Consumer Advocates Hail Food Safety Reform

Consumer advocates who have long pushed for food safety reform are applauding the Senate’s Tuesday approval of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which would grant enhanced power to the Food and Drug Administration. The Senate passed the long-stalled bill on a 73-25 vote, with many Republicans supporting the measure after supporting an earlier GOP filibuster. “This morning, the U.S. Senate finally set aside partisan differences and passed historic legislation to protect consumers from preventable food-borne illness,” says Elizabeth Hitchcock, public health advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a Washington-based advocacy organization. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and more than 5000 people die … Continue reading

Boosting the Economy–One Big Screen TV at a Time

Even the most casual observers would believe that the U.S. is making an economic recovery if they saw the hordes descend upon retail stores on Black Friday. Americans began lining up four hours before the stores opened as early as midnight. And they weren’t shopping just for necessities. Sale of large-screen TVs and video games were up significantly from two years ago. The consumer Electronics Association predicts a 4.1 percent increase in sales over a year ago. About a third of all American adults shopped on Black Friday, up from slightly more than one-fourth of all Americans a year ago, according to analysts from Goldman Sachs. About 80 million Americans went into retail stores on Black Friday, according to the … Continue reading

Citing Student Detention, University Pushes Immigration Bill

Officials from a Catholic university in Miami plan to hold a press conference on Tuesday designed to pressure lawmakers to pass legislation designed to provide legal residency status for children of illegal immigrants. In their support for the DREAM Act, officials from St. Thomas University cite the recent detention of one of its students by the United States Border Patrol. University officials hope their press conference will convince Americans to urge lawmakers to vote for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2009 (DREAM ACT). The DREAM Act would provide legal status and educational opportunities to immigrant youngsters who entered the United States as minor children. The legislation applies to students in both public and private schools, … Continue reading

Capitol Idea: Bipartisanship In The Airport Screening Line

Our nation may be caught in deeply hyperpartisan, “socialism” vs. tea-party polarization, but liberals and conservatives finally have hit on an issue able to unite them. Left and right agree: neither side much likes the groping and “porno-scanners” found in airport security lanes. Commentators and bloggers from across the political spectrum have taken aim at the new, intrusive airport security measures — and both sides have elevated John “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner to folk-hero status. It’s more than a little remarkable these days when a conservative like Charles Krauthammer and a liberal such as Firedoglake blogger Jane Hamsher each leap to the defense of any one American figure as they did for the man who famously demanded airport screeners … Continue reading

Fairness and the Bristol Stomp

by Walter Brasch              Almost all children hear a set of conflicting statements from their parents, relatives, and friends. They’re told if they study hard, if they work hard, they can achieve whatever they want. It’s the “American Dream.” But they’re also told that life isn’t always fair.             Looking for internships or jobs, America’s children learn that no matter how much they studied or worked, it was the boss’s niece or a boss’s friend’s son who was hired. Sometimes, the reason for rejection could be as simple as the boss thought the best candidate was intellectually superior or that the applicant had curly black hair and he liked only blondes.             Later, on another job, while the boss bought … Continue reading

Potential Gov’t Shutdown: ‘The $64,000 Question’

Seemingly lost in the wrangling over President Obama’s arms-control treaty and other post-election legislating is the one must-do on the agenda for the lame duck session: pass a federal budget, or face a massive government shutdown. Congress has, as has often been the case in recent years, left undone many of the annual appropriations bills that enact levels of funding for the new fiscal year, which began on October 1. That means that lawmakers must now approve, at least, a continuing resolution to keep federal agencies operating at the same levels as the previous fiscal year. “That is something members absolutely have to pass. If they don’t, non-critical agencies will have to shut down, and we will have the first … Continue reading

Deficit Reduction Alternative ‘Protects Poor, Middle-Class,’ Beats Obama Targets

A liberal member of President Obama’s deficit-reduction commission released an alternative plan to reign in federal red ink, a proposal she says “protects the poor and the middle-class.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky unveiled her plan last week an alternative to the proposal by the bipartisan co-chairs of the commission. The Illinois Democrat says her plan would reduce the deficit by $441 billion in 2015, surpassing Obama’s own $250 billion target. Members of the deficit-reduction commission are to meet Tuesday to begin hammering out a deal to meet the Dec. 1 deadline imposed by the president. Unlike the plan put forward by co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, Schakowsky’s proposal would not cut into Social Security or other non-military domestic programs. The … Continue reading

Nasty Politics Keeps Democrats, Independents From Voting, Poll Finds

Not only do Americans see politics as increasingly noxious, but that growing level of nastiness is dissuading Democrats and independents from showing up on Election Day, according to the the third, and most recent, poll on civility in politics from the Center for Political Participation (CPP) at Allegheny College. Some 63 percent of respondents in the latest civility poll, conducted during the last four days leading up to the November midterm elections, believe politics has become less civil since President Obama took office nearly two years ago. This is up from 48 percent in the April survey, and up from 58 percent in a second poll conducted in September, two full months before the midterms. “You have to remember,” says … Continue reading