Must-reads from around the web:

The secret memo behind the White House's drug industry deal?

The women who write Mad Men.

What will Obama do about all those other Gitmos?

How McDonalds beat the recession.

White supremacists say birthers are helping their recruiting drive.

MoJo responds to Fiji Water's response to our cover story investigation.

David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, is on twitter, and so are my colleagues Daniel Schulman, Nick Baumann, and our editor, Clara Jeffery. You can follow me here. The magazine's main account is @motherjones.

Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., fire 155mm rounds using an M777 Howitzer weapons system, July 6, on Forward Operating Base Bostick, Afghanistan. The Soldiers were registering targets so they will have a more accurate and faster response time when providing fire support. (Photo courtesy army.mil.)

Today's environment, health, and science news from our site and others. And if you haven't read Anna Lenzer's great Fiji Water exposé "Spin the Bottle," well, let's just say there are a few things you might want to know before you reach for that pretty square bottle.

MoJo responds to fiji: That Fiji Water donates money to local kindergartens is all well and good, but it doesn't make up for pollution, tax havens, and silence on the Fijian government's human rights abuses. 

The reformers are coming! Health care reformers pretend they want to make you healthy. Really, they want to sell your organs to China. And slay your grandma. And murder cute puppies. Ruuuuuun!

Newt again: Gingrich flip-flops on advance care directives and hospice care. Somehow, we're not surprised.

Better buildings: "Commissioning" reduces building's greenhouse emissions significantly—and it's not just free, it saves money. Just one of the techniques that'll become more widespread if Waxman-Markey passes.

Philpott vs. Klein on organics: Grist's Tom Philpott believes organic foods are more nutritious; Ezra Klein doubts it. But what about the soil?

Second hottest July on record: Climate Progress on the NASA temperature data, and why it looks like we'll be seeing record global temperatures this year or next.

India's green plans: India overhauls its version of the EPA. Could this mean tougher pollution and emissions standards?

In Defense of Milk

For those of us who still drink milk and like it and have no trouble digesting it in any of its glorious guises, from butter to yoghurt... here's an intersting blog by Dave Munger at SEED on  current scientific thinking/speculation about why some of us can tolerate milk and others can't. Northern Europeans and Africans generally fare well. Southern Euros and East Asians, not so.

One analysis from a paper in PLoS ONE suggests the lactase gene evolved in Europe because there isn't enough sunlight to produce the vitamin D needed to take in calcium—so milk drinking helped meet that deficiency. In Africa the lactase gene evolved in conjunction with early milk-producing domesticated animals—helping boost protein intake.

Milk. It does some bodies good. Especially with chocolate or cookies.

Well, it was never really dead. The Tasman Booby, Sula dactylatra tasmani, described from fossils on islands off the east coast of Australia, went extinct in the late 18th century—victim of hungry European sailors, reports New Scientist.

But now a team of geneticists, paleontologists, and naturalists has found the bird alive and well and living among its own fossils and on a few islands off New Zealand. DNA analysis of six Tasman Booby fossils perfectly match the living birds known as Sula dactylatra fullagari. Paper in Biology Letters.

Henceforth, the resurrected and misidentified will be known as as Sula dactylatra tasmani.

Whatever we call it, this gannetlike seabird is another, and very welcome, Lazarus taxon (read John Platt at 60-Second Science) risen from the dead—along with the Nelson's small-eared shrew rediscovered in Mexico last month and the greater dwarf cloud rat found in a Philippine forest in 2008. Plus a few I wrote about in Gone: the Wollemi pine and mahogany glider in Australia, Jerdon’s Courser in India, takahe in New Zealand, and (maybe) the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the US.
 

Well, you could have seen this coming. CBS News and its affliate WRAL News of Raleigh, NC, are reporting that former Senator John Edwards will admit to being the father of a daughter born to his mistress Rielle Hunter. When there's a grand jury involved, no secret will stay secret for long. Details here.

During his New Hampshire town hall meeting on health care reform in mid-August, Obama explained that under his plan, people who lack health insurance would be able to purchase it in a new exchange that offered a similar “menu of options that I used to have as a member of Congress.” Obama said that by creating a big pool of potential customers, the exchange would allow the uninsured and even small businesses to shop around, easily compare various private health care plans and get a better deal than they could on their own.

Most of the health care reform bills circulating in Congress contain some form of this concept. The exchange, in fact, is now the centerpiece of proposed plans drafted mainly by Democrats. It’s a curious development, because the concept was largely popularized by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank best known in recent years for advocating Social Security privatization during the Bush administration. Its track record ought to make Americans more wary of Obama's proposals than any talk of "socialized medicine."
 

The British supermarket giant Tesco is no longer sending any trash to the landfill. Impressive, considering the company's annual waste weighs as much as 75,000 double-decker buses. A company press release lists a few examples of how Tesco is making all that garbage disappear, including turning recycled carrier bags into trash bags and recycling used cardboard boxes to make new ones for the store. Then there's this:

• Re-using waste meat to generate fuel through a third-party plant which goes back into the national grid as electricity – at present, 5,000 tonnes of waste meat generate c. 2,500 mega watt hours of renewable electricity.

Huh. Over at Triple Pundit, Mary Catherine O'Connor points out that this isn't quite as sustainable as Tesco is making it sound:

OK, great, but why does Tesco generate 5,000 tons of waste meat? Assuming that’s an annual figure, each of the 2,282* Tesco stores in the UK would be trashing about 2 tons of meat each year (the largest stores would generate much more than small corner outlets). Sure, generating power is a better use of the waste meat than tossing it into landfills (where it will continue to produce methane, which may or may not be captured), but the animals that created those 5000 tons of meat took a tremendous amount of energy and water to raise and what about all the greenhouse gasses, including methane, that went into their production?

This all got me wondering exactly what kind of meat was wasted the most. Here in the US, we toss four percent of all our chicken and beef and an astonishing 12 percent of lamb/goat and 25 percent of veal. As a rule of thumb, more unusual meat means more waste, according to this report (PDF):

Retailers indicated to the Perishables Group that they feel they must offer lamb to consumers, just as they offer veal. Consumers are often unclear on how to prepare lamb and therefore decide not to buy it. Lamb is more likely than some other meats not to be sold before its expiration date.

So one way supermarkets could reduce meat waste would be to stop stocking meat people don't actually buy. Customers who want, say, an ostrich steak or goat ribs, would have to order it in advance.

Other ideas for reducing meat waste? Leave 'em in the comments.

 

Health care reformers pretend they want to make you healthy. Really, they want to sell your organs to China. And slay your grandma. And murder cute puppies.

Watch satirist Mark Fiore take on these and other horrors of health care reform below:

Fiji Water spokesman Rob Six has posted a response to our story at the company’s blog. Writer Anna Lenzer replies:

Six’s key points are the same he and other Fiji executives have repeatedly made, and which are reflected in detail in my story: Donating money for water access projects or kindergartens is laudable, and I discuss Fiji’s charitable projects in Fiji (despite numerous requests, Fiji wouldn’t disclose how much it spends on most of these projects). The piece also makes it clear that Fiji Water accounts for significant economic activity in Fiji, and company executives are quoted to that effect.

Six doesn't address the key questions raised in my Mother Jones story, from the polluting background of Fiji Water’s owners past and present, to the company’s decision to funnel assets through tax havens, to its silence on the human rights abuses of the Fijian government. My piece doesn’t argue that Fiji Water actively props up the regime, but that its silence amounts to acquiescence.

"We cannot and will not speak for the government," Six writes. I didn't ask them to speak for the government, I asked them to comment on it. Though Fiji Water casts itself as a progressive, outspoken company in the US, it has a policy of not discussing Fiji’s regime “unless something really affects us,” as Six was quoted in the story.

The regime clearly benefits from the company's global branding campaign characterizing Fiji as a "paradise" where there is "no word for stress." Fiji's tourism agencies use Fiji Water as props in their promotional campaigns, and the company itself has publicized pictures of President Obama drinking Fiji Water. This is a point repeatedly made by international observers, including a UN official who in a recent commentary (titled "Why Obama should stop drinking Fiji water”) called for sanctions on Fiji, and singled out Fiji Water as the one company with enough leverage to force the junta to budge. Yet the most pointed criticism the company has made of the regime was when it opposed a tax as "draconian;" it has never used language like that to refer to the junta's human rights abuses.

It’s worth remembering that there aren’t very many countries ruled by military juntas today, and Americans prefer not to do business with those that are. We don't import Burma Water or Libya Water.

As to Six’ point that the company didn’t know I was in Fiji: I did contact Fiji Water before my trip, and Six mentioned that the company was "thinking about taking a group of journalists to Fiji"; I didn't follow up about joining such a trip. Despite news reports showing that Fiji wouldn’t cooperate with journalists who went there independently, I chose to do so and visited the factory on a public tour. I had planned to speak to Fiji Water’s local representatives, and to visit the surrounding villages, afterward. But it was at that point that I was arrested by Fijian police, interrogated about my plans to write about Fiji Water, and threatened with imprisonment and rape. After that incident, personnel at the US embassy strongly encouraged me not to visit the villages. I did discuss my trip to the islands with Six after I returned, and had extensive correspondence with him on numerous questions, many of which he has not addressed to this day. Here are some issues Fiji Water could address in public:

- Why won't the company disclose the total amount of money that Fiji Water spends on its charity work? Do its charitable contributions come close to matching the 30 percent corporate tax rate it would be paying had it not been granted a tax holiday in Fiji since 1995? 

- Will Fiji Water owners Lynda and Stewart Resnick, who in the company’s PR materials contrast our tap water supply with the “living water” found in their bottles, disclose the full volume of pesticides that their farming and flower companies use every year? Could limiting those inputs create better water here at home?

- Fiji touts its commitments to lighten its plastic bottle (which is twice as heavy as many competitors’) by 20 percent next year, to offset its carbon emissions by 120 percent, and to restore environmentally sensitive areas in Fiji, but its public statements never acknowledge that these projects are, in many cases, still on the drawing board or in the negotiating stages. Why?

Read Six' post after the jump.

Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery are the Co-Editors of Mother Jones. You can follow them on Twitter here and here.