Blogs

FDA Approves Cloned Animals for Store Shelves

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 7:50 PM EST

cloned-pigs.jpgThe FDA announced today that cloned animals (and offspring and milk produced by said clones) are safe to consume. The agency said that cloned cows and pigs and other farmed animals "are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals." Which, as you may have read, isn't saying much.

But with cloned animals costing tens of thousands of dollars each, it's unlikely they will become a staple of our diet unless the technology that produces them is radically less expensive. Their offspring, instead, may be killed to provide consistent meat and milk products.

If you don't want to buy clones or cloned offspring, caveat emptor: the FDA "is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones" or their offspring because the agency considers clones and non-clones identical. Food retailers and consumers, I think, will see the issue differently. I can just see the ads now: "the Carl's Jr. 100% ORIGINAL beef burger! No clones!"

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To Eat or Not to Eat? That Ain't the Question

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 6:25 PM EST

10burgerking.jpg

Yesterday the LA Times suggested that Americans overeat because our environment gives us no other choice. That might be news to the marketers who bank on you knowing exactly what you're being told.

Read more over at Mother Jones' environment and health blog, The Blue Marble.

—Casey Miner

Iraq to U.S.: Hang Tough Until 2018?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 6:20 PM EST

Washington's been buzzing all day about Thom Shanker's New York Times story in which Abdul Qadir, the Iraqi defense minister, said that his country would not be ready to take responsibility for its internal and border security until 2012 and 2018, respectively. Such a prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq would go far beyond anything previously floated on the American side—unless, or course, you count John McCain saying he'd be happy to have U.S. troops in Iraq for the next 100 years... no, 1,000 years!... no, make that a million years!!

Responding to Qadir's claims, the Center for American Progress, a progressive DC think tank, released a revised budget projection for U.S. involvement in Iraq. Including monies already appropriated, it shows that expenditures could exceed $1 trillion by 2018, assuming a troop level of 70,000—less than half the current number.

Beyond costs, though, the major drawbacks to sticking around may simply be that it would work against our larger interests. Earlier this afternoon, Larry Korb, a former Reagan-era assistant secretary of defense, now a senior fellow at CAP, explained the reasons why in a conference call with reporters:

We're increasing the dependence of the Iraqis on us because, obviously, since the president has agreed we might stay for 10 more years, they feel no pressure to take over security responsibilities or to make the hard political choices that are necessary for reconciliation. It also reinforces the perception, in particular among Al Qaeda and other groups in the Middle East, that we are an occupying power and it enhances, if you will, their narrative…

To Eat or Not to Eat? That Ain't the Question.

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 6:15 PM EST

10burgerking.jpg

Yesterday the LA Times posed a question to its readers: Why do we eat? More specifically, why do we overeat? Their answer, supported by several scientists and studies, was that the sheer ubiquity of food triggers an almost Pavlovian eating reflex.

Several recent studies, papers and a popular weight-loss book argue that eating is an automatic behavior triggered by environmental cues that most people are unaware of—or simply can't ignore. Think of the buttery smell of movie theater popcorn, the sight of glazed donuts glistening in the office conference room or the simple habit of picking up a whipped-cream-laden latte on the way to work.

In short, Americans are so divorced from the idea of food as nutritious that we don't even react to our bodies' physical cues, instead responding to subliminal environmental messaging. The fact that our environment is saturated with unhealthy foods creates the illusion that we have no choice but to eat them. The only solution, sigh the scientists, might be government regulation of everything from vending machines to portion size.

But if it's true that people have no free will when it comes to food, the message hasn't yet reached marketers. Far from subtle, the motivations behind ad campaigns are often brutally clear.

Tuesday's Snoozy Music News Day

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 2:36 PM EST

News Jan 15

  • Surprising no-one, record label EMI announced that it would cut up to 2,000 jobs in an attempt to cut costs. Trouble with EMI's roster of artists continues to foment: Coldplay and Robbie Williams may leave the label, and The Verve may be "withholding" their next album "until they receive assurances about marketing and the company's financial health." Well how about Richard Ashcroft give us assurances he's going to eat something?
  • Bjork Attacks, Part Deux: Apparently the Icelandic singer had just arrived at Auckland International Airport in New Zealand, and went after a photographer when he ignored her request to stop taking pictures. As the photographer put it, "she grabbed the back of my black skivvy and tore it down the back. As she did this, she fell over." The best part of this story is "skivvy": most stories are saying "T-shirt" but the New York Times insists "sweatshirt." I say: female domestic servant.
  • Ever wonder how 50 Cent and Timbaland got so buff? No? Me neither, but now they've actually been named as part of an Albany, New York-based steroid investigation. The report indicates the musicians, along with Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige, received performance-enhancing drugs from a pharmacy in Orlando. Well, jeez: those microphones are heavy.
  • Barack Obama gets two, ahem, "important" endorsements from the world of rock music: Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, who says he's been an Obama supporter "from day one," and Win Butler of the Arcade Fire who says Obama is "the first candidate in my lifetime to strip some of this bullshit away." Wait, aren't you from Canada?

New Ad Hits Senator Norm Coleman for Hypocrisy on Drugs

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 1:53 PM EST

coleman-drug-ad.jpg There's nothing subtle about this ad I just spotted in the newest copy of the New Republic. An old friend of Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, who now evidently works for the legalization of marijuana, is calling Coleman out for his hypocrisy on drug policy. In college, Coleman was a anti-Vietnam War student activist who ran for college government by saying "these conservative kids don't fuck or get high like we do." Now, he's saying marijuana is a drug that "can have serious adverse health affects on individuals" and "would also make our transportation, schools and workplaces... more dangerous." Mr. Norm Kent isn't having it.

For lots more on the Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman race up in Minnesota, which should be one of 2008's best, see here and here.

Apologies if the type of the ad is too small to read.

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Experience This! Should Senator Clinton Join Senator Obama at the Kids' Table?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 10:11 AM EST

Tim Noah, a pal, makes an excellent point at Slate: where does Clinton get off pulling rank on Obama? As I pointed out yesterday, if she's going to invoke (as she certainly does) her vast experience over Obama, she needs to show us the goods. Those goods do not hold up to inspection. If sleeping with Bill Clinton qualifies you for president, [fill in joke here]. Obama has more time as an elected official, so Clinton is invoking her role as First Lady. But let's look at that role. Noah writes:

...a Dec. 26 New York Times story revealed that during her husband's two terms in office, Hillary Clinton did not hold a security clearance, did not attend meetings of the National Security Council, and was not given a copy of the president's daily intelligence briefing. During trips to Bosnia and Kosovo, she "acted as a spokeswoman for American interests rather than as a negotiator." On military affairs, most of her experience derives not from her White House years but from serving on the Senate armed services committee. In this capacity, William Kristol notes gleefully in the Jan. 14 New York Times, Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus this past September that his reports of military progress in Iraq—since shown to be undeniable—required "the willing suspension of disbelief."

The whole piece deserves a thorough read, but Noah's right in his ultimate point. If she wins the nomination with this gambit, she could cost Dems the White House:

Clinton's claim to superior experience isn't merely dishonest. It's also potentially dangerous should she become the nominee. If Clinton continues to build her campaign on the dubious foundation of government experience, it shouldn't be very difficult for her GOP opponent to pull that edifice down. That's especially true if a certain white-haired senator now serving his 25th year in Congress (four in the House and 21 in the Senate) wins the nomination. McCain could easily make Hillary look like an absolute fraud who is no more truthful about her depth of government experience than she is about why her mother named her "Hillary." Dennis Kucinich has more government experience than Clinton. (He also has a better health-care plan, but we'll save that for another day.) If Clinton doesn't find a new theme soon, she won't just be cutting Obama's throat. She'll also be cutting her own.

Finally, a reminder that race and gender only cloud the real issue.

The Reverse Bradley? Might Blacks Lie To Pollsters? If so, Why?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 9:39 AM EST

Mickey Kaus, in Slate, ref'ing Noam Scheiber from The New Republic, misses an obvious interpretation:

But what if this black Bradley Effect operates in the other direction--black voters tell pollsters they are going to vote for Obama (because they feel that's expected of them) and then vote for Hillary or Edwards?

What if they tell pollsters that because of how torn we are between Clinton and Obama? Blacks might know, or suspect, they're going to vote Old School but symbolically 'vote' for Obama in a poll. If I didn't immediately hang up on the pests, I'd say I was voting for Obama when I know very well my mind's far from made up. I just want to give him a shout-out and let America know we're on the move. 'Voting' in a poll is cost-free. Voting in the booth—that's the real deal. As for the notion that blacks avoid telling pollsters the truth for fear of being suspected of group think...a sister has to chuckle. Frontin' to a faceless Zogby drone on the phone, or even at the polling place when you're high on the franchise, is the least of our concerns; right or wrong, we know you think much worse of us than that. We could yell our support of OJ to the skies but tremble to say Hillary's name? Right.

Ah, black complexity. When will white folks ever catch a clue?

Know Any Promising Young Folks Who Wanna Run Into a Burning Building?

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 9:23 AM EST

Funny how some things just make their own satiric gravy. From the White House listserv:

Dear Friends,
The application deadline for the Summer 2008 White House Internship is February 26, 2008. If you know students and/or organizations that may be interested in this information please share this with them.
We are looking for a well-qualified, diverse group of applicants who would like to intern here for President Bush.
A White House Internship is an opportunity for current students and recent graduates to experience everyday life at the White House while working with high-level officials on a variety of tasks and projects.
Strong applicants should exhibit:
· Sound academic credentials
· A demonstrated interest in public service
· Solid written and verbal communication skills
· A history of community involvement
· Strong character and leadership skills
Beyond experiencing the day-to-day operations of the White House, interns participate in a speaker series, tours, community service projects, and various White House events.
For more information please visit our website at: www.whitehouse.gov/intern.
Applications should be submitted to intern_application@whitehouse.gov on or before February 26, 2008 for the Summer 2008 Internship.
If you have any questions please contact White House Personnel at 202-456-5979.
Thank you!
Mr. Paris Dennard
The White House

I can think of a few questions prospective interns might like to ask, like what a Bush Tortur-ific, Never Ending War, White House means by "character" and "leadership".

Black Men's Crime, Black Women's Punishment: Here's Something Obama Can Confront if he Wants/Expects Black Women's Vote

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 9:09 AM EST

When I spoke yesterday of the savage realities facing black women, and whether Obama was prepared to confront them (and win black women's vote) this is the sort of thing I meant. From Slate reporting on a new book called the Logic of Life, which purports to lay bare the rational decisions underpinning seemingly irrational cultural phenomena:

[Economists] Charles and Luoh are able to examine [the rational decisions underlying black women's marriage prospects] this statistically because they have data across all 50 states and for the 1980, 1990 and 2000 census. So they are able to compare the situation of women in different times and places, taking into account background trends as they vary across the country and from decade to decade. They estimate, for instance, that a one percentage point rise in the proportion of young black men in prison reduces the proportion of young black women who have ever been married by three percentage points. In states where 20 or 25 percent of the available men are in prison, young black women become very unlikely to marry. The effect is even more dramatic for uneducated women, since women tend to pair up with men of a similar education level, and uneducated men are particularly likely to end up in jail.

(Note: the review also goes on to talk about how the pill lead men in general to drop out of college which raises interesting points about this post of a few days ago on abortion. That post is also notable for an amazing comment, the likes of which we bloggers rarely encounter. It's a mile long, you can't miss it. Kudos to the writer.)