Sunday, January 25, 2009

Economic stimulus and contraceptives - the weekend update

The idea that stimulus package pushed by the Democrats has hundreds of millions for contraceptives and family planning is astounding. How does this create jobs? How does this get the economy moving? Aren't people our greatest resource? From Drudge today, this exchange:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boldly defended a move to add birth control funding to the new economic "stimulus" package, claiming "contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

Pelosi, the mother of 5 children and 6 grandchildren, who once said, "Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom," seemed to imply babies are somehow a burden on the treasury.

The revelation came during an exchange Sunday morning on ABC's THIS WEEK.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

TK. Can't buy Pelosi's argument. This has got to go if the stimulus package advances, IMHO.

More headlines snatched from the Web over the weekend:

Florida citrus faces tax war From The Ledger: It appears the industry is on the horns of a dilemma, a Hobson's choice that may leave it no alternative but to leave the idea of an import tax alone.

Florida Department of Citrus officials have been warned a proposed new tax on orange juice imports faces a certain legal challenge, but foreign importers have threatened a much bigger fight against the federal tariff on OJ imports if the Florida Legislature approves the new tax.

Citrus Department officials have asked Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, to sponsor the new imports tax bill, but he told The Ledger he is reluctant because of a threat to the federal tariff on OJ imports.

"I'm concerned if the efforts to collect the tax could jeopardize the federal tariff," he said. "I'm trying to understand where everybody is and the relative risk."

The federal government collects a tariff equal to almost 30 cents a gallon on OJ imports to the U.S.

Without the tariff, Florida citrus growers say, Brazilian juice processors could undercut the price of orange juice from Florida and drive them out of business.

Green light specials, now at Wal-Mart From the NYT: Good story taking the measure of Wal-Mart's sustainability efforts in recent years, and reference to the irresistible low hanging fruit. From the story:

While environmentalists give Wal-Mart kudos for the changes it has made, they say that much of what it has achieved so far amounts to collecting low-hanging fruit. The company sells tens of thousands of products, and has demanded the overhaul of only a handful, they say. “

Seven Houston pallet firm officials face immigration charges From The Houston Chronicle

Seven executives and managers at IFCO, a Houston-based pallet company, were charged Friday with conspiring between 2003 and 2006 to harbor illegal immigrants.

Honey bees could be in short supply Calif. almonds at risk?

Mapping out pesticide use
Maine considers a controversial proposal to allow public to search an online database to see where and when farmers applied pesticides.

Asian psyllid threatens Calif. citrus
From the LA Times
The psyllid alone won't hurt California orange groves. The threat comes when the bug lands on a tree already infected with the bacterium that causes the greening disease, also known as huanglongbing or yellow dragon disease. It will feed on the diseased tree and then carry the pathogen to nearby trees. The psyllid will reproduce -- like aphids, they are asexual and don't need to find a mate -- creating whole colonies of citrus greening carriers.

State and local inspectors are tracking the bug, hoping that it doesn't find a citrus tree already infected with the disease, which has no cure.

Citrus pest moving closer to Yuma County From The Yuma Sun
Found in Tijuana last summer, the psyllid soon was also found across the border in San Diego County. It since has been found in Mexicali and in Imperial County in Ocotillo, Calexico, Seeley and Westmorland. So far, the disease it can carry has not been found in this region.

WIC food lists changing to help with health From the Louisville Courier Journal
Kentucky is among the first states working through the federal approval process, which gives states a say in how the changes are made. New York and Delaware have already made the changes; all states must roll them out by October.

California farmers idle crops; veggie prices may rise From AP: Where are those homegrown deals when you need them?

This year, officials in Fresno County predict farmers will only grow about 6,000 acres of lettuce, roughly half the acreage devoted to greens in 2005.

That alone could cause a slight bump in consumer prices, unless lettuce companies can make up for the shortage by growing in areas with an abundant water supply, or the cost of cooling, packaging and shipping the crop suddenly goes down, experts say.

Rain not enough to fix water woes From The Mercury
With salmon disappearing, water managers and regulators must discuss how to balance salmon's cold-water needs with deliveries for cities and farms, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Forget green! Purple is color of new superfoods From

Fruit / Antioxidant rating
1. Maqui berry Chile (juice) / 820
2. Acai berry S. America / 160 - 300
3. Blueberry N. America / 61
4. Raspberry N. America / 21
5. Grapes N. America / 14

It's possible: eating healthy, cheaply From Midwest Ag Net, another story about eating well and cheaply. Some of the ideas: buy potatoes instead prepackaged mashed potatoes. Buy a head of lettuce instead of a bag of lettuce. Whole carrots instead of baby carrots.

Penny pinching consumers boost German chain From German news site. From the story:

Aldi accounts for only about one percent of the entire $900 billion food-retailing sector, according to Jim Hertel, managing partner of Willard Bishop Consulting.

But the global slowdown is slowly but surely changing American retail attitudes, other analysts point out, making consumers previously wary about no-name private grocers adopt a more open attitude toward low-price shopping options.

“Private labels used to have a reputation of being cheap, but of poor quality. Now the quality and perception of quality have improved to Aldi's benefit. Then add factors like inflation in the last year and the recession. The convergence of all these factors are opening up peoples' minds to Aldi,” Hertel said.

Will big chill wreak havoc on Lake citrus crop? From the Orlando Sentinel

Our sustainable diet: how to start greening your diet The Wenatchee World

Meeting of the minds to solve Salinas gang issue

Which came first - the egg or the gourmet egg? From the AP

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