Published: Wednesday 21 November 2012
“If you are like the American University students who took this survey, you correctly selected number one.”

We have seen many outrageous studies that reinforce the worldview of giant corporate agribusiness over the years, but two in the last three months really take the cake.

Before we tell you what they are, we ask you to take 10 seconds and answer this one-question survey:

My understanding is that those who buy organic do so because:

  1. They want to avoid the pesticides used in non-organic produce.
  2. They are looking for more nutritious food.

If you are like the American University students who took this survey, you correctly selected number one. No one who answered our survey chose number two on nutrition. Indeed, the main selling point for eating organic has long been that it is healthier because of the absence of chemicals in your food. Think, for example, of Rachel Carson, who exposed to the world the horrors of pesticide exposure 50 years ago in her classic Silent Spring.

Which brings us to two attention-grabbing studies: In early September, Stanford University researchers (publishing in the Annals of Internal Medicine) made headlines in mainstream media by claiming to have proven that organic food is no more nutritious than food grown with pesticides. On its heels, a second study—this one by the American Academy ...

Published: Sunday 28 October 2012
“Many major corporations, including Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Pepsi and Coke are spending millions fighting the measure, which stands to impact labeling practices across the country.”

On Election Day, California voters will decide on Proposition 37, which would make their state the first in the nation to require the labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The California Department of Public Health would be responsible for labeling everything from baby formula and instant coffee, to granola, canned soups and soy milk. Many major corporations, including Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Pepsi and Coke are spending millions fighting the measure, which stands to impact labeling practices across the country. We host a debate on Prop 37 with two guests: Stacy Malkan, a longtime advocate for environmental health and spokesperson for the "Yes on 37 California Right to Know" campaign; and David Zilberman, professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Center for Sustainable Resource Development.

 

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We’re at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Yes, we’re on the road in our 100-city tour. Here in the Golden State, a food fight has broken out—that is, a fight over a ballot initiative that would require the ...

Published: Saturday 6 October 2012
Today, the No on 37 campaign’s already tattered credibility was dealt yet another big blow with news that its “top scientist” is nothing more than a corporate shill willing to misrepresent himself and the University for which he works.

 

A campaign bankrolled by financially motivated pesticide and junk food companies is expected to lie - a lot. It's what they always do when confronted by inconvenient facts and consumers seeking to protect their rights - like the Right to Know what's in the food we eat and feed our families.

Prop 37 opponents have run one of the most deceptive misinformation campaigns in recent history - a $35 million deluge of one demonstrable lie after another to try and defeat a common sense measure that most Californians support.    

Today, the No on 37 campaign's already tattered credibility was dealt yet another big blow with news that its "top scientist" is nothing more than a corporate shill willing to misrepresent himself and the University for which he works.

Meet Henry Miller - a spokesperson the No on 37 campaign has been all too eager to promote as an arbiter of good science and someone we can trust with our families health. Miller has been featured in No on 37 television ads, written outrageously deceptive opinion editorials, and has presented himself as an "unbiased" scientific expert.

And now he's been caught misrepresenting Stanford University- forcing the No on 37 Campaign to pull and reshoot a statewide television ad identifying Miller as "Dr. Henry Miller, MD, Stanford University," without disclosing his affiliation with the Hoover Institute, a right-wing think tank at the University. In other words, he works ON the ...

Published: Friday 29 June 2012
Although the court upheld the law’s mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance, the justices said the act could not force states to expand Medicaid to millions by threatening to withhold federal funding.

 

For many people without insurance, a key question raised by the Supreme Court's decision today to uphold the Affordable Care Act is whether states will decline to participate in the law's big Medicaid expansion.

Although the court upheld the law's mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance, the justices said the act could not force states to expand Medicaid to millions by threatening to withhold federal funding.

Republican leaders of some states already are saying they are inclined to say thanks, but no thanks.

Tom Suehs, the Texas Health and Human Services Executive commissioner whose state could cover an additional 1.8 million people by 2019, praised the court for giving "states more ability to push back against a forced expansion of Medicaid. The court clearly recognized that the Affordable Care Act put states in the no-win situation of losing all their Medicaid funding or expanding their programs knowing that they would face billions of dollars in extra costs down the road."

The act, signed by President Obama in March 2010, required "states to extend Medicaid coverage to non-elderly individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line, or about $30,700 for a family of four," according to a March 2012 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. The extension was expected to cover nearly 16 million people by 2019, one of the law's main ways of reducing the ranks of the uninsured.

The 26 states that challenged the health care law together account for an estimated 8.5 million of those who would benefit from Medicaid's expansion by 2019, more ...

Published: Monday 18 June 2012
“The following is a conservative summary, liberally interpreted, of the five steps necessary to save education in the U.S.”

Milton Friedman would have been proud, if he hadn't been so confused. The push for privatized education is just what the good doctor of economics ordered, in the form of vouchers to allow parents to purchase the best school for their kids. But he also said "We have always been proud, and with good reason, of the widespread availability of schooling to all and the role that public schooling has played.."

 


The following is a conservative summary, liberally interpreted, of the five steps necessary to save education in the U.S.:
 


1. Think of Children as Our Most Important Product


Charter schools are criticized for a few reports that document their poor or mediocre performance in comparison with public schools. The often quoted Stanford University Credo study is one. Others come from the Department of Education, Johns Hopkins University, the RAND Corporation, and the National Charter School Research Project.


But there are numerous reputable research organizations who have not produced negative reports on charter schools.


Success stories like the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and the SEED School show that the concept works if motivated students are chosen, if underperforming students are counseled toward alternative schools, and if expense is not spared to show the potential rewards for those innovating the process. Just as we test and re-test a product to ready it for market, so our children can benefit from industry-like quality control.


Most relevant for charter schools is the level of scalability. With economies of scale the true efficiency of the model touted by Mitt Romney can be realized. An example is the Louisiana Believes project, which will eventually be the country's most extensive voucher system. Although only 5,000 slots exist for about 400,000 eligible students, Louisiana intends to promote equal opportunity by ...

Published: Saturday 16 June 2012
Romney called him and two or three other residents into his room, saying, “Come up, I want to show you something.” When they entered Romney’s room, ”And laid out on his bed was a Michigan State Trooper’s uniform.”

When Mitt Romney was a college freshman, he told fellow residents of his Stanford University dormitory that he sometimes disguised himself as a police officer — a crime in many states, including Michigan and California, where he then lived. And he had the uniform on display as proof.

So recalls Robin Madden, who had also just arrived as a freshman, the startling incident began when Romney called him and two or three other residents into his room, saying, "Come up, I want to show you something." When they entered Romney's room, "and laid out on his bed was a Michigan State Trooper's uniform."

Madden, a native Texan who graduated from Stanford in 1970 and went on to become a successful television producer and writer, has never forgotten that strange moment, which he has recounted to friends over the years as he observed his former classmate's political ascent. The National Memo learned of the incident from a longtime Madden friend to whom he had mentioned it years ago.

Said Madden in a recent interview, "He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father," George Romney, then the governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. "He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler."

In Madden's recollection, confirmed by his wife Susan, who also attended Stanford during those years, "we thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, 'Wow, that's pretty creepy.' And after that, we didn't have much interaction with him," although both Madden and Romney were prep school boys living in the same dorm, called Rinconada.

Other eyewitnesses have previously recalled Romney's alleged use of a police or trooper uniform in pranks during his high school years at the exclusive Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, ...

Published: Friday 24 February 2012
“The Volcker rule will undeniably hurt profits at the nation’s biggest banks. But that’s a feature of the rule, not a bug.”

It’s no secret that the nation’s biggest banks have been trying to kill off the Volcker rule, the regulation named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker that is meant to rein in the banks’ riskiest trading. The banks, with the help of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), watered the rule down before it even became law, and have been heavily lobbying to make it even weaker ever since.

And according to Bloomberg News, the banks even ginned up ...

Published: Friday 9 December 2011
“America’s youth need the painfully obvious: a national commitment to combating poverty and more funds spent on schools in the poorest areas than on schools in the richest areas.”

As 2011 draws to a close, we can confidently declare that one of the biggest debates over education is — mercifully — resolved. We may not have addressed all of the huge challenges facing our schools, but we finally have empirical data ruling out apocryphal theories and exposing the fundamental problems.

We've learned, for instance, that our entire education system is not "in crisis," as so many executives in the for-profit education industry insist when pushing to privatize public schools. On the contrary, results from Program for International Student Assessment exams show that American students in low-poverty schools are among the highest-achieving students in the world.

We've also learned that no matter how much self-styled education "reformers" claim otherwise, the always-demonized teachers' unions are not holding our education system back. As The New York Times recently noted: "If unions are the primary cause of bad schools, why isn't labor's pernicious effect" felt in the very unionized schools that so consistently graduate top students?

Now, at year's end, we've learned from two studies just how  READ FULL POST 9 COMMENTS

Published: Friday 25 November 2011
“The US health-care system is notoriously expensive, partly because many of the key costs are controlled by the American Medical Association and private-sector health-insurance companies, which act like monopolists, driving up costs.”

A famous claim in economics is that the cost of services (such as health care and education) tends to increase relative to the cost of goods (such as food, oil, and machinery). This seems right: people around the world can barely afford the rising health-care and school-tuition costs they currently face – costs that seem to increase each year faster than overall inflation. But a sharp decline in the costs of health care, education, and other services is now possible, thanks to the ongoing information and communications technology (ICT) revolution.

The cost of services compared to the cost of goods depends on productivity. If farmers become much better at growing food while teachers become little better at teaching kids, the cost of food will tend to fall relative to the cost of education. Moreover, the proportion of the population engaged in farming will tend to fall, since fewer farmers are needed to feed the entire country.

This is the long-term pattern that we’ve seen: the share of the workforce in goods production has declined over time, while the cost of goods ...

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