Friday, March 17, 2006

Political links of the week, take 5

[See also: political links of the week take 4, take 3, take 2, and take 1.]

Alabama cow tests positive for disease - The possibly infected cow from last week was, on Monday, confirmed to have had mad cow disease.
A cow in Alabama has tested positive for mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department said Monday, confirming the third U.S. case of the brain-wasting ailment. The cow did not enter the food supply for people or animals, officials said. The animal, unable to walk, was killed by a local veterinarian and buried on the farm.


The local vet examined the Alabama cow's teeth and said the animal was older, "quite possibly upwards of 10 years of age," Clifford said. Investigators are working to pinpoint the cow's age, he said.

The age of the cow is important because the U.S. put safeguards in place nine years ago to prevent the disease from spreading. The U.S. banned ground-up cattle remains from being added to cattle feed in 1997. Eating contaminated feed is the only way cattle are known to contract the disease.
Government to Scale Back Mad Cow Testing - In a completely paradoxical move, the day after it was announced that yet another cow in the US had mad cow disease, the government announced that it would reduce the number of cows tested for the disease. One of their rationales? Focus groups determined that people felt beef was safe. We're now doing science by focus group?
Despite the confirmation of a third case of mad cow disease, the government intends to scale back testing for the brain-wasting disorder blamed for the deaths of more than 150 people in Europe.

The Agriculture Department boosted its surveillance after finding the first case of mad cow disease in the United States in 2003. About 1,000 tests are run daily, up from about 55 daily in 2003.


Officials haven't finalized new levels, but the department's budget proposal calls for 40,000 tests annually, or about 110 daily.


Consumer groups want every animal to be tested, said Gary Weber, head of regulatory affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in Denver.

"It's not cost-effective; it's not necessary," Weber said. "The consumers we've done focus groups with are comfortable that this is a very rare disease and we've got safeguards in place."
ACLU Releases First Concrete Evidence of FBI Spying Based Solely on Groups’ Anti-War Views:
Two documents released today reveal that the FBI investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice just because the organization opposed the war in Iraq. Although previously disclosed documents show that the FBI is retaining files on anti-war groups, these documents are the first to show conclusively that the rationale for FBI targeting is the group's opposition to the war.
"A Recent Surge In Violence..." - A post on Democratic Underground cataloging how many times since the invasion of Iraq the US government has said that there has been "a recent surge in violence."

The Abu Ghraib files
- More Abu Ghraib pictures and videos from Salon.
Although the world is now sadly familiar with images of naked, hooded prisoners in scenes of horrifying humiliation and abuse, this is the first time that the full dossier of the Army's own photographic evidence of the scandal has been made public. Most of the photos have already been seen, but the Army's own analysis of the story behind the photos has never been fully told. It is a shocking, night-by-night record of three months inside Abu Ghraib's notorious cellblock 1A, and it tells the story, in more graphic detail than ever before, of the rampant abuse of prisoners there. The annotated archive also includes new details about the role of the CIA, military intelligence and the CID itself in abuse captured by cameras in the fall of 2003.
Third Democratic senator backs censure resolution - One of my state senators has decided to back Feingold's resolution (that I posted about last week) to censure president Bush.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has become the third U.S. senator to back a move to censure President Bush over the warrantless wiretapping program. She joins Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Reporters covering anti-IED tech: America's enemies? - BoingBoing refutes the Bush administration's recent argument that the LA Times is "helping the terrorists" by writing about the military.

Schwarzenegger Bond Issue Not on June Ballot - Speaking of the LA Times, it had an article on the first big failure of Gov. Schwarzenegger's ambitious plan to "rebuild California".
Stymied by Republican resistance, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's hope of placing the most comprehensive rebuilding project in California history on the June ballot foundered Wednesday amid recriminations among legislative leaders and the administration.

The California Assembly approved only a $4.1-billion borrowing plan to shore up the state's levees and $19 billion more for school construction. But late Wednesday night, the Senate declined to act on either measure, and the upper house's leaders said further negotiations would have to focus on the November ballot.


GOP legislators, almost all of whom are more conservative than the governor, objected to the idea that the state should go deep into debt to pay for the ambitious building project.

Schwarzenegger proposed a sweeping infrastructure improvement plan in January that involved $68 billion in borrowing. The centerpiece of that proposal was the most popular, according to public opinion polls: a $12-billion investment in upgrading California's highways.
And, in a week where the headlines read things like U.S.-led raid kills civilians in Iraq, U.S. launches largest Iraqi air assault since invasion, and More than 80 dead in apparent reprisals: Bodies found around Baghdad in 30-hour period, we also see this headline: Bush: Iraq turning away from 'the abyss'. Is there some disconnect here?

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