Thursday, March 14, 2013

6000 dead pigs ... in the drinking water

Say what you want about the Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Agriculture,  think what you want about government regulation, I'll bet we'll never have 6,000 diseased pig carcasses floating down the Delaware River.  If we do, time to move to Canada, en mass.  
For those of you who cannot access videos, CNN and Reuters and a bunch of Chinese bloggers reported that more than 6,000 diseased pig carcasses were dumped in the Huangpu River, which supplies the city of Shanghai, China with its drinking water, in the last few days.
What's even worse, Chinese officials insist that the dead pigs, which were removed, posed no health risk to residents.  What would have been worse, and apparently happens all the time, is that upstream farmers, who have lost 70,000 pigs since the beginning of the year, have been selling them to unscrupulous middlemen who put them into the food supply.  This is cheaper than burning or burying the carcasses as the law requires and according to news accounts, it's a law that is not much enforced.
Bloggers on Weibo, China's version of Facebook, dared Chinese officials to drink the water first.  "big leaders, please do go ahead and have the first drink," one quipped. 
Clean Air Act anyone?  Clean Water Act?  Food inspection? 

Friday, March 1, 2013

The saddest story ever

Kyle Thacker
These two young men are -- were -- Kyle (top) and Kody Thacker.  On Saturday, Feb. 23, Kody, 19, took his own life after accidentally shooting and killing his brother Kyle, 24, with a shotgun, according to a Lexington, Ky., TV station.   Here is the transcript of the Lex18 TV news story.
Apparently police are satisfied it was an accident and can take no further action, leaving their family to grieve and bury their dead.  All over some mindless tomfoolery with a shotgun in a situation where there was no threat, no home invasion and no need to protect a family member.
They are just two of the 2,392 people who have died from gun violence in this country since Newtown/Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, according to a gun deaths chart being maintained on  On this chart you can see exactly how many were men, how many were women and how many were children.   If you click on each figure, it will tell you the victim's name, age and location.  Take a look.  That's an average of 18 Americans a day dying from gunshots.
David Waldman on Daily Kos has been running a different tally, of headlines involving gun deaths and injuries each week called GunFail.   Here's his latest one, number 7.  Waldman's list includes idiots who accidentally shoot themselves, dogs that accidently shoot their owners' guns and the like so it's a less depressing list. He's also including some pretty amusing photos and videos.

But it is still a sad roster of people who would be alive, who would not be in pain, who would not be maimed, disfigured, scarred for life, if there had not been a gun close at hand, in their hands or the hands of loved ones, at some supremely dumb moment.
Here's what I don't get:
Every time I hear a Second Amendment fanatic says, "We don't need more gun laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have," I have to wonder in a case like the Thackers, exactly how would greater enforcement of existing gun laws have prevented this tragedy? And how can any sane person conclude that it is safer for his or her family to have guns in the house than not?
Now we learn that certain technically inclined gun nuts are perfecting the manufacturing of the guts of assault weapons on 3D printers so that there will be no controlling of, or even knowing about, such guns because there will be no buying or selling of them, no registrations or background checks, no serial numbers, just the running of a printer in somebody's basement.
For the last 15 years Congresshas  prohibited federal government agencies from researching the causes and extent of gun violence for fear that would lead to -- gasp -- regulation.
The government does research on traffic accidents, on air crashes, on boating accidents, even on bicycle and skateboard accidents, all of which leads to better laws and regulations (like no texting while driving), better education and better designs to make all of these things safer.  Research on the health hazards of smoking led to profound changes in public opinion about tobacco and a drastic reduction in the number of smokers in the U.S.
But no, we can't research the health hazards of guns, because James Madison and few other founding fathers 214 years ago badly worded one sentence in the U.S. Constitution. 
What a bats__t crazy country.