Category: Food

you and i

Restaurants want a piece of food stamp pie

USA Today – By Jonathan Ellis and Megan Luther

The number of businesses approved to accept food stamps grew by a third from 2005 to 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture records show, as vendors from convenience and dollar discount stores to gas stations and pharmacies increasingly joined the growing entitlement program.

Now, restaurants, which typically have not participated in the program, are lobbying for a piece of the action.

Louisville-based Yum! Brands, whose restaurants include Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver’s and Pizza Hut, is trying to get restaurants more involved, federal lobbying records show.

That’s a prospect that anti-hunger advocates welcome, but one that worries some current food stamp vendors and public health advocates.

Federal rules generally prohibit food stamp benefits, which are distributed under the USDA‘s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), from being exchanged for prepared foods. Yet a provision dating to the 1970s allows states to allow restaurants to serve disabled, elderly and homeless people, USDA spokeswoman Jean Daniel said.

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of businesses certified in the SNAP program went from about 156,000 to nearly 209,000, according to USDA data.

There is big money at stake. USDA records show food stamp benefits swelled from $28.5 billion to $64.7billion in that period.

Four states accept restaurants, with Florida the most recent to begin a program.

“It makes perfect sense to expand a program that’s working well in California, Arizona and Michigan, enabling the homeless, elderly and disabled to purchase prepared meals with SNAP benefits in a restaurant environment,” Yum! spokesman Jonathan Blum said…

Lady Gaga leaves little to the imagination as she strips off in racy new fashion film

Serial Butt Slash Suspect Identified

NBC Washington

Fairfax County Police named a suspect in a series of slashing assaults across northern Virginia.

Authorities are looking for Johnny D. Guillen Pimentel, age 40.

Since February of this year, at least nine victims reported being slashed on the buttocks while shopping in Fairfax County.  Authorities said in most of the attacks, the suspect would distract the victim by dropping articles of clothing, and then inflict superficial cuts with a razor or box cutter.

Detectives said all of the victims have been females in their late teens or early twenties.  No serious injury has been reported; some victims did not immediately realize their injuries.

Police said Pimentel drives a blue Honda Civic with the Virginia tag KLX2689.  Detectives believe that he may have already left the area.

Although police believe Pimentel is linked to all of the slashing incidents, the current arrest warrant is only for one of the assaults.

The last known slashing took place on July 25 at the Forever 21 store in Fair Oaks Mall.  The slasher also struck in the Greenbriar Shopping Center, Tysons Corner Mall, and at the Fairfax Town Center.

Lucy Caldwell from the Fairfax Police said they identified Pimentel after receiving a tip from the public.

Now police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Guillen Pimentel and ask that anyone with information on his whereabouts contact the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131 or contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mail at or text “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637.




Food Safety Bill Lives

AJC – By Jamie Dupree

A major food safety bill that had almost been given up for dead was suddenly revived in the Senate late on Sunday evening, and may be ready for House approval as early as Tuesday.

In a parliamentary move laid out on the Senate floor by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just after 7pm, the Senate took the food safety language that was passed as part of a stop-gap budget plan by the House, attached it to another House-passed bill and approved that by unanimous consent.

A Democratic Senate aide told me that Republicans did not object to the plan, even though the bill has garnered fierce opposition in some GOP quarters.

The move was a surprise, as it seemed like the Food Safety bill was going to die in the waning days of this year, despite strong support in both the House and Senate.

The bill almost went down the drain originally because of an elementary mistake by Senate Democrats, who added revenue provisions to a measure that originated in the Senate, despite the Constitutional requirement that all spending and revenue bills start in the House.

The House refused to act directly on that legislation, because of what’s known as a “blue slip” problem.

That problem was solved when the House approved its long-term Continuing Resolution last week, which included the language of the Senate-passed food safety bill.

As reported above, the Senate on Sunday night simply took the revised food safety language that was approved by the House in the CR, substitued it to the language of HR 2751, one of the original “Cash for Clunkers” bills from last year, and approved it by unanimous consent.

That move will fix any Constitutional issues, because the plan originated in the House as part of the CR, and by using a bill that was already approved by the House, the Cash for Clunkers bill.

Before you start screaming about that – the food safety language replaces the Cash for Clunkers language in the amended version of HR 2751.

I was told that the food safety bill should be up for a vote as soon as Tuesday in the House.

The Hill – By Alexander Bolton

The Senate unexpectedly approved food safety legislation by unanimous consent Sunday evening, rescuing a bill that floated in limbo for weeks because of a clerical error.

The Senate passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act on Nov. 30 by a vote of 73-25. But the bill was later invalidated by a technical objection because it was a revenue-raising measure that did not originate in the House — Senate staff had failed to substitute the food safety language into a House-originated bill.

A coalition of groups supporting the bill sent a letter Sunday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) calling for action on food safety.

“Our organizations are writing to support attaching S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, to the Senate’s proposed short-term continuing resolution,” the groups wrote. “Strong food-safety legislation will reduce the risk of contamination and provide FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help make prevention the focus of our food safety strategies.”

The American Public Health Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and other groups signed the letter.

Democrats first attempted to attach the food safety bill to the two-and-a-half-month spending measure but Republicans balked because they wanted to keep that measure clean, according to Senate aides.

Republicans, however, later agreed to pass it by unanimous consent.

Reid announced he would send the legislation — this time properly attached to a House-originated measure — back to the lower chamber for final approval.

“Our food safety system has not been updated in almost a century. Families in Nevada and across America should never have to worry about whether the food they put on their table is safe,” Reid said in a statement. “This is a common-sense issue with broad bipartisan support.

“Tonight we unanimously passed a measure to improve on our current food safety system by giving the FDA the resources it needs to keep up with advances in food production and marketing, without unduly burdening farmers and food producers,” he said.

The legislation is a high priority for Reid and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Reid’s staff earlier in the day had told a coalition of groups supporting the legislation that it had a chance of passing but the prospects appeared to dim as Sunday wore on. The swift approval by unanimous consent caught some aides and lobbyists working on it by surprise.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the outspoken conservative Republican from Oklahoma, had been blocking the legislation. He lifted his objection at the final moment.

Top ten lies about Senate Bill 510

Natural News – By Mike Adams

The Food Safety Modernization Act looks like it’s headed to become law. It’s being hailed as a “breakthrough” achievement in food safety, and it would hand vast new powers and funding to the FDA so that it can clean up the food supply and protect all Americans from food-borne pathogens.

There’s just one problem with all this: It’s all a big lie.

Here are the ten biggest lies that have been promoted about S.510 by the U.S. Congress, the food industry giants and the mainstream media:

Lie #1 – Most deaths from food poisoning are caused by fresh produce

Here’s a whopper the mainstream media won’t dare report: Out of the 1,809 people who die in America every year from food-borne pathogens (CDC estimate), only a fraction die from the manufacturer’s contamination of fresh produce. By far the majority of food poisoning is caused by the consumption of spoiled processed foods, dead foods and animal-human transmission of pathogens.

For example, one of the largest food-borne killers according to the CDC is Toxoplasma gondii, a disease that people acquire from cat feces coming into contact with their food, which can happen right in their own homes (…). Salmonella poisoning accounts for 553 deaths a year. As a reference for relative risk, over 42,000 people die each year from road accidents in the USA, meaning driving a car has a roughly 7600% higher chance of killing you than eating fresh produce. (…)

In terms of food-borne illness, many of the deaths come from things like spoiled tomato sauce, spoiled canned foods and spoiled pasteurized milk. S 510, of course, does absolutely nothing to address these food contamination deaths, since those foods are considered “sterilized” at the time of sale.

Lie #2 – Under S.510, the FDA would only recall products it knows to be contaminated

Not true. S.510 merely requires the FDA to have “reason to believe” a food is contaminated. So right there, that means all raw milk will be targeted by the FDA because even without conducting any scientific tests at all, the FDA can say it has “reason to believe” the milk is contaminated merely because it is raw.

In other words, the FDA no longer needs science to outlaw a food product. It merely needs an opinion.

Is this “reason to believe” section really true? Yep, and here’s how it was amended:

23 (a) IN GENERAL. – Section 304(h)(1)(A) (21 U.S.C.24 334(h)(1)(A)) is amended by
(1) striking ”credible evidence or information indicating” and inserting ”reason to believe”;

In other words, in negotiating this bill, the U.S. Senate removed the requirement that the FDA needed “credible evidence” in order to recall a product and, instead, replaced that with the FDA only needing “reason to believe.”

It is utterly amazing that the U.S. Congress would give the FDA to conduct large-scale product recalls and even imprison people based entirely on what the agency “has reason to believe.”

Last time I checked, the FDA held some pretty bizarre (if not downright moronic) beliefs, including this jaw-dropping whopper: The FDA literally believes that there is no food, no herb, no vitamin or supplement that has any ability to prevent disease of any kind. They don’t even believe limes can prevent scurvy, and you’d have to nutritionally illiterate to believe that.

The FDA believes foods are inert and that all the amazing phytonutrients in those foods (carotenoids, antioxidants, therapeutic fats like omega-3 and so on) are utterly useless for human biology.

This belief, held by the FDA that has now been put in charge of the food supply, is the belief system of an insane government agency that has completely lost touch with reality while abandoning nutritional science.

Lie #3 – They didn’t tell you that nearly 70% of grocery store chickens are contaminated with salmonella every day

Yep, it’s true: Amid all the fear-mongering over salmonella, everybody forgot to notice that the vast majority of fresh chickens sold at grocery stores every single day are widely contaminated with salmonella (…). Yet S 510 does absolutely nothing to address this. It’s not even mentioned in the bill.

In fact, it is these contaminated chickens that end up cross-contaminating the fresh produce in many kitchens across America. So the so-called “food poisoning” that’s often blamed on spinach or onions often originates with the contaminated chicken meat people bring home and slice on their kitchen cutting boards.

Lie #4 – S.510 will exclude and protect small farmers

The Tester Amendment, which was finally included in S.510, excludes farmers who sell less than $500,000 worth of food each year from the more onerous paperwork and compliance burdens described in the bill. But this dollar amount is not indexed to inflation, meaning that as the U.S. dollar continues to lose value due to the Federal Reserve counterfeiting machine running at full speed (more “quantitative easing,” anyone?), food prices will continue to skyrocket — and this will shift even small family farms into the $500,000 sales range within just a few years.

In fact, a single-family farm with just four people could easily sell $500,000 worth of fresh produce a year right now, even before inflation. Remember, $500,000 is not their profit, but rather the gross sales amount. The profits on that might be only $50,000 or even less.

Furthermore, this $500,000 threshold means that small, successful farms that are doing well and would like to expand will refuse to hire more people or expand their operations. To avoid the tyranny of S 510, small farms will try to stay small, and that means avoiding the kind of business expansion that would create new jobs.

Lie #5 – The FDA needs more power to enforce food safety

The FDA already has the power to effectively recall foods by publicly announcing a product has been found to be contaminated. The FDA already has the power to confiscate “misbranded” products, too, and it could easily use this power to halt the sale of contaminated food items.

But the FDA simply refuses to enforce the laws already on the books and, instead, has sought to expand its power by hyping up the e.coli food scares. The ploy apparently worked: Now in a reaction to the food scare-mongering, the FDA is being handed not just new powers, but more funding, too! And you can bet it will find creative new ways to put this power to work suppressing the health freedoms and food freedoms of the American people.

Lie #6 – Fresh produce is contaminated because of a lack of paperwork

There is no evidence that requiring farms to fill out more paperwork will make their food safer. The real cause of produce contamination is the existence of factory animal farms whose effluent output (huge rivers of cow feces, basically), end up in the water supply, soils and equipment that comes into contact with fresh produce.

The food contamination problem is an UPSTREAM problem where you’ve got to reform the factory animal operations that now dominate the American meat industry. S.510, however, does absolutely nothing to address this. Factory animal farms aren’t even addressed in the bill!

Lie #7 – The American people are dying in droves from unsafe fresh food

The truth is that Americans are dying from processed food laced with toxic chemical additives, not from fresh, raw produce. Partially-hydrogenated oils, white sugar, aspartame, MSG and artificial food colors almost certainly kill far more people than bacterial contaminations.

The American public is also dying from pharmaceuticals — anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 people a year are killed by FDA-approved drugs (, most of which have been approved under the guise of blatantly fraudulent science and drug company trickery. The FDA doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, it has been a willful co-conspirator in the scientific fraud carried out by Big Pharma in the name of “medicine.” (…)

To think that the FDA — the very same agency responsible for the Big Pharma death machine — is now going to “save us” by controlling food safety is highly irrational.

Lie #8 – The FDA just wants to make food “safer”

Actually, the FDA wants to make the food more DEAD. Both the FDA and the USDA are vocal opponents of live food. They think that the only safe food is sterilized food, which is why they’ve supported the fumigation, pasteurization and irradiation efforts that have been pushed over the last few years.

California almond growers, for example, must now either chemically fumigate or pasteurize their almonds before selling them ( This has destroyed the incomes of U.S. almond farmers and forced U.S. food companies to buy raw almonds from Spain and other countries.

Lie #9 – Food smuggling is a huge problem in America

One of the main sections of S.510 addresses “food smuggling.” Yep — people smuggling food across the country. If you’ve never heard of this problem that’s because it’s not actually a problem.

Not yet anyway.

But there’s a reason why they put this into the bill: Because they’re probably planning on criminalizing fresh produce and then arresting people for transporting broccoli with the “intent to distribute.”

Yep, farmers bringing fresh produce to sell at the weekend farmer’s market could soon be arrested and imprisoned as if they were drug smugglers. Hence the need for the “food smuggling” provisions of S.510.

Soon, we will all have to meet in secret locations just to trade carrots for cash.

Lie #10 – S.510 will make America’s food supply the safest in the world

Actually, even with S.510 in place, America’s food supply is among the most chemically contaminated in the world, second only to China. You can find mercury in the seafood, BPA in the canned soup, yeast extract (MSG) in the “natural” potato chips, and artificial petrochemical coloring agents in children’s foods.

Eating the “Standard American Diet” is probably the single most harmful thing a person can do for their health. It’s the fastest way to get cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Every nation in the world that begins to consume the American diet starts to show record rates of degenerative disease within one generation. This is the “safe food” that the U.S. Senate is now pushing on everyone.

Remember, with S.510, SAFE = DEAD. And the FDA says it wants to keep everybody safe.

Permission granted to reproduce and post this list with credit

Feel free to share this list! Please give the courtesy of credit to this author and a clickable link back to We are working hard to fight for freedom and educate the public about why we need to resist these “Big Government solutions” that trample over our Constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (which, in my mind, includes buying fresh produce at the farmer’s market). Thank you for your support.

Related Previous Posts:

Let’s Be Clear: We Can’t Just Leave it Up to The Parents…

Related Links:

S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (Full Text)

Food Freedom: S 510 is hissing in the grass

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Michelle Obama on Deciding What Kids Eat: ‘We Can’t Just Leave it Up to The Parents’

CNS News – By Penny Starr

Speaking at Monday’s signing ceremony for the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act”– a law that will subsidize and regulate what children eat before school, at lunch, after school, and during summer vacations in federally funded school-based feeding programs — First Lady Michelle Obama said of deciding what American children should eat: “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.”

The law gives the federal government for the first time the authority to regulate the food sold at local schools, including in vending machines.

“Everywhere I go, fortunately, I meet parents who are working very hard to make sure that their kids are healthy,” said Mrs. Obama. “They’re doing things like cutting down on desserts and trying to increase fruits and vegetables. They’re trying to teach their kids the kind of healthy habits that will stay with them for a lifetime.

“But when our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it’s clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well,” Mrs. Obama said. “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.  I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won’t be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway.  I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards.”

The Senate approved the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act legislation in August and the House approved it earlier this month by a vote of 264-157 (with 153 Republicans and 4 Democrats voting no, and 247 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting yes). The law will be administered by the Department of Agriculture, which will craft new school nutrition standards under the law.

The law increases spending on school nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over ten years and encompasses a range of provisions, including offering qualified children breakfast, lunch and dinner at school, as well as meals during the summer. It also includes a pilot program for “organic foods.”

President Obama said at the signing ceremony—held at the Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington. D.C.–that he was following in the tradition of President Harry S. Truman, who signed the first federal school lunch program into law, and President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the Childhood Nutrition Act of 1966.

Obama said that if the bill had not reached his desk for his signature, “I would be sleeping on the couch.”

The law has been championed by the first lady as part of her campaign to end childhood obesity. Michelle Obama said that while it may seem ironic to be addressing childhood hunger and obesity at the same time, “it’s really just two sides of the same coin.”

Critics of the bill include former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a Republican, who took cookies to an event in Pennsylvania in November to illustrate what she said is the “nanny state run amok.”


Cookiegate: Sarah Palin Takes on ‘Nanny State’ Nutrition Guidelines

ABC News – By Mary Bruce

Sarah Palin is baking up some controversy over proposed school nutrition guidelines in Pennsylvania. At a fundraising event at a Buck’s County school today, the former Alaska governor intends to serve students cookies to make a point about “laissez-faire” government.

Pennsylvania’s proposed school nutrition guidelines would limit the number of sweets in classroom parties and encourage parents to serve more healthy snacks. The proposal, which will be voted on this spring, would also slash the number of birthday and holiday parties allowed in classrooms.

Yesterday Palin tweeted that, in addition to her fundraising power, she “may bring cookies” to the Plumstead Christian School to protest the guidelines.

“Hmm…may bring cookies to my PA school speech tmrw to make a pt ‘PA mulls ban on cake/cookies/candy@ school parties,’” Palin posted, linking to an article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the guidelines.

Today Palin took it further saying Pennsylvania was a “nanny state run amok.”

“2 PA school speech; I’ll intro kids 2 beauty of laissez-faire via serving them cookies amidst school cookie ban debate;Nanny state run amok!” the 2008 vice presidential candidate posted on Twitter.

While Palin’s comments may be tongue-in-cheek, the debate over government intervention in school nutrition programs continues to be a point of contention in Congress.

In August, the Senate passed the $4.5 billion “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” which would expand children’s access to federal nutrition programs and give schools more money to spend per meal. Supporters say the bill would significantly improve the nutritional quality of school lunches by upgrading menus and banning certain junk food from lunch lines.

The legislation, which awaits approval in the House, would mark the largest investment in child nutrition programs since their inception.

Obesity has become one of the biggest public health challenges facing the country — in the U.S. roughly a third of children and teens are obese.

Critics, however, question the legislation’s hefty price tag. “Calls for long-term increases in spending on school meal programs are irresponsible,” Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, testified before a House hearing this summer.

“I have spent my entire career … on this kind of spending and I can tell you I absolutely have no idea where all that money goes,” Rector said. “Before you propose spending even more money, you ought to at least have a reasonable accounting of where this money is currently going.”

Update: Palin brought 200 sugar cookies to the students at Peace Valley Elementary, the elementary school associated with the Plumstead Christian School. According to her spokesperson, Palin said she wished she could have baked herself.

Report calls obesity a threat to US national security

Obesity among military-aged men and women is on the rise, leaving a smaller pool of people fit to serve.

The CS Monitor – By Jeanna Bryner

Americans are becoming too fat for their britches, military britches that is.

From 2007 to 2008, 5.7 million American men and 16.5 million women of military age were ineligible for duty because they were overweight or obese, according to a team of Cornell researchers. (Military branches must recruit about 184,000 new personnel to replace those who leave every year, according to 2009 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

In the past half-century, the number of women of military age who exceed the U.S. Army’s enlistment standards for weight-to-height ratio and body fat percentage has more than tripled. For military-age men, the figure has more than doubled, the researchers report in a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled, “Unfit for Service: The Implications of Rising Obesity for U.S. Military Recruitment.”

“Almost one in four applicants to the military are rejected for being overweight or obese – it’s the most common reason for medical disqualification,” study researcher John Cawley, an associate professor of policy analysis and management, said in a statement. “It is well-known that the military is struggling to recruit and retain soldiers. Having a smaller pool of men and women who are fit enough to serve adds to the strain and creates even more problems for national defense.”

Being too heavy or fat meant 23 percent of applicants were rejected from the military, according to a 2006 National Research Council (NRC) report. (The second most common reason is smoking marijuana, which leads to rejection of nearly 13 percent of applicants, according to the 2006 NRC report.)

The findings support several previous studies, including a report put out by a collection of retired generals and admirals, “Too Fat to Fight,” who explained their concern that the increase in youth obesity might compromise military readiness and national security, the researchers say.

While that report was based on data from 2006-2008, Cawley and economics doctoral student Catherine Maclean charted the climbing obesity rates using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys spanning 1959 to 2008. They also estimated the number of civilians who meet the body fat requirements of each military branch – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps – something that hadn’t been tracked previously.

For instance, here are standards for enlistment to the U.S. Marine Corps for one group of men and women:

  • Men (ages 21-30, height of 5 foot 10 inches): maximum weight (222 pounds), maximum body fat (for all heights, 18 percent)
  • Women (ages 21-27, height of 5 foot 5 inches): maximum weight (153 pounds), maximum body fat (26 percent)

“It’s another example of the underappreciated public consequences of obesity,” Cawley said. “We tend to think of obesity as a personal, individual health problem. But the fact that U.S. military leaders view it as a threat to national security and military readiness shows its far-reaching impact.”

The Nanny State Food Police Cometh

Liberate US – by Jerid M. Fisher, PhD

Remember mom’s admonition? “Elbows off the table, sit up straight and eat your vegetables!” Common sense advice, right? Of course, as Mark Twain was so fond of saying, “If it’s so common, why is it so rare?” During those formative years, we learned what foods were good for us and which ones were bad. Our mothers empowered us to make healthy food choices. In fact, we didn’t even need a mom to figure out that a supersized fat laden double burger drenched in cheese and condiments was not the same as eating carrots, right?

Unless you are severely brain damaged or have been living in a cave for the last 20 years, you cannot credibly claim you don’t have the God given capacity to make informed choices about what to stick in your mouth.  And this is the point of my blog.  You have the power to choose.  When you consume a diet of fast food and other tasty and unhealthy treats, it’s a choice.  There is not a diet devil that holds a gun to your head forcing you to eat unhealthy foods.  You make that choice.  Sure, it’s great to eat French fries but if you do it every day, you are gonna get fat.

Or perhaps you agree with Israel Bradley who filed a lawsuit (along with other overweight people who chose to eat a regular diet of fast food) against four fast food companies, claiming his fast food “addiction” forced him to eat a pound of French fries each week. Eating this many fries, he claimed, contributed to his obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

I guess the food devil forced him to eat French fries, “hold the salad, supersize the fries!” This external locus of control argument maintains we are helpless and not in control of what we put in our mouths. I won’t take responsibility; in fact, I will blame someone else and while I am at it, seek a large monetary award to help ease my suffering and absolve me of any responsibility for poor eating habits that made me fat.

This is the same belief that the Nanny State elite promote. The masses are simply not able to make informed dietary choices without divine Nanny State intervention.  To wit, recall the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance in 2008 banning the construction of new fast food restaurants for one year in a 32 square mile area inhabited by 500,000 low-income people (and where obesity was taking a toll on the residents).

Ironically, a subsequent study by Rand Health reviewed the empirical data for the ban and concluded the data did not support it. A Rand brief noted, “Although South Los Angeles residents have a significantly higher body mass index and are more likely to be obese than residents of wealthier sections, the area has fewer, not more, fast food chain restaurants per capita.”  Go figure!

I was recently made aware that the Mayor of New York City (yes, the same one that spent a king’s ransom to get re-elected for a third term) has started an anti-salt legislative campaign. He hopes to control by Nanny State mandate the amount of salt served in restaurants and in packaged foods.

While this same Mayor doesn’t always live by his own health rules, he decides what is good for the rest of us. I don’t need the Nanny State to tell me or food manufacturers how much salt I should consume. I can make informed choices and vote with my wallet and my mouth. Besides, it is a slippery slope.

What next? Maybe the Nanny State will decide I shouldn’t eat pizza with pepperoni. Or maybe they will want to limit my consumption of wine, or coffee, or bacondogs.

Thank you mommy Nanny, but I can make these choices just fine without your uninvited dictates. You see, it all goes back to plain old common sense and the lessons I learned from my mother. “Elbows off the table, sit up straight and eat your vegetables!”

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New charge on dinner tab is in bad taste

The latest hidden mandatory add-on is a “health” charge added to restaurant bills. This scam cropped up first in San Francisco, but you can count on it to spread.

Chicago Tribune – By Ed Perkins

Nothing succeeds in the travel industry like a bad idea. The latest hidden mandatory add-on is a “health” charge added to restaurant bills. As far as I know, this scam cropped up first in San Francisco, but you can count on it to spread.

The rationale for this one is to cover the employers’ mandatory contribution to the City’s “Healthy San Francisco” health-coverage system. The charge actually is levied on employers, but at least some restaurants are adding a few dollars or percentage points to each customer’s bill to cover this charge.

The restaurants’ excuse for assessing this charge separately is to let customers know how much they’re paying for employees’ health coverage. That’s the same excuse hotels use when they add “resort” or “housekeeping” fees to unsuspecting guests’ room bills. It’s the same excuse airlines would use to exclude fuel surcharges from their advertised fares if the Department of Transportation would allow them. And it’s sheer nonsense. Employees’ health insurance is no less of a cost of doing business than rent, property taxes, food costs, security services and all the other inputs businesses require to operate. To single out health care for a separate surcharge is unwarranted.

The restaurants adding this fee self-righteously proclaim, “It’s not hidden; we print a notice on our menus.” But that, too, is nonsense: Presumably, restaurants could apply that same rationale for extra fees to cover the cost of electricity, heat or linen service. I haven’t seen any reports yet that San Francisco hotels are adding a similar charge. But hotels aren’t shy about piling on other fees and charges.

So far, I haven’t heard of “health” fees anywhere other than San Francisco. But, as noted, bad ideas travel fast, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it copied in one form or another by restaurants in other areas.

What can you do to avoid this fee? Presumably, not many of you would feel strongly enough about this minor scam to get up and walk out of a restaurant the minute you saw a notice about such a fee. And you probably wouldn’t feel like making a fuss when you’re paying your bill, either. But when you leave, you can certainly let the restaurant know that you resent this deception and that you won’t be returning…

About Hooters…

Hooters chain seeks buyer; could fetch $250M

New York Post – By JAMES COVERT

Hooters is rattling its cans on Wall Street.

The Atlanta-based “breast-aurant” chain — famous for the scantily clad waitresses who serve up its burgers and spicy wings — is beckoning prospective buyers, sources told The Post.

Hooters has recently shopped itself to a number of private-equity firms as sales have sagged with the recession, sources said. The closely held company, meanwhile, is in advanced talks with a Connecticut-based investor that has been granted certain rights of refusal on any potential transaction, according to one source.

An asking price couldn’t be learned, and North Point Advisors, a San Francisco-based investment bank that Hooters has hired, didn’t respond to requests for comment. A Hooters spokeswoman couldn’t be reached yesterday.

Some analysts estimate the chain might fetch more than $250 million despite the bumpy business climate. Hooters’ 450 owned and franchised restaurants, which are as far-flung as Australia and China, racked up more than $1 billion in sales in 2008, according to Technomic, a food-industry research firm.

Nevertheless, insiders said Hooters appears to be strapped financially. The chain’s comparable sales lately have suffered steep declines, according to one source, as the hobbled economy has deflated appetites for Hooters’ burgers-and-babes fare.

If an upcoming episode of the CBS reality show “Undercover Boss” is any indication, there may be management issues, too. In an episode slated to run Sunday, CEO Coby Brooks discovers a restaurant supervisor staging an eating contest for female employees, forcing them to bury their faces in platefuls of food without using their hands.

“Ladies, if you want to leave early today, you’re going to play my reindeer game,” the manager says, howling “Hoooo, doggie!” as the women eat.

To make matters worse, Brooks has had to repair damage from ill-advised side ventures initiated by his controversial father Robert Brooks, who died in 2006 after being part of a group that co-founded the firm in 1983.

Not least among them was Hooters Air, a passenger airline that was grounded in 2006 after a three-year effort to elevate the chain’s “hotties-in-tight-T-shirts” concept to the skies.

Insiders speculated that the bad fortunes of the Hooters Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas likewise might be a factor. The resort’s operations aren’t connected with Hooters, to which it pays a royalty fee for the use of its name. But the Las Vegas development was recently in default on $144.5 million in long-term debt as its losses widened and revenue plunged amid dwindling occupancy. Key creditors include investment vehicles owned by Hooters’ founders.

On the bright side, Hooters’ choice to seek a buyer now could signal that the restaurant industry has found a bottom, said Brad Ludington, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

France: Halal Takes Over

The Business Journal – From the Desk of Tiberge

In his weekly newsletter, available through subscription, Yves Daoudal discusses the implications of the decision by Quick, a French chain of hamburger restaurants, to serve halal meat in its restaurants. His is one of several recent articles that are focusing on the growing presence of halal foods everywhere in France, and the danger that very soon French people will be eating halal without knowing it, if that is not already the case.

I posted an article on Quick several weeks ago, but at the time I did not think it was a major news event, since halal is not a new phenomenon in France. But apparently the French are suddenly more aware of what the Islamization of their country really means, in terms of altering their traditional eating habits, and interfering in their daily lives to an intolerable extent.

Both Polemia and Riposte Laïque have published articles, and Marine Le Pen, appearing on French television, has been an outspoken critic of Quick, condemning in particular the tax the French people have to pay for halal, even if the taxpayers do not eat halal.

In his article Yves Daoudal refers to ETHIC, a management association founded in 1975 for the purpose of instilling in business leaders a sense of ethical responsibility and a value system based on that of socially conscious Catholics. Recently, ETHIC has vigorously defended Quick’s decision to serve halal food, declaring:

“This choice results quite simply from the encounter between supply and demand, and from a marketing decision. Whether this choice is in response to a particular taste, to the success of a foreign specialty, or to a cultural or religious tradition, it stems from the freedom to run a business. It is senseless to try to tell a merchant what he can and cannot sell. To raise an outcry over halal is extremely discriminatory.”

Daoudal points to the abandonment by ETHIC of its principles:

Today, it seems as if ETHIC is nothing more than a spokesman for free enterprise, pure and simple, combined with the “anti-racist” dogma. Reality is turned upside down, in the name of free enterprise. You are now free to do whatever you want, if you derive a profit from it, with no concern whatsoever about the common good.

Paradoxically, the Socialists, who in theory are opposed to the free enterprise philosophy, agree with ETHIC. The flamboyant Socialist Arnaud Montebourg has said

“Quick is not a public service. Quick is a private business that does what it wants with its products. No one is forced to eat at Quick.”

Neither ETHIC nor Arnaud Montebourg has the faintest impulse to reflect on the implications of Quick’s decision – if many potential customers are Muslims, let’s have a Muslim Quick. A Quick that admits non-Muslims on the condition that they bend to sharia law and that they too pay the tax on halal food that contributes to the construction of mosques and the spread of Islam.

It never occurs to them that when the process of Islamization, that Quick is contributing to in order to increase profits, is completed, we will be in a society where there is no longer any freedom at all. Free enterprise is thus the forerunner of Islam.

Naturally, the declaration by ETHIC was welcomed by the Muslim authorities. Dalil Boubakeur, the grand mufti of the Paris Mosque, reiterated the statement word for word: “There is nothing wrong with a business that chooses a market that appears to be economically in expansion. This is about free enterprise and the evolution of society. It is up to the company to decide what goods to offer the public.”

Ethical business leaders, the head of the Grand Mosque of Paris and the national secretary of the Socialist Party in charge of renewal, are all in perfect agreement. In the name of freedom, Islam must be imposed.

Another article from Polemia, also posted at Novopress, offers a lengthy exposé of the growth of halal in France over the past several decades. Due to the length of the article I can only give some excerpts:

In France, the consuming of halal foods, prepared according to Muslim religious procedures, was marginal until the early 1990’s. In his book l’Islam de marché (Commercializing Islam), Patrick Haenni notes that a few decades ago, the pious Muslim had to go hundreds of kilometers to buy meats he felt were appropriate.

Today it is the opposite. Many Frenchmen have to travel far to find authentic French foods.

Today halal is a three billion euro business in France. First, the butcher shops and ethnic grocers, then the larger multinational agribusinesses and finally the major outlets such as Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc participated in this expansion.

According to Florence Bergeaud-Blackler, a sociologist at the University of Aix-Marseille, it is the third generation of North and sub-Saharan African immigrants that is promoting halal. They have a “very strong attachment, paradoxically even stronger than that of their parents”, for halal foods. Hassan Bouod, manager of an agribusiness in Marseilles, agrees: “Our young people are very proud of buying halal foods and want to consume this kind of meat, it’s psychological.”

The explosion of the demand for halal products is more proof, not of a successful integration into French society of Arabo-Muslim populations, but, rather of the return to the practices of the home country. But this re-rooting is not without problems: Like the Ramadan fast, the promotion of halal foods is no longer confined to the private sphere; rather it is extending into the public space, for two reasons: commercial interests and political pressures.

In an effort to make halal production profitable, producers are tempted to make everyone eat halal. Halal slaughterhouses must fulfill the following rules: the animal must be slit open while alive, without stunning, its head turned toward Mecca, by a certified practitioner. In order to avoid the added expense of two separate methods of slaughter (halal and “classic”) it is often easier to distribute halal meats in the “classic” market, without warning the consumer. This is widely practiced for poultry and lamb: the secular or Catholic consumer thus is financing, unknowingly and unwillingly, the spread of Islam in France…

Related Link:

TIME: Halal Burgers? Another French Brouhaha Over Islam

Related Links:

SF Gate: Healthy SF wins another court round

Huffington Post: Starbucks Sticks To Its Guns. Why?


Wrestler Ric Flair Pinned by His Own Wife?

Eonline – Natalie Finn

Sometimes there can be a long gap between May and December.

Jacqueline Beems, the 41-year-old wife of silver-haired wrester Ric Flair, has been charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking her husband of three months in their North Carolina home on Sunday night.

Flair, aka “Nature Boy,” who used to tussle for the mighty World Wrestling Entertainment and now grapples for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, had minor injuries but refused treatment from paramedics, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Could Flair, who met Beems in 2004, be looking to save face after perhaps being pushed around by a girl?

He said in a statement that the entire incident was a misunderstanding and that his wife did nothing wrong. Beems was released from custody a few hours after her arrest.

An abdominal operation away from opera to Plácido Domingo

El Mundo – Eduardo Suárez (Corresponsal) | Londres (English Translation)

He looks forward to Plácido Domingo’s return to the operatic stage of Covent Garden. Yet London’s music lovers will have to wait. The Royal Opera House announced last night that the Spanish withdrawal from the cartel’s “Tamerlane” by Handel, which opens on March 5. The reason is a “preventive surgery” that the wording should be submitted in New York by the advice of your healthcare team.

Domingo felt ill while singing at the opera in Tokyo. At first, a certain malaise and then a pain in the lower abdomen. He decided to return to New York to get a complete checkup and that was when the doctors decided it was better to come into the operating room. According to Rep. Nancy Seltzer, “only after the operation will know exactly when come back.” This will take place on Friday February 26. Its expected return is not delayed more than six weeks.

Domingo’s return to London had sparked an uproar in line with the size of the tenor. So much so that the entries of “Tamerlane” sold out within minutes. The Spanish was to sing the role of Bajazet in five of the performances of the opera: 5, 8, 11, 15 and 20 March. The Royal Opera House has announced that it will not.

Remains to be seen if the Spanish can travel to London in his second start of the year: “Simon Boccanegra” in which he makes a baritone and arrive in London in early June. In any event, the Royal Opera House has offered special terms for those who want to return their tickets for the withdrawal of the artist.

Domingo will replace American tenor Kurt Streit, who was to sing the role of Bajazet in two of the performances of the play (those of 13 and 17 March) and now must replace the rest to the Spanish tenor.

Plácido Domingo is 69 years and combines his positions of director of the operas in Los Angeles and Washington with a flurry of activity as a singer in the five continents.

Placido Domingo Navigator

A list of resources from around the Web about Placido Domingo as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.

Conservatives can kiss off “Hot Air” blog

Renew America – By Bryan Fischer

Wow. Just as soon as the “Hot Air” blog was purchased by the Christian conglomerate Salem Communications from conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, it has suddenly become an advocate for all things gay. What in the world is up with that?

For background, GOPROUD is an organization dedicated to advancing special rights for homosexual behavior, and advocates the overthrow of the Defense of Marriage Act and the overthrow of the law banning homosexual service in the military.

Not only was GOPROUD welcomed at CPAC, an event which is supposed to be the annual showcase for conservative values, the organization was allowed to sponsor the event, giving visibility and recognition to its effort to legitimize sexual deviancy.

In other words, for David Keene and the others who run CPAC, natural marriage is not, in their judgment, a fundamental conservative value. This conference, for the sake of truth in advertising, should be relabeled “The Libertarian Political Action Conference.” It has forfeited any legitimate claim to the “Conservative” moniker.

A Saturday post, from Repurblican, takes one of my new heroes, Ryan Sorba of California Young Americans for Freedom, to task for making the common sense statement at CPAC that homosexual sex cannot lead to reproduction. For this obviously correct observation, he was booed off the stage. And “Hot Air,” now under Christian management, has made Sorba out to be the bad guy.

Sorba showed the courage of his convictions by simply declaring the truth. Said Sorba, “Civil rights are grounded in natural rights, and natural rights are grounded in human nature…and the intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction…civil rights, when they conflict with natural rights, are contrary…” At this point, his remarks were drowned out by a chorus of vitriolic, angry boos. (View video of his remarks here.)

Consequently, Sorba said, “I’d like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPRIDE (he meant “GOPROUD”) to this event.”

For speaking truth to power, “Hot Air” accused Sorba of “bombthrowing,” and said his remarks represented a “gratuitous and public…slam on homosexuals.”

The lead blogger of “Hot Air,” Ed Morrissey, has apparently experienced a new-found freedom under Salem’s Christian leadership to bash proponents of morality grounded in natural law. Said Morrissey, “At some point, Republicans will need to get over their issues with homosexuality.”

Sorba was certainly right to condemn CPAC for this move. The bottom line here is if conservatives are looking for an annual convocation of genuine conservatives — those who are fiscal, national security and social conservatives — the place to be is the Values Voter Summit.

VVS, sponsored each fall by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, will never waver on the truth that protecting one man — one woman marriage is the most fundamental conservative value of all.

Related Links:

Thanks & reflections from The Boss Emeritus

A note on the acquisition of Hot Air

Right Condition: undermines Tea Party movement, supports big GOP in Mass.

AIM: The Gay Infiltration of the Conservative Movement

Gateway Pundit: Salem Communications Buys HotAir Blog

When It Comes to Salt, No Rights or Wrongs. Yet.


Suppose, as some experts advise, that the new national dietary guidelines due this spring will lower the recommended level of salt. Suppose further that public health officials in New York and Washington succeed in forcing food companies to use less salt. What would be the effect?

A) More than 44,000 deaths would be prevented annually (as estimated recently in The New England Journal of Medicine).

B) About 150,000 deaths per year would be prevented annually (as estimated by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene).

C) Hundreds of millions of people would be subjected to an experiment with unpredictable and possibly adverse effects (as argued recently in The Journal of the American Medical Association).

D) Not much one way or the other.

E) Americans would get even fatter than they are today.

Don’t worry, there’s no wrong answer, at least not yet. That’s the beauty of the salt debate: there’s so little reliable evidence that you can imagine just about any outcome. For all the talk about the growing menace of sodium in packaged foods, experts aren’t even sure that Americans today are eating more salt than they used to.

When you don’t know past trends, predicting the future is a wide-open game.

My personal favorite prediction is E, the further fattening of America, but I’m just guided by a personal rule: Never bet against the expansion of Americans’ waistlines, especially not when public health experts get involved.

The harder the experts try to save Americans, the fatter we get. We followed their admirable advice to quit smoking, and by some estimates we gained 15 pounds apiece afterward. The extra weight was certainly a worthwhile trade-off for longer life and better health, but with success came a new challenge.

Officials responded by advising Americans to shun fat, which became the official villain of the national dietary guidelines during the 1980s and 1990s. The anti-fat campaign definitely made an impact on the marketing of food, but as we gobbled up all the new low-fat products, we kept getting fatter. Eventually, in 2000, the experts revised the dietary guidelines and conceded that their anti-fat advice may have contributed to diabetes and obesity by unintentionally encouraging Americans to eat more calories.

That fiasco hasn’t dampened the reformers’ enthusiasm, to judge from the growing campaign to impose salt restrictions. Pointing to evidence that a salt-restricted diet causes some people’s blood pressure to drop, the reformers extrapolate that tens of thousands of lives would be saved if there were less salt in everybody’s food.

But is it even possible to get the public to permanently reduce salt consumption? Researchers have had a hard enough time getting people to cut back during short-term supervised experiments.

The salt reformers say change is possible if the food industry cuts back on all the hidden salt in its products. They want the United States to emulate Britain, where there has been an intensive campaign to pressure industry as well as consumers to use less salt. As a result, British authorities say, from 2000 to 2008 there was about a 10 percent reduction in daily salt consumption, which was measured by surveys that analyzed the amount of salt excreted in urine collected over 24 hours.

But the British report was challenged in a recent article in The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Washington University in St. Louis. The team, led by Dr. David A. McCarron, a nephrologist at Davis, criticized the British authorities for singling out surveys in 2008 and 2000 while ignoring nearly a dozen similar surveys conducted in the past two decades.

When all the surveys in Britain are considered, there has been no consistent downward trend in salt consumption in recent years, said Dr. McCarron, who has been a longtime critic of the salt reformers. (For more on him and his foes, go to He said that the most notable feature of the data is how little variation there has been in salt consumption in Britain — and just about everywhere else, too.

Dr. McCarron and his colleagues analyzed surveys from 33 countries around the world and reported that, despite wide differences in diet and culture, people generally consumed about the same amount of salt. There were a few exceptions, like tribes isolated in the Amazon and Africa, but the vast majority of people ate more salt than recommended in the current American dietary guidelines…]