Catfish oversight, weather radios and a Christmas tree tax: Meet the pork-filled $956 BILLION Farm Bill

EEV: Would Like Verification on the Claim ” $100 million will go to study how to get Americans to buy more maple syrup “

  • The massive five-years agriculture spending plan, signed Friday by President Obama, includes a $3 million plan for Christmas tree taxes
  • Most of the bill covers food stamps, with the number of benefit recipients doubling since Obama took office
  • The U.S. will spend $1 billion per year loaning money to sugar barons so they can keep prices stable and avoid overseas competition
  • Another $100 million will go to study how to get Americans to buy more maple syrup
  • $1 million will buy weather radios for rural Americans, despite plunging hundreds of weather apps for smartphones and plunging access rates

By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

UPDATED:          19:33 EST, 7 February 2014


The federal government pays for a $15 million ‘wool trust fund,’ runs a $170 million program to protect catfish growers from overseas competition, sets aside $3 million to promote Christmas trees, funds another $2 million to help farmers sell more sheep, and plunks down $100 million researching how to get Americans to buy more maple syrup.

And that spending is just three one-hundredths of one per cent of the Farm Bill that President Barack Obama signed Friday in Michigan.

Liberal and conservative watchdogs alike are hopping mad at what they say are pork-barrel projects included in the five-year agriculture spending law as home-state perks to lawmakers that are  unneeded or redundant.

There’s a new 15-cent levy on every live-cut Christmas tree, a proposal that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had blocked but will now be beyond his control. Tree growers will put the money into a fund for ‘industry-funded promotion, research, and information program[s],’ but the cost will inevitably be passed on to consumers.

A table made from a pork barrel? Obama signed the nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill in Michigan on Friday

A table made from a pork barrel? Obama signed the nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill in Michigan on Friday Continue reading “Catfish oversight, weather radios and a Christmas tree tax: Meet the pork-filled $956 BILLION Farm Bill”

McDonald’s to employees: Break your food into small pieces to feel full and sell your Christmas presents for cash

A worker cleans a sidewalk outside of a McDonald's restaurant on July 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (AFP)

By Travis Gettys

The fast-food giant McDonald’s is urging employees to break up food into smaller pieces to feel full or sell their Christmas presents for extra money.

The restaurant chain made the recommendations on its “McResource” employee website to help workers manage stress, health and finances.

Continue reading “McDonald’s to employees: Break your food into small pieces to feel full and sell your Christmas presents for cash”

The ten unhealthiest fast food options for children: From a 980-calorie Dairy Queen kid’s meal to Sonic’s fat-filled grilled cheese

By  Margot Peppers


It’s no secret that most fast food is  unhealthy, but it’s the sheer amount of calories and sodium in many  ‘kid-friendly’ fast food meals that is a real cause for concern.

The unhealthiest kids’ meals at ten leading  fast food restaurants, according to the Daily Meal, is headed by a Dairy Queen  cheeseburger meal with French fries, milk and a soft serve ‘Dilly Bar’, which  all add up to a whopping 980 calories, 1,655 milligrams of sodium and 49 grams  of fat.

The other meals on the list include the  McDonald’s Happy Meal, a very calorific kids’ meal at Jack in the Box and a  sodium-loaded grilled cheese and tater tots from Sonic.

Unhealthiest kids' fast food mealsUnhappy meals: Among the unhealthiest kids’ fast food  meals is Sonic’s 790-calorie grilled cheese meal (pictured), which comes with  tater tots, chocolate milk and almost a day’s worth of sodium

Unhealthiest kids' fast food mealsWinner: Number one on the list is a Dairy Queen  cheeseburger meal with French fries, milk and a ‘Dilly Bar’ (pictured), which  add up to 980 calories, 1,655 milligrams of sodium and 49 grams of fat

Continue reading “The ten unhealthiest fast food options for children: From a 980-calorie Dairy Queen kid’s meal to Sonic’s fat-filled grilled cheese”

Father sues child shrink after she labels him an unfit parent for not taking his son to McDonald’s

  • New York attorney David Schorr, 43, says  his son Max demanded to go to McDonald’s recently and ‘threw a tantrum’ when he  said no
  • He says he refused because the boy had  been eating ‘too much junk food’
  • The boy later tattled to his mother, Bari  Yunis Schorr, who reported the incident to psychologist Marilyn  Schiller
  • Dr Schiller later told the court the  father was ‘wholly incapable of taking care of his son’ and should be denied his  weekend visitation
  • The couple, who split in 2011, are in the  midst of a custody battle

By  Helen Pow

PUBLISHED: 16:01 EST, 7  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:59 EST, 7 November 2013

An outraged father is suing a child  psychologist after she dubbed him an unfit parent because he refused to take his  five-year-old son to McDonald’s.

David Evan Schorr, 43, an attorney from the  Upper East Side, says in a civil lawsuit that he planned to take his son Max to  their ‘usual restaurant’ on a recent custody visit but the child demanded to go  to McDonald’s and ‘threw a tantrum’ when he said no.

The father drew the line at the unhealthy  burger joint because he felt Max had been eating ‘too much junk food,’ the court  papers state, so Schorr gave the boy an ultimatum: dinner at any other  restaurant, or no dinner at all.


McDonald’s: Schorr drew the line at McDonald’s,  pictured, because he felt his son had been eating ‘too much junk food,’ the  court papers state


‘The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the “no  dinner” option,’ the suit states.

Not wanting to reward his bad behavior,  Schorr stood his ground but when he dropped the hungry boy home later that  night, he apparently tattled.

The child’s mother, Bari Yunis Schorr, with  whom Schorr is in the midst of a bitter custody battle, immediately called their  court-appointed psychologist Marilyn Schiller and reported the incident,  according to the suit.

The Schorrs married in a lavish ceremony at  the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan but just four years later, in 2011, Mrs Schorr  sued her husband for a divorce.


Lawsuit: Child psychologist Marilyn Schiller, pictured,  is being sued after she allegedly dubbed New York father David Schorr an unfit  parent because he refused to take his five-year-old son to McDonald’s


She recently filed motions asking the judge  to punish her ex for flouting court orders and for a judgment on nonpayment of  child support, according to The New York Post.

After Dr Schiller heard about the McDonald’s  incident, she demanded Schorr submit to a forensic examination before a custody  trial with his estranged wife, the suit states.

Dr Schiller allegedly only interviewed the  child and his mother then told the court the father was ‘wholly incapable of  taking care of his son’ and should be denied his weekend visitation.

The furious father says he’s had partial  custody of his son for two and a half years and it’s always ‘run smoothly  without incident.’


Custody battle: After dropping his son home hungry,  Schorr’s ex-wife, Bari Yunis Schorr, pictured, reported the incident to the  court-appointed shrink, the papers state


He says in the suit that he wished ‘mightily  that he had agreed to McDonald’s in the first place’ but believes he needed to  set an example.

Schorr is now demanding the shrink return the  $2,750 he paid for the evaluation he claims was a sham and based entirely on the  McDonald’s incident.

Dr Schiller told the New York Post she could  not comment on the details of the incident, saying only: ‘I am conducting a  forensic evaluation on this matter. I will be issuing a confidential report to  the court and the matter will be tried by the court.’

Bari Schorr’s attorney, Louis I. Newman, said  the litigation did not involve his client and refused to comment.

The custody trial resumes in  December.

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Teachers less qualified than McDonald’s staff, say Labour ( U.K. )

Teachers need fewer qualifications than burger bar employees thanks to   Government education reforms, Labour claimed.

McDonald's head chef has stated he does not believe any of the food served by the fast food chain is unhealthy.

“Under David Cameron, we have this situation where you now need more qualifications to work as a shift manager at McDonald’s than to become a teacher,” Mr Hunt said. Photo: Getty Images


7:13PM GMT 30 Oct 2013

Shift managers at McDonald’s require more qualifications than teachers under   Michael Gove’s flagship free schools, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education   secretary, claimed.

Free school headteachers are able to hire staff without formal teaching   qualifications, like their counterparts in the private sector.

Mr Hunt, a television historian before entering parliament, said the    “wholesale deregulation” of schools had undermined teachers and would drive   down standards.

“Under David Cameron, we have this situation where you now need more   qualifications to work as a shift manager at McDonald’s than to become a   teacher,” Mr Hunt said.

“I am pleased McDonald’s insist on qualifications for their shift managers.   It’s surprising and alarming that Education Secretary Michael Gove doesn’t   operate in the same way.”

He added: “The quality of our teaching system determines the success of our   education system, so it makes no sense to water down standards for teachers.”

In 2008 the fast food restaurant introduced an A-level standard Diploma in   Shift Management, endorsed by Ofqual, the qualifications watchdog.

The on-the-job course is examined by a multiple-choice examination, practical   assessments and coursework and teaches business principles and people   management.

Mr Gove’s department insists state-funded schools should be able to employ   untrained teachers in the same way that private schools “hire the great   linguists, scientists, engineers and other specialists they know can best   teach and inspire their pupils”.

But the policy has caused a split in the Coalition, with the Liberal Democrats   supporting Labour calls for teachers to require teaching qualifications.

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools minister, yesterday spoke in defence   of Mr Gove’s policy in the Commons, before abstaining on the vote.

The Labour motion, to force all teachers to have a minimum standard of   qualifications, was defeated by 263 to 229 after only one Liberal Democrat   voted with the Government.

Defending his party’s stance on teachers, he said it came down to “some   of the responsibilities that come with government, some of the need for   compromises in coalition”.

Kevin Brennan, the shadow education minister, raising a point of order,   suggested the Liberal Democrat stance was in breach of “the voice and vote   provision of Erskine May”, the House of Commons rulebook.

Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker replied: “As you are aware, the way in   which individual members decide to use their right to vote is not a matter   for the chair.”

Mr Gove said Mr Hunt’s position would force unqualified free school teachers   to lose their jobs.

He said Mr Hunt had enjoyed good teaching at a private school before going to   Cambridge, but wanted to “deny that teaching to poor children”.

“It is the same old Labour Party, do as I say, not as I do. A Labour Party   willing to pull up the ladder form the next generation, a Labour Party which   has benefited from all the advantages that money can buy and then when the   poor come knocking on the door, saying liberate us from ignorance, says   ‘sorry, no, we’re with the unions, we’re not on your side’,” he said.

McDonald’s employee arrested for confronting CEO on low wages


Published time: October 10, 2013 00:26


A Chicago woman was arrested late last week after confronting the president of her long-time employer McDonald’s over the low wages she earns as she struggles to raise two young children.

Nancy Salgado, 26, interrupted a speech by McDonald’s Corporation President Jeff Stratton at the Union League Club of Chicago on Friday, saying her wages weren’t enough for her to supply her kids with basic amenities like shoes.

“Do you think this is fair, that I have to be making $8.25 when I’ve worked for McDonald’s for ten years?” Salgado, who claimed to have never received a raise in that time, said at the gathering as Stratton stood at a podium.

“I’ve been there forty years,” Stratton replied, the extent of his response to Salgado.

“The thing is that I need a raise. But you’re not helping your employees. How is this possible?” Salgado continued at Stratton. “To your employees you haven’t done anything.”

She and six other protesters were arrested and given tickets for trespassing.

The group was part of dozens of McDonald’s workers, supported by members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, that attended the Union League Club event as part of the “Fight for 15,” a campaign that seeks a $15-an-hour wage for fast-food workers.

Salgado, single mother of children ages 2 and 7, is a cashier at a McDonald’s working thirty to forty hours a week, she told The Real News. She has worked at her current McDonald’s position for ten months.

“[Stratton] needs to know we are what all the employees at McDonald’s are going through,” she said Wednesday. “We’re struggling day-to-day to provide our needs in our houses, things for our kids. And it’s just–it gets harder and harder with just the poverty wage.”

Salgado said she was quickly approached by authorities at the event and told she would be arrested.

“I remember just telling them … because I have to speak out my mind and I had to tell the president the poverty wage I’m living in, that’s just against the law?” she told The Real News.

She said she expects her employer to take some kind of retaliatory action against her soon.

“There’s nothing going around [yet] that I know of. Would there be? I had some hours cut off,” she said. “Do I feel they’re going to do something against me? I do. You know. They haven’t done anything yet.”

A fair wage to Salgado would be around $15 an hour, she said.

“I love my job. I love interacting with customers. I love talking with them, even though, like, it means I’m harder, I’m broken, you know, because sometimes I can’t provide a gallon of milk in the fridge,” she said.

“It’s like the CEOs make billions and billions a year. Then why can’t they provide enough for their employees?”


The discount chain that could become Wal-Mart’s worst nightmare by offering even cheaper prices

EEV: When your only business model is predatorial pricing. There will be always someone willing to make less money than you. (I.e. Pic n save, Woolworth, K-Mart, etc..etc..) – This one does not accept credit cards 😉



  • Western-based chain WinCo currently has  around 100 stores
  • It appears to offer better employee  conditions than its giant rival
  • They buy direct from supplier and not accept  credit cards

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:32 EST, 9  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:46 EST, 9 August 2013

A grocery chain has been dubbed ‘Wal-Mart’s  worst nightmare’, thanks to a radical new business model which has seen it go  from strength to strength.

Western-based chain WinCo, which currently  has around 100 stores, offers cheaper prices as well as better employee  conditions than its giant rival.

It keeps its costs low by eliminating the  middleman and buying direct from suppliers.

Strength to strength: Rapidly expanding grocery chain WinCo offer lower prices and better pay and conditions for staff than most of their big rivals 

Strength to strength: Rapidly expanding grocery chain  WinCo offer lower prices and better pay and conditions for staff than most of  their big rivals

WinCo keeps prices low by buying direct from suppliers and asking customers to bag their own groceries 

WinCo keeps prices low by buying direct from suppliers  and asking customers to bag their own groceries

Customers are also expected to bag their own  groceries and credit cards are not accepted, bringing prices down even  further.

And unlike WalMart, which tends to offer  dozens of different brands’ versions of the same item, WinCo no9rmally stocks  just one or two.

Retail analyst Burt Flickinger III described  WinCo rise as being ‘unstoppable’.

He told the Idaho Statesman: ‘They’re Wal-Mart’s worst nightmare.’

Running scared: WinCo has been described by business analysts as 'Wal Mart's worst nightmare'Running scared? WinCo has been described by business  analysts as ‘Wal Mart’s worst nightmare’

Unlike WalMart which is notorious for  offering low pay, WinCo also offers provides staff with health benefits and  pensions.

Retail expert Brad Tuttle told Time Magazine: ‘Generally speaking, shoppers tolerate Walmart’s  empty shelves and subpar customer service because the prices are so  good.

‘The fact that another retailer—even a small  regional one—is able to compete and sometimes beat Walmart on prices, while also  operating well-organized stores staffed by workers who enjoy their jobs, like  their employer, and genuinely want the company to be successful.’

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Taco Bell expands testing on waffle taco after becoming a hit in California… as the 460 calorie snack prepares to go national


  • Waffle Taco contains 30g of fat and 460  calories
  • It was the top seller during breakfast  hours at the 5 Californian testing branches

By  Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 14:45 EST, 6  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:45 EST, 6 August 2013

Taco Bell says it’s expanding its small test  of waffle tacos, as it prepares to take its breakfast menu national sometime  next year.

The fast-food chain says the waffle taco,  which includes scrambled eggs, sausage and a side of syrup, was the top seller  during breakfast hours at the five Southern California restaurants where they  were tested earlier this year.

The shape of the taco, which has 460 calories  and 30 grams of fat, was changed to make it easier to hold the  stuffing.

The waffle taco contains 460 calories and 30g of fat per serving but is a hit with breakfast fast food fans 

The waffle taco contains 460 calories and 30g of fat per  serving but is a hit with breakfast fast food fans


Now the company wants to see how it would  fare on a bigger scale; the waffle tacos and a full breakfast menu will be  expanded to about 100 restaurants in Fresno, California; Omaha, Nebraska; and  Chattanooga, Tennessee, starting Thursday.

Brian Niccol, president of Taco Bell, said  the idea is partly to get a better sense of how well restaurants will be able to  handle the added operational pressure from the waffle tacos.

‘You only get one shot when you go with big  items,’ he said.

Taco Bell already offers breakfast at about  850 locations in 10 Western states and has been tinkering with new items such as  the waffle taco before rolling it out to its 6,000 U.S. locations.

Also being tested in the additional locations  starting Thursday are a yogurt parfait and oatmeal.

Taco Bell isn’t alone in trying to serve food  in different parts of the day.

Taco Bell already offers breakfast at about 850 locations in 10 Western states  

Taco Bell already offers breakfast at about 850  locations in 10 Western states


Since restaurant chains are already paying  for fixed costs of such as rent and electricity, the thinking is that they want  to ring up as many sales as possible throughout the day, not just during the  busy lunch and dinner hours. In industry jargon, executives often refer to this  concept as ‘expanding day parts’.

McDonald’s, for example, has been testing an  ‘After Midnight’ menu that mixes breakfast and lunch items.

Taco Bell has also been promoting a ‘Happier  Hour’, which features snacks and drinks intended to attract customers in the  late afternoon, when business tends to be slower.

Yum Brands Inc., the parent company of Taco  Bell, clearly sees breakfast as its next big opportunity.

In a conference call with analysts last  month, Yum President Richard Carucci said that breakfast has accounted for about  4 percent of sales in restaurants where it’s been available.

‘But this is before we’ve now dialed it up,’  he noted.

Since they were introduced in March, the  waffle tacos have undergone some tweaks, including the frying time and  temperature, Niccol said.

If it does as well in the expanded test as it  did at the five locations, Niccol said he doesn’t see why it wouldn’t be on the  national menu.

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How McDonald’s workers CAN’T live on their minimum wages: Fast food giant sets up website to help their employees budget better… and it recommends they get a second job

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 19:19 EST, 16  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 23:59 EST, 16 July 2013

McDonald’s seems to be well aware that its  employees are unable to survive on their minimum wages, so the company has come  up with a solution – go out and get a second job.

The fast food giant became the object of  ridicule this week when its financial planning site called Practical Money  Skills for Life created back in 2008 in conjunction with Visa and Wealth  Watchers International to help its workforce caught the attention of several  media outlets.

The portal provides a sample monthly budget,  which makes a series of assumptions that have been slammed by McDonald’s critics  as both naive and condescending about the workers’ ability to supports  themselves while earning $7.72 an hour after taxes.


Crunching numbers: McDonald's has landed in hot water after a financial planning site created for its employees suggested that they need a second job to make ends meet

Crunching numbers: McDonald’s has landed in hot water  after a financial planning site created for its employees suggested that they  need a second job to make ends meet


Suggested monthly expenses for the  hypothetical McDonald’s employee working a 40-hour week include $600 for rent –  a figure that has raised eyebrows among anyone familiar with the housing market  in cities like New York and Philadelphia.

While it is still possible to find housing  with three-digit rent in some parts of the U.S., an average apartment in  Manhattan rents for about $3,000 a month. Even in the outer boroughs it is  nearly impossible to come across anything cheaper than $1,400 a month.

Poking fun: The fast food workers' advocacy group Low Pay Is Not OK created a video mocking McDonald's' sample budget

Poking fun: The fast food workers’ advocacy group Low  Pay Is Not OK created a video mocking McDonald’s’ sample budget

Something's missing: The parody pointed out that the mock-up of a budget makes no mention of basic expenses like food, water, clothing and gas

Something’s missing: The parody pointed out that the  mock-up of a budget makes no mention of basic expenses like food, water,  clothing and gas

The sample budget also sets aside only $20  for health care and $150 for car payments. The financial planning tool, however,  does not include allowances for either food or gas.

Revealed: Less than ONE THIRD of Americans keep a household  budget

It was an oft-invoked image on last year’s  campaign trail: The typical American couple, sitting around the kitchen table  making a budget.

Candidates of both parties decried the  federal government for failing to complete this most basic of financial tasks,  citing a growing national debt and wide deficit as evidence of fiscal  irresponsibility.

Turns out, most Americans don’t do it  either.

A poll from Gallup shows that 32 per cent of  Americans put together a budget each month to track income and expenditures, and  just 30 percent have a long-term financial plan laying out savings and  investment goals.

Those with higher incomes or college degrees  were a bit more likely to say they regularly put together a budget, though less  than half in those groups said they keep close tabs on their financial life.  Only about a quarter with a high school diploma or less say they do.

And despite the frequent political invocation  of a budgeted family, Gallup’s finding may not reflect a new trend in Americans’  financial behavior. A 1951 Gallup survey showed that only 40 per cent of  Americans said they had ‘a budget for household expenses.’

That poll asked those who didn’t maintain a  budget why they skipped it. The most frequent response? We spend it all  anyhow.

McDonald’s charges workers who have been with  the company for at least year $12.58 for its most basic health care plan. New  hires have to shell out $14, according to The Atlantic.

In a surpassing bit of self-awareness,  McDonald’s mock-up budget includes lines for monthly income from a first job  totaling $1,105, and a second job, which brings in $955.

Those figures suggest that the hypothetical  worker has to toil away for more 60 hours a week at minimum wage, or earn more  than $12 an hour on a 40-hour work week.

In 2009, the federal government set minimum  wage at $7.25, CNBC reported.

In comparison, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson  received a compensation package worth $13.8million in 2012.

Others entries in the fictional  McDonald’s-Visa financial plan include $100 allotted for cable and phone, $90  for electric – just below the national average of $103 – but no money set aside  for heating, which would not work for employees living anywhere outside of  Hawaii or Florida.

Since the budget includes no separate line  for groceries, it may be assumed that either the workers have to rely on  leftover French fries for their meals, or they have to use the $27 a day in  spending money to buy food.

The sample financial plan also makes no  mention of basic necessities like child care expenses, water or clothing, to  name a few.

In recent months, industry workers have gone  on strike in cities across the U.S., including Chicago and New York, to protest  for higher wages.

In recent months, industry employees from  McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King and Domino’s Pizza have gone on  strike to demand higher wages, according to a report by the International Business Times.

McDonald’s seemingly misguided and  financial  planning site has been pilloried far and wide on the Internet by  everyone from  Think Progress to Huffington Post and  Gothamist,  with  critics decrying the corporation’s preposterous assumptions about the  way  its low-wage workers spend their meager pay checks.

Some media outlets, among them the L.A. Times  and the Washington Post,  have come to McDonald’s defense, insisting the the sample budget accurately  reflect the spending of millions of low-income Americans.

Struggling: Employees from McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King and Domino's Pizza have gone on strike to demand higher wages

Struggling: Employees from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco  Bell, KFC, Burger King and Domino’s Pizza have gone on strike to demand higher  wages

Hard day's work: According to the sample budget, a minimum-wage fast food worker would need to get a second job and work over 60 hours a week to survive

Hard day’s work: According to the sample budget, a  minimum-wage fast food worker would need to get a second job and work over 60  hours a week to survive

A disclaimer on the Practical Money Skills  site states that McDonald’s does not endorse the site, even though the page  features the fast food chain’s trademark Golden Arches.

The fast food workers’ advocacy group Low Pay  is Not OK has called the McDonald’s budget advice for its employees  ‘unbelievable’ and produced a video mocking the site.

‘The samples that are on this site are  generic examples and are intended to help provide a general outline of what an  individual budget may look like,’ McDonald’s said in a statement to the LA  Times.

Haves and have nots: McDonald's CEO Don Thompson received a compensation package worth $13.8million in 2012

Haves and have nots: McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson  received a compensation package worth $13.8million in 2012

While McDonald’s initiative may have  come off as obtuse, promoting financial literacy among American workers has long  been viewed as a worthy cause.

A recent Gallup poll showed that just over a  third of Americans bother to put together a budget each month to track income  and expenditures.

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Navy Seeks To Map the Mind

May. 17, 2013 – 03:50PM
By Michael Peck

In some visions of the future, you’ll drive your car with little more than your mind. Electrodes on your head, you can climb into your car, think about how much you’d like a Big Mac, and let the car take you automatically to the nearest McDonald’s.

That’s one vision, at least — that of Navy Cdr. Joseph Cohn, program officer for the Office of Naval Research’s Neurocognitive Patterns project. This two-year joint effort between ONR, Brandeis University and Aptima aims to identify and capture neural patterns with enough accuracy to enable a machine to divine a user’s intentions from his brain activity. This could be useful for everything from driving a car to controlling a squadron of UAVs — and change how soldiers of the future train.

Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology has made great strides in recent years. Gamers can play video games with a BCI headset. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have trained a monkey to move a robotic arm by mental commands. DARPA’s Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System links cameras, neural sensors and a human operator so that an image of an object that triggers a threat neural pattern in the brain will be detected by the system.

But the high frontier of neuroscience still confronts the problem of mapping. Since the 1920s, scientists have been able to detect non-specific neural patterns. Yet among the mass of impulses that comprise the human brain, exactly which neural pattern corresponds to a desire to walk in the park versus a desire for a hamburger?

The ONR team is approaching this question on several levels. One way is to identify neural patterns and, perhaps more importantly, identify them in context. These patterns vary depending on external influences, from nighttime rhythms to the stress of being under fire.

There is also the computational and modeling level, where sensor data on a user’s neural pattern is combined with models so that a machine can determine what a user wants. Cohn likens it to a sports team.

“The way that folks become an expert team is not just to have a model of themselves, but models that represent the other people on their team,” he said. “They know how each member will behave.”

At the base of neuroscience is an attempt to decode the brain, Cohn said. This requires developing a grammar or lexicon that can represent how the brain attends to information, processes it, and acts upon it. “Part of doing this requires us to have the right tools in place for structuring and making sense of this data, and that’s really what we are trying to do in neurocognitive patterns.”

Cohn doesn’t expect the Neurocognitive Patterns project will accomplish all of this, but he hopes it will begin laying the foundation by identifying which neural patterns correspond to desired goals, such as driving to a specific destination. Phase I of the project saw pre-recorded neural patterns controlling an unmanned ground vehicle, while the second phase focuses on moving a prosthetic arm.

However, Cohn’s goal is more than just have a human think a series of instructions to be executed by a machine. If that were the case, he said, then “we have probably added to the workload, you might as well just use voice recognition software and have the person speak them.”

The true goal is to make a vehicle or a robot arm just another extension of the human body and brain. And in many ways, this is already how the brain works.

“If you use a sledgehammer long enough, you’re no longer clumsy with it,” said Cohn. “Your brain has internalized the dynamics of that sledgehammer, and it treats it like it’s just a new part of your arm. We’re taking advantage of the plasticity of the human brain to find another of communicating with our machines.”|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Stop REPORTING the Monsanto Cucumber Baldness article ( Can’t find any valid confirmation)

EEV: The following  article  is currently being accepted as real news by the Blogs…. There are no footnotes, references, publications, etc… No one is even bothering to see what the Lapine paper is….

If anyone has any validating info in regards to this claim…Please let me know. Until then the ONLY validating information is from the exact same paper who did the initial reporting… amusing yes until it validated all it is, is entertainment

Monsanto Cucumbers Cause Genital Baldness — Immediately Banned in Nova Scotia

A six-month study by AgriSearch, an on-campus research arm of Dalhousie University, has shown that genetically modified (GM) cucumbers grown under license to Monsanto Inc. result in serious side effects including total groin hair loss and chafing in “sensitive areas”, leading to the immediate and total ban of sales of all that company’s crop and subsequent dill pickles.

The tracking study of 643 men and women in Nova Scotia came about after reports began to surface about bald field mice and the bald feral cats that ate them being discovered by farmers on acreages growing the new crop.

“The bald wild animals raised a huge flag and we immediately obtained subpoenas for the medical records of all 600 plus adults who took part in focus groups and taste tests of the cucumbers by Monsanto in Canada,” said Dr. Nancy Walker, Director of Public Health Research at Dalhousie.  “Fully 3/4 of the people who ate these cukes had their crotch area hair fall out.  This is not a joking matter at all…these people now have hairless heinies.”

Nova Scotia became the first province or state in North America to ban a Monsanto GM food product, although GM corn and other food crops are currently outlawed in Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and Hungary.  Governments in Australia, Spain, UK, France, Turkey, India and Mexico have public petitions or legislative bills under consideration.  Californians recently voted down a bill that would have required all GM foods to be clearly labeled.  Monsanto cucumbers have been ordered removed from all food stores in Nova Scotia, while Quebec stores have begun a voluntary removal, partially because the UPC code stickers contain some English.

“I pulled down my boxer shorts to get ready for bed one night and there it was…a pile of hair that looked like a chihuahua puppy,” said Eric LaMaze, who was paid $50 by Monsanto to compare the tastes of natural cucumbers to Monsanto GM cucumbers in March of this year in Halifax.  “Then I saw my bits and whoa they were like all shiny skin.  Bald.”

Mr. LaMaze and other taste test participants said the GM cucumbers tasted the same as the naturally grown cucumbers but made a slight “fizzing noise” when swallowed.  The participants also complained of raw skin in their genital area and some bed wetting.

Monsanto Inc., a self-described Sustainable Agriculture Company based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, where they share offices with major shareholder Bain Capital, issued a statement saying, “Next generation fruits and vegetables, including VO5 cucumbers, are safe for human consumption with some potential minor side effects.  Some fine-tuning is underway.”

McDonald’s Corp. issued a statement following the Nova Scotia ban announcing that they will replace dill and sweet cucumber pickles on their burgers with non-GM pickled zucchini as a precaution until it is proven that no Monsanto pickles were sold into the North American market.  McDonald’s website contains a bulletin to that effect and includes a revised hip-hop Big Mac jingle that now sings, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickled zuke, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq said a Canada-wide recall and ban will be issued within 24 hours.  “The Government of Canada takes this very, very seriously,” said the Minister.  “Being hairless down there should be a matter of personal choice for Canadian men and women and not one taken away by a cucumber.”

“They used to have the real cucumber slices in those salad things at the City Hall Dining Club,” sighed Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on the courthouse steps after being impeached by a Provincial Judge. “Those were good times…”

Robin Steel Reporting for The Lapine

Health, life insurers hold $1.88 billion in fast-food stocks: AJPH article

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Mark Almberg mark@pnhp.org312-782-6006 Physicians for a National Health Program

Harvard researchers say insurers put profits over health

Just weeks after the passage of a health bill that will dramatically increase the number of Americans covered by private health insurers, Harvard researchers have detailed the extent to which life and health insurance companies are major investors in the fast-food industry – to the tune of nearly $2 billion.

Although fast food can be consumed responsibly, research has shown that fast-food consumption is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease, two leading causes of death, and contributes to the poor health of children. The evidence is so compelling that as part of the new health law more than 200,000 fast-food and other chain restaurants will be required to include calorie counts on their menus, including their drive-through menus.

A new article on insurance company holdings, published online in today’s [Thursday, April 15] American Journal of Public Health, shows that U.S., Canadian and European-based insurance firms hold at least $1.88 billion of investments in fast-food companies.

“These data raise questions about the opening of vast new markets for private insurers at public expense, as is poised to happen throughout the United States as a result of the recent health care overhaul,” says lead author Dr. Arun Mohan.

Among the largest owners of fast-food stock are U.S.-based Prudential Financial, Northwestern Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, and European-based ING.

U.S.-based Northwestern Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company both offer life insurance as well as disability and long-term care insurance. Northwestern Mutual owns $422.2 million of fast-food stock, with $318.1 million of McDonald’s. Mass Mutual owns $366.5 million of fast-food stock, including $267.2 in McDonald’s.

Holland-based ING, an investment firm that also offers life and disability insurance, has total fast-food holdings of $406.1 million, including $12.3 million in Jack in the Box, $311 million in McDonald’s, and $82.1 million in Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell) stock.

New Jersey-based Prudential Financial Inc. sells life insurance and long-term disability coverage. With total fast-food holdings of $355.5 million, Prudential Financial owns $197.2 of stock in McDonald’s and also has significant stakes in Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, and Yum! Brands.

The researchers also itemize the fast-food holdings of London-based Prudential Plc, U.K.-based Standard Life, U.S.-based New York Life, Scotland-based Guardian Life, Canada-based Manulife and Canada-based Sun Life. (Table of data available at ; all data current as of June 11, 2009.)

“Our data illustrate the extent to which the insurance industry seeks to turn a profit above all else,” says Dr. Wesley Boyd, senior author of the study. “Safeguarding people’s health and well-being take a back seat to making money.”

Mohan, Boyd and their co-authors, Drs. Danny McCormick, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, all at the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School, culled their data from Icarus, a proprietary database of industrial, banking and insurance companies. Icarus draws upon Securities and Exchange Commission filings and news reports from providers like Dow Jones and Reuters. In addition, the authors obtained market capitalization data from Yahoo! Finance.

The authors write, “The health bill just enacted in Washington will likely expand the reach of the insurance industry. Canada and Britain are also considering further privatization of health insurance. Our article highlights the tension between profit maximization and the public good these countries face in expanding the role of private health insurers. If insurers are to play a greater part in the health care delivery system they ought to be held to a higher standard of corporate responsibility.”

Several of these same researchers, all of whom are affiliated with Physicians for a National Health Program, have previously published data about the extent to which the insurance industry is invested in tobacco. They say that because private, for-profit insurers have repeatedly put their own financial gain over the public’s health, readers in the United States, Canada and Europe should be wary about insurance firms’ participation in care.


“Life and Health Insurance Industry Investments in Fast Food,” Arun V. Mohan, M.D., M.B.A.; Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.; David U. Himmelstein, M.D.; and J. Wesley Boyd, M.D., Ph.D. American Journal of Public Health, April 15, 2010.

Physicians for a National Health Program ( is an organization of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit or call (312) 782-6006.

Physicians for a National Health Program 29 E. Madison St., Suite 602
Chicago IL 60602 (312) 782-6006

McDonald’s to give away 200,000 free burgers: “initiative was to reinforce the importance of starting the day with a wholesome breakfast”

The Star/Asia News Network Saturday, Nov 17, 2012

PETALING JAYA – They say eat breakfast like a king and McDonald’s Malaysia has decided to celebrate the most important meal of the day by giving away over 200,000 free Egg McMuffin burgers on Monday.

Called the McDonald’s Breakfast Day, all of its restaurants nationwide will be giving away freshly-made Egg McMuffin burgers to the first 1,000 customers.

McDonald’s Malaysia managing director Sarah Casanova said the initiative was to reinforce the importance of starting the day with a wholesome breakfast.

“By offering Malaysians breakfast on us, we want to start a movement and rally people to make a good breakfast an essential part of a great morning,” said Casanova, who is also McDonald’s Malaysia and Singapore regional manager, in a statement here yesterday.

According to McDonald’s Malaysia, the Egg McMuffin is made from farm fresh egg and high-quality golden cheese with a slice of chicken roll on freshly toasted English muffin.

The first 1,000 customers at all 215 breakfast restaurants nationwide, including Genting and airport stores, will receive the free burger between 7am and 10am while the offer lasts.

It is limited to one Egg McMuffin per customer per visit and is only valid for in-store, take-away and drive-through purchases.

For more information on McDonald’s Breakfast Day and a list of its breakfast restaurants, visit

It’s not easy being a Yakuza boss

By Jake Adelstein — Oct 15

These days the price of a standard civilian hit-job can run as high as $2 million. That’s not the price to get the job done — that’s the price if one of your underlings gets caught. The whole inflationary spiral started with one dumb yakuza stiffing McDonald’s on the price of a cheeseburger in Kyoto a few years ago.


In August of 2008, three months after countermeasures laws went into effect, the Yamaguchi-gumi boss found himself dealing with one of his low-ranking underling’s unpaid McDonald’s tab. That’s because Japan’s approach to its major organized crime groups (there are 22) is to regulate rather than ban. They exist in the open with office buildings, business cards, and even company songs. The yakuza are Crime Incorporated. And in Japan, the CEO has to take responsibility for the screw-ups under his command.A 38-year-old Yamaguchi-gumi member had ordered burger combo at a drive-through in Kyoto. He picked up his order, but then claimed since his meal had gotten wet in the rain, he owed nothing, and drove off clutching his burger and fries. (It’s unclear whether it was a plain hamburger or a cheeseburger, accounts vary, but it was definitely not a happy meal.) Several days later, a bill arrived at the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters in Kobe from a very angry McDonald’s manager. The organization paid.

The cheeseburger compensation was just the start of a series of legal headaches for the Yamaguchi-gumi and other yakuza groups.


So that’s why children love burger and chips: Fast-food logos are ‘branded’ on their brains, claims study

  • Appetite and pleasure centres light up when  shown advertising images
  • ‘Majority of foods marketed to children are  unhealthy’ says scientist

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:10:00 EST, 23  September 2012| UPDATED:11:05 EST, 23 September 2012


Parents have long suspected their children  are brainwashed by adverts on television when it comes to food.

Now new research claims the logos of  companies like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King are ‘branded’ on the  youngsters’ brains.

MRI scans of children’s appetite and pleasure  centres reveals they light up when they are shown advertising images of their  favourite fast foods, according to scientists.

Eating out Customers at a McDonald's store tuck in. Health chiefs say fast food is high in calories, sugar, fat and salt 

Eating out Customers at a McDonald’s store tuck in.  Health chiefs say fast food is high in calories, sugar, fat and salt

But when the logos were well-known brands but  had nothing to do with food the same areas of the brain failed to  respond.

High Street fast food outlet Burger king 

High Street fast food outlet Burger king

The study will worry health chiefs  because the fast-food outlets which  dominate UK High Streets serve up food high in salt, sugar, fat and  calories.

They appear to have tapped into the ‘reward’  areas of the brain which develop before youngsters learn  self-control.

Researcher at at  the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical  Center, divided 120 popular food  and non-food brands, including McDonald’s and  Rice Krispies, and BMW and FedEx, reported the Sunday  Independent.

They used a magnetic resonance imaging  scanner which monitored changes in  the blood flow that increases when the brain  becomes more active.

Analysis of the tests on children, aged 10 to  14, showed there was increased activity in parts of the brain in the ‘reward’  centres and in driving and controlling appetite.

Study leader Dr Amanda Bruce told the  Independent: ‘Research has shown children are more likely to choose those foods  with familiar logos.

‘That is concerning because the majority of  foods marketed to children are unhealthy.’

Last year children,aged six to 13, took part  in research into the effect of exposure to TV ads for unhealthy food  products.

The children were shown 10 advertisements for  junk food and then asked to choose between three food options which were  described as ‘high fat, high carbohydrate’, ‘high protein,’ and ‘low energy.’

Options for high protein included items like  roast chicken. The low energy ones included items like salad.

The children were then shown a series of ten  advertisements for toys and presented with a similar  questionnaire.

Results of the study suggest that children  exposed to unhealthy food ads – as opposed to toy ads – are far more likely to  show unhealthy eating preferences.

These effects were especially pronounced  among study subjects who typically watched more than 21 hours of TV per  week.

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Environmental Risk Factors for Crohn’s Disease: Maltodextrin (MDX), a Ubiquitous Dietary Additive in Western Diets, Enhances Biofilm Formation and Adhesivness of E. coli (Abstract #Tu1844

Environmental Risk Factors for Crohn’s Disease: Maltodextrin (MDX), a Ubiquitous Dietary Additive in Western Diets, Enhances Biofilm Formation and Adhesivness of E. coli (Abstract #Tu1844)

Western diets that include significant amounts of the additive maltodextrin, a filler compound added to the sweeteners Splenda and Equal, may contribute to an increased susceptibility to Crohn’s disease, according to new research from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, OH. There is a clear link between bacteria and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with previous studies reporting differences in the types of bacteria and location of bacteria in the intestines of individuals with Crohn’s disease.

Investigators led by Christine McDonald, PhD, assistant staff, pathobiology department, Lerner Research Institute, looked at how bacteria were altered by components of the Western diet to better understand how diet affects bacteria associated with IBD, an area of research not well understood. They reviewed how certain components of this diet alter E. coli bacteria to increase their ability to form biofilms and adhere to intestinal epithelial cells  — features associated with the disease.

The investigators grew E. coli bacteria isolated from a Crohn’s disease patient in the lab with different substances found in a Western diet and tested their ability to form biofilm structures similar to those found in the gut of Crohn’s disease patients. Initially, they compared bacteria that were fed glucose (the simplest form of sugar) to bacteria that were fed artificial sweeteners. Surprisingly, Dr. McDonald’s group found that the sweeteners alone didn’t have an effect, but maltodextrin dramatically changed the bacteria.

When the researchers looked at how well the bacteria adhered to plastic or live intestinal cells, they found that bacteria grown in maltodextrin were stickier, resulting in thicker biofilms, and a greater number of bacteria piled up on the surface of intestinal cells. This finding is significant since maltodextrin is in a wide variety of products ranging from sweeteners and processed foods to medications and other products. Dr. McDonald cautioned that it is too early to conclude that maltodextrin promotes disease, though their results suggest that maltodextrin can cause E. coli to gain features associated with disease and therefore, potentially, increases an individual’s overall risk of developing IBD. Studies are planned to test this more directly in experimental mouse models of IBD. “While dietary additives like maltodextrin are generally considered safe, these findings suggest that perhaps people who are prone to develop IBD should consider limiting their maltodextrin intake,” Dr. McDonald said.

Previous research suggests that consumption of a Western diet — one that is high in fat, low in fiber and rich in processed foods — is associated with the development of Crohn’s disease. Other studies have observed striking differences between the bacteria found in healthy intestines and those affected by Crohn’s disease. In a healthy gut, the normal bacterial community is separated from direct contact with the intestinal cells, while in Crohn’s disease patients, gut bacteria form a dense structure (a biofilm) in close contact with the cells. Additionally, some studies have shown an increase in the amounts of E. coli and demonstrated that Crohn’s disease-associated E. coli has special features, making the strain more adhesive and invasive.

This study received no pharmaceutical funding. It was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01DK082437) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute “Med into Grad” Initiative.

Dr. McDonald will present these data on Tuesday, May 22 at noon PT in Halls C-G of the San Diego Convention Center.