Saturday, October 16, 2010

If You Eat These Eggs, You are Being Ripped Off

organic eggsThe Cornucopia Institute has released a report that exposes widespread abuses in the production of organic eggs, primarily by large factory farms.

The study compares management practices employed by small organic egg farmers with those of large industrial operations that label eggs 'organic' that have been produced by chickens confined by the hundreds of thousands in industrial facilities.
According to Cornucopia News:
"After visiting over 15% of the certified egg farms in the United States, and surveying all name-brand and private-label industry marketers, it's obvious that a high percentage of the eggs on the market should be labeled 'produced with organic feed' rather than bearing the USDA-certified organic logo," said Mark A. Kastel, The Cornucopia Institute's codirector and senior farm policy analyst."
Eighty percent of all organic eggs are produced by a handful of operations. Most of these businesses own hundreds of thousands to millions of birds and market a percentage of their produce as 'specialty eggs,' one of which is organic. Most of the giant henhouses used by these factory farms provide no legitimate access to the outdoors, which is a requirement of federal organic regulations.
"Many of these operators are gaming the system by providing minute enclosed porches, with roofs and concrete or wood flooring, and calling these structures 'the outdoors,'" stated Charlotte Vallaeys, a farm policy analyst with Cornucopia and lead author of the report.
"Many of the porches represent just 3 to 5 percent of the square footage of the main building housing the birds. That means 95 percent or more of the birds have absolutely no access whatsoever."
Per Cornucopia News, family farm-scale organic egg farmers will challenge agribusiness lobbyists at the October 25 meeting of the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board).
Posted By Dr. Mercola

Dummy comes to town!

A California diamond merchant came to Las Vegas last year with a fortune in his pants.
He lost it at the Spearmint Rhino "gentleman's club,'' setting off a multi-million dollar theft investigation that has a former NFL football player and his schoolteacher wife facing possible prison terms.

The Las Vegas diamond caper began on June 2, 2009 when high-end jewelry dealer Eli Abdalnour blew into town carrying $10 million in rare stones in "a small black zip-up jewelry bag ... in the front of his pants," according to court documents.
After just a half-hour at the famed strip club he left $10 million lighter. Abdalnour later told police he "did not know how the pouch was removed from his waistband, and stated that he knew he last had it while seated at the Spearmint Rhino."
An international investigation by Las Vegas police netted three arrests, and on Friday a Clark County grand jury handed down indictments against former club bouncer Matt Keneley, 36, and his wife, Antoinette Keneley, 33. Each face three charges, including felony possession of stolen property and conspiracy to possess stolen property, a gross misdemeanor. If convicted, they each face one to 10 years in prison.

Abdalnour did not respond to calls for comment Friday, but court papers say he was in Las Vegas for the 2009 JCK Jewelry Show at the Sands Convention Center when he decided to visit the strip club. After just 30 minutes there, he was called away to a business meeting .
Soon after, Abdalnour realized the black pouch was gone and he raced back to the club, where a manager returned the pouch, which had been found by Matt Keneley. Abdalnour gave the manager $3,200 to show his appreciation.
But back at his hotel, Abdalnour realized two diamond rings were missing. One had a 3.01 karat diamond with a purplish-pink hue and two yellowish diamonds on the side, with a retail value of $2 million. The other had a 10.05 karat princess-cut diamond, with two 1.6 karat baguettes diamonds and multiple diamonds on the shank. It was worth $960,000.

Back again at the club, Abdalnour told the manager he would pay $10,000 for the return of the rings, and wouldn't contact authorities. He told the manager the diamonds were rare and would be hard to move on the open market. He went to police when the rings weren't returned.
A break in the case came July 30, 2009, when Abdalnour learned that a diamond with a purplish-pink hue had turned up in a New York City store. Three gemologists confirmed it was his.

Las Vegas police detectives traced the ring to Harry Chandi, a jewelry dealer in the Cayman Islands. Chandi, contacted in London, England, told investigators he bought the $2 million stone for $7,000 and two loose diamonds. He picked the Keneleys out of a photo lineup.
Investigators next learned the Keneleys sold the two loose diamonds from Chandi in Los Angeles for $18,000, and peddled the remaining diamonds from Abdalnour's pouch for $18,000 at a pawn shop in Dana Point, Calif.
Before going to the Caymans, the couple had asked a family friend who worked in the jewelry business, Richard Cullinan, how to sell diamonds they hoped would fetch $1.5 million. Cullinan told them moving "hot" stones would be hard, and helped sell the 10.05 karat diamond for $55,000 to the Gold Rush jewelry store, in the 8100 block of Sahara Avenue.

All told, the rocks netted just $98,000, 3.3 percent of their retail value. The Keneleys gave Cullinan $5,000, paid the note on their GMC Yukon, covered day-to-day expenses and financed the Caymans trip.

Police later recovered about $14,000 in cash from a safe deposit box. Authorities have yet to find the 10.05 karat princess cut diamond, which the Gold Rush said was sold to an unknown party in California.

After they were arrested on Aug. 27, 2009, the Keneleys confessed and wrote letters of apology to Abdalnour, according to court documents.
Cullinan in February pleaded guilty to attempted possession of stolen property, a gross misdemeanor. He was sentenced in August by Judge Valorie Vega to three years probation.
Matt Keneley is free on $50,000 bond. A two-time Academic All-American and starting lineman at the University of Southern California, he was drafted by the New York Giants in 1997 but played only seven NFL games for the San Francisco 49ers in 1999. In 1998 he played for the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League, and in 2001 played for the upstart XFL football league's Los Angeles Xtreme. His attorney, Tom Pitaro, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Antoinette Keneley was released on her own recognizance. She is listed as a third-grade teacher at John C. Bass Elementary School. A Clark County School District spokesman confirmed she is still employed by the district. Her attorney, Greg Knapp, declined to comment.

Employees of the Spearmint Rhino said Friday they were not authorized to comment.


Sharron Angle: The Rest Of the $$ Story

When Sharron Angle announced last week that her campaign had raised $14 million in a quarter, even Republicans were amazed that a candidate could raise so much off of a challenge to the emblem of Democrats, Harry Reid.

But with the actual filings today, we know now that Angle's $14 million came at a cost. Specifically, about $12 million. That's how much her campaign spent to raise the money -- an unfathomable percentage.
So Angle netted only $2 million and as a consequence, and has the same amount of cash on hand that Harry Reid does for the final stretch. Reid raised much less, but spent as much as Angle did on ads -- $7 million -- and still has $4 million in the bank.

Republicans generally have higher cost-per-dollar expenses because they rely on direct mail, which is quite expensive. Still, I can't find any other candidate who raised this much and netted this little. How did this happen? When Angle was putting together her "plan," consultants and whomever sold her on a program this expensive, which, of course, is in their interests too.

Remember, Angle was not supposed to win the primary. The initial group of consultants she hired were probably prospecting for lesser-known Senate candidates like Angle. And then they hit the jackpot. Not to say that her consultants did anything bad, but netting just two million from a $14 million haul is eye-raising

The Mississippi Pardons NY Times BOB HERBERT

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has to decide whether to show mercy to two sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, who are each serving double consecutive life sentences in state prison for a robbery in which no one was injured and only $11 was taken.

This should be an easy call for a law-and-order governor who has, nevertheless, displayed a willingness to set free individuals convicted of far more serious crimes. Mr. Barbour has already pardoned four killers and suspended the life sentence of a fifth.

The Scott sisters have been in prison for 16 years. Jamie, now 38, is seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Keeping the two of them locked up any longer is unconscionable, grotesquely inhumane.
The sisters were accused of luring two men to a spot outside the rural town of Forest, Miss., in 1993, where the men were robbed by three teenagers, one of whom had a shotgun. The Scott sisters knew the teens. The evidence of the sisters’ involvement has always been ambiguous, at best. The teenagers pleaded guilty to the crime, served two years in prison and were released. All were obliged by the authorities, as part of their plea deals, to implicate the sisters.

No explanation has ever emerged as to why Jamie and Gladys Scott were treated so severely.
In contrast, Governor Barbour has been quite willing to hand get-out-of-jail-free cards to men who unquestionably committed shockingly brutal crimes. The Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly, and Slate Magazine have catalogued these interventions by Mr. Barbour. Some Mississippi observers have characterized the governor’s moves as acts of mercy; others have called them dangerous abuses of executive power.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections confirmed Governor Barbour’s role in the five cases, noting that the specific orders were signed July 16, 2008:

• Bobby Hays Clark was pardoned by the governor. He was serving a long sentence for manslaughter and aggravated assault, having shot and killed a former girlfriend and badly beaten her boyfriend.

• Michael David Graham had his life sentence for murder suspended by Governor Barbour. Graham had stalked his ex-wife, Adrienne Klasky, for years before shooting her to death as she waited for a traffic light in downtown Pascagoula.

• Clarence Jones was pardoned by the governor. He had murdered his former girlfriend in 1992, stabbing her 22 times. He had already had his life sentence suspended by a previous governor, Ronnie Musgrove.

• Paul Joseph Warnock was pardoned by Governor Barbour. He was serving life for the murder of his girlfriend in 1989. According to Slate, Warnock shot his girlfriend in the back of the head while she was sleeping.

• William James Kimble was pardoned by Governor Barbour. He was serving life for the murder and robbery of an elderly man in 1991.

Radley Balko, in an article for Slate, noted that none of the five men were given relief because of concerns that they had been unfairly treated by the criminal justice system. There were no questions about their guilt or the fairness of the proceedings against them. But they did have one thing in common. All, as Mr. Balko pointed out, had been enrolled in a special prison program “that had them doing odd jobs around the Mississippi governor’s mansion.”

The idea that those men could be freed from prison and allowed to pursue whatever kind of lives they might wish while the Scott sisters are kept locked up, presumably for the rest of their lives, is beyond disturbing.
Supporters of the Scott sisters, including their attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, and Ben Jealous of the N.A.A.C.P., have asked Governor Barbour to intervene, to use his executive power to free the women from prison.

A spokeswoman for the governor told me he has referred the matter to the state’s parole board. Under Mississippi law, the governor does not have to follow the recommendation of the board. He is free to act on his own. With Jamie Scott seriously ill (her sister and others have offered to donate a kidney for a transplant), the governor should move with dispatch.

The women’s mother, Evelyn Rasco, told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.: “I wish they would just hurry up and let them out. I hope that is where it is leading to. That would be the only justified thing to do.”

An affidavit submitted to the governor on behalf of the Scott sisters says: “Jamie and Gladys Scott respectfully pray that they each be granted a pardon or clemency of their sentences on the grounds that their sentences were too severe and they have been incarcerated for too long. If not released, Jamie Scott will probably die in prison.”

As they are both serving double life sentences, a refusal by the governor to intervene will most likely mean that both will die in prison.