Sunday Reads: Relax, Take it easy…

Good Morning!

Since it is a lovely Sunday Morning, let’s just have a couple newsy links and make the rest of the post…lazy and easy.

Des Moines Register Poll: Newt Gingrich Leads in Iowa  …Ugh, how can this man even get a headline like that?

In yet another shakeup of one of the most erratic Republican presidential primaries in decades, a new Des Moines Register poll shows Newt Gingrich is the top choice of likely Iowa caucus-goers, while Mitt Romney has slipped into a contest for second place with Ron Paul.

I guess his comment about poor kids, from poor neighborhoods, who only know how to work, if it is illegal…hit its mark.

National Journal is also reporting Cain’s Endorsement Might Go to Fellow Georgian Newt Gingrich.

As my colleagues report, the remaining members of the GOP presidential field are already racing for the endorsement of now ex-candidate Herman Cain, who stated during his farewell address he plans to support one of his former rivals. The early front-runner? It has to be fellow Georgian Newt Gingrich, the ex-speaker of the House who has been overtly friendly to Cain and attracts a similar type of supporter.
In early November, Gingrich and Cain participated in an amicable two-person debate together, an unusual event for two men who are ostensibly rivals. Cain even made a point of praising his opponent.
Both men are from Georgia, and the former House Republican leader can relate to a candidate whose personal life thwarted his political career. Unlike fellow presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who urged Cain to exit the race, Gingrich sympathized with his plight, calling it “very painful.”
“I am proud to know Herman Cain and consider him a friend,” Gingrich said in his statement released after Cain’s announcement. “I know from having worked with him for more than a decade he will continue to be a powerful voice in the conservative movement for years to come.”

Both men are also womanizers…so who would you expect to get the Cain endorsement? It will be announced soon,I  wonder if the bus “Further” will make another appearance? Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing that tea party fruitcake make the grand introduction.

Reuters had this article posted yesterday, you may have missed it: Exclusive: MF Global mixed funds, transferred abroad

Regulators investigating the collapse of MF Global have determined that the firm combined money between securities and futures accounts owned by customers, and transferred funds outside the country to at least one entity, a source said on Friday.

“The further we get into (the investigation) the more complex it is … but we’re making progress,” the source said, adding that the commingling and transferring of money is making it harder for regulators to determine what money belongs where.

MF Global took futures segregated money and put it into the account for customer securities, essentially mixing futures and securities that were both owned by customers, said an official familiar with the matter.

Until now, it was believed that only customer futures accounts were affected.

Oh, but you know it is always worse than first expected…

The source also told Reuters that MF Global had been using customer funds for “several days if not weeks” rather than just a few days before the firm collapsed.

Regulators had previously thought the firm was using customer funds on the Thursday and Friday before it filed for bankruptcy on October 31.

CME Group, the Chicago exchange where MF Global traded, said it had reviewed the company’s books a week before the bankruptcy and found no issues with the customer money.

If MF Global started improperly dipping into its customers’ accounts long before the firm’s collapse, the allegation would raise questions of why the regulators and auditors failed to spot such behavior.

That is an easy question to answer, they lied!  Well, okay that is my own answer…but what about the possibility of a cover up? It’s all good, Koch Brothers got their moola out before the shit hit the fan.

Last week, Mother Jones wrote about a recent study that found the herbicide Atrazine causes hormonal problems in women. Study: Common Herbicide Causes Menstrual Trouble

Yet again, scientists have looked at populations routinely exposed to the widely used herbicide atrazine and found trouble.

The latest: In a study published by Envionmental Research (summarized here), researchers found evidence that atrazine could be causing menstrual irregularities and low estrogen levels in women, even when it appears in drinking water at levels far below the EPA’s limit of 3 parts per billion.

The study showed that women in ag-intensive areas of Illinois, where atrazine has been shown to leach into drinking water from farm fields, were significantly more likely to experience menstrual irregularities and low estrogen levels than women in ag-intensive areas of Vermont, where atrazine use is much lower.

The Vermont/Illinois paper comes on the heels of an analysis of the Agricultural Health Study—an ongoing look at people who regularly apply pesticides and their spouses—that found similar trends among women exposed to atrazine, as well as a 2009 study finding that atrazine levels in drinking water tracked with low-weight birth incidences in Indiana.

This is some scary stuff. I plan to do a series on atrazine, like I did on hexavalent chromium, otherwise known as chrome 6…so look for it in the next week or so.

Going back to the article by Tom Philpott:

Meanwhile, as I reported three weeks ago, an independent scientific panel convened by the EPA found “strong” evidence linking atrazine to thyroid cancer and “suggestive” evidence linking it to ovarian cancer, also based on studies of human populations exposed to the poison through drinking water. The panel declared that the EPA had been seriously underestimating the cancer risk posed by atrazine in drinking water.

Now, assessing the danger of a toxic chemical like atrazine, the second-most-used pesticide on US farm fields, is tricky. You can’t ethically feed a suspected poison to people and see what happens.

You can use animals to gauge its effects, but it isn’t perfectly clear how the results apply to humans. And you can find human populations known to be exposed to it and see if any health concerns turn up—a practice known as epidemiology, and exemplified by the studies I cite above. But here, too, results are uncertain, because real-world situations contain infinite variables that can’t be controlled for.

But the absence of definitive proof that exposure to atrazine causes health trouble does not exonerate the lucrative agrichemical, as its maker, Syngenta, would have us believe. Until company execs volunteer to start quaffing the stuff and feeding it to their kids, animal studies and epidemiology are all we have. And for atrazine, both point to danger. (A recent University of California-Berkeley study found that low-level exposure to the chemical emasculates male frogs).

Philpott notes that according to a spokesperson at the EPA, atrazine won’t be banned any time soon, 2013 is the earliest the EPA could ban this very harmful chemical.

Did anyone see this article in the New York Times? After American Outcry, Israel Ends Ad Campaign Aimed at Expatriates h/t my mom…

For many American Jews, the Israeli government-sponsored ads, intended to cajole Israelis living in the United States to come home, smacked of arrogance, ignorance and cultural disrespect of America. Jewish groups in the United States expressed outrage, saying they were causing a rift with American Jews who support Israel. On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aborted the campaign.

The ads — short videos and billboard posters — were intended to touch the sensibilities of Israeli expatriates and tap into their national identity, according to the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, which oversaw the campaign.

But critics said the ads implied that moving to America led to assimilation and an erosion of Jewish consciousness. The Jewish Federations of North America called them insulting. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the videos “heavy-handed, and even demeaning.”

…a blog was posted this week by Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The Atlantic.

“The idea, communicated in these ads, that America is no place for a proper Jew, and that a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel, is archaic, and also chutzpadik, if you don’t mind me resorting to the vernacular,” Mr. Goldberg said.

The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption apologized, they know that a lot of financial support comes from American Jews…

Mr. Foxman called the campaign “a reflection of the ignorance that exists in Israel of Jewish life in America, its vitality, its creativity.” Still, he said, Israel’s decision to stop the ads showed “that they’re listening and it does matter how we feel.”

Alright, now for the easy…relaxing part of the morning round-up, after the jump.

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