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Cassandra's Watchful Eye

Without Cassandra’s keeping tabs I totally would have missed this one… Both our Delaware senators voted not to require genetic labeling on food we eat. Thereby forcing even those who could medically be harmed from having a choice to avoid it.

The reason stated was its cost… So simply typing “this product may contain genetic altered ingredients” into a computer, then emailing the labeling software to the printer, makes it too costly to give Americans the right to know whether they could die from eating this or that can of beans?…

But yet a company executive can go to jail if his company fails to mark it’s product has yellow dye number five ..

We all know the real reason we can’t know and that is campaign donations coming from a contributor starting with an “m”……

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Reading a recent critique of the debates, it focused on a fact. Millions of Americans are not enjoying the benefits of this economy. Romney had the lucky position to point out all that was wrong, without the responsibility of finding any solution to fix it.

His line, “bring down the rates, broaden the base.” simply has not worked. It didn’t work in Reagan’s time. It didn’t work for Bush HW. It didn’t work for Bush W. It is called: “trickle down”.

Clinton, who practiced kavipsian Economics, raised the rates, causing profits to revert back into the economy stimulating even more growth; that growth grew people’s incomes. That is the key. People will take lower wages if they know they will grow out of them. But ever since Republican Tax Rates went into effect, wage growth immediately stopped. 99% of Americans are earning exactly what they did in 2000. It’s been twelve years since wages for the 99%, increased. Higher taxes takes away all incentive for any employer to pay his people more.

Here is the funny part. To actually do something about the economy, President Obama has to eradicate the Republicans. Get rid of them. Make them a non player. Republicans and republicans alone, are the reason the economy is in such a slump.

Let’s review.

Republicans fought the stimulus.
Republicans fought the car buying incentive.
Republicans fought infrastructure development.
Republicans fought giving Veterans jobs upon returning to USA after fighting for years.
Republicans fought lowering insurance rates.
Republicans fought lowering gas price legislation.
Republicans fought regulating big banks from literally stealing your money.
Republicans fought against balancing the budget.
Republicans fought against payroll increases for all Americans.
Republicans fought against lowering medical costs.
Republicans fought against a better economy.
Republicans fought against hiring more policemen.
Republicans fought against hiring more fireman.
Republicans fought against hiring more school teachers.
Republicans fought against building roads and bridges that were sorely needed.
Republicans fought against not defaulting on the US Dollar.
Republicans fought against strengthening America Abroad.
Republicans fought against stopping corporate corruption.
Republicans fought against fighting wealthy tax cheats.
Republicans fought against closing the loopholes Romney used to get rich.
Republicans fought against raising wages for all Americans.
Republicans fought against legislation that allowed workers to ask for more money without being fired.

yeah. There is a reason the economy is bad. It is called the Republican Party.

Having “No Republicans” equals massive investment back into our economy. The formula for a successful America is…..

NO REPUBLICANS EVER ELECTED AGAIN = MASSIVE AMERICA ECONOMIC GROWTH

So Obama, you are at fault according to Mitt Romney and the Conservative Cheer-leading squad… Because you didn’t get rid of Republicans… Shame on you!!!!

I guess it is up to us, to do so if we EVER want our economy back.

If not… I guess every vote for a Republican is a vote in support of Communist China…..

This is going to my hard core Republican friends. Why are you still supporting Romney?

1) You know he is not going to win.
2) You know as the election heats up, his Bain Capital experience will make Republicans untouchable for decades.
3) You can’t pin down where Romney stands on anything.
4) He tied his dog to a car.
5) He stands with black people and says “Who let the dogs out, woof, woof.”

Most of you are telling me, “I certainly can’t vote for Obama. I guess I’m not voting for President this time.”

Let’s say, just for argument sakes there was a presidential candidate out there who says to have good government you need: …………………

1. Become reality driven. Don’t kid yourself or others.
Find out what’s what and base your decisions and actions
on that.

2. Always be honest and tell the truth. It’s extremely
difficult to do any damage to anybody when you are
willing to tell the truth–regardless of the
consequences.

3. Always do what’s right and fair. Remember, the more
you actually accomplish, the louder your critics become.
You’ve got to learn to ignore your critics. You’ve got to
continue to do what you think is right. You’ve got to
maintain your integrity.

4. Determine your goal, develop a plan to reach that
goal, and then act. Don’t procrastinate.

5. Make sure everybody who ought to know what you’re
doing knows what you’re doing. Communicate.

6. Don’t hesitate to deliver bad news. There is always
time to salvage things. There is always time to fix
things. Henry Kissinger said that anything that can be
revealed eventually should be revealed immediately.

7. Last, be willing to do whatever it takes to get your
job done. If you’ve got a job that you don’t love enough
to do what it takes to get your job done, then quit and
get one that you do love, and then make a difference.

Honesty. Integrity. Principal.

Sounds good so far. Let us say just for argument, he had chief executive experience. Let us say just or argument that he once ran a state, one of the fifty in this union. Let us say while governor, this is what he did…..

During his tenure, New Mexico experienced the longest period without a tax-increase in the state’s entire history.

1) He cut the rate of government growth in half,

2) Left the New Mexico state government with a budget surplus and 1000 fewer employees (without firing anyone),

3) Privatized half of the prisons in the state,

4) Brought a state-wide school voucher system to New Mexico.

5) Vetoed 750 bills (more than all the vetoes of the other 49 Governors in the country at that time, combined) with only 2 overrides, earning him the nickname Gary “Veto” Johnson.

6) In 1999, Johnson became the highest-ranking elected official in the United States to advocate the legalization of drugs.

7) Shifted Medicaid to managed care.

ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU WANT? ISN’T THAT WHAT WE NEED?

Can you not think of a better way to show your lack of enthusiasm over a wealthy capitalist buying his way to the top of your ticket, by voting for someone who has character, who does what you’ve always wanted, a doer, not a talker?

And to think…. you were simply just going to throw your vote away.

His name is Gary Johnson. He is the new party’s candidate for President.

Remember Republicans. It is your values that are important. If your party has given up and moved on from your values, don’t think you have to be loyal to the word…. “Republican”… What you have to be loyal too, is yourself. Always. Never lie to yourself.

You don’t need to waste your vote on Romney. You probably need to find more about this guy, Gary Johnson, and then throw your support behind him.

Don’t worry it is not one of the two parties on whose ticket he is running. Remember, at one point in time, the Republican Party was a once a third party too. One that went mainstream because of its core values, its principles resonated with everyday American People.

I’m trying to put all your ideas together into one package. So, let me get this right… All you are asking is for, is a country where:

1) There is no universal healthcare.
2) Few entitlement programs.
3) Low Flat Tax System.
4) Faith based Government.
5) A deep reverence for God.
6) Extremely strict rules against abortion.
7) Marriage has already been strictly defined as between man and woman.
8) Homosexuality is a sin, and illegal.
9) Dress Codes are strictly enforced.
10) Tattoos, piercings, baggy pants, are banned.
11) Has the Death Penalty which they aren’t shy about using.
12) Strong private school system with religious focus.
13) Widespread dependency on oil and natural gas drilling.
14) Growing nuclear program
15) Nonexistent environmental nuisances
16) Culture that promotes family and stereotyped roles for men and women.

I’ve endeavored to put all your values on one page. I share your frustration because today, ever since 2008, it seems like America is moving further and further away from these values.

But you don’t have to be frustrated anymore. I have looked far and wide and have discovered a place already in existence that has those values in place, and more. If you sorely long for those values above, it is sincerely a place where you and your family would be very happy.

It is Iran.

You don’t have to pay me. I don’t need any commission. Just glad to help a fellow Delawarean out…. No problem.


Right click to open full image… Pictograph Courtesy of Viral..

So, can someone tell me again, why we shouldn’t tax the rich, and instead, balance the budget on the backs of everyone else?…….

I seem to be missing that little detail where that all makes sense……

The Mysterious Cause...
Photo courtesy of State Symbols USA

So, it wasn’t a tomato after all. It was either a jalapeno or seranno pepper which caused the outbreak that completely shut down the tomato market for three weeks. Florida growers alone estimate an economic hit of 47 million dollars.

Today in Longworth House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a Public Hearing on this outbreak. California Democrat Dennis Cardoza presided. . It was poorly attended by his fellow Congressmen; only one from Texas, and one from Florida thought the issue worthy enough to weigh in on. But called before the Committee were Dr Lonnie King from the CDC, and Dr. Acheson from the FDA.

This hearing makes it official. No signs of the St Paul strain were ever found on any tomatoes. At this point in time, the strain has been only positively identified on one pepper in a Texas warehouse. That pepper was traced to a Mexican farm, where the same strain has now been found in the irrigation water. Additional peppers from that farm are still in the process of being tested.

American farmers grow food under stricter standards than do their foreign competitors. Under rigorous questioning, the FDA admitted that it does not have adequate resources to test every type of food for every possible contaminant. In this particular case, improperly treated sewage was used to irrigate crops. One should not be surprised. Almost all produce grown on farms in desert climates, use recycled sewage as a well documented method of recycling the desert’s most precious commodity: water.

Bryan Silberman from Newark, Delaware testified in a quick summary, speaking as the head of the Produce Marketing Association,

Traceability has received a technological boost because of the Bioterrorism Act. But record keeping is not new. Since 1930, record keeping has been federally required to assist in the tracking of fresh produce.

The Produce Marketing Association is recommending 3 common elements to speed up the ability to trace products. The link required to speed up traceability, he said, is to mandate the use a sticker on every case of globally produced product. These stickers would contain three important pieces of information: the global trade item number, the lot number, and the harvest or pack date. Use of bar codes capable of tracing that information, could speed up traceability eventually to a few minutes, with no bureacratic cost involved…

The Bar code would be a baton, passed from one link to the next, capable of being tracked from the start line to to the finish.

This bar code would need to be both machine and human readable, but if done on a global scale, it could speed up the formation of an action plan and collapse the time line between recognizing the initial outbreak, and issuing correct advisements to America’s public.

Currently there are not yet any solutions before the government. As a nation, we are still in the process of determining what went wrong… But what this salmonella outbreak did demonstrate, was the industry’s ability to follow a food product backwards from a restaurant to the farm.Technology currently exists which CAN provide unique knowledge to assist in the tracking of pathogens.

In the future, industry officials want changes in the FDA so that government agency feels freer to work alongside the industry itself. This St. Paul strain of Salmonella Outbreak case illustrates the parts of the system which as of yet, do not work well.

Thomas Stenzel of the United Fresh Produce Association said that from the restaurant to the farm…… Traceability worked. Initially we were able to follow the item backward from the sick consumer to the farms. The problem with tomatoes occurred because the evidence pointed to many different farms. There appeared to be a widespread, instead of a common point of contamination. As the sickness began being traced to different farms nationwide…. the natural assumption was that a major widespread tomato outbreak was under way….. Someone should have asked the question… maybe it wasn’t a tomato? Later, as it became obvious that tomatoes were not the source of contamination, all began to realize that someone should have realized it sooner…. Traceability works. For once the jalapeno peppers were targeted, investigators showed up at a small distributor on the outside edge of McAllen, Texas, tested a pepper, and bingo…. Then from there, back to the farm.

All locally grown jalapenos are still good. Almost all of Mexican jalapenos are still good, with the exception of one farm … We need to make that determination in our public statements. Geography is not shorthand. To say that all Mexican peppers are bad, is harmful.

The economic damage done to tomato farmers, is worse than that of a hurricane or flood. Farmers, produce distributors, and consumers all had to dump tomatoes and peppers. All groups suffered losses. On a side note, insurance companies reimburse damage done by Mother nature. They do not cover food lost to outbreaks…..

When asked what problems this outbreak illuminated for the Produce Marketing Associations, Bryan Silberman of Newark, Delaware said that the tight grasp on information being held tight to its chest by the FDA, made assisting in the investigation difficult.

It was like an orthopedic fiber optic scope not being able to see, Bryan said, on being asked to comment: “We were all being asked to comment without knowing any of the details.”

“What did fail in trace-back?” all were asked. No specific answers were forthcoming. Just a general consensus that it turned out to be the wrong item we were tracing… Human error. Once again the technology was sound. The humans operating it were not…..

So what is needed? Dr. Acheson of the FDA, laid it out specifically: more money to inspect. more money to train. Often the field investigators showing up at farms, came from other FDA departments such as pharmaceuticals. These people hadn’t a clue of what to search out, and had to call there on the spot, their department head in order to get the right questions needed to ask the farmers…

In an food outbreak, the FDA are the cops; they treat the industry as if it did something wrong. In a establishing a new system, the first recommended step would be to bring in industry experts. A solution would be to pre-vet through security, experts in each field. There are jalapeno experts still out there, who have not yet been contacted by FDA… For one, the field of investigators is spread too thin, and this recent round, points clearly to that deficiency… Most experts were not contacted because in an investigation they were not trusted, just as a family member’s testimony involving a crime within that family, is also not to be trusted. Common sense dictates that the FDA establish relationships with industry experts who have previously undergone a thorough security clearance, and have significant security clearance so that they can be called in at the first signs of a problem…..

University of Minnesota (Go Gophers) public health professor, Michael Osterholm, commended his dedicated group of graduate students (who affectionately call themselves ” The Diarrhea Squad”) which found the outbreak and should be credited for the initial finding and tracing of this strain.

Rep Tim Mahoney (Fl) is interested in implementing a uniform system. Right now the standards in Mexico are different from those of our domestic production.

For example a new request being made of food growers, pre-harvest pathogen testing, has no true standards for industry to follow. Different customers are demanding different standards. Standardization would help simplify this new request requiring new technology.

Growers keep records to insure they get paid for their product. Developing a “Standard Label” which is third world compatible would allow us to trace a food product anywhere around the globe.

However domestic local growers, selling in local farmer’s markets, open a new problem. There is little accountability with local produce being grown by individuals.. But large chains like Wal*mart have started buying locally. This small producer is going to become a critical problem… For as the economy sours, and everyone sees their half an acre as a money-making opportunity, anything can show up in the food chain. It will be a real problem to monitor all of the local produce showing up on our tables, if this trend continues…..

Currently the “FDA is under funded, under sourced, has little oversight or inspection.” said Rep. Mahoney (D FL). “They are not equipped for this new challenge.”

One trend currently occurring is that as American companies go to Mexico, they are taking their best practices with them and insisting that their practices be enforced within that local market…

Whereas private industry has stepped up with innovation, the weakest link in our defense against pathogens on produce, is the underfunded FDA which is struggling under the Bush cuts.

The industry’s current estimate is that more than 50% of produce companies have their data on electronic records… Mandatory tracing is something that the entire industry could reasonably adjust to. Tracing was not the problem. Within hours or days we can trace right up to a single farm. But at what cost? That is the limitation. Agencies, federal and state, with no funds cannot send agents out into the field. So far no proposed legislation has been proposed

Florida growers informally and voluntary adopted a tomato model of tracing distribution which will be implemented by the agriculture department of Florida and may perhaps be used nationwide someday…

Produce traceability has been in effect since end of last year. Produce associations continue to build the system. The time line for implementation will be determined by the August 20 steering committee and will be made public later.

As mentioned before, adequate record keeping already exists. At some future point in time when those records are married to electronic bar code reading system , we will have a vast improvement of traceability. The economic driving force of this, is the cost effectiveness coming from both standardization and efficiency. At one point in time every grocer had a different sticker, with a different number on its produce, The system still worked but made comparing records between grocers rather difficult.. Now with unified codes, one can do so efficiently on one computer.

This has been the most expensive year in history to plant a corp. Crop insurance does not cover outbreaks. Is Federal compensation justified? Or should crop insurance be extended to cover such outbreaks? Last month’s outbreak cost 18 million in losses to just one domestic Florida company, a loss over which they had no control, for it was not caused by them.

Perhaps in time some accountability will be in order….