Category Archives: Government

Oberstar Tweets

Several weeks ago, after reading a legislative update from Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, I emailed him and suggested that he consider tweeting some of his updates on Twitter. Today I received the following reply:

Ms. Jody Scott-Olson

Royalton, Minnesota 56373-0184

Dear Ms. Scott-Olson:

Knowing of your interest in a Twitter account for me where you can be updated on current legislation and other relevant issues, I am pleased to report that you can now follow me on Twitter at

With best wishes.


James L. Oberstar, M.C.


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Filed under Government, Little Falls, Minnesota, Politics

Bill Moyers and Dr. Sidney Wolfe on Health Care Reform

Washington’s abuzz about health care, but why isn’t a single-payer plan an option on the table? Public Citizen’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe and Physicians for a National Health Program’s Dr. David Himmelstein on the political and logistical feasibility of health care reform.

Bill Moyers Journal

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Filed under Government, health, Politics, United States

British Court Rules on Potato Chips

Pringles Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Today a Britsh court ruled that Pringles are potato chips. I’m curious to know what Proctor & Gamble was trying to present them as.

I once attended an agriculture round table meeting hosted by the University of Minnesota, the professor was trying to promote food irradiation to a group of public school officials. In the lead up to discussing treating food with radiation he did an overview of some landmark cases in the food history. The most noteworthy was a case brought by an unnamed tomato sauce company in the 70’s or 80’s who argued that maggots didn’t constitute filth in food because they were not visible. The unnamed company of course lost but its not much different than Pringles arguing whether or not a potato chip is a potato chip…key ingredient?  I wonder how much the tomato sauce suit cost taxpayers?

Did you hear about the 150 Amish Paste tomatoes I planted? Well now you know the rest of the story.

The FDA’s 3 second rule

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Government, health, Home & Garden, Life

How I’d Improve the American Education System

My daughter is immune deficient and has been an online high school student for about 2 years. I think the best and most cost effective solution to improving the American education system is to build a hybrid that blends the best online education has to offer in a public school setting.

Here’s how it could work:

Each student is provided a laptop computer to work off of  and they independently study digital textbooks, watch podcasts on  subjects they are studying and complete assignments, all within an online learning environment.

At first blush it doesn’t sound earth shattering but consider these net impacts:

The use of podcasting would allow the US Dept of Education (DOE) to hire the worlds best and brightest educators to deliver the curriculum because the person doesn’t need to be in each classroom to teach students. (Imagine  Stephen Hawking podcasting a high school physics course.) Such a change in the delivery of material would allow the US DOE to establish uniformity in the quality of instructors and instruction being provided to all schools EVERYWHERE regardless of the communities financial health. On site teaching staff can then focus on the students who are struggling and need additional instruction.

An education hybrid of public and online education would also allow the US DOE to offer a huge variety of courses to ALL schools everywhere regardless of who is available in that geographic location to teach. As a public school student my daughter could choose from a couple foreign languages, as an online student in rural Minnesota she studied Mandarin Chinese.

Even more important, these courses are self paced, students can move through coursework as quickly as they like or they can take the the time they need. Unlike the current industrial model of education, a 9th grader could work well above grade level while remaining grouped among his or her peers, students could even graduate early and or start college from the very same classroom environment. This would mean that the best and the brightest in our country would no longer have to wait for average learners to catch up and it can all be done within the confines of a single classroom.

Individual schools could allow rural students  the option of attending in person or online cutting the need for additional space and busing. Students with health problems, like my daughter, could still attend their local school by attending online when they are sick. School districts could eliminate the need for home-bound tutors, substitute teachers and even snow days.

Digital textbooks are cheaper to produce than standard textbooks and easier to update without mowing down a forest. They are also hyperlinked to dictionaries and wikipedia’s should students needs more information to grasp a given concept. Whereas a standard textbook might have offered a photo of an Egyptian tomb, in online schooling teachers can podcast an actual tour inside a tomb where students can pan the interior of the tomb right from their computer.

As as a parent of an online student I can log on and see the teachers grade books, I can see how my student scored on each assignment and I can see how much time she is spending studying each subject. This allows me as a parent a clearer view of daughter’s education and more importantly, her work habits.

The post-industrial model I’m suggesting also relieves the pressure on overburdened instructors and quells the issue of classroom size by allowing the human resources within our education system to concentrate on the areas they are most needed.  Even better, this model would allow the US to deliver the highest, most uniform standard of education to learners everywhere regardless of how wealthy or impoverished their community. Equal education could truly mean equal quality and an equal opportunity regardless of geography and its highly likely we’d save money doing it.

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Filed under Education, Fiction Writing, Government, Life, Science, Technology, United States

Vaccine Makers Enjoy Immunity

NEW YORK - JANUARY 26:  A Pfizer sign hangs on...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I haven’t read this in its entirety, I don’t always agree with the Wall Street Journal but it was one of the few publications that recently covered the issue of vaccine injury and the liability limits of the pharmaceutical industry. There are also limits established by government when an “epidemic” is formally announced, I’ll have to do some additional digging to find that information.

Wall Street Journal,  Feb. 23, 2009

One of the little-noticed reasons that Wyeth was attractive enough to command a $68 billion price for rival Pfizer Inc.’s planned takeover sits in a building catty-corner from the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue. That is where a special “vaccines court” hears cases brought by parents who claim their children have been harmed by routine vaccinations.

The court — and the law that established it more than two decades ago — buffers Wyeth and other makers of childhood-disease vaccines from much of the litigation risk that dogs traditional pill manufacturers and is an important reason why the vaccine business has been transformed from a risky, low-profit venture in the 1970s to one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most attractive product lines today.

The legal shield, known as the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, was put into place in 1986 to encourage the development of vaccines, a mainstay of the nation’s public-health policy. A spate of lawsuits against vaccine makers in the 1970s and 1980s had caused dozens of companies to get out of the low-profit business, creating a public-health scare.

Read More…

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Filed under Government, health, Life, Science, Uncategorized, United States

More People Died From the Swine Flu Vaccine than Swine Flu

Image by johnmuk via Flickr

I’ve followed the opinions of Dr. Mercola for over a decade,  he does a good job of separating industry driven hype from consumer-centric need-to-know facts. Since I found the information helpful I’m passing the link on to you.

Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

American health officials declared a public health emergency as cases of swine flu were confirmed in the U.S. Health officials across the world fear this could be the leading edge of a global pandemic emerging from Mexico, where seven people are confirmed dead as a result of the new virus.

On Wednesday April 29th, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert level to five on its six-level threat scale,1 which means they’ve determined that the virus is capable of human-to-human transmission. The initial outbreaks across North America reveal an infection already traveling at higher velocity than did the last official pandemic strain, the 1968 Hong Kong flu.

Phase 5 had never been declared since the warning system was introduced in 2005 in response to the avian influenza crisis. Phase 6 means a pandemic is under way.

Several nations have imposed travel bans, or made plans to quarantine air travelers2 that present symptoms of the swine flu despite the fact that WHO now openly states it is not possible to contain the spread of this infection and recommends mitigation measures, not restricting travel or closing borders.

Read the full story

***update 10.22.2009 There is no compensation for individuals injured by the current swine flu vaccine and you can’t sue your doctor even in instances of gross negligence.

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Filed under Education, Government, health, Life, Travels, United States, World News

Tweeters in US Government

For full  details or more up to date information check out: Source Watch

Legislative Branch: U.S. Senate

  1. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  2. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
  3. Susan Collins (R-ME)
  4. John Cornyn (R-TX)
  5. James DeMint (R-SC)
  6. Chris Dodd (D-CT)
  7. Richard Durbin (D-IL) (unofficial)
  8. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  9. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
  10. James Inhofe (R-OK)
  11. Mel Martinez (R-FL)
  12. John McCain (R-AZ), presidential candidate in 2008
  13. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
  14. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  15. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) (unofficial)
  16. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), former NH Governor
  17. Mark Udall (D-CO)
  18. Tom Udall (D-NM)
  19. Mark Warner (D-VA)
  20. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Legislative Branch: House of Representatives

  1. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)
  2. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)
  3. Gresham Barrett (R-SC)
  4. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
  5. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Minority Whip
  6. John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Leader; also runs GOP Leader
  7. John Boozman (R-AR)
  8. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
  9. Dan Burton (R-IN)
  10. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
  11. John Carter (R-TX)
  12. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
  13. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
  14. John Culberson (R-TX)
  15. Steven Driehaus (D-OH)
  16. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
  17. Mary Fallin (R-OK)
  18. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
  19. Randy Forbes (R-VA)
  20. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  21. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
  22. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
  23. Mike Honda (D-CA)
  24. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
  25. Randy Kuhl (R-NY)
  26. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
  27. Tom Latham (R-IA)
  28. Robert Latta (R-OH)
  29. Ben Lujan (D-NM)
  30. Dan Manzullo (R-IL)
  31. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  32. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
  33. Cathy McMorris (R-WA)
  34. Kendrick Meek (D-FL)
  35. Candice Miller (R-MI)
  36. George Miller (D-CA), also runs Educ & Labor Democrats
  37. Ron Paul (L-TX)
  38. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House
  39. Jared Polis (D-CO)
  40. Tom Price (R-GA)
  41. George Radanovich (R-CA)
  42. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT)
  43. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
  44. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
  45. Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  46. Joe Sestak (D-PA)
  47. Christopher Shays (R-CT)
  48. John Shimkus (R-IL)
  49. Zach Wamp (R-TN)
  50. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
  51. Rob Wittman (R-VA)
  52. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
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Filed under Government, Science, Technology, United States