House Republicans Vote to Cut Food Safety Funding

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Via WaPo:

Arguing that the U.S. food supply is 99 percent safe, House Republicans cut millions of dollars Thursday from the Food and Drug Administration’s budget, denying the agency money to implement landmark food safety laws approved by the last Congress.
Saying the cuts were needed to lower the national deficit, the House also reduced funding to the Agriculture Department’s food safety inspection service, which oversees meat, poultry and some egg products. And lawmakers chopped $832 million from an emergency feeding program for poor mothers, infants and children. Hunger groups said that change would deny emergency nutrition to about 325,000 mothers and children.
The House also waded into a controversial issue pending at the FDA, forbidding the agency from approving the sale of genetically engineered salmon, a matter that has triggered an intense debate about the place of biotechnology in the food supply.
No Democrats voted in favor of the agriculture appropriations bill, which passed by a vote of 217 to 203. Nineteen Republicans joined the Democrats in opposition.
The White House opposed many of the cuts, saying they would force the USDA to furlough inspectors at meat and poultry processing plants and leave the FDA unable to meet the requirements of a food safety law passed in December. The legislation, which was the first major change to the nation’s food safety laws since 1938, calls for the FDA to significantly step up scrutiny of domestic and imported food and devise a system aimed at preventing the kind of contamination that sickens one in six Americans every year.
The law, which received bipartisan support, followed years of cutbacks at the FDA and waves of food-borne illnesses linked to foods as varied as spinach, peanuts and cookie dough.
To carry out the new law, President Obama is seeking $955 million the FDA’s food safety program in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Republican leaders in the House pared back that to $750 million, which is $87 million less than the agency currently is receiving for food safety.
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Sarrazin–Germany being “dumbed down” by Turks and Kurds

Via WaPo:

BERLIN – The most talked about man in Germany is a 65-year-old economist whose hot new book and sudden groundswell of popular support have the media dubbing him a folk hero. But that is not the only thing they are calling Thilo Sarrazin these days.

Some are also calling him dangerous. Sarrazin, a board member of the German Central Bank until he resigned under pressure Thursday, has divided the nation by postulating the theory that Germany is being “dumbed down” by Muslim immigrants and their children. Wielding statistics and scientific arguments both in his book and in public comments, he delves into territory largely taboo here since the Holocaust, suggesting that “hereditary factors” are at least partly to blame. Turks and Kurdish immigrants, he asserts, are genetically predisposed to lower intelligence than Germans and other ethnic groups, including Jews.

His statements have shocked many in Germany not only because of a national sensitivity to anything remotely smacking of genetic superiority claims in the post-World War II era. What has also shocked many is that so many Germans have rallied to his side as the central bank and his political party have sought to oust him for his pronouncements.

The article says most of his backers are distancing themselves from the heredity statement, but they love the other part, as though there is a fine demarcation between the racist aspect of this and the non-racist part, if there is one.

The sickening part is that this guy is being embraced as a “folk hero” for saying things people want to say but are afraid to.

The story gets weirder:

German-Jewish groups, for instance, are among Sarrazin’s staunchest critics, calling him a dangerous racist. Though Sarrazin has spoken positively of Jews, saying they have “high IQs,” he courted controversy after declaring in an Aug. 29 interview that “all Jews share a certain gene.” In fact, observers here say that the official outcry against Sarrazin – including the move to expel him from the board of the central bank – would have been far more muted had he simply stuck to his generalizations about Muslims.

But by generalizing about Jewish genetics, albeit positively, Sarrazin also “crossed a red line,” said Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable with the history here that such a large amount of people follow what he says,” Kramer said. “The lesson of the Holocaust is not just about Jews, but that human dignity is indivisible. Yet now, they react if there is a genetic comment about Jews, but not if it’s about the Roma or the Turks. We obviously still have some homework to do.”

Part of the propaganda against the Jews in the early Nazi years was the fact that their “hairsplitting” distinction making in academic matters was problematic. While much of the propaganda was dehumanizing, the success of Jews as prominent thinkers was also held against them. So saying the Jews have a high IQ does not erase the problem of this sort of ethnic categorization. This whole thing is downright creepy.

Justice Thomas’ Wife Launches Tea Party Group

Via LaTimes:

She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court.

In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative “core principles,” she said.

The group plans to issue score cards for Congress members and be involved in the November election, although Thomas would not specify how. She said it would accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.

“I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country,” Thomas, who goes by Ginni, said on the panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great.”

The move by Virginia Thomas, 52, into the front lines of politics stands in marked contrast to the rarefied culture of the nation’s highest court, which normally prizes the appearance of nonpartisanship and a distance from the fisticuffs of the politics of the day.

Justice Thomas, 61, recently expressed sensitivity to such concerns, telling law students in Florida that he doesn’t attend the State of the Union because it is “so partisan.” Thomas, who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush, has been a reliable conservative vote since he joined the court in 1991.