Indiana budget cuts tap meat inspectors

Basically, the State of Indiana is going to eviscerate the state program for inspecting meat. There are roughly a hundred state inspected abattoirs in Indiana. There is only 1 USDA inspected slaughterhouse that's open to appointments (as in not owned by Cargill or ConAgra) in the state. If meat is not slaughtered in an inspected facility, it cannot be sold.

Other states that have closed or reduced their inspection programs have seen a reduction of better than two-thirds in the number of slaughter facilities operating in the state. That means that we can expect to see about 33 inspected facilities operating here after these cuts.

There is no way those slaughterhouses with reduced schedules for inspection can handle the number of animals currently processed for sale by family farms in Indiana. If you buy meat or poultry from a farmer, or at farmers markets, you will be impacted by this. Probably to the extent of having to settle for factory meat from the supermarket. It will simply be impossible for family farmers to get their animals inspected at slaughter, and illegal for them to sell their meat if it's not.

If you care about family farms at all, please contact the governor and your legislators and get this situation rectified.

While taking strategic measures to slash the state budget, Gov. Mitch Daniels turned his attention to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPIP) to cut its already fragile budget by 50 percent.

(link) [Farm World]

(link) [Pasture to Plate]

via Masson's Blog

Update: They're backing off.

19:38 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Menifee USD pulls dictionaries due to explicit word

If you wonder about the reasons for the dismal state of the American educational system, just remember this formula: zero tolerance = zero sense.

A parent complaint that a dictionary in her son’s classroom at Oak Meadows Elementary contained the term and definition for “oral sex” prompted school officials in the Menifee Union School District to pull all copies of the book from its fourth and fifth grade classrooms last week. Copies of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (published in 1994), were taken from a recommended reading list and put into use in district classrooms a few years ago to accommodate higher level readers, said Betti Cadmus, spokeswoman for the district.

(link) [Southwest Riverside News Network]

15:31 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

US to lift 21-year ban on haggis

Just in time for this years Burn's Supper.

Smuggled and bootlegged, it has been the cause of transatlantic tensions for more than two decades. But after 21 years in exile, the haggis is to be allowed back into the United States.

(link) [The Guardian]

via Overlawyered

19:02 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Whew! Back up...

Well, blogging is about to resume on something resembling a normal schedule. We had a server crash (at home) on the 14th, and it's just way too much trouble to rebuild it and set up another box. I did a bit of searching to see if I wanted to move to a different blogging platform, but I really like Blosxom, and just couldn't find anything else out there that can do exactly what I want it to do. So I've moved my entire setup onto the webserver, including some XML-RPC stuff for posting, and will be moving my aggregator up as well sometime in the next week. The only concern I have now is maintaining a reliable local backup, but I can just setup rsync to do that once a day from one of the Mac's we have running at home. Not impossible, just annoying and time consuming. But I've really missed blogging - and I have quite a backlog of posts. So stay tuned ... I'll get it all squared away eventually.

19:16 /Home | 1 comment | permanent link

Organ Damage In Rats From Monsanto GMO Corn

I've often disparaged those who claim that GMO's represent a direct health risk to humans. I've never before seen a credible study that suggested such a thing. I've always believed that the greatest threats such engineered lifeforms present are the danger of market monopolization of food via patents, and the implicit possibility of their spreading to other organisms by cross pollination (also known as the superweed prognosis).

This study, which seems pretty stout as such things go, makes me think I might have been wrong about GMO's direct impact on human health.

A study published in December 2009 in the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that three varieties of Monsanto genetically-modified corn caused damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs of rats. One of the corn varieties was designed to tolerate broad-spectrum herbicides, (so-called 'Roundup-ready' corn), while the other two contain bacteria-derived proteins that have insecticide properties. The study made use of Monsanto's own raw data.

(link) [Slashdot]

20:13 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

US Youth Have Serious Mental Health Issues

I'm shocked! Not...

Google News and The Canadian Press report that 'a new study has found that five times as many high school and college students in the United States are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues than youth of the same age who were studied in the Great Depression era.

(link) [Slashdot]

22:53 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Google may quit China over activist attacks

It's never too late to undo evil...

AFP - Google has vowed to defy Chinese Internet censors and risk banishment from the lucrative market in outrage at "highly sophisticated" cyberattacks aimed at Chinese human rights activists.

(link) [Yahoo! News]

22:29 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Using a Toy Train To Calibrate a Reactor

Hilarious. We've used a similar setup at work to test video cameras - for long runs with continuous movement, a model railroad can't be beat.

Physicists and engineers at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory built tracks inside a fusion reactor and ran a toy train for three days to help them with their calibrations.

(link) [Slashdot]

22:09 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Palin believed candidacy 'God's plan'

This is exactly why I bothered with voting last year - and voted for Obama. Truly the less of two evils.

AP - Sarah Palin believed that Sen. John McCain chose her to be his running mate in 2008 because of "God's plan," according to a top political strategist in the Arizona Republican's campaign.

(link) [Yahoo! News]

22:05 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Trouser-bomb clown attacks

A serious and thoughtful political piece from a very unlikely source...

As the smoke clears following the case of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the failed Christmas Day "underpants bomber" of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 fame, there are just three simple points for us Westerners to take away.

(link) [The Register]

19:11 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

The beauty of the six-word memoir

Lost in youth, found with age.

Some find them ridiculous but I call them beautiful. They are six-word memoirs. Six-word memoirs? Yes – pithy little verbal packages that convey more than you might imagine.

(link) [Christian Science Monitor ]

19:09 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Counterfeit city

This is odd: I thought the state was the only font of prosperity...

Ivorian rebel zone flourishes in tax-free boom

(link) [BBC News]

22:20 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Snow on the Prairie

I took this video this morning looking southwest panning to the southeast - snow was falling at a rate of about an inch an hour. Overall, we probably have about 8 inches on the ground, four or five of which came in the last 24 hours.

Measuring snow out here is not an exact science - or at least not with the tools I have available. That's because of the wind. Take a close look at the gate and fencelines in the background (on the right) when the video first starts up. Those are four foot fences, and some of the drifts go right up to the top. The wind right now is out of the west at about 20 mph, gusting to 30.

It's so flat out here that on a clear night you can see the lights of Crawfordsville, 15 miles to the west.

We put a snow fence up this year on the west side of the driveway, and it sort of worked. The drifts in the driveway are only about 40 inches instead of 48. So I'll have to call my buddy Larry and get plowed out. Again.

The only real solution is to either find a tree/hedge hardy enough to tolerate the herbicides with which my neighbors spray down their fields and plant then all along the west side of the property, or get a bigger truck and put a plow on it.

But we won't be doing either in the next few months.

23:31 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Female toads inflate to avoid sex

Blowing them off?

Female cane toads inflate their bodies to prevent amorous males from maintaining their grasp, say scientists.

(link) [BBC News]

19:52 /Humor | 1 comment | permanent link

Police seek woman who trashes Mo. McDonald's

Big Mac Attack?

AP - Police in Kansas City, Mo., are looking for a woman who went on a rampage at a McDonald's because she didn't like her hamburger. Police said the woman caused thousands of dollars in damage on Dec. 27 when she became upset that the restaurant wouldn't refund her money.

(link) [Yahoo! News]

19:44 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link