Later today, the new power cord for my laptop should be delivered. I hope the damn thing works.
…my thoughts are a bit off this afternoon, almost like I’m in a Virginia Woolf stream of consciousness state of mind. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to get my thoughts organized in some kind of rational order. But today it is random and ridiculous…
Tonight is the STFU speech…oops, I mean SOTU speech. (Eh, innit the same thing?) We will be live blogging it here, so if you are around, be sure to stop by.
Just one story for you this afternoon, and it deals with the horse meat scandal over in Great Britain. Yup, you know what I am talking about!
“Ground beef” with a touch of Mr. Ed. From the same folks who brought you Mad Cow disease…there is now “beef” being sold in England and Europe that contain horse meat.
I’m not sure we have mentioned the horsemeat scandal here on the blog, but if you have been living in a barn for the past few weeks… here is a quick review of what happening in, on and around the burger scene across the pond.
A food safety group did some investigating and found horse DNA in some cheap burger meat being sold in supermarkets in the UK and Ireland.
It did not stop there, looks like Burger Kings in Great Britain also sold the Trigger burgers, since their meat supplier was the same company who supplied the supermarkets.
Then…Hi Ho, what d’ya know… Silver found himself in other “beef” products, like frozen lasagna dinners from a company called Findus. (Now, with a name like Findus….it has to be good…cough, cough.) As with Burger King, Findus Brand frozen dinner’s “beef” was also supplied by the same smeat factory. (Smeat btw is not a typo.)
The company bringing Seabiscuit to tables across Britain and the Continent of Europe is called Tesco. You can see Tesco’s technical director dude in the hot seat, responding to the horse DNA found in its “Trojan” beef products. View the video here:
Tesco’s technical director, Tim Smith, says his company does not yet know how many products containing horsemeat have been sold in their shops, and an investigation is under way into how it happened. Samples from one of Tesco’s burger lines contained 29% horsemeat relative to beef content. Traces of horsemeat have also been found in food products sold by Iceland, Lidl and Aldi.
Watching that man and his expressions reminds me of that SNL skit with Martin Short playing Nathan Thurm, the smoking sleazeball lawyer…
You need to see this skit, if you don’t see the video embedded below, so be sure to watch Saturday Night Live: 60 Minutes online at this link.
Minkman Toys pushes 60 Minutes to investigate fraud in the novelty item business.
Mike Wallace…..Harry Shearer
Herb Minkman…..Christopher Guest
Al Minkman…..Billy Crystal
Nathan Thurm…..Martin Short
Damn, I got distracted…can’t help it, that is a great skit! Funny as hell!
Okay, where was I?
Oh yeah, the horse meat.
Today some new light has been shed on the scandal:
The UK’s horsemeat scandal was in “large part” the result of a switch from UK to foreign meat suppliers in 2012 caused by an abrupt change in European regulation that the government failed to contest, according to the expert who led the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) surveillance programme for a decade.
The change meant that “desinewed meat” (DSM), a fine mince rubbed under pressure from carcasses, could no longer be called meat on packaging. DSM produced in the UK was the main ingredient in most value-range burgers, sausages, pies and kebabs and the change meant that thousands of tonnes of meat had to be sourced from elsewhere and at low cost.
A former senior scientist at the Food Standards Agency says an EU decision to reclassify a type of mincemeat widely used in the UK played a significant part in creating the horsemeat crisis.
Desinewed meat was a key ingredient in value items such as pies, lasagnes and other beef products.
Dr Mark Woolfe said the decision to ban it prompted producers to go outside the UK to source supplies of cheap mince.
He also raised the possibility that UK lamb products might need testing for horsemeat.
Until 2009 Dr Woolfe was the head of authenticity at the Food Standards Agency. He says the root cause of the current horse meat crisis can be traced back to a decision taken by the European Commission less than 12 months ago to ban a key food ingredient called desinewed meat.
This material was introduced in the the UK in the 1990s as a replacement for mechanically recovered meat (MRM). Sometimes called “pink slime” MRM was formed by removing residual meat from animal bones using high pressure water.
It was linked to the spread of the human form of mad cow disease and the UK government took steps to restrict it from the food chain.
Desinewed meat (DSM) was developed as a higher quality form of recovered meat. It was produced using low pressure, retained some structure and was regarded as a meat ingredient on value products.
Yup, and y’all know who buys value products. Poor or low income people.
Check out these headlines, some of which are a pun filled laugh:
BBC has a couple of articles, their coverage is not as intense:
But, The Guardian has reported a lot on the scandal:
Damn, what a mess! However, I do love the puns in some of those headlines…the Brits have a great sense of humor.
This is an open thread…
Still feeling down in the dumps today, so forgive the sparse content. Hopefully these links are not repeats…
I have not had a chance to read this first link…yet. Kurt Eichenwald: Let’s Repeal the Second Amendment | Vanity Fair
Haven’t read this one either: 6 Biggest Religious Right Threats to America | Alternet
Something on gun control: Muhlberger’s World History: The Bonfire of the Vanities
Check out these official pictures from the White House 2012:
A few science articles:
This first link needs a bit of funk to make it right:
If you have what James Brown likes…then you may also suffer from Fatty Liver.
One thing that can help with this next link about Fatty Liver, is to get a little more active:
For Dakinikat…it isn’t about old grave discoveries, but it still has a touch of death to it: Dried squash holds headless French king’s blood, study finds
Another one for Dak, Maya Funerary Vessel Represents “Tremor 8” – Archaeology Magazine
For Boston Boomer, you may find this interesting: Language Acquisition Could Begin In The Womb | Geekosystem
Is it a man’s world? Now for some mood music, for the next few links about Women’s Rights and Women in History:
Annie Lennox has a blog she writes at: Annie Lennox Calls For Action On Women’s Rights In 2013 – Starpulse.com
Here is direct link to it: Annie Lennox – Official Website
Maybe Women’s Rights will have a louder voice now: 101 Facts About 100 Women of the House and Senate
History looks at Viking Women: Don’t underestimate Viking women | Medieval News
Another one on religion, and women’s influence in culture: Research uncovers how single and widowed women shaped the religious culture of colonial Latin America
Sick twisted doctors…10 Derailed Doctors Who Creatively Abused Their Patients
An iconic song turns 30: ‘Billie Jean’: Michael Jackson’s landmark single turns 30 | theGrio
Video of a big ass plane landing at a tiny airport.
Video of the same big ass plane taking off from a tiny airport.
Video of a cartoon we have all seen before, but should watch again.
A few movie reviews:
This Amanda Marcotte review of Django Unchained is good, she gets it: Django Unchained: A Movie About Other Movies About the 19th Century
And…another review…about Django…only this one asks the wrong question: How Accurate Is Quentin Tarantino’s Portrayal of Slavery in Django Unchained? : The New Yorker
Sticking with the movie topic a bit more: alicublog: I LOST IT AT THE MOVIES.
Now for an actor who is Super Bad, and one of my favorites, bet you can guess who that is?
An interview with my man: Samuel L. Jackson is right about bad Hollywood endings, but then real life isn’t much better
I wonder if this film will be made in time for the 2016 campaign season: Tennessee Guerilla Women: Hillary Clinton’s Life, Soon to Be a Hollywood Movie
And…its a squatch! One of those elusive Georgia Redneck Big Foots! Yup, a few of them are getting together to talk about another kind of Bigfoot…Inaugural Southeastern Bigfoot Conference being held in Dahlonega
More fantastic Bigfoot reads:
Bigfoot or Good Foot you decide:
Have a fantastic Sunday…and hope everyone is feeling good!
Paul Krugman takes on the idea that after we bail out economically destructive banks, we all have to pay with downsized lives and a bad economy in his NYT column today. He continues to fight the idea that austerity–not prosperity–will bring back confidence and the economy. He’s right that the austerity hawks push a ridiculous assertion that denies past history as well as logic.
The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.
This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs. The idea was that spending cuts would make consumers and businesses more confident. And this confidence would supposedly stimulate private spending, more than offsetting the depressing effects of government cutbacks.
Some economists weren’t convinced. One caustic critic referred to claims about the expansionary effects of austerity as amounting to belief in the “confidence fairy.” O.K., that was me.
But the doctrine has, nonetheless, been extremely influential. Expansionary austerity, in particular, has been championed both by Republicans in Congress and by the European Central Bank, which last year urged all European governments — not just those in fiscal distress — to engage in “fiscal consolidation.”
And when David Cameron became Britain’s prime minster last year, he immediately embarked on a program of spending cuts in the belief that this would actually boost the economy — a decision that was greeted with fawning praise by many American pundits.
Now, however, the results are in, and the picture isn’t pretty
Example one: The economy of Greece. It has been pushed into an even bigger slump. Example two: The economy of the UK. Austerity has stalled its economy and the confidence fairy is no where to be seen. Example three: Iceland. They did the exact opposite and they’re none the worse for wear. So, which example are we following? Well, it’s not Iceland.
Krugman, Icelanders, and the IMF are taking stock of the Iceland experience this week in a conference. You can read many articles at the IMF on how Iceland is recovering from its 2008 economic catastrophe. You can watch a video explaining what went on there with Dr. Joseph Stiglitz below.
Today, three years later, it is worth reflecting on how far Iceland―a country of just 320,000 people―has come since those dark days back in 2008. Growth has returned to the economy, and new jobs are being created: unemployment, although still unacceptably high for a country used to near-full employment, has dropped below 7 percent of the work force. In June this year, the government successfully issued a $1 billion sovereign bond, marking a return to international financial markets.
And while public debt, currently at around 100 percent of GDP, is much higher than before the crisis, an impressive consolidation program has put the country’s finances back on a sustainable path during the past couple of years. As for the banks, they have been shrunk to about 200 percent of GDP, and are now fully recapitalized.
So, how did they do it? Did they embrace austerity for their citizens after rescuing and enriching their errant banking/financier class?
- First, a team of lawyers was put to work to ensure that losses in the banks were not absorbed by the public sector. In the end, the public sector did of course have to step in and ensure the new banks had adequate capital, but it was insulated from vast private sector losses. This was a major achievement.
- Second, the initial focus of the program was exclusively on stabilizing the exchange rate. Here, we reached for unconventional measures, notably capital controls.
- Third, automatic stabilizers were allowed to operate in full during the first year of the program—effectively delaying fiscal adjustment. This helped support the economy at a time of severe strain.
- Fourth, conditionality was streamlined and focused on the key issue at hand—rebuilding the financial sector. While there are some issues in the broader economy where reforms will eventually be needed, these were not a part of the program.