New Member of the MOD Squad

By MOD Squad, I am referring to the Merchants of Death in the film Thank You for Smoking. In the film, lobbyists for the alcohol, tobacco and firearms industry meet together weekly for lunch and support. It’s a great film and if you haven’t seen it, go out and see it.

While watching Lifetime and ABC Family lately, I keep seeing these ads from the Corn Refiners Association saying that high fructose corn syrup isn’t quite so bad. They refer viewers to their website, Sweet Surprise which basically “debunks myths” about high fructose corn syrup.

These ads are creepy, really, and the people behind them would be a great fit in the MOD Squad. While looking for good info on HFCS for this blog, I came upon a few good articles that are worth looking at:

High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Not So Sweet for the Planet

“The environmental footprint of HFCS is deep and wide,” writes Pollan, a prominent critic of industrial agriculture. “Look no farther than the dead zone in the Gulf [of Mexico], an area the size of New Jersey where virtually nothing will live because it has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the Corn Belt. Then there is the atrazine in the water in farm country — a nasty herbicide that, at concentrations as little as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites.”

Milling and chemically altering corn to form high-fructose corn syrup also is energy-intensive. That’s not to say that corn is evil and other foods aren’t; all crops require energy to grow and transport. What makes corn a target is that federal subsidies — and tariffs on imported sugar — keep prices low, paving the way for widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup and, in the process, keeping the American palate accustomed to the sweetness it provides.

SF Gate: Sugar coated – We’re drowning in high fructose corn syrup. Do the risks go beyond our waistline?

Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.

The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.

In case you haven’t seen the ads here are the two that keep airing:

And here’s a clip of Thank You For Smoking. At about 6 minutes into this clip they have the Merchants of Death.


More Palin Scariness

This article was pointed out to me today, so I’m passing the article along. Scary, scary stuff.

Palin’s Wasilla To Rape Victims: Bring Your Checkbook
A little excerpt from the article:

In 2000, then-Governor Tony Knowles signed a bill in Alaska that ensured law enforcement around the state would pay for the processing of “Rape Kits” – forensics evidence collected in rape cases. Seemed common sense enough. Knowles noted, correctly, that we don’t charge robbery victims the cost of dusting for prints, so why would be charge rape victims the cost of gathering evidence to apprehend their assailant?

Except one little town objected, and had previously refused to foot the bill to solve rape cases – Wasilla, under Mayor Sarah Palin.

Reported the local paper, The Frontiersman, at the time:

While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.

Now, look, maybe this was long-standing policy, instituted far before Palin took office in Wasilla. Maybe she had been appointing people who would overturn this policy. Uh, no. After taking office, Palin fired the police chief, Irl Stambaugh (which made her a subject of a recall effort) and replaced him with Charlie Fannon. Fannon’s view of paying to solve rape cases?

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.

So, for four years – from 1996, when Palin took office to 2000 when this law was passed – Palin didn’t seem to have a problem with charging rape victims to solve their own crime. And if she did, she certainly didn’t communicate that to her hand-picked Police Chief, who didn’t have a problem with it.

I guess that’s one way to be a “Maverick.”

Read the rest at the link above.

Pish Posh of Politics & News

In a quick scan of my blog subscriptions, there were a few stories I’ll address in an overview post.

1. Not too surprisingly, Rush Limbaugh lambasted on his show about the John Edwards affair and said that maybe he went for this other woman because she wasn’t as “brainy” as Elizabeth Edwards and did more than talk. Anyway, our friend Keith Olbermann addressed Limbaugh’s rant (and why should Rush be judging Edwards, especially considering how many times he’s been married?). You can catch the audio of Limbaugh’s rant and Olbermann’s reply here:

2. Remember Rick Santorum that us Pennsylvanians were so glad to be rid of? He’s still around and going after gay marriage and pushing his version of “family values.” Today Pandagon posted an email blast from our former Senator pushing for the organization, National Organization for Marriage. I really appreciate many of the comments after the blog too (well, not the spam). Some of the craziest parts of his blast:

Dear Friend of Marriage, My friend, I’ve never come to you with a more urgent message: Unless we act today, we will lose the battle for marriage–not a decade from now, not “someday,” but quite possibly in the next few months. How? Just weeks ago, a handful of out-of-touch judges overturned the will of the people in California by repealing Proposition 22, which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman and was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in 2000.

Hollywood, academia and some in the medical profession launched a huge offensive over the past decade to change the attitude of Americans about the homosexual community. They have succeeded in shaping the minds of young people against traditional marriage and intimidating and punishing anyone who offers a defense of marriage. A sophisticated network of wealthy gay activists are now trying to exploit this change in attitudes by spending millions on stealth campaigns to defeat pro-family state legislators and pass gay marriage laws. They are pushing the battle first where the secular left is the strongest: deep in “blue states” including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and now even in my home commonwealth, Pennsylvania.

Make no mistake, gay marriage is not about letting Adam visit Steve in the hospital or letting them do what they want in private. Gay marriage is about using the power of government to propagate a new faith: Individuals who oppose gay marriage are hateful bigots and they and their faith community should be punished.


That’s right, while we are tending to our jobs, going to church, and raising our families, a handful of wealthy gay men are plotting ways to use their giant fortunes to reshape the entire American political landscape in their own image. Sound a little hard to believe? I thought so too, until I read the March 1, 2007 Atlantic Monthly article that documents the detailed plans and huge influence these men are having, led by one gay billionaire activist named Tim Gill. The article is called “They Won’t Know What Hit Them,” and the subtitle pretty much says it all:

“Tim Gill has a mission: stop the Rick Santorums of tomorrow before they get started. How a network of gay political donors is stealthily … reshaping American politics.”

That grabbed my attention, how about yours? If so, I need your help to fight back.

You can read more of the appeal at the Pandagon link above. Here’s hoping Ricky eventually gets over himself and quits all his hatemongering.

And in some local news, I saw this last week and actually, I was on Kelly Drive about 1/2 hour before this happened. Some guy in a Buick was speeding along Kelly Drive and careened off the road and into the Schuylkill River. I swear, though, people really do drive like such idiots on Lincoln Drive and parts of Kelly Drive. In the almost 10 years I’ve lived here, just now I’m getting comfortable enough to take the Lincoln Drive part to my route downtown or to the Schuylkill Expressway. Now I’m good with driving on Lincoln Drive and keep up with traffic, but there’s always a few drivers, pretty much always ones in Escalades or the monster SUVs, that drive like they’re the only ones on the road and as if there were no sharp turns at all along the Drives. Just because those SUVs do those curves like that in the commercials, there’s no reason to do that in real life with other people on the road. Stupid drivers and even though this wasn’t an SUV that flew into the river, maybe it will get through to at least one of those idiot drivers to settle down on the Drives.

Olympics, yawn!

Ok, I do not care even one tiny bit about the Olympics. Sure it’s great if the Americans win, but I don’t need to watch any of the events or keep a close eye on the television coverage. The only “interesting” Olympic time I remember was the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan drama. Remember that? I still remember some of the names back then. One of my favorite music videos & songs of the era had a vignette about the story, Headline News by Weird Al Yankovic. Whenever I catch this song on my iPod or view the YouTube video, I long for the days when these were the biggest stories rather than all this crap going on now. If you haven’t heard the song or watched the video, watch it here. Unfortunately, it seems, Weird Al has disabled embedding of all his YouTube videos. Hmm….

Disturbing stories

The news last week was so full of upsetting and disturbing stories…of course there are always disturbing stories and the fact that we have been in Iraq for over 5 years with no real end in sight has been continually disturbing.

The story that disturbed me the most last week, though, was the story about the decapitation on the Greyhound bus in Canada. This article gave this brief overview of this story:

Police in Winnipeg said Thursday they do not know what triggered a vicious attack on a Greyhound bus the night before that led to the beheading of a passenger.

Witnesses say a man was stabbed to death and then decapitated in what appears to be a random act of violence on board the bus that was en route to Winnipeg late Wednesday.

There are also allegations from some witnesses the attacker committed cannibalism before leaping from a bus window and being arrested.

I did a blog search to see what other bloggers were saying about the story. From the Edmonton Sun newspaper,

Vincent Augert, a newspaper distribution supervisor, said he last spoke to accused killer Vince Weiguang Li in mid-July when he requested days off work. He delivered papers for about eight months.

and they basically went on to say that his employer considered him a model employee and how shocked they were to hear about him doing this. It was said that on Monday he pretty much dropped off the face of the earth…he didn’t deliver papers and he didn’t tell his wife where he was going.

One blogger started a discussion about capital punishment. Since Canada has repealed the death penalty, it will not be considered in this case. Myself, I’m firmly against the death penalty and confess that there are certain cases where my discomfort with a crime makes me question my stance. But then even in cases like this one where we are certain of the perpetrator, executing him will not bring back the victim. I firmly believe too that having the perpetrator live for years knowing what s/he did would be more than a punishment then death. And I like what David Chandler says in his writing on the death penalty:

They have come to realize that capital punishment does not serve the best interests of society. It is an irreversible penalty meted out by a fallible, sometimes capricious process that is not, and can never be, applied equitably and without error. It works more harshly against the poor, the dark skinned, and the damaged than against the sometimes greater evils of the rich and powerful. It denies the sacredness of human life, it precludes the opportunity for redemption, and it perpetuates the cycle of violence.

Murder is just the tip of the iceberg of a violent society. The narrow focus of capital punishment diverts our attention from the systemic evils that permeate our society at all levels. Rather than venting our anger on the few, let us work to melt the entire iceberg of violence. “

And it seems very possible that Mr. Li had some type of mental illness…obviously he had something going on for him to do what he did. I always like Amnesty International for providing information about peace and justice related issues. They have a great (and long) report on the execution of mentally ill in the United States. It’s very interesting and well worth perusing. From the beginning of the report was a good quote from the parent of a young murder victim:

I cannot believe that capital punishment is a solution — to abolish murder by murdering, an endless chain of murdering. When I heard that my daughter’s murderer was not to be executed, my first reaction was immense relief from an additional torment: the usual catastrophe, breeding more catastrophe, was to be stopped — it might be possible to turn the bad into good. I felt with this man, the victim of a terrible sickness, of a demon over which he had no control, might even help to establish the reasons that caused his insanity and to find a cure for it…
Mother of 19-year-old murder victim, California, November 1960

So, we’ll see what goes on with the Greyhound case, but as per my usual habit, I will leave with a video and song that will inspire peace…Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens: