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Sat, 14 Dec 2019
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U.S. Study: Ban Toxic Toys & Other Kids' Products

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© Kevin Wolf/Associated Press
According to a new U.S. study, 17 million toys have been recalled in the U.S over high lead levels since 2007.
Toxic toys and other children's products containing harmful ingredients require an extensive overhaul of the legislation that governs them, says a new U.S. scientific paper.

Calling the epidemic of recalls of these products a "crisis," U.S. researchers at the University of Massachusetts, and Monica Becker and Associates Sustainability Consultants say the current response by government, advocacy and industry groups has been inadequate in restricting the entry of toxic toys into the market.

"Much of the response to the toxic toys crisis has been reactive and piecemeal," write the authors. "Taken as a whole, these responses have not been sufficient to ensure that toys and children's products are safe."

Cheeseburger

Study Shows Fast Food Companies Aggressively Market to Kids, Minorities

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© rodale.com
In what is the most comprehensive analysis of fast food nutrition and marketing to date, the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a study Monday indicting fast food restaurants for aggressive marketing campaigns targeted to youth and other vulnerable groups, and a lack of readily available healthy options on their menus.

In a telephone briefing on Monday, the authors of the study discussed why their research is so important. They cited statistics compiled over the past year, which show that one-third of U.S. children and teens eat fast food every day, accounting for 16 to 17 percent of their daily caloric intake. "Eating at fast food restaurants is ingrained in our culture. That's why the nutritional quality of these meals is so important," Marlene Schwartz, co-author of the study said on Monday. Jennifer Harris, lead author of the study added that they uncovered how the barrage of fast food advertising has made kids think that this kind of food is "normal and expected." Harris said:
"Kids think that they should be able to eat McDonald's all the time and this has a direct effect on obesity."

Attention

Defending psychopaths? Amazon.com pulls one pedophilia book -- but not all

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© Scott Eells/Bloomberg News
After 3,000 comments, customer outrage and threats of boycotts, Amazon.com removed The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure from its Kindle eBook listings Thursday.

But the decision, which came after Amazon defended selling the book Wednesday, affected just the one book. At least one other publication offering guidance on pedophilia, Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers, remains for sale on Amazon.

The controversy has raised questions about Amazon's book vetting process and about whether companies such as Amazon -- which traditionally have been thought of simply as tech companies -- should exclude the sale of such books.

Vader

Meg McLain Singled out by the TSA, Cuffed to a Chair, Her Ticket Ripped up

The TSA chose Meg McLain for special screening. They wanted her to go through the new porno-scanners. When she opted out, TSA agents raised an enormous ruckus. When she asked some question about what they planned to do to her, they flipped out. TSA agents yelled at her, handcuffed her to a chair, ripped up her ticket, called in 12 local Miami cops and finally escorted her out of the airport. Listen to her story as she told it on radio show Free Talk Live last night. Things are getting out of control in the USA

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Alarm Clock

The GMO Elephant in the Room - From the Trenches of America's Hidden Food War

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© Salem-News.org
Sen. Ron Wyden & Sen. Jeff Merkley
A large grass-roots movement is diligently advocating for your right to pure non-genetically modified food and honest labeling. In most states, you won't see their name on any ballot, nor will you see them on TV amidst economic crisis and Middle East talks.

In a rare, but impervious display of integrity, several state senators have urged the Food and Drug Administration to stop the approval process for genetically modified salmon, including Oregon's very own Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Many of our pure food advocates feel dismayed, because their always preaching to the choir from the trenches of the infinite battle. They commonly take every opportunity to educate the public and everyone they know about the dangers of the GMO industrial food chain. This faction of society is working to educate the public, as quickly as possible, while holding off the big dogs in court by the skin of their teeth.

Bulb

Sanity strikes! U-turn on Smoking Ban as Holland Allows Lighting Up in 2000 Bars and Pubs

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© Reuters
Light up: The Netherlands is the first country to partially overturn its smoking ban. Smokers in small bars and pubs will now be able to light up without fear of a fine
Smokers in the Netherlands will now be able to light-up again in over 2000 of the country's small owner-operated bars or pubs.

The partial over-turning of the blanket ban, which was introduced in 2008, is a huge victory for for smokers' rights campaigners who had argued that the blanket ban was driving small bar owners out of business.

An incoming coalition government in the country has allowed the partial lifting of the ban for pubs which are less than 743.5 sq ft in size and which are staffed solely by the owner.

It is a major victory for anti-ban campaigners and the first relaxing of the controversial ban anywhere in Europe.

Yoda

Give Us This Day Our 'Daily Show'

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© Mr Fish
"The Anarchist"
In 1936, the Nazis organized a massive get-together in Nuremberg for malleable nincompoops and called the gathering Reichsparteitag der Ehre, or "Rally of Honor." Watching clips from Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor Rally" held in Washington, D.C., in August, I was reminded of how, while growing up and flipping through channels, I would occasionally come across grainy footage of Adolf Hitler in Nuremberg and see the enthusiastic crowds applauding him and waving little flags, and I'd ponder what made these people so gullible to the nationalistic lunacy and bug-eyed, fascistic tribalism they were being inundated with. Is it really possible, I wondered, to imbibe fear and hatred with so much charisma that the end result of heeding its precepts will appear gleeful and positive and finally gratifying? How, I asked myself, could such a whopping organizational feat as a Nuremberg rally even come off, with the weeks of preparation and all those opportunities for second-guessing by so many people? How, with all those workers setting up chairs and hanging banners and angling lights and arranging flowers and loading film cameras and proofreading speeches, did nobody suddenly stop doing what he or she was doing and say, "Hey, wait a minute - this is absolutely bat-shit crazy!?"

Of course, as a political cartoonist, such grand gestures of vaulting ignorance, particularly when marked by all the mindless rage and gaudy, ostentatious celebration of a sporting event, can often make my job way too easy to be at all effective. When Glenn Beck, the headliner at the most recent, though by no means the last, honor rally (the same Glenn Beck who regularly warns his radio and television audiences of the lethal concoction that is Islamic God and Islamic country) stands up in front of the Lincoln Memorial and says that the United States has been wandering around in the dark for too long and that it is time - a civic duty, in fact! - for every American to return to a position of complete subservience to a famously intolerant Christian god who has a long history of murdering and torturing his critics both in and after life, the joke has already been made. The cartoon has already been drawn. In other words, when somebody takes a crap on the floor it doesn't matter how good your thesaurus is, the actual stench of the shit will always trump any artistic description of it.

Bomb

Remember, Remember This Fifth Of November

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© Labour Youth/Flickr
A lot of people can see that today's politicians and corporate heads are a pretty corrupt bunch. At the same time however, most people don't worry too much about that particular problem because, at the end of day, those guys still work for 'we the people', right? I mean, they're not called 'public servants' for nothing and we put them in office! ... right? If things get really bad we'll just expose them through the media or, if things get really bad, we might even start a revolution! ...right?? ... Or failing that, God will save us??!

The extent of the corruption in our world today goes far beyond what most people know or could even imagine in their darkest, most politician-phobic nightmares. And arming ourselves with the simple idea that 'power corrupts' hasn't exactly acted as a check or balance to the excesses of these 'captains of industry'. In order to even hope of standing up for and protecting our rights and lives in this increasingly draconian world, we need to understand the nature of the problem we are facing, or, to be more specific, we need to understand the nature of those corrupt leaders. We need, to some extent, to get inside their heads and know what makes them 'tick'. We need to ask ourselves, 'do their actions match their words'? If you have been paying attention, you know that the answer is 'hardly ever...if ever'. Many answers to this question can be found in Andrew Lobaczewski's scientific study on the nature of evil, Political Ponerology. His work identifies the pathological nature of our leaders and the governing bodies that they create around themselves. Although it is written in the framework of politics, Political Ponerology just as easily applies to all the structures that make up our global society.

The unfortunate result of humanity being invaded by pathological thought, is a weakness in discerning healthy conditions from pathological ones. Our tyrants follow no rules to maintain their position of control over humankind, yet they set the conditions that men and women follow 'for a better life'. Revolution, protest, elections, free speech, and religion are just a few things touted as means by which me might find our humanity. And yet we exist as we have for millennia, suffering at our own hands, at the hand of our fellow man and, at the source, at the hands of pathocrats.

Star of David

My Encounter with a Zionist in Crisis with Her Beliefs

Palestinian woman v sign

It is true that I am ‘much, much more invested’ in ‘all of this’ than she is.
As if it is not insulting to me that an American woman, with absolutely no ancestral, historic, cultural, or biological ties to the land, should announce to me that she needs to do more research to determine whether or not I indeed have a right to inherit my grandfather's farm, reserving, of course, her own right to my grandfather's farm.

I received a lovely letter from a reader who identified herself as a Jewish American. To preserve her anonymity, I'll call her 'Sally'. She wrote that she loved Mornings in Jenin, even though the historic backdrop of the narrative did not reconcile with what she learned about Israel growing up. It seemed a heartfelt letter and thus worthy of a similar response. I did not see Sally as a Zionist or even as a Jew. I saw her as a woman, a mother, and a fellow writer. So, I was delighted when she came to my panel debate with Alan Dershowitz at the Boston Book Festival, and when she asked if we could talk more after the event, I was happy to invite her to lunch with a group of friends. She was soft spoken, with a gentle demeanor and through the course of the table conversation, I realized that we also shared similar beliefs regarding some matters of spirituality.

Sally and I continued to correspond occasionally, both privately and with a group of people who were at lunch that day. Soon, she let me know that one of her friends was now questioning her own Zionist beliefs because of something she heard at her Temple. As a result, Sally's friend had chosen a list of documentaries to watch. Naturally, I asked what those documentaries were and she sent a list of about 12 or so films that were made 1) to show how awful Arabs are, 2) to present rosy pictures of normalization of Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, 3) to show what Israel's aggression against Lebanon was like from an Israeli paratrooper's perspective!, or 4) to depict mixed Arab and Israeli towns as a paradise where everyone is equal.

I find that when people are truly searching to understand, they can find the right sources, especially in this information age. Likewise, when people are confronted with an uncomfortable reality that jars an existing belief, they can turn around and find what they need to prove that they were right all along. Reading the list that Sally sent to me, it was easy to see what category she fit into. Here is the response that I sent to Sally:
"If I were trying to get a better view of something, i'd at least look for ones made by third party sources who don't have their own personal beef in the situation. Although with this list, she'll be able to put her head back in the sand and say she did her research and it all proved she was right before."

Bulb

Your Vote Doesn't Count...

I'm seeing a lot of hoopla about 'voting', which is not surprising given that today is 'Voting Day'. But there are a few things about voting we should all acknowledge before we head off to the ballot box, or rather, the unaccountable electronic voting machine.

1.) Voting doesn't make a difference in state policy. A few prime examples of this are: the Wars in Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan; Invasion of Privacy (having our phone calls, emails, websites, forum posts, naked bodies scanned, recorded, and filed by alphabet agencies); universal support of the terrorist state of Israel - even after it kills American citizens, deliberately; Poor Food/Medicine Quality Control Standards; Bank Bailouts... etc.

2.) Voting can, and often is rigged. Take a few minutes and research these newfangled voting boxes... hackers have been able to alter the outcome of elections with a usb jump drive without violating the machines internal controls. Diebold is likely responsible for GWB getting reelected in 2004. Thinking that it doesn't happen locally is naive and ignorant.

3.) We live in neither a democracy nor a republic, and therefore your vote doesn't make a difference. While on paper, we're supposed to elect representatives to represent us, more often than not they represent themselves and uber-rich folks who donate large sums of money to their campaigns. There's also the strangle-hold AIPAC has on all branches of congress, insuring that Pro-Israeli sentiment is the status quo. How can we justify believing that we're a sovereign nation when another government from another country influences our state policy without our consent?

4.) Elections are bought. It's simple math really, when one guy can outspend another he can easily acquire more name recognition, he can also tar the other guy. More money = More ads, more staff, more TV time. Obama was outspending McCain 3:1 when it came to TV ads in the last few weeks of the 2008 Election.