Patterico's Pontifications


Food Safety as “Outbreak Roulette”

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In Congressional subcommittee hearings today, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif) described America’s food safety system as “outbreak roulette”:

“One spin of the outbreak wheel, and your industry may be bankrupt, your loved ones sickened.”

He’s referring to the recent outbreak of salmonella from contaminated tomatoes/jalapenos that sickened 1,300 and left the tomato industry reeling.

The FDA’s Dr. Lonnie King, director of the center for foodborne illnesses at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Cardoza’s subcommittee that “We have a smoking gun, it appears.” Federal officials advised the subcommittee that the same salmonella strain linked to the nationwide outbreak was “found in irrigation water and in a sample from a batch of serrano peppers” at a Mexican farm. It was also found at a second Mexican farm and a South Texas produce warehouse.

Food safety officials have not yet determined whether tomatoes can be ruled out but industry officials complained that they lost weeks of revenue totaling more than $300M while federal officials tracked down the wrong product.


Censoring the Olympic Games

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Chinese government confirmed today that, despite previous assurances by it and the International Olympic Committee, the internet will be censored during the games:

“Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages – politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.”

The report states that the IOC “quietly agreed” to some of the limitations but will press the Chinese government to reconsider.


Study: Illegal Immigration Declines Due to Enforcement and Other Incentives

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 3:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Washington Post reports on a study that concludes illegal immigration into the US is down 10% over the past year, especially among less educated 18 to 40-year-old Hispanic immigrants, and it’s apparently due in part to stepped-up government enforcement and other incentives:

“The evidence is consistent with the idea that at least initially more robust enforcement caused the number of illegal immigrants to decline significantly,” said Steven A. Camarota, one of the study’s authors. “Some people seem to think illegals are so permanently anchored in the United States that there is no possibility of them leaving. . . . This suggests they’re not correct. Some significant share might respond to changing incentives and leave.

There is general agreement among demographers that illegal immigration is declining but the experts do not agree on why this has occurred. The study indicates the decline in less educated Hispanic immigrants began after Congress abandoned immigration reform while the number of educated non-Hispanic immigrants continued to rise. The study concludes immigrants changed their behavior in response to the failure of legalization legislation:

“Even more contentious is the question of what, if anything, the study’s findings indicate about the impact that recent national and local immigration policies may have had on the size of the illegal immigrant population. Since December, the unemployment rate of less-educated working-age Hispanics has risen from 4.93 percent to 7.06 percent, making it that much more difficult to determine whether the continued decline in their population during this period was the result of anything beyond basic economics.

But [study authors] Camarota and Jensenius suggest that the six-month decline that occurred after the failure of the legalization legislation and before the rise of these workers’ unemployment rate is one of several examples of a link between immigration policy and immigrant choices. They note, for instance, that starting in May 2007, when Congress’s consideration of the legalization plan began receiving widespread media attention, the number of less-educated, working-aged Hispanics began to rise.

“I call it the amnesty hump,” said Camarota. Though he noted that the population increase during this period may not have been statistically significant, “it seems that what was happening was that fewer illegal immigrants left than might otherwise have done so because they were hoping to qualify for legalization.”

Experts also debate whether there are fewer illegal immigrants in the US because not as many have immigrated or because more have left. The study’s authors acknowledge that the answer to that question is unclear based solely on Census data, but they believe “if less-educated Hispanic adults were not leaving in greater numbers than before, their total population would merely grow more slowly, not decline steeply.”

Finally, most of the immigrants who left did so voluntarily since “only 285,000 immigrants were removed from within the United States in 2007 — and many of those were formerly legal immigrants who lost their status after committing a crime.

Which reminds me: Deport the Criminals First.


Israel’s Olmert to Step Down

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 11:37 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced today he would step down in September and would not run in the Kadima Party primary. The AP described Olmert as angry as he criticized the corruption investigations that forced him to:

“… defend myself against relentless attacks from self-appointed ‘fighters for justice’ who sought to depose me from my position, when the ends sanctified all the means.”

At times, Olmert’s popularity in the polls has sunk below 20% causing some political analysts to predict he would resign. The AP report states that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is the early favorite to replace Olmert, which would make her and Golda Meir the only female Israeli prime ministers.

My knowledge of Israeli politics is limited so I don’t have any meaningful insights to add to this story but I’m sure there are readers and commenters who have valuable thoughts to share. However, I couldn’t pass it up because of the statement by Dan Margalit, “an Israeli political analyst and longtime friend of Olmert,” who described Olmert’s resignation as “a sad end to a miserable career.”

With friends like that …


Misleading L.A. Times Headline

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:46 am

The front page of the L.A. Times print edition yesterday ran a headline reading “Sex Bias Seen at Justice Dept.” It was about alleged bias based on sexual orientation. Eugene Volokh calls the headline “an outright mischaracterization of what’s going on,” because

“sex bias” has a familiar meaning to the reading public, and that meaning is discrimination against men or women, not against gays or lesbians.

I agree. Apparently, so do the editors, because the Web version of the headline (I can’t pull up the story itself) now reads “Sexuality bias” rather than “Sex bias.”

Headline of the Day

Filed under: General,Humor — Patterico @ 6:22 am

To an item at Howard Bashman’s site:

“Local officials fight pact with MILF in Court”

The post reads:

This article, about an agreement involving the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, appears in Wednesday’s edition of The Manila Times.

Cute, Howard.

A Window Into Obama’s Constitutional Soul?? NYT Publishes Final Exams Obama Gave to Con Law Students at Univ. of Chicago Law School

Filed under: 2008 Election,Constitutional Law,Politics — WLS @ 3:56 am

Posted by WLS:

The NYT in this story out today has the final exam questions given by Obama to the Con Law III students at the Univ. of Chicago law school from 1997 to 2003. They make for some interesting reading, and left me scratching my head.

But the manner in which the problems are expressed suggest a huge liberal bias.

This post is simply an invitation to review them and discuss them in the comments section. After I have a chance to digest them further, I’ll have a few posts on individual exam questions that spark my interest.


Murderer of “Let It Be” (and Alleged Murderer of Lana Clarkson) Endorses Obama

Filed under: 2008 Election,Crime — Patterico @ 10:47 pm

First it was William “Cold Cash” Jefferson. Then a convicted murderer about to be executed for his crime.

And now Phil Spector becomes the latest to endorse Obama.

Did Obama and The Dems Fudge Their June Fundraising Numbers?? Seems So. (Updated: Seems Not)

Filed under: General — WLS @ 8:48 pm

[UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I could be wrong, but this guest post by WLS seems like an Emily Litella moment in light of the update. So I’m not going to take it down, but I’m tucking it in the extended entry, because it appears that the main thrust of the post has been overtaken by the update at the end. In other words: “Never mind.”]

I appreciate the update — the question I couldn’t seem to find the answer to on my own seems to have been hiding on me in plain sight.  But, for the reasons I express in a comment, I’m still not convinced the fundraising news is all candy and roses in the Obama camp.  — WLS


Cyrus Sanai to Cover Judicial Conference Involving Alex Kozinski

Filed under: General,Judiciary,Kozinski — Patterico @ 8:42 pm reports that Judge Alex Kozinski is taking a low profile at a judicial conference which will be covered by, among others . . . Cyrus Sanai:

Adding to the prickly situation, Beverly Hills attorney Cyrus Sanai, a Kozinski critic and the one who accessed and leaked the Kozinski Web site, obtained press credentials from the LA Weekly to cover the event.

The circuit agreed to allow Sanai to attend as a reporter, for the LA Weekly, part of an alternative newspaper chain. The circuit gave him press credentials but kept a close watch on him during Monday’s opening session.

Lawyers may attend only by invitation of the circuit but it is open to media coverage. The conference traditionally does not hold press briefings and the only opportunity to ask questions would be in the routine, public question and answer sessions at the end of each panel presentation.

Sanai said, “I’m on my best behavior. They made it clear that if I interrupt or try to ask questions I can be bodily removed.” There are plenty of U.S. Marshals, who act as security for all circuit conferences, to make good on the promise.

Sanai said the LA Weekly is not interested in a story about him, so he'll be focusing on other aspects of the conference, which concludes Thursday.


P.S. I have gotten tired of the threatening nature of comments surrounding this topic, so any comment that sounds like a threat — to sue someone, to investigate someone, to go after someone’s bar card, or anything else along those lines — will be summarily deleted.

UPDATE: Kozinski reportedly canceled a scheduled Q&A session. Also, according to the linked story, Kozinski ordered Sanai ejected from a welcome reception, which reporters had been told in advance they could not attend.

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