

In the outbreak that followed, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as twenty thousand customers became sickened by the tainted nuts, and at least nine people died. It became one of the largest outbreaks of food-borne illness in American history, leading to the recall of nearly four thousand products manufactured by some two hundred companies, at a total loss to the market of about a billion dollars.

In the trial last year, the Parnell brothers and Wilkerson were convicted of more than a hundred counts of criminal offenses, but all three have remained free on bond in the eleven months since. The delay in sentencing arose from one of several peculiarities in the trial. Because prosecutors chose to focus on the executives’ defrauding of corporate customers, rather than on the deaths that resulted from the outbreak, the judge in the case, W. Louis Sands, ruled that any emphasis on those victims could be inflammatory and distracting to the case at hand. When a report emerged after the trial that some of the jurors might have discussed those victims during deliberation, Sands postponed the sentencing process to investigate whether the jury had been compromised. (Early this summer, he concluded that the convictions should remain intact.) At another point, Sands had to pause the proceedings in order to admonish the Parnell brothers’ mother, who accosted a federal investigator inside the courthouse bathroom; at yet another, defense attorneys accused the Food and Drug Administration of tampering with its own records.

More than anything, the trial was a window into the deeper weirdness of the American food-safety system and the extent to which it has become inextricably linked to a single personal-injury lawyer named Bill Marler, who was the focus of my article on chicken contamination in February. Marler is by far the most prominent food-safety lawyer in the country; wherever there is an outbreak of food-borne illness, he is likely to turn up. Over the years, he has sued just about every major food company in the United States, winning more than six hundred million dollars in verdicts and settlements in the process, including nearly thirteen million from P.C.A. in 2010. As the criminal case began, last year, . . .

Continue reading.

Corporations are so accustomed to being able to do criminal acts and simply write a check for a fine, with no admission of wrong-doing, that this must be quite a shock: that people who do criminal acts can actually be held accountable, even though they are white and executives.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2015 at 6:42 pm

2016 and the Fable of the Surge

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Very interesting post by Kevin Drum, and I think he’s right on how fables—false accounts—take hold and shape our perceptions.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2015 at 6:19 pm

Very tasty: Shakshuka With Feta

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I made a half-recipe, more or less: one 14.5 oz can tomatoes, 1/2 onion, 1/2 red pepper, 1.5 Tbsp olive oil The key is to cook the pepper and onion for the full 20 minutes, and simmer the tomatoes for the full 10 minutes. I used 4 eggs, not 3 (two of us), and 9 minutes was about right.

Here’s the original recipe. Halving it works. I did use 5 oz crumbled feta, though.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2015 at 6:13 pm

Donald Trump and Fox News make nice

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Because, as Kevin Drum points out in this excellent post, because they’re working the same crowd using the same tactics.

UPDATE: Digby has an extremely interesting column on this.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2015 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Media

Change in direction: Low-meat/no-meat low-carb eating

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My weight has been stubborn, and I do know the benefits of vegetarian diets—indeed, at various periods I have lived on a vegetarian diet—but when I switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet (no change in protein amount), it just was easier to go meatward.

But then this morning Minhee Cho has in ProPublica a podcast and article “The Disturbing Ways America Keeps Up With Its Demand for Meat“:

When we go to the supermarket, we rarely think about how that piece of chicken or piece of pork ended up on the shelves. There’s a high level of disconnect when it comes to our food, author Sonia Faruqi says. We don’t know how the animals were treated, or the conditions on these industrial farms.

She joins ProPublica reporter Cezary Podkul on the podcast to discuss her book, “Project Animal Farm” – pulling back the curtain on how America keeps up with its insatiable demand for meat, dairy and other products, often with little regulation or concern for the external costs.

[Article has audio here. – LG]

  • The ‘Frankensteinian genetics’ sown into our livestock: Chickens today grow at an extremely unnatural rate. Their legs often cannot keep up with the weight of their bodies and actually collapse underneath them, Faruqi says. “It would be similar to a human being gaining hundreds of pounds in the first couple of months of life.” (1:28)
  • The environmental cost of factory farms: “They contribute more to global warming and to climate change than all the transportation in the world combined,” Faruqi says. The industry is really becoming a “global goliath.” (5:34)
  • How America’s factory farm model has been exported elsewhere, much like Hollywood and our fast food obsession. (10:26)
  • What can consumers do? For starters, we can reduce our meat consumption. Per capita, Americans consume 300 pounds of meat, dairy, eggs and other animal products per year. “It’s unsustainable, it’s inhumane and it’s also very unnecessary,” Faruqi says. (20:02)

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher, and check out Faruqi’s book, “Project Animal Farm,” for more on America’s food industry.

So I used a search engine on “vegetarian low-carb diet” and “vegetarian low-carb diet recipes” and the like and got a good collection of stuff to try. While I may not eliminate meat entirely, I am going to be cutting it way back. It should help the budge, help me lose weight, and help my conscience: the way factory farming treats animals really is shameful. But… profit: anything that improves profits is not only allowed but actually mandatory, so treating food animals well is simply not going to happen.

I feel chagrined that it’s taken me this long.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2015 at 10:31 am

Meißner Tremonia and a fine shave

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SOTD 10 Aug 2016

Eddie of Australia drew my attention to this review of Meißner Tremonia shaving soap, and I could not resist. The soap in the photo is their Indian Flavour: “Pure essentail oils of coriander seeds, lemongrass and mint are combined with ground annatto seeds.” It’s an unusual and bewitching fragrance, and the soap is first rate. At first I thought the puck was paper-wrapped, but no: it’s the naked puck, with the logo stamped into the top with white lettering:

Meissner Tremonia soap

The indentation of the text and image is not evident in the photo, but you can readily feel it. As noted in the review linked above, the soaps are available from Straight Razor Designs. I may have to get more, but that would be foolish since I’m about to do another great soap purge from having too many soaps.

I did have to reload for the third pass, but I am pretty sure that I simply did not load my brush adequately. I’ve not used the 20102 for quite a while, and I may be rusty. It was not problem to reload, and the lather really is exceptionally good—and the unusual fragrance is quite pleasing.

Three pass, two nicks, with the Stealth razor holding a Voskhod blade. The nicks were odd: it felt very much as though the blade’s edge had been damaged somehow. They were small nicks, and My Nik Is Sealed had no problem stopping them. I changed the blade instantly once the shave was done.

A good splash of Fine’s Fresh Vetiver, and the week begins.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2015 at 8:56 am

Posted in Shaving

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