Friday, April 27, 2007


Taste Test of the Day

A high-quality chocolate, when you put it in your mouth, it melts and becomes very silky. With hydrogenated oils, it feels kind of waxy or greasy. —Julie Anderson, daily chocolate eater, quoted by Adam Satariano in "Hershey Battles Chocolate Connoisseurs Over Selling ‘Mockolate’"

The chocolate multinationals, in the face of rising cocoa prices, have a solution: redefine the meaning of "chocolate"—

The Chocolate Manufacturers Association, whose members include Hershey, Nestle SA and Archer Daniels Midland Co., has a petition before the Food and Drug Administration to redefine what constitutes chocolate. They want to make it without the required ingredients of cocoa butter and cocoa solids, using instead artificial sweeteners, milk substitutes and vegetable fats such as hydrogenated and trans fats.

But it isn't just the chocolate makers hoping to benefit—

The chocolate association signed the petition submitted to the FDA in October to change the candy.

The proposal was drafted by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Products Association urging the FDA to "modernize food standards." In addition to the chocolate manufacturers, the petition was signed by groups representing almost every part of the food chain, including the meat, dairy, fruit, fish and grain industries.

That is guaranteed to open the door to all sorts of mischief.

The Breyers sell out

And speaking of mischief, Breyers "All Natural" Ice Cream snuck in some "tara gum" about six months ago. I'll never forget the night a friend brought over a carton of "extra creamy" vanilla. I knew something was wrong from the first bite. And instead of refilling my bowl till the last fat globule had melted, I did as "Miss Manners" would have me do and politely declined seconds.

It's true that tara gum is natural—along with insect parts, but I don't want them in my ice cream.

"A Daily Scoop" is on the case. A protest against the ruination of ice cream is long overdue. It could be modeled after the successful Coca-Cola protest of 1985 when the company tried to change the flavor of Coke.

Ah, but that was 1985. Now the most corrupt government in the history of the republic is in power, and the people are close to helpless. Ice cream protest? What was I thinking?!


Thursday, April 26, 2007


Bubble of the Day

The markets now operate as unregulated banks generating mountains of credit through massively leveraged debt instruments — a monster credit bubble larger than anything in the history of capitalism. —Mike Whitney writing in "Housing Bubble Boondoggle: 'Is it too late to get out'?"

Related post
Headline of the Day (4/24/07)



Appalling news roundup for Thursday

I love it when this sort of thing happens! According to The Hill, Republican Rep. John Sullivan of Oklahoma is mightily opposed to "frivolous lawsuits"—unless of course he has one of his own. He suffered an on-the-job injury and wanted to sue the government. But the government already has a mechanism to handle such matters, so the District Court threw his case out. Sullivan complains that he still hasn't received a dime from the Labor Dept. Maybe he should propose a bill to strengthen the Department.

The Hill headlines this story "Bill Clinton already acting like a ‘first lady.’" Clinton is to serve as honorary chairman of a golf and tennis tournament held for charity by the spouses of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Sen. Barack Obama was invited to attend but his spokespeople aren't making commitments.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Memo of the Day

This is a subject I always hate to bring up, but if you have a long, magazine-reading bathroom trip planned (and you know what I mean), please go to the public restrooms. We don’t want to subject our staff or constituents to any fowl-smelling odors while they are in the office. —Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as quoted by Betsy Rothstein

What is that smell, Senator? Could it be funky chicken?



Appalling news roundup for Wednesday

California Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to recast himself as a Republican environmentalist, but he couldn't find time to meet with an attorney representing Ecuadoran efforts to have Chevron pay for $6.1 billion worth of environmental damage in the Amazon region. Peter Nicholas writes that "Chevron has given about $566,000 to the governor's campaign committees and causes, and donated $50,000 to help pay for his second inauguration. In June, Chevron gave $250,000 to the state Republican Party, which aired television ads promoting his reelection." You might say that Schwarzenegger knows on which side his faucet's dripping.

Vice President Cheney's giving the commencement address tomorrow at one of the nation's most conservative universities, Brigham Young (BYU). But there have been protests by faculty and students. Now Ralph Nader has been invited to speak later the same evening. Are the campuses finally "heating up"?

Be sure to watch Bill Moyers' "Buying the War" tonight (PBS at 9 pm EST). Watch in wonder as you learn what can be done with smoke and mirrors.

David Swanson remarks that "spending that 90 minutes ... will actually save you time, because you'll never watch television news again."

Amnesty International reports that "American Indians and natives of Alaska are 2 1/2 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women of other ethnic groups in the United States." Read this one.

Talk about favoring the prosecution! Judge Grafton Biddle (a lovely name!), 57, was having sex in his chambers with prosecutor Laurie Steinman, 29, and would occasionally slip into the womens' showers after their Navy Seals training class for a quickie. Biddle, a former prosecutor himself, resigned and Steinman was fired. Biddle was betrayed by his fourth wife. Ain't marriage great?!

Miss America has gone undercover.

The Dept. of Veterans Affairs has relented and will allow the symbol of the Wiccan religion—a 5-pointed star or "pentacle"—on military grave markers. When George Bush was Governor of Texas he told ABC News, "I don't think witchcraft is a religion." He's right. It's more like a political party.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Headline of the Day

Sales of existing homes plunge 8.4% in MarchMarketWatch

This is an 18-year record, the fastest drop in existing home sales since January 1989, when a severe housing recession began. Officials of the Treasury Dept. and Federal Reserve assure that the housing slump is "well-contained." Kevin Depew takes a look at the well-contained effects on cement-producer Cemex, Spanish stocks and domestic auto sales. He also posts quotes from some very odd-looking experts.

Related post
"First" of the Day (4/11/07)


Monday, April 23, 2007


What's hot? Loonies and dongs

The Canadian dollar (the loonie) is approaching parity with the U.S. dollar with a rise to 89.05 cents at close on Friday. Though the U.S. dollar lost against most major currencies, the loonie showed the greatest gain. It's up 6% since February, which wouldn't have been a bad return on those devaluing US dollars.

Meanwhile, dong derivatives are heating up, and a stronger, more robust dong is forecast. Think about it. Then you decide.

Related post
Something you should know about your dollars (9/24/04)


Sunday, April 22, 2007


Appalling news roundup for Sunday

• Erroneous convictions are terribly unjust, and everything possible should be done to eliminate them. An analysis of 197 wrongful convictions found that the error in 75% of the cases was due to false eyewitness identification. Vesna Jaksic surveys some of the changes in conducting a lineup that are under consideration in several states.

• Amnesty International says that Iraq has moved up to 4th place in the international death penalty competition and now trails only China, Iran and Pakistan. I don't know why they waste money on hangings when they could just force the culprits into the streets for the same lethal effect.

• James Morrison of the Washington Times suggests that the Democrats are about to "lose" Turkey. How? By recognizing the Armenian genocide. But "Onur Oymen, a former top Foreign Ministry official..., noted that favorable attitudes ... toward the United States have plummeted to single digits since the start of the Iraq war in 2003."

• "The United Nations will not include Iraqi civilian casualty figures in its next human rights report, a spokesman said yesterday, omitting what many had viewed as a rare, reliable indicator of suffering in Iraq." Official figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry—one component of the UN estimate—have not been received.

• What a relief! We may not be able to do anything about poverty, but at least ignorance is spreading, so maybe nobody will notice. The Economist surveys anti-Darwinian efforts as they travel from the U.S. to Istanbul, to Moscow and to the Vatican.


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