Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

In Senate, Manchin Says McConnell Is “Protecting Wall Street,” Not Workers

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday for being more concerned with propping up financiers than providing supplies to hospitals fighting the novel coronavirus.

“You can throw all the money at Wall Street you want to,” Manchin said after McConnell blamed Democrats for a stalled stimulus bill. “People are afraid to leave their homes. They’re afraid of the health care. I’ve got workers who don’t have masks. I’ve got health care workers who don’t have gowns.”

“And it looks like we’re worried more about the economy than we are the health care and the wellbeing of the people of America,” the West Virginia senator complained.

McConnell interrupted: “The American people are waiting for us to act today! We don’t have time for this! We don’t have time for it!”

“Let me ask you a question,” Manchin implored.

“Answer my question!” McConnell demanded. “In what way would the Democratic Party be disadvantaged?”

“Thirty hours [of debate] or 30 days, as long as you have the votes, 51 votes rule,” Manchin said. “So the final vote is going to be on passage, whether you have to negotiate or not with us.”

“Here’s the way it works!” McConnell exclaimed. “We have been fiddling around as the senator from Maine pointed out for 24 hours…”

At that point, Manchin reclaimed his time, silencing McConnell.

“We just have a little different opinion about this,” Manchin said. “You can’t throw enough money to fix this if you can’t fix the health care.”

“My health care workers need to be protected,” he added. “But it seems like we’re talking about everything else about the economy versus the health care. That doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.”

“It seems like we’re more concerned about the health care of Wall Street,” Manchin remarked. “That’s the problem that I’ve had on this.”

Watch the video below from

Which Foods Are Most Important To Buy Organic?

Most people know it’s a good idea to buy and eat organic foods whenever possible. Even those who aren’t particularly health-conscious are aware of this. However, it’s all-too-common for consumers to stare blankly at their kitchen’s subway tile backsplash, trying to make a shopping list filled with organic options that don’t empty their wallet. Healthy organic foods are almost always more expensive than nonorganic items — often dramatically more expensive. This can leave many people wondering if it’s even possible to be health-conscious and budget-conscious at the same time.

Fortunately, it’s absolutely possible, as long as you know which foods to buy organic and which you’re safe buying from the regular aisles.

Some foods aren’t much different, whether they’re organic or not. However, the foods on this list should always be purchased organic to avoid accidentally ingesting nasty chemicals. Knowing which foods are most important to buy organic will help you stretch your dollars as far as possible, helping you stay healthy and save money.

Coffee

Coffee is the third most sprayed crop in the world, just behind tobacco and cotton. And while neither cotton nor tobacco ever makes its way into our diets, 30% of the entire population drink coffee occasionally. For many people, two or even three cups of coffee is a part of their daily routine. So if you’re only going to buy one organic food regularly, you should make it this one.

Pesticides used on coffee plantations are supposed to be partially neutralized during the roasting process, but even worse than the effects they have on your body may be the effects they have on nature. These herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can have negative long-term effects on farmers and the environment. If more people choose organic coffee, however, this won’t have to be a problem forever.

Dairy Products

The right dairy products are an essential part of a balanced diet. They are also important in having strong teeth and a healthy smile, which 99.7 percent of adults believe is socially important. Don’t settle for the cheapest butter, cheese, or jug of milk on the shelf, though. Nonorganic dairy products usually come from cows that received antibiotics, growth hormones, and a grain-only diet. What goes into the cow eventually makes its way into the milk and unhealthy animals can only produce poor-quality products.

And as if that wasn’t enough, animals in conventional industrial farms typically aren’t treated well and don’t enjoy lives that are healthy or pleasant. Not only does this ultimately mean poorer health for those who consume the animals or their milk, but it also means the animals themselves suffer needlessly while alive. Buying high-quality organic dairy products is a better option for you and our animal neighbors.

Grapes (and Wine, Too)

There are a lot of reasons to buy organic, but when it comes to grapes and products made with grapes, the reasons become even more convincing.

Many people enjoy a glass of wine now and then, especially at celebratory events like weddings and anniversaries. Even if you don’t drink wine, you probably eat grapes at least once in a while. Unfortunately, grapes have been found to contain multiple different types of pesticide residues. To make sure that your healthy treat or relaxing drink doesn’t carry any adverse effects with it, always buy organic grapes and wines and try to wash your grapes well before eating them.

Apples

As we all know, you should visit your doctor at least once per year and you should eat an apple a day so you don’t have to see them more often. One reason apples are so famous for being healthy is that they’re a good source of fiber, which helps keep your digestive tract in shape. But if your apples aren’t organic, you may want to reconsider: most apples contain residue from at least one pesticide.

Besides washing your apples before eating (which is something you should do with just about any fresh food you buy), try to find apples that are organic. This also applies to products like apple sauce and apple juice, which can be even worse than nonorganic apples because they’re so highly concentrated.

Tomatoes

If you love topping hamburgers with tomato slices or adding grape tomatoes to salads, you’ll want to make sure the tomatoes you’re buying are organic. The USDA Pesticide Program showed that tomatoes can carry 69 different pesticides. And since you always eat them with the skin left on, you’re even more likely to get those pesky chemicals in your system. When you’re looking for tomatoes for your next barbecue, go organic.

Peppers

Peppers are fascinating fruits. Not only do they possess an unusual flavor spectrum, from mildly sweet to intensely spicy, but they’re also known for a variety of health benefits. That’s because peppers contain a chemical known as capsaicin, which may help relieve nasal congestion and even fight off cancer.

Unfortunately, nonorganic peppers are likely to contain other chemicals that aren’t so helpful. Conventional grocery store peppers can carry up to 75 different pesticide residues, including recognized carcinogens and neurotoxins. No matter what kind of budget you’re on, when you buy peppers, they should always and only be organic.

Sadly, organic hot peppers aren’t as easy to find as other organic options, especially in smaller grocery stores. If you can’t find or can’t afford hot peppers, try using onions instead. They offer a similarly spicy flavor and they’ve been shown to be fairly clean, even when they’re not organic.

Leafy Greens

Dietary experts recommend that you eat five servings of vegetables every day and for many people, those servings come from tasty salads. From spinach to kale, leafy greens are worth splurging on to get organic. This is because the leaves offer a wider area for chemicals to stick. Considering that you can’t peel leafy greens and you need a lot of them to make a satisfying salad, the result is a concentration of pesticide residue on your plate. To avoid this problem altogether, go organic and be diligent when you’re rinsing or soaking greens as you prepare them.

And there you have it: these are some of the most important foods to buy organic. Even if you’re on a budget, to enjoy the best health possible, try to always buy these foods in the organic section.

Trump EPA Guts Chemical Plant Safety Regulation

Reprinted with pemrission from DCReport

Just before the holidays, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency quietly threw out regulations protecting an estimated 177 million Americans who live and work near dangerous chemical plants. The EPA’s move came just 22 days after horrendous fire and multiple explosions 95 miles east of Houston threatened thousands.

The Chemical Disaster Rule, written under former President Barack Obama, covered about 12,500 industrial facilities nationwide using or storing highly hazardous chemicals. It included safeguards such as requiring an independent party to investigate spills and explosions and plant owners to keep safety information current.

‘People Will Die’

“People will die,” said Eric Whalen, a spokesman for Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform.

For example, the explosion at Texas Petroleum Chemicals Group in Port Neches on Nov. 27, Thanksgiving eve, killed one person and forced out 50,000 people.

The plant manufactures butadiene, an extremely flammable, colorless gas used to make tires and plastics. Butadiene is a known human cancer-causing agent. It can cause blurred vision, nausea, unconsciousness and respiratory paralysis.

The EPA finalized the Chemical Disaster Rule just a day before Obama left office in 2017. The rule was supposed to prevent tragedies like the April 17, 2013, explosion near Waco, Texas, at the West Fertilizer Co. plant. That inferno killed 15 people, injured more than 250 and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes.

No Inspections

The fertilizer plant stored 270 tons of ammonium nitrate,1,350 times the amount that would ordinarily trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. There was no full plant inspection in almost three decades.

“The American people and American politicians, they have a short memory,” said West Mayor Tommy Muska. “They’re going to say everything is fine, and every few years something like this is going to happen again.”

At least one in three children attend school near a hazardous chemical facility. School in Port Neches was canceled after the explosions. People had to shelter in place because of the levels of butadiene.

Environmental Groups Sue

Thirteen environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Air Alliance Houston, sued the EPA over gutting the Chemical Disaster Rule.

The EPA previously calculated that its protections before the rule failed to prevent more than 2,200 chemical fires, explosions, leaks and other incidents during a 10-year period, including about 150 a year that caused injuries.

Industrial groups including American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce worked to kill the rule.

Why A New York Times Columnist Says 2019 Was ‘Best Year Ever’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

2019 will be remembered for developments in a long list of disturbing events and trends, including climate change, white nationalist terrorism in the United States, and far-right authoritarianism embodied by Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

Regardless, New York Times opinion writer Nicholas Kristof remains an optimist, asserting in his column that 2019 had a lot of positive trends and developments to go with the bad. He provocatively titled the op-ed, unironically, “This Has Been the Best Year Ever.”

Those who are “depressed by the state of the world,” Kristof asserts, should consider that “2019 was probably the year in which children were least likely to die, adults were least likely to be illiterate and people were least likely to suffer excruciating and disfiguring diseases.”

Moreover, Kristof adds, “Every single day in recent years, another 325,000 people got their first access to electricity. Each day, more than 200,000 got piped water for the first time. And some 650,000 went online for the first time, every single day.”

In 1950, Kristof notes, “27 percent of all children still died by age 15. Now, that figure has dropped to about 4 percent.”

Kristof goes on to cite some troubling events, writing, “But … but … but President Trump! But climate change! War in Yemen! Starvation in Venezuela! Risk of nuclear war with North Korea. All those are important concerns, and that’s why I write about them regularly. Yet I fear that the news media and the humanitarian world focus so relentlessly on the bad news that we leave the public believing that every trend is going in the wrong direction.”

Other positive trends, according to Kristof: more literacy around the world, and diseases that claimed countless victims in the past have been declining.

“Diseases like polio, leprosy, river blindness and elephantiasis are on the decline, and global efforts have turned the tide on AIDS,” Kristof explains. “A half century ago, a majority of the world’s people had always been illiterate; now, we are approaching 90 percent adult literacy.”

Being optimistic, Kristof stresses, doesn’t mean ignoring major problems like climate change, but too much emphasis on the negative can become self-defeating.

“I worry that deep pessimism about the state of the world is paralyzing rather than empowering,” Kristof warns. “Excessive pessimism can leave people feeling not just hopeless, but also, helpless.”