Monday, November 19, 2007

Hormel, Cargill agree to label food if treated with carbon monoxide

WASHINGTON (Thomson Financial) - Hormel Foods and Cargill Inc. said today they can agree to put information on meat and fish labels that makes it clear to consumers when those products have been treated with carbon monoxide during the packaging process, even as US officials indicated they are open to testing this process to ensure it's safe for consumers.

The use of carbon monoxide packaging was discussed at a hearing today before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, where Chairman Bart Stupak of Michigan said this technique in food packaging is 'highly deceptive' because it keeps meat looking fresh even though it may have spoiled.

He also offered evidence from an internal company email from Hormel indicating that there is some evidence this technique may not be safe.

Daniel Engeljohn of the US Food Safety and Inspection Service said in response to a question from Stupak that his agency is open to looking at this data or any new data that indicates the process is unsafe.

'We clearly will look at the data,' he said. Officials were silent, however, on whether they would temporarily suspend the use of this technique until further study is completed.

Engeljohn also said his office is considering a request from Target Corp. to use a label for carbon monoxide-treated meat saying that this treatment was used to preserve the color of the product, and that consumers should not rely on color alone to judge freshness.

click link to read full article

Read More......

Rare robbery case brings cries of racism

By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer
Fri Nov 16, 10:20 AM ET

Three young black men break into a white man's home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them to death — but it's the surviving black man who is charged with murder.


In a case that has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups, Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county under a rarely invoked legal doctrine that could make him responsible for the bloodshed.

"It was pandemonium" inside the house that night, District Attorney Jon Hopkins said. Hughes was responsible for "setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices."

Prosecutors said homeowner Shannon Edmonds opened fire Dec. 7 after three young men rampaged through the Clearlake house demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson. Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, were shot in the back. Hughes fled.

Hughes was charged with first-degree murder under California's Provocative Act doctrine, versions of which have been on the books in many states for generations but are rarely used.

The Provocative Act doctrine does not require prosecutors to prove the accused intended to kill. Instead, "they have to show that it was reasonably foreseeable that the criminal enterprise could trigger a fatal response from the homeowner," said Brian Getz, a San Francisco defense attorney unconnected to the case.

The NAACP complained that prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes, who also faces robbery, burglary and assault charges. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

The Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor at Hughes' church, said the case demonstrates the legal system is racist in remote Lake County, aspiring wine country 100 miles north of San Francisco. The sparsely populated county of 13,000 people is 91 percent white and 2 percent black.

Brown and other NAACP officials are asking why the homeowner is walking free. Tests showed Edmonds had marijuana and prescription medication in his system the night of the shooting. Edmonds had a prescription for both the pot and the medication to treat depression.

"This man had no business killing these boys," Brown said. "They were shot in the back. They had fled."

On Thursday, a judge granted a defense motion for a change of venue. The defense had argued that he would not be able to get a fair trial because of extensive local media coverage and the unlikelihood that Hughes could get a jury of his peers in the county. A new location for the trial will be selected Dec. 14.

The district attorney said that race played no part in the charges against Hughes and that the homeowner was spared prosecution because of evidence he was defending himself and his family, who were asleep when the assailants barged in at 4 a.m.

Edmonds' stepson, Dale Lafferty, suffered brain damage from the baseball bat beating he took during the melee. The 19-year-old lives in a rehabilitation center and can no longer feed himself.

"I didn't do anything wrong. All I did was defend my family and my children's lives," said Edmonds, 33. "I'm sad the kids are dead, I didn't mean to kill them."

He added: "Race has nothing to do with it other than this was a gang of black people who thought they were going to beat up this white family."

California's Provocative Act doctrine has primarily been used to charge people whose actions led to shooting deaths.

However, in one notable case in Southern California in 1999, a man who robbed a family at gunpoint in their home was convicted of murder because a police officer pursuing him in a car chase slammed into another driver in an intersection, killing her.

Hughes' mother, San Francisco schoolteacher Judy Hughes, said she believes the group didn't intend to rob the family, just buy marijuana. She called the case against her son a "legal lynching."

"Only God knows what happened in that house," she said. "But this I know: My son did not murder his childhood friends.

Read More......

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Corporate exploitation and prison phone calls: Why are phone calls from jails so expensive?

By James Clingman
NNPA Columnist
Updated Oct 31, 2007, 01:26 pm

Ever thought about that? Many of us have heard that recording telling us the call is coming from a jail, the cost of which is $1.50 or more for the first minute or so, and that we should say “Yes” to accept the charges. Why do local calls from jails cost so much?

I thought all calls were pretty much the same. Long distance calls from prisons are expensive enough, and we know the phone carriers are ripping us off for them, but local calls? Why the exorbitant charge? That’s a rhetorical question, Brothers and Sisters—I know you know the answer.

Like other greedy, unethical, money-grubbing, corporate thieves, the phone companies that charge those outrageous rates for jail phone calls are among the list of profiteers that are steadily taking advantage of this country’s prison industrial complex by exploiting prisoners and their families.

Why do some local calls cost more than other local calls? The answer: Because the phone companies say they do.

I don’t know, but I would imagine that one of the rationales used to justify the high cost is the number of men and women who would be on the phones if the costs were normal. But, couldn’t that be solved by prison officials regulating the number of calls and the time spent on the phone by each prisoner?

This is probably a trivial point to many of you, but my reason for writing about it is to illuminate the fact that Black folks are, in many cases, allowing ourselves to be used as wealth creators for others, even to the ridiculous extent of doing stupid stuff that will land us in jail or prison. Then when we get to jail, we want to call our friends and families, at usury phone rates, to help get us out or just to “stay in touch.”

Of course, that does not excuse the greed of the phone companies, and the only thing we can do about it is what Nancy Reagan said, “Just say no” to accepting the charges; but you know that’s not going to happen. We are going to continue to go to jail, and we are going to continue to accept the charges for the millions of phone calls that go out from jails and prisons everyday. Thus, a trivial thing like a phone call becomes a billion dollar advantage.

A close look at the jails will reveal that Blacks occupy the cells at a disproportionate rate.

Black people are not building jails, supplying the needs of the jails, doing the maintenance in the jails, or selling hair grease, toilet paper, T-shirts, jumpsuits, flip-flops, books, or anything else to the jails.

A multi-billion dollar industry located in our hometowns, in many cases funded by our tax dollars, and we have no economic interest in that industry. All we do is fill the cells.

Phone companies that charge $1.50 for a local call are ripping us off, but filling their coffers with the easiest money they have ever made.

No increase in their cost of goods sold, no added cost for personnel, and no additional expense for advertising and marketing; they are just sitting there raking it in, hearing cha-ching every minute of the day. Who’s the sucker in that scenario? We have given new meaning to the term, “phone home.”

It’s all about economics. The prison-jail system, both supply and demand, has grown exponentially, because of the high profit from prison-building and prisoner warehousing. We already account for the profit margins of many consumer product companies—that we do not own, spending our $800 billion willy-nilly on whatever someone else makes.

Now we are providing a huge profit margin for the prison industrial complex as we do our daily Bataan Death March into court rooms to stand in front of corrupt prosecutors and judges and be accused by “testi-lying” cops, in many cases. And the first thing we want to do when they escort us to that cell is make a phone call that cost the person on the other end an arm and a leg.

That’s stupid, as I have said before, especially if you intentionally do a crime or neglect to pay your child support or fail to show up for a court appearance for an outstanding warrant or traffic ticket. That’s stupid! It is also evil and just plain wrong if you are doing the more serious crimes like robbing, raping, assaulting, or killing. At the end of it all there will be someone, who looks nothing like you, who will profit from your stupidity and your evil deeds, while you sit in a cell and waste your life away.

When you get out of jail you look for a job, mostly from someone who does not look like you, and get frustrated because you can’t get hired. Then after so many turn-downs you decide to do something else stupid and go right back into the same system. Can’t you see the pattern here?

It is sad that Black people, especially, would subject ourselves to such a no-win situation, but we do it everyday. Even sadder is the fact that our illogical actions have a negative and exacerbating effect on our friends and families. We end up paying on both ends of the system folks.

This article started with a simple phone call, but you can see the implications of our behavior when it comes to crime and punishment—and, I might add, wealth. In a system, things work together, in conjunction with one another; everything fits together, Brothers and Sisters.

As for the money-making prison system, let’s stay out of the cells and get into sales—legal sales. In the meantime, maybe we should look into using carrier pigeons to talk to one another.

Read More......


The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.

The myriad of facts, conjecture, perspectives, viewpoints, opinions, analyses, and information in the articles, stories and commentaries posted on this site range from cutting edge hard news and comment to extreme perspectives. I choose not to sweep uncomfortable material under the rug - where it can grow and fester. I choose not to censor uncomfortable logic. These things reflect the world as it now is - for better and worse. I present multiple facts, perspectives, viewpoints, opinions, analyses, and information.

Journalism should be the profession of gathering and presenting a broad panorama of news about the events of our times and presenting it to readers for their own consideration. I believe in the intelligence, judgment and wisdom of my readers to discern for themselves among the data which appears on this site that which is valid and worthy...or otherwise