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Deregulation, Market Concentration at the Root of Egg Recall

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  • And this is how we get the circumstance that the FDA cannot even recall foods, and has to hope that corporations do it on a voluntary basis.
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  • Proper levels of funding for the agency have languished
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  • Please ask your senators to make recalling unsafe food mandatory.
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David Dayen, FireDogLake

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

Jon Cohn explores the egg recall in greater detail, and comes to a similar conclusion as I did: that it just shows a continuation of e.coli conservatism, particularly the fervor for deregulation that goes back 30 years:

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This is not a story that begins with the administration of George W. Bush. It begins, instead, with the administration of Ronald Reagan. Convinced that excessive regulation was stifling American innovation and imposing unnecessary costs on the public, Reagan’s team changed the way government makes rules.
Prior to the 1980s, agencies like the FDA had authority to finalize regulations on their own. Reagan changed that, forcing agencies to submit all regulations to the Office of Management and Budget, which cast a more skeptical eye on anything that would require the government or business to spend more money. The regulatory process slowed down and, in many cases, the people in charge of it became more skittish.

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There are new egg regulations in place now, implemented this year, but the food safety bill, which would give the FDA authority over recalls, has languished. So has proper levels of funding for the agency.

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Rotten Eggs, Andre Delattre, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)
Please ask your senators to make recalling unsafe food mandatory.

Tell the deficit commission: Cut military spending, not Social Security

We need real solutions, not a manufactured crisis
Deficit commission almost done deciding to slash Social Security
Top 5 Social Security Myths

Matt Lockshin, CREDO Action

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

At a time when the country desperately needs more jobs, a powerful commission appointed by President Obama is meeting in secret to make recommendations to lower the federal budget deficit.

And, unfortunately, the commission has been stacked with people who have obsessed for decades over cutting Social Security benefits or transforming it from a broad-based program into a privatized retirement program.

From the public statements of commission members and leaks of the secret meetings, it is clear that the commission is avoiding serious discussion of the real causes of our deficit in order to create a sense of panic around Social Security.

Click here to automatically sign our petition to the members of the deficit commission telling them to make recommendations that significantly lower military spending, allow the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% to expire, and modify health care reform to include a robust public option to lower costs.

Today, we should not be cutting the deficit but instead investing in critical public goods that create jobs. After we strengthen our economy, it is appropriate to focus on lowering the deficit. The Commission would enhance public discourse by focusing on three critical drivers of long term deficits:

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  1. Burgeoning military spending — much higher than any other country — and magnified by two wars of choice.
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  3. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, and
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  5. Rapidly rising health care costs driven by an inefficient private insurance market.
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Instead of productively focusing the nation's and Congressional attention on these factors, some in the deficit commission are focused on privatizing Social Security and cutting benefits.

Click here to automatically sign our petition to the members of the deficit commission telling them to make recommendations that significantly lower military spending, allow the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% to expire, and modify health care reform to include a robust public option to lower costs.

Thank you for standing up for Social Security.

Related:

Deficit commission almost done deciding to slash Social Security, Alex Pareene, Salon
The commission's report is not yet finished, but it is a foregone conclusion that what to do about the deficit will probably turn out to be "severely scale back the social safety net."

Top 5 Social Security Myths, Nita Chaudhary, MoveOn.org Political Action
We've put together a list of the top five myths about Social Security, along with the real story.

Cannibalism or Disinfectant? Missing the Plot in Arizona

Are Arizona’s Political Leaders Deliberately Blocking Electronic Voting Machine Transparency?

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Denis G. Campbell, UK Progressive

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Marsha Aronson

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Sunlight is a great disinfectant, but it’s cloudy and raining over the Arizona election desert. In the few hours since t r u t h o u t ran my articleon transparency and hacking problems with vote scanning machines in Arizona, two events occurred demonstrating a continued preference to attack accusers rather than the problem.

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Having watched past Arizona vote machine election official fiascos for three years from abroad, UK Progressive recommends that since the Arizona election system seems to be so badly broken:

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1. Federal observers, led by US Attorney General Eric Holder be dispatched to Arizona county tabulation and polling centres from the moment ‘vote by mail’ balloting begins until a final count is determined.
2. Judge Oberbillig order Maricopa County immediately to scrap machine tabulating and order a openly witnessed hand-count of all ballots in the general election for these two behemoth counties (Maricopa and Pima) that account for 75% of all votes cast and
3. Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Terry Goddard should support and order all counties across the state to scrap these electronic systems and get the vote count right, even if the final outcome is not known until the next day or even later.

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Attacking Social Security

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  • Social Security’s attackers claim that they’re concerned about the program’s financial future. But their math doesn’t add up, and their hostility isn’t really about dollars and cents. Instead, it’s about ideology and posturing. And underneath it all is ignorance of or indifference to the realities of life for many Americans.
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  • Defense spending far outpaces spending on Social Security
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  • DC Politicians Beware: If You Mess with Social Security, You're Toast
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Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Bob Heberle

Social Security turned 75 last week (Aug 8-14). It should have been a joyous occasion, a time to celebrate a program that has brought dignity and decency to the lives of older Americans.

But the program is under attack, with some Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans joining the assault. Rumor has it that President Obama’s deficit commission may call for deep benefit cuts, in particular a sharp rise in the retirement age.

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Related:

DC Politicians Beware: Voters Want the Employment Crisis Fixed -- If You Mess with Social Security or Deficits, You're Toast, Joshua Holland, AlterNet
A new survey finds a huge majority of Americans are in agreement about our biggest problem. Obama and the Dems better listen up.

The Best Oligarchy Money can Buy

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  • Revolving Door between Government and the Private Sector Reaches Appalling Highs
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  • “Three of every four gas and oil lobbyists [have] worked for the federal government.” --Washington Post
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Anthony Dimaggio, ZComm, in Axis of Logic

The symbiotic connection between government and business is reaching alarming levels in light of recent evidence, indicating that government officials and business executives are increasingly one and the same.  Consider the evidence that’s recently come to light.   

A recent study by the Washington Post finds that “three of every four gas and oil lobbyists [have] worked for the federal government”.

Among those currently lobbying for energy companies who have worked in government include 18 former members of Congress and dozens of former presidential appointees. Two of these former officials were directors of the Minerals and Management Service, a disturbing revelation considering that the agency has received strong criticism for granting 198 leases for oil wells following the April 30th Deepwater explosion in the Gulf, with BP the winner of 13 of those bids.  For those unfamiliar with the MMS, it gained infamy in late 2008 when it was reported by the New York Times that its employees were trading lucrative offshore drilling contracts for cocaine sex parties, funded by the oil industry (More on that story).

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These kinds of stories are usually the stuff of mystery and action thriller novels, but in the case of MMS-incest, the development simply looks like a failure of an agency to regulate private interests.   

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Summary: Barack Obama, Change We Can Believe In: Week of August 22

4 New Items including:

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  • Big Brother: Obama Demands Access to Internet Records, in Secret, and Without Court Review
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  • Other Countries Probing Bush-era Torture — Why Aren't We?
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Lisa Benson

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Big Brother: Obama Demands Access to Internet Records, in Secret, and Without Court Review, Tom Burghardt, Global Research

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  • Internet users do not give up their privacy rights when they log on, and the FBI should not have the power to secretly demand that ISPs turn over constitutionally protected information about their users without a court order.
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  • ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
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Obama's Hollow Victory, Joshua Green, The Atlantic

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  • An aid package to the states to prevent layoffs was funded by cutting the federal food stamp program. That's nothing to brag about.
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  • Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
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Other Countries Probing Bush-era Torture — Why Aren't We? Shashank Bengali, the McClatchy Newspapers, in Common Dreams
"That's part of why we're so concerned. The Obama administration, rather than investigate the abuses of the last eight years, has increasingly become an obstacle to accountability."

The 'Principled Left' Obama Needs, Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

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  • In the last 18 months, the left has learned the hard way that it needs to be more independent of the White House to realize the change we’re seeking.
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  • The left has lost its nerve and its direction
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  • Hope Is Dead. Long Live The New American Independence Movement.
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The 'Principled Left' Obama Needs

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In the last 18 months, the left has learned the hard way that it needs to be more independent of the White House to realize the change we’re seeking.
The left has lost its nerve and its direction
Hope Is Dead. Long Live The New American Independence Movement.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

When Barack Obama embarked on what most political insiders saw as an audacious campaign for the presidency, the question was whether a newly-elected senator from Illinois could entice Democrats to consider a contender other than a former first lady who proposed to be the first woman president and a former nominee for vice president who was saying important things about the growing economic divide in America. What ultimately won him the Democratic nomination in 2008 was a decision by the principled left—professional and amateur—that the one leading candidate who had expressed blunt opposition to the war in Iraq before it began had shown better judgment than Hillary Clinton or John Edwards.

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So it was that an exercise in political purism by the broad left put Obama on the path to the presidency. Now that Obama is president, however, his press secretary derides the "professional left" for being too pure in its demands on the White House. In point of fact, Robert Gibbs is wrong; at the most critical point in President Obama's tenure so far—when Congress was deciding how to vote on a health-care bill that Republicans predicted would be his "Waterloo"—the most left-wing members of Congress and their allies (professional and amateur) across America rallied to support a measure that was deeply disappointing to many of them.

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The left has lost its nerve and its direction, Chris Hedges, Philadelphia Inquirer
If the left wants to regain influence in the nation's political life, it must be willing to walk away from the Democratic Party, even if Barack Obama is the (president), and back progressive, third-party (officials) until the Democrats feel enough heat to adopt our agenda. We must be willing to say no. If not, we become slaves.

Hope Is Dead. Long Live The New American Independence Movement. The Pen
We are calling for all citizens of the United to declare that under no circumstance will they vote for any candidate associated with either the Democratic or Republican parties, and that we instead dedicate our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, to electing worthy independents who can demonstrate a lifetime of public policy advocacy on behalf of the people, true citizen legislators.

Where Was The “Professional Left” A Year Ago?

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  • The under-reported scandal here is not that the White House tried to control and muzzle the professional left. The scandal is that the left, for the most part, complied.
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  • As Gibbs Attacks Progressive Critics, ACLU Says Obama White House Enshrining Bush-Era Policies
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Sally Kohn, Common Dreams

On May 12, 2009, I attended a briefing at the White House as part of a group of grassroots activists and community artists. Mike Strautmanis, Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Liaison and top White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, made some remarks about how community activists have a seat at the table as the Obama Administration sets the agenda for change. I raised my hand. Sometimes, I said, the role of advocates isn't to be inside at the table, but entirely outside the room, "creating the political space needed for change".

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Strautmanis bristled visibly. He criticized the "professional left" (he didn't use this exact phrase, but it's what he meant) for approaching the Obama Administration with an "outdated mindset", holding protest signs outside the fence instead of realizing what it means to be "inside the fence". At the same time, he not-so-subtly warned that those who criticized the Administration, instead of cooperating, would find themselves back on the outside.

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Related:
As Gibbs Attacks Progressive Critics, ACLU Says Obama White House Enshrining Bush-Era Policies, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now<http://www.democracynow.org>
It’s disappointing that the administration uses this kind of language to respond to thoughtful and considered criticism. I think it debases political discourse in this country. And part of the Press Secretary’s job is to make sure that political discourse is civil and informed.
ACLU Report: Obama Continuing Bush-Era Torture Policies
http://evergreenedigest.org/content/gibbs-attacks-progressive-critics-ac...

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