Mad, mad world

Apr 25, 2012

The dreaded words "mad cow disease" popped up in Hanford after a carcass of a cow slated to be rendered tested positive for the malady. It's the first time in California history -- and only the fourth time nationally -- that mad cow disease has been discovered.


From Robert Rodriguez and Lewis Griswold at the Fresno Bee: "Federal officials would only say that the carcass came from a "Central California" dairy. Valley agricultural officials say they don't know whose cow it was. The central San Joaquin Valley is one of the largest dairy producing regions in the nation, with hundreds of dairies."


"In announcing the find, federal and state officials were quick to reassure the public that the food supply is safe."


"Milk and beef remain safe to consume," said Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary. "Because of the strength of the food protection system, the cow did not enter the food or feed supply."

The nurses' union angered a lot of people when, for job-protection and political reasons, it fought legislation allowing some school employees to administer medication to students during emergency epileptic seizures. Now the nurses oppose legislation authored by Sen. Lois Wolk requiring health care workers to get flu shots or wear surgical masks.
From the Bee's Dan Morain: "No right-thinking person could possibly oppose her legislation. But in our dysfunctional Capitol, public health has become a contested issue. Too often, lobbyists place the interests of the organizations they represent ahead of what's best for the rest of us."

"Wolk's main opposition doesn't come from conservatives who want nothing to do with government. It comes from unions, specifically those that represent nurses and health care workers."


"Bonnie Castillo, the California Nurses Association's chief lobbyist, made a point of telling me that the union "highly recommends that all nurses receive vaccinations." But Castillo says Wolk's bill steps on workers' rights, or at least bargaining rights, by requiring that health care workers wear surgical masks if they refuse to get flu shots."


A judge tentatively says that the state controller acted unconstitutionally when he docked the salaries of lawmakers during last year's budget crisis.

From John Myers at Sacramento's Channel 10: "The ruling says that Controller John Chiang "violated the separation of power clause of the Constitution" when he ran his own calculations on the Legislature's original June 2011 budget and subsequently docked legislator salaries for two weeks."


"Attorneys for Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento; Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles and Chiang will all be in the courtroom of Sacramento Superior Court Judge David Brown Wednesday.  While it's always possible Brown changes his ruling, the tentative decision seems clear that he thinks Chiang was wrong...."


"The lengthy tentative ruling essentially makes three findings: The power struggle needs to be resolved; the Legislature's power to declare a budget "balanced" under a voter-approved constitutional amendment is pretty much absolute, the courts -- not the controller -- have the power to review a state budget; and Chiang has (had) no authority to do his own calculations on the budget crafted by legislators."


Speaking of tentative judicial rulings, a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit has removed the blockage imposed by a lower court on California's landmark Low Carbon Fuel Standard law, which requires cuts in carbon emissions in the manufacturing and shipment of transportation fuels, including gasoline and ethanol.


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "In its decision, the lower court sided with petroleum, ethanol and trucker interests, among others, who contended the LCFS rule illegally restricted interstate commerce and was in conflict with a 2007 federal energy law that specifically exempted corn ethanol producers from greenhouse gas reporting requirements. The ruling came from U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O'Neill."


"But this week, a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco removed the lower court’s injunction, which allows the state’s air pollution fighters at California’s Air Resources Board to continue crafting the new regulations while the dispute is resolved on its merits in the courts."


"There was no indication when the final judicial decision would be made, although it appears that the issue, in the end, will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court."


"The procedural ruling captured little interest in the Capitol – or among the public, for that matter – but it was viewed with intense interest by environmentalists in the state and across the nation, who see the LCFS as crucial to California’s attempt to cut greenhouse gases. For years, the political fight over LCFS was as intense as any environment-linked clash in the Capitol, pitting well-heeled special interests against environmentalists and, ultimately, state air pollution."


The California Commission on the Status of Women, created 47 years ago to advocate on behalf of women on such issues as pay and gender equity, had been slated for extinction by Gov. Brown to save money. But the panel got a reprieve, thanks to money provided by the Assembly.


From the AP's Juliet Williams: "The "Thelma and Louise" star, who was appointed to the commission by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the money will allow the commission to keep operating in the 2012-13 fiscal year. It will seek private funding and partnerships for future years."


"We on the commission have heard Governor Brown's concerns, and we are moving forward in a new direction with a clarified focus and a renewed commitment to women and girls," (Geena) Davis said."


"She said the commission will focus on gender inequality in the media, women and families in the military, business, education and health and safety."


A bill to ban the use of dogs in hunting cougars and bears in California passed it's first committee test at a hearing attended by hundreds of people. The bill was prompted by reports that the president of the Fish and Game Commission bagged a bobcat during an Idaho hunting trip that included the use of dogs to tree the big cat.


From the AP's Judy Lin: "Lieu's office said several other states already ban the practice, including Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Animal rights activists say it is inhumane for both the dogs and the wild animals they chase."


Hunters said a ban would infringe on a long-time sport and remove a tool for managing wildlife. Opponents wore orange pins reading "Revenge is not the answer," a reference to the chairman of the state game commission, who angered animal-rights activists earlier this year when he was photographed with a mountain lion he shot while using hounds during a legal hunt in Idaho."


"It is illegal to hunt mountain lions in California."


Finally, from our "Pizza, Pizza" file comes word that Pizza Hut has created the multiple-cheeseburger pizza. We can feel the arteries harden already.


"In the world of unnecessary pizza innovation, those crazy guys at Pizza Hut have outdone themselves yet again."


"Just a few weeks back, they were tirelessly stuffing crusts with hot dogs and now they're adding mini cheeseburgers to the pizzas we know and love."


"Over in the Middle East, they've created the Crown Crust Carnival pizza which has a customised crust filled with either mini cheeseburgers or chicken fillets. Can this even be called a pizza anymore?"


"Would you eat one?"


Back to the drawing board....


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