Worker Cancer Protections Slated for Scrapping

Picture of cartoon miner

Beryllium is a toxic metal stronger than that of steel. Its uses are varied, it can be found in the aerospace, manufacturing, medical, defense and other industries. The metal is grey in form and a little heavier than paper or foil. It’s heavily mined in the U.S. and purchased abroad. Because of its properties and ability to be mixed with other alloys it has grown to be a highly sought after material. It comes in three primary forms as a natural metal, as an alloy and oxide.

According to the Department of Labor (DOL) which is one of the Executive Offices of the President, tens of thousands of workers are exposed to the hazards of Beryllium poisoning each year. In addition, families of exposed workers are susceptible to cross contamination as well. For decades the DOL has sought to reduce workers exposure to contamination which can occur by inhaling or by physical contact. Exposure reduction efforts have been in the form of legislation and guidelines suggesting and requiring maximum exposure limits not be exceeded within certain specified time periods.

When exposure occurs fatal diseases including lung cancer are possible. In January 2017 the DOL was to make a final decision on protections required to safeguard workers. The initial decision was to toughen standards further protecting workers because of a new understanding of the toxicity and likely contamination inherit in Beryllium usage. However, the new suggested standards were postponed again (May 2017) by request. A new ruling is due to occur late August, in the interim the administration’s recommending no rule changes.

The suggestion is to leave current limits in place because if workers are still alive protections aren’t needed. The sentiment is that no one should complain until dead. According to the administration workers shouldn’t complain until death occurs. When dead the administration will allow lawsuits to proceed if brought on by the dead worker only. So, when zombie workers become a reality they’ll look into changing the exposure limits to safeguard employees from toxic exposure, until then workers should be happy to be employed.  

More can be found at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/beryllium/index.html and at https://www.osha.gov/berylliumrule/ and at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/06/27/2017-12871/occupational-exposure-to-beryllium-and-beryllium-compounds-in-construction-and-shipyard-sectors and at https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/06232017

Whitehouse Stops Food Safety Regulations

Picture of Senator Rob Portman

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has introduced house bill S.951 which is making its way through the house. The official name of the bill is the “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017” the unofficial media name is the “Filthy Food Act”.  The bill has heavy hitter support such as Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and more, the bill also has total Whitehouse support.

The bill in its current form requires agencies adhere to new stringent analysis and procedures before any new food safety regulations were to be enacted. In addition, the bill restricts insights gained from scientific research and moves technical agency expert authority to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) which is under the Administrations Jurisdiction. The bill introduces public hearing fiascos meant to slow or stop new regulations.

In 2011 the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implemented changes that improved U.S. food safety in many ways. This new proposal will roll back those changes and more. Under the new guidelines cost reduction, inaction and arbitration are the rule not public safety. According to Portman “everyone needs a job, his role is to ensure everyone has a job, health is of little concern to him”.

He explained further “Americans are strong, so what if there food is full of bacteria, carcinogens and other harmful chemicals”. According to Portman “his food will be good, it comes from his farm, people should stop whining and get a job, that’s what he’s advocating” more jobs. According to Portman and his cosponsors “Americans food has been safe for too long, they need to know how others live with food insecurities, so starting in June maggot pies hit local store shelves”.

More can be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/951/text and at https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/sponsored-legislation

Government Admits to Creating Fake People Online

Picture of David Ferriero of the National-Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s document and artifact preserver. NARA is charged with protecting the nation’s data while making it available for current and future generations. NARA has facilities throughout the country that can be accessed on-line or physically at many locations including several Presidential libraries. NARA’s vision is to improve the public’s relationship with the government, by lying and making up false people.

The official name of the mythical people created on-line by NARA is Digital Personas. According to officials the personas represent many demographic characteristics which are designed to make users feel welcomed because they’ll see archive representatives that are of similar traits. This deception warms my hart, how caring. If a customer looks like Frankenstein will they rush to create a monster persona?

NARA admitted this questionable policy when confronted by laughing reporters. Who couldn’t stop laughing as the Head Archivist David Ferriero tried to justify the expense and lunacy of the policy. According to Ferriero archive users need a hug and Uncle Sam is there to give it. Ferriero added they’re working on convict & terrorist personas that’ll be released soon. As reporters continued laughing and falling out of their chairs Ferriero stormed out of the press briefing shouting we’re going to create a bullying persona too.   

More can be found at https://www.digitalgov.gov/2017/06/20/improving-customer-experience-with-digital-personas/ and at https://www.archives.gov/digitalstrategy/personas

Broadcasting Your Location for Targeted Ads Geofencing Ok’d

Picture of Attorney General Maura Healey

Geofencing creates an electronic fence around a targeted location. When an uninformed consumer walks within this parameter, their actions, location, duration and other factors can and often are tracked by private businesses and government.  Unwitting consumers aid this exploitation by having cell phones, certain inconspicuous APS and by being in Geofencing locations which could be anywhere.

Over the past decade new forms of Geofencing have emerged that perfect tracking, push information to consumers and update users of this information. Common new names are PlaceCast, ShopKick and Zentracker. Other Geofencing products use cell phone GPS, these go by CellSafety, WebSafety, DriveAssist, Guardian Angel MP, iZUP, PhoneEnforcer, Teen Tracker, TxtBlocker and more.

There are even Geofencing technologies meant to prevent distracted driving. Some of the products go by the names CellControl, Key2SafeDriving, OCK, Signal Safe, SimpleTrack, ZoomSafer and more. In Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey prosecuted an Advertising Company for targeted advertising to people entering certain reproductive clinic or methadone Geofencing zones. Per AG this tracking then pushing advertisements is a form of digital harassment; consumers should be entitled to privacy.

Often Geofencing messaging continues for 30 or more days on a cell phone after a consumer enters a targeted zone. Across the country many politicians aren’t likely to pass laws to stop this practice; they’re likely to encourage it hoping to spur job growth. The take away as a consumer, push for two way communication and become a porn star. If you can’t beat them, join them, make sure what you do is out there, you won’t have anything to hide, it’ll be good publicity.

More can be found at http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2017/2017-04-04-copley-advertising-geofencing.html and at http://www.dot.ca.gov/research/researchreports/reports/2012/safe_trip-21/disk4/nttsp-geofencing-commercial_products_11-2010.pdf and at https://blog.gao.gov/2017/01/25/smartphone-apps-and-stalking/

Missouri Crooked Parole Board Strikes Again

Picture of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens

Governor Eric Greitens increased the 2017 Department of Corrections Budget above the requested amount despite the political climate regarding the department. The department is in hot water for transgressions committed by parole board members. Former Missouri Legislature and current Parole Board member Don Ruzicka resigned from the board on June 12, 2017. Ruzicka and another alleged corrections person played word games for entertainment during parole meetings.

Board members would earn points if they could get convicts to say specific words. In addition, they would earn higher points if they could get a convict to name specific songs. All of this and more was allegedly done without convict nor other board members knowledge. The Inspector General found Mr. Ruzicka guilty of abusing his power and playing with potential paroles lives.

In the past year (2016) Missouri has had four changes to laws dealing with paroles (HB1506, HB2036, SB674 and SB1006). And in 2017 SB436 has been introduced to change guidelines of Parole Board reviews when dealing with prisoners serving more than 25 years. Despite recent legislation board members suggest Champaign and dancing girls be allowed at future meetings. According to an undisclosed board member “having sole control over who stays and who gets out makes prisoners & family members offer up lots of perks. Who could ask for more” said the board member.

More can be found at http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-parole-board-played-word-games-during-hearings-with-inmates/article_ce6cba9b-5932-52a4-899a-f7644ec4d7d8.html and at http://doc.mo.gov/news/2017_06_12.pdf and at https://oa.mo.gov/sites/default/files/FY_2017_Corrections_EB.pdf and at https://governor.mo.gov/news/archive/governor-greitens%E2%80%99-statement-donald-ruzicka%E2%80%99s-resignation-missouri-board-probation-and

Governor Carney Says no Money for Drug Death Crisis

Picture of Delaware Governor John Carney

For several years Delaware has been experiencing a growing trend in overdose related deaths. From mid-May to mid-June the state has had between 5 and 10 suspected overdose deaths. Because of this uptick trend the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) urged Delawareans abusing drugs or who have family members abusing drugs to call a dedicated hot line to obtain help. Because of this addiction epidemic the General Assembly found it necessary to increase funding for the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.    

In May 2017 Gov. Carney signed bipartisan Senate Bill 41, House Bill 91 and 100 expanding access to substance abuse treatment for Delawareans. Ironically upon releasing his “Plan for Delaware” in January 2017 Governor Carney allocated zero funding for the drug crisis. In a press statement Gov. Carney said “we want to cut down overdose deaths but I’m not paying for it, it’s the republican’s fault, hell they’re making me want to do drugs too. And, if I have to look at Trump’s rug head one more time I will become a drug addict.”  

More can be found at http://news.delaware.gov/2017/06/01/in-wake-of-uptick-in-overdose-deaths-statewide-dhss-urges-people-in-active-use-and-their-families-to-seek-out-treatment/ and at http://news.delaware.gov/2017/05/30/governor-carney-signs-package-of-legislation-to-combat-addiction-crisis/ and at http://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/01/ABC_23286_Transition_Team_Report.pdf

Moving Hamburgers Ok’d by FDA

Picture of FDA Advisory Committee

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was established by the FDA in 2011 to bring food safety laws into the 21st century. The change represented the biggest revamping of U.S. food laws in more than 70 years. FSMA’s purpose is to remove FDA focus from responding, to preventing food contamination. Additional actions like requiring food suppliers use veterinary oversight for growth hormone or antibiotic usage has elevated FDA standing with today’s legislators.     

Thousands of food suppliers use growth hormones, with FDA stringent guidelines one supplier has reduced its usage. Remaining suppliers have not changed their processes because the guidelines aren’t enforceable. Another sore spot is labeling, the FDA has extended the “Compliance Act” due date. Suppliers will continue calling dog meat beef, ostrich turkey and small rodents chicken. US food producer’s incomes are up across the board due to this replaceable food situation. During a Q&A session FDA executives said the new super cow (2,000 pounds at birth) is taking over the food supply.

The new super cow hamburger that still moves while on consumer plates and wiggles in consumer stomachs is the new gold standard of hamburgers. Although terrifying, this new moving hamburger will reduce colon cancer as the food will walk thru consumer bodies carrying impurities as it strolls thru. As the FDA works on Unique Facility Identifier (UFI) documentation, there won’t be a tracking mechanism to determine super cow origin. If the meat glows in the dark the FDA will ask for verification of contaminate removal, upon a 3rd request the FDA will fine suppliers ten dollars.

More can be found at https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Speeches/ucm556708.htm and at https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm239907.htm and at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/UCM547664.pdf and at https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm556661.htm and at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/UCM549647.pdf

What Government needs Ethics

Picture Congressman Stephen Lynch

At the federal level the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is responsible for executive branch compliance to ethics rules. In January 2017 the Trump Administration complied with standing ethics norms by issuing an executive order committing appointees to follow ethics rules. This order mandated all appointees in any executive agency sign a binding contract that would control their behavior while in and for 5 years after leaving office (lobbying rules).

Since signing the executive order the administration has back tracked on the ethics signing requirement for appointees. Because of this over a dozen Congressional members have spoken out against this change of policy. Citing how this breaks with precedence and creates a climate of mistrust, secrecy and unaccountability. Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-Boston) said this climate would not be tolerated while introducing the “White House Ethics Transparency Act” which would mandate ethic waivers are disclosed for this and future administrations.

Upon seeing the new bill Congressional Republicans said “instead of draining the swamp we’re making the water deeper. Americans took the bait, now they’re drowning but we promise for the next election to throw a life raft”. Democrats responded we understand they’re ripping of the electorate like we did this just doesn’t feel good. In a joint press conference Democrats and Republicans sang look at our bling, our pockets are getting phatter, it feels good to sing with my bling.

More can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/28/executive-order-ethics-commitments-executive-branch-appointees and at https://lynch.house.gov/press-release/rep-lynch-introduces-white-house-ethics-transparency-act and at https://oge.gov/web/OGE.nsf/All%2BAdvisories/5B5DECAECCE6CB8185258110007ADC76/$FILE/PA-17-02.pdf and at https://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/2017_04_20_Letter_to_the_President_on_Ethics_Waivers_and_WH_Logs.pdf

Deadly Wine is back on the Shelves

Picture of wine in glass

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently advised wine makers it’s withdrawing imposed lead restrictions immediately. In a 1991 Department of Treasury (DOT) Industry Circular guidelines were issued regarding wines found to contain lead. Wine Proprietors, Wholesalers, Importers and others were to abide and follow these rules. The Circular explained enforcement would be random but it would occur and perpetrators in violation of established norms would be fined and/or prosecuted.  Because of this DOT recommended wine producers and importers conduct their own testing to ensure conformance.

Fast forward to 2016, on the King County (KC) Government website, it lists many facts about lead in humans. In short the warning is “There is no safe level of lead” for human consumption. The MedlinePlus (government) and KC’s websites list harmful effects of lead and the locations where it can be found. Neither list includes wine because it “Tastes too good to be poisonous.” A few notable drinking politicians in KC have been observed stumbling around as if intoxicated. When confronted the two democrats said we’re trying to make America great again too.

More can be found at https://www.ttb.gov/industry_circulars/archives/17-1.shtml and at https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ucm077878.htm and at https://www.ttb.gov/industry_circulars/archives/1991/91-11.html and at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002473.htm and at http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/toxins-air-quality/arsenic-lead/about-lead.aspx

Teen Drug IQ is Disturbing

Youth making peace sign

National Institutes of Health (NIH) among its other duties monitors and puts out reports on the nations usage and health regarding illicit drugs. On the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA) website there’s a 2017 Drug Abuse test which challenges a teens understanding of illegal drug usage and their effects. After grading many exams researchers found the pass rate to be just under eighty percent. Meaning America’s youth are well versed on the effects of various drugs.

Teens that pass the test are arrested and jailed because of their drug usage knowledge. Whereas, teenagers that fail the test are required to attend military academy training because they’re naive. The test consists of ten multiple choice questions and two bonus questions. I wonder what does the teen win if the bonus questions are answered correctly.

The exam asks questions such as how does alcohol affect the brain:

A.    Interferes with brain development

B.     Increases attention

C.     Compromises decision making

D.    Improves vision

When reviewing replies I noticed many teens wrote in another choice using the letter (E) with the words “gives me a hard on”. This honesty shows our teens are more mature and communicative than previous teens. Maybe for this they should be locked up.

More can be found at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/DrugIQChallenge2017-508.pdf and at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

Parents Shouldn’t Work – It’s a Hardship

Picture of Congress Woman Krysten Sinema

A couple of Congressional geniuses Democrat Krysten Sinema of Arizona and New York’s Republican John Katko introduced H.R. 2533 – Working Parents Flexibility Act of 2017. The “Act” is a nonpartisan attempt to relieve some of the financial pain of starting a family. The legislation allows individuals and employers pretax contributions to a predefined “Parental Leave Savings Account” which would be used at an undisclosed future date.

Earnings from the account aren’t taxed and can be rolled if not used with limitations. And, any saved earnings can only be used during the first year of parenting. The goal is for working new parents to save and have enough funds to cover expenses if long stints from work are desired. There would be limited provisions requiring employers to hold jobs, if an employee can be in two locations at the same time or can teleport in seconds between work and home then their job would be spared.

The proposed legislation is a good sentiment. However, with decades of flat wages and rising expenses only top earners will benefit thus creating a new tax loophole for the rich. Because of growing income inequality many organizations like the Economic Policy Institute are working to reduce the growing divide with initiatives like “Raising America’s Pay”.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (FRBA) tracks nominal wage growth dating back to the late nineties. FRBA’s website shows earnings have been relatively flat since the great recession. Nominal wages are wages adjusted for inflation. In a press conference the two Congressional members said “We wanted to stick a finger in the faces of the middle and poor classes. They should know their place, don’t have kids and stop contaminating the planet with poor offspring.”

More can be found at https://sinema.house.gov/newsletters/helping-arizona-families/ and at https://katko.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/joined-local-business-owners-working-parents-and-chambers-commerce and at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2533/text?r=236 and at https://www.frbatlanta.org/chcs/wage-growth-tracker.aspx?panel=1

Don’t Age or Count on Social Security (SS)

Cartoon of a grandma in chair

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued options or recommendations for reducing the federal deficit from 2017 thru 2026. CBO is a nonpartisan agency made up of economists and budget analysts. The agency formed in 1974 and follows requirements outlined in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. CBO does not make policy recommendations. In this latest report it proposed options for deficit reductions and revenue increases. The report to Congress recommends 115 changes needed to reduce deficit growth.

SS is an earned income benefit program, meaning its revenue comes from FICA otherwise known as payroll taxes. By law SS can’t increase the federal deficit because its sourcing comes directly out of the General Treasury Fund. However, benefits are growing and lawmakers are raiding and relocating funding to other special interest projects. Current policy mandates employees and employers pay directly into FICA. Large employers and other wealthy stakeholders have lobbied and pushed forward agendas to reduce SS benefits and outlays.  

CBO recommendations push forward the idea of needing to reduce benefits. Recommendations are to link benefits to prices not income, raise retirement age, reduce benefits, require more working years and require future recipients to hold their breath for weeks, not need to eat and to live 200 years without medical treatment. Conservative seniors in California won’t receive benefits because Liberals will take them. In a last push to reduce SS benefits seniors will be placed on one way flights to the moon. More can be found at https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52142