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Sunday With Jamie Kilstein And The Lord: God Is Dead, Scott Walker Lives

June 12, 2012

Scott Walker kept his seat and Ray Bradbury died last week, proving once and for all the world is a horrible place, and that if there is a God, he’s dead.

God is dead.

Now that it’s been a few days and we are done mourning because a new episode of The Killing is on tonight!, let us look back and examine just who this low-life dribble of accident cum Scott Walker is! Join me!!

Scott Walker is the Hosni Mubarak of Wisconsin. Granted, Mubarak was appointed after his predecessor was gunned down, and Walker was voted in, but I like to pretend the good people of Wisconsin would never have done such a thing. Someone must have been shot, right? Right!

So Scott Walker comes into town as this sort of vacant idiot, and like all bullies do, realizes he needs to take a manly stance of some sort. In prison, to prove you are tough, you are supposed to find the biggest guy on day one and knock him out. To prove you are a tough guy as a Republican, you need to find the smallest or most isolated minority group and punch them in their tiny oppressed faces. Since hitting a child was out of the picture, he decided to crack down on unions, which most people didn’t even think exist anymore. Way to hold truth to power, asshole.

Walker wants to get rid of union’s right to collectively bargain, which is like trying to get a Republican to stop splooging all over old cowboy pictures of Ronald Reagan … it’s just what they do. Don’t ask them to stop. It gets weird. Walker wanted to take all negotiation rights away from the people of his state so if a rich cartoon-like villain of a CEO wanted to lay off half his workforce, cut pensions, or whatever, no one could fight back.

Except, Wisconsin fought back.

Continue with the article via Sunday With Jamie Kilstein And The Lord: God Is Dead, Scott Walker Lives.

As Re-Election Campaign Gears Up, Obama Abandons Child Farm Worker Safety Rule – Working In These Times

May 9, 2012

BY MIKE ELK

WASHINGTON, D.C.—For more than three years, the Obama administration cooperated with workplace safety advocates to develop guidelines forbidding children as young as 12 from taking on perilous farm jobs. Farmwork is risky business: agriculture incurs six times as many workplace deaths as other industries.

But in a slight to workplace safety advocates, last week the Obama Administration announced that it was withdrawing a set of proposed rules that would have regulated child farm labor. “The decision to withdraw this rule—including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’—was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama administration,” read an official statement.

The anncouncement outraged workplace safety advocates. “Typically, I can find words to express my outrage. I can’t even find the words on this one,” says former OSHA official Celeste Monforton.

The rules were held up for nine months by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), an unusually long delay. The administration finally released the rules for a public comment period after two 14-year-old girls working on a farm in Illinois were electrocuted last summer, as I reported last September. Proponents felt confident that once the rules passed through the OMB, they would be published. So it came as a shock when the administration not only placed the rules on hold, but declared that it would never consider them again.

“If folks knew the truth about this rule, we do feel that [they] would have been supportive of this stuff,” says Norma Flores Lopez of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs. “These rules were common-sense rules that would have prevented children from getting hurt or possibly losing their lives. Abandoning [them] leaves a lot of children exposed and vulnerable.”

For workplace safety advocates, the Obama administration’s decision reflects a frightening trend that finds the president shirking workers’ interests as he readies his campaign  for November’s election. Another workplace safety proposal designed to limit workers’ exposure to cancer-causing silica dust has been in limbo for 14 months.

via As Re-Election Campaign Gears Up, Obama Abandons Child Farm Worker Safety Rule – Working In These Times.

Is Michele Bachmann Taking Too Many Pills Again?

May 8, 2012

By KIRSTEN BOYD JOHNSON

Good news, America: Science reports that it has had communication with an alternate dimension. Strangely enough, the message is once again from pill-snarfing loon Michele Bachmann, who explains that in fact, she ran a very nearly perfect campaign for president: “We were extremely careful, and we were almost mistake-free, but for those two points, Elvis Presley’s birthday and John Wayne’s birthplace.” That’s nice. So is Michele Bachmann the Republican nominee in this alternate dimension, after having run such a glorious campaign? Maybe she is already President there, even? That’s too bad, it sounds like that dimension might have been sort of a fun, kooky “wear your pants backwards everyday” kind of place before Michele Bachmann quickly annihilated it as its new leader. In this world, however, we can think of several more mistakes Michele Bachmann made. What’s the first one, off the top of the head?

This one:

Is Michele Bachmann Taking Too Many Pills Again?

And also there was that time she needlessly attempted to make Rick Perry look stupid by claiming that a cancer vaccine makes girls “suffer retardation,” or that teabagger manifesto she signed comparing the enslavement of African-Americans favorably to life as a black person under Barack Obama’s tyrannical rule and yadda yadda we do not have another year to finish this list. We just wanted to ruin your Friday with that lovely photo. [The Hill]

via Is Michele Bachmann Taking Too Many Pills Again?.

Vegan Dinner: Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach

May 7, 2012

Jerk Sloppy Joes With Coconut Creamed Spinach

Arsenic in Our Chicken? – NYTimes.com

May 6, 2012

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: April 4, 2012

Let’s hope you’re not reading this column while munching on a chicken sandwich.

That’s because my topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.

“We were kind of floored,” said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future.  “It’s unbelievable what we found.”

He said that the researchers had intended to test only for antibiotics. But assays for other chemicals and pharmaceuticals didn’t cost extra, so researchers asked for those results as well.

“We haven’t found anything that is an immediate health concern,” Nachman added. “But it makes me question how comfortable we are feeding a number of these things to animals that we’re eating. It bewilders me.”

It turns out that arsenic has routinely been fed to poultry (and sometimes hogs) because it reduces infections and makes flesh an appetizing shade of pink. There’s no evidence that such low levels of arsenic harm either chickens or the people eating them, but still…

Big Ag doesn’t advertise the chemicals it stuffs into animals, so the scientists conducting these studies figured out a clever way to detect them. Bird feathers, like human fingernails, accumulate chemicals and drugs that an animal is exposed to. So scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University examined feather meal — a poultry byproduct made of feathers.

One study, just published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Environmental Science & Technology, found that feather meal routinely contained a banned class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics (such as Cipro), are illegal in poultry production because they can breed antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that harm humans. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans annually than AIDS, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The same study also found that one-third of feather-meal samples contained an antihistamine that is the active ingredient of Benadryl. The great majority of feather meal contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. And feather-meal samples from China contained an antidepressant that is the active ingredient in Prozac.

Poultry-growing literature has recommended Benadryl to reduce anxiety among chickens, apparently because stressed chickens have tougher meat and grow more slowly. Tylenol and Prozac presumably serve the same purpose.

Researchers found that most feather-meal samples contained caffeine. It turns out that chickens are sometimes fed coffee pulp and green tea powder to keep them awake so that they can spend more time eating. (Is that why they need the Benadryl, to calm them down?)

The other peer-reviewed study, reported in a journal called Science of the Total Environment, found arsenic in every sample of feather meal tested. Almost 9 in 10 broiler chickens in the United States had been fed arsenic, according to a 2011 industry estimate.

…My take is that the business model of industrial agriculture has some stunning accomplishments, such as producing cheap food that saves us money at the grocery store. But we all may pay more in medical costs because of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Frankly, after reading these studies, I’m so depressed about what has happened to farming that I wonder: Could a Prozac-laced chicken nugget help?

via Arsenic in Our Chicken? – NYTimes.com.

Tens of Thousands March in Oakland, New York for May Day | The Nation

May 6, 2012

Occupy Wall Street, unions and immigrants’ rights groups collaborated to organize massive protests on Tuesday in New York City and Oakland and smaller events across the country and around the world.

Yet one would have little knowledge about the scale of the rallies by reading and viewing the establishment media. The New York Daily News absurdly claims “hundreds of activists across the U.S.” participated in the marches, despite the fact that in New York City alone tens of thousands of people took to the streets. Reuters concurred, calling the resurgence a “dud,” adding accusations of a “poor turnout.”

Perhaps it would have been easy to adopt a pessimistic perception of the day standing in the rain at 4 am by the Brooklyn Bridge, waiting for a mass show of civil disobedience that never came or later sprinting through the streets of Chinatown on the Wildcat march that consisted of hundreds of masked young men and women overturning garbage cans, carrying a “Fuck the Police” banner and leading police on a wild goose chase that lasted forty-five minutes, as officers used their scooters like battering rams and activists seized police barricades to partition the street and make their getaway.

Zack, an Occupier who had been involved with some of the May Day organizing, remained optimistic during those hours and said he attended the event to see how the past four months of organizing would shape up.

“I think this is going to be a really important test for the movement and where we’re at in in New York. We’ll see what kind of support we have from the city and the people of the city,” he said, emphasizing that the protest was just one day. “It’s a day of economic noncompliance, a day of withdrawing our consent. It’ll be interesting to see how the collaboration with unions and immigrants rights groups pans out.”

In the afternoon, several breakout protests, called the 99 picket lines, picketed businesses that have a history of mistreating workers.

Members of the Legal Services of NYC, including Gibb Surette, president of the Legal Services Staff Association, a part of UAW Local 2320, met at the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue to fight for a better contract.

“May Day is International Workers Day, and internationalism is an extremely important concept for workers’ rights—not just because of globalism and solidarity with workers in other countries—but because the character of the working class in the United States is extremely international, and it always has been. It was a major feature of the working class movement and the struggle that gave birth to May Day. Most of the Haymarket martyrs were immigrants. The ability to target and exploit a class of people with less rights than others undermines the rights of all workers, so to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with groups that are fighting for immigrants’ rights is an absolute natural for labor.”

“99 pickets” converged later in the day at Sixth Avenue and 49th Street for a lively march that included protesters screaming “Fuck Jamie Dimon!” as they nearly stormed a Chase bank before security and the NYPD, batons wielding, frantically pushed back the surging crowd, and protest organizers convinced the activists to keep marching.

May Day protests were held across the country, where police fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades at demonstrators in Oakland, protesters smashed windows in Seattle, and activists occupied a building owned by the Catholic archdiocese in San Francisco. Protests were also held in Chicago; Washington, DC; and Atlanta; and globally in Greece, London and Turkey.

In total, the Occupy movement organized protests in 125 US cities, according to the group’s website.

Midnight came and an estimated 100 protesters gathered at Zuccotti—protesters cried, “We’re home!” upon seeing the small concrete square—to discuss whether or not they should stay through the morning.

Beyond the short-term conversations about reoccupation, however, activists are asking big questions about the future of their movement, namely if the solidarity felt on Tuesday will last throughout the summer.

Full Story via Tens of Thousands March in Oakland, New York for May Day | The Nation.

A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’- Jezebel

May 1, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk these last couple of weeks about “hipster racism” or “ironic racism”—or, as I like to call it, racism. It’s, you know, introducing your black friend as “my black friend”—as a joke!!!—to show everybody how totally not preoccupied you are with your black friend’s blackness. It’s the gentler, more clueless, and more insidious cousin of a hick in a hood; the domain of educated, middle-class white people (like me—to be clear, I am one of those) who believe that not wanting to be racist makes it okay for them to be totally racist. “But I went to college — I can’t be racist!” Turns out, you can.

People benefit from racism—hell, I benefit from it every day—and things that benefit powerful people don’t just suddenly get “fixed” and disappear because Halle Berry won an Oscar or whatever. Modern racism lives in entrenched de facto inequalities, in coded language about “work ethic” and “states’ rights,” in silent negative spaces like absence and invisibility, and in Newt Gingrich’s hair. And in irony.

When people are trying to be sensitive about race but they don’t know what to say, they usually go with, “Well, race is a complicated issue.” Except, no, it’s not. Race is one of the least complicated issues that there is, because it’s made up. It’s arbitrary. It’s as complicated as goddamn Santa Claus. Oh, that guy’s mom was half-black, which makes his skin slightly more pigmented than mine, which therefore means that he’s inherently 12.5% lazier than me? Science! Um, no. What’s actually complicated is our country’s relationship with race, and our utter ineptitude at talking about it. We suck. I mean, I work on it every day, and I’m still a total fuck-up. But this new scheme someone came up with—where we prove we’re not racist by acting as casually racist as possible? Not our best, white people. Not our best.

Racism is like a wily little bacterium. It doesn’t just roll over and die once we swallow our antibiotics—it mutates and evolves and hides itself in plain sight, and then all of a sudden, fuck, my arm fell off. Dickhead bacteria. (Sidenote: arm for sale!)

A long time ago (not really!), it was socially acceptable to own people. Then it wasn’t, but it was socially acceptable to murder people if they looked at your wife. Then it wasn’t! Yay! But it was still okay to say that people whose skin color you didn’t like weren’t allowed to be around you. And so on. Eventually we arrived at the point (now) where it’s socially unacceptable in mainstream culture for white people to say denigrating things about people of other races. But just because the behavior has been suppressed, that doesn’t mean people’s prejudices have simply disappeared. And white people haaaaaate being told what to do in our own country (fun fact: not actually “ours”)!

So racism went underground. Sure, you can’t say racist things anymore, but you can pretend to say them! Which, it turns out, is pretty much the exact same thing. There are a couple of strains of “ironic racism” making the rounds right now, and a couple of typical defenses.

1. “Tee-Hee, Aren’t I Adorable?”
This category includes things like wide-eyed acoustic covers of hip-hop songs, suburban white girls flashing gang signs, and this Tweet from Zooey Deschanel: “Haha.🙂 RT @Sarabareilles: Home from tour and first things first: New Girl episodes I missed. #thuglife.” See, it’s hilarious, because we aren’t thugs—we are darling girls, and real thugs are black people who do crime! Oh, hey, can I call you back? I need to sew more ric-rac on my apron. I hope a black person didn’t get into my ric-rac Kaboodle and steal all of it! JK, LOL. RIP, Whitney.

(Now, I’m obv not saying that Zooey Deschanel is some terrible racist. I don’t know her, although I did sit next to her at a restaurant once, and she ordered “olives.” She seemed lovely, and she didn’t call anyone the n-word for the entire meal. But I’m saying that we are all kind of bizarrely cavalier and careless these days, throwing our most deeply-considered morals under the bus for the sake of a few cheap jokes. It’s weird, and we owe the world a little more critical thinking.)

2. “Recreational Slumming.”
Wherein privileged people descend for a visit inside the strange, foreign spaces of othered groups. Like, I don’t know, IHOP. Or that “scary” bar in the south end. Then they go home again. Catchphrase: “It’s soooooo ghetto, but I actually totally like it!”

3. “Ummm, I’m a Writer and I’m Trying to Write in Here!”
This is Lesley Arfin crowing about the majestic power of the n-word, and white kids whining that it’s “unfair” that black people “get” to use “it”. You know, because words are powerful and words are Arfin’s craft and would you take the color red away from the best painter on Twitter??? And besides, don’t you just find Arfin to be so RAW and DELICIOUSLY NAUGHTY? It’s all tied up with the deliberately obtuse people who conflate “freedom of speech” with “immunity from criticism.” You “can” say the n-word. Go ahead and say it if you want, Skrillex. And I will go ahead and give you the world’s most sidewaysiest eyeball forever. Because it hurts people. Why do you want to hurt people?

4. “God, Don’t White People Suck?”
Okay, I get what you’re trying to do here—having some fun at the expense of the oppressors while setting yourself up as one of the “cool” white people—but mainly what you end up doing is implying that black people don’t like informative radio or TED talks. Stuff White People Like: having the best brains! Isn’t it great that we can make fun of ourselves while still reminding you that we’re better than you?

And the thing is, when these things get called out, there really is no defense. But they try:

“No, don’t you see? I’m just showing how I’m so down with [minority group] that it’s totally cool for me to make jokes at their expense. Because we are just that kind of tight bros now.”
No. You cannot unlock some secret double-not-racist achievement by just being regular racist. Otherwise Bill O’Reilly would be president of the NAACP.

“But it’s a JOOOOOKE.”
Here’s the thing about jokes. They only work when they’re aiming up. I wrote this in another piece recently, but I’m just going to plagiarize myself: People in positions of power simply cannotmake jokes at the expense of the powerless. That’s why, at a company party, you never have a roast where the CEO is roasting the janitor (“Isn’t it funny how Steve can barely feed his family? This guy knows what I’m talking about!” [points to other janitor]). Because that would be GROSS, and both janitors would have to work late to clean up everyone’s barf. Open-mic comedians, I know you think you’re part of some fresh vanguard in alternative comedy who just discovered that a lot of black ladies don’t like it when you touch their hair, but pleeeeeeease just stick to stuff about how your stupid girlfriend is a bitch. (Just kidding. Please never speak again.)

“So I’m not allowed to have a genuine interest in another culture?!!?!??!”
First of all, privileged dickweeds wearing Urban Outfitters “Navajo” panties, I didn’t realize that you excavated those in your anthropological field work. My bad. Carry on. And second of all, again, you “can” do whatever the fuck you want. You “can” wear whatever you want, say whatever you want, and think whatever you want about whatever you want. All the time! Yaaay! But if a group of people comes to you and says, “This thing that you are doing is hurting us,” and you keep doing it for fun, then you are a dickweed! Like, you know we had an actual genocide here, right? A deliberate extermination of human beings? Right where your house is? So maybe just err on the side of sensitivity.

“Yeah, but we have a black president! Isn’t racism over?”
Okay. That’s probably the most racist thing you’ve said all day, imaginary amalgam of all the careless hipsters in the world. You know how you can tell that black people are still oppressed? Because black people are still oppressed. If you claim that you are not a racist person (or, at least, that you’re committed to working your ass off not to be one—which is really the best that any of us can promise), then you must believe that people are fundamentally born equal. So if that’s true, then in a vacuum, factors like skin color should have no effect on anyone’s success. Right? And therefore, if you really believe that all people are created equal, then when you see that drastic racial inequalities exist in the real world, the only thing that you could possiblyconclude is that some external force is holding certain people back. Like…racism. Right? So congratulations! You believe in racism! Unless you don’t actually think that people are born equal. And if you don’t believe that people are born equal, then you’re a fucking racist.

But you know what? At least that’s sincere. And at least sincere racism isn’t running around Brooklyn wearing artisanal suspenders and masquerading as enlightenment. Give me sincere racism or give me no racism at all, but enough with this weaselly shit.

via A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’.