Today In Corporate Personhood

What’s that line from the last presidential election? I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one? Yeah, that:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam may have put the worst behind it after federal attorneys agreed not to prosecute Pilot Flying J for cheating customers.

In an agreement with prosecutors, the nation’s largest diesel retailer acknowledges that employees cheated trucking companies out of promised fuel rebates and discounts. Prosecutors said Monday that Pilot has agreed to pay a $92 million penalty, which is within the range of what the company would pay if convicted at trial.

Corporations have Constitutional rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion but they have no responsibilities. Ain’t that just peachy.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, Tennessee

Congratulations, Unidentified MI Woman! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

At this point, these folks have descended into self-parody:

FREMONT TOWNSHIP, MI — A 51-year-old woman accidentally shot herself in the face after she slammed the butt end of a shotgun on the floor, causing it to discharge, the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department reports.

Deputies were called about 10 a.m. Monday, July 14, to a house on Waterman in Fremont Township for a report of a gunshot victim.

Upon arrival, deputies found that a family dispute had taken place and the victim, a 51-year-old woman, told officers that she had taken a shotgun out to “make a point.”

She told police she slammed the butt end on the floor, the gun discharged, and she was shot in the face.

This could only have been better if she’d shot herself in the foot instead.

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Filed under gun control

Take That, Bob Corker: VW Chattanooga Has UAW AND SUV

Oh, my! Major Tennessee Republican FAIL: On Friday, the United Auto Workers established a local union to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

Today Volkswagen announced the Chattanooga plant will manufacture VW’s new SUV line, a move expected to bring some 1,350 jobs to Tennessee.

Suck on that, Bob Corker.

(For more on this, read here, here, here and here.

[UPDATE]:

Trying to make lemonade out of this huge bag of lemons they’ve been handed, right-wingers are saying there’s no way that Volkswagen will ever recognize the new UAW local in Chattanooga. Really? I beg to differ:

First, the February vote was a narrow loss — 53 percent to 47 percent — and the result showed strong support among workers, despite heavy opposition from outside groups and Tennessee legislators.

Second, the UAW said it already had signed cards from a majority of the workers prior to the election, saying they favored representation.

I have no doubt in my mind that the UAW would have won that February election had it not been for outside interference from the likes of Sen. Bob Corker and right-wing cheap labor groups.

I suspect that unionization, like Obamacare, is one of those things people actually like once they’ve lived with it for a while. That’s when they realize it’s not the path to ruin/Fascism/Socialism/FEMA death camps they’ve been told it is by the Fox News crowd but, in fact, something that actually benefits people. And that’s why Republicans like Bob Corker and Bill Haslam have been shitting bricks over this VW plant for the past year.

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Filed under Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, unions

Two Americas, Addict/New Mom Edition

Two Americas. In one America, we arrest new mothers whose newborns test positive for drugs and charge them with assault (even though in this case, the drug our new mother used is not covered under the law through which she was charged. Weird, that.)

In another America, affluent moms hire “sobriety coaches” to help them stay clean and sober:

Once consigned to Hollywood entourages to keep celebrities on the straight and narrow (and out of rehab), sobriety coaches, also known as sober companions and recovery therapists, are being hired by well-heeled mothers from the Upper East Side to the beachfront homes of Boca Raton, Fla.

Blame the rigors of being an urban mother. “Raising kids is stressful to begin with,” said Mary Karr, the best-selling writer who lives in Greenwich Village, who related her grueling recovery in her 2009 memoir “Lit: A Memoir.” “The new supermoms have to be thin and rich and successful, so there’s all this extra stress,” she said. “It’s loathsome.”

“Addiction is a disease of isolation,” added Ms. Karr, 59, who has a 28-year-old son (she starts “Lit” with an open letter to him). “I would have loved to have someone come over and help me not get drunk.”

It’s not just the extra glasses of pinot or rosé. Cosmopolitan mothers these days are also reaching for Adderall (the multitasker’s best friend), Percocet (the antidote to the taxing trifecta of marriage, children and career) and Ambien (that bedtime staple), not to mention a cocktail of other drugs that high-strung mothers also have at their disposal.

And by the time these mothers realize they need help, they don’t exactly have the time or wherewithal to check into rehab or attend 12-step meetings. In addition, they want more privacy, the better to avoid the judgment and stigma that mothers with addiction face.

It is worth noting that the story of Mallory Loyola appeared in the news section of TV station WBIR. Mary Karr’s story appeared in the “Fashion & Style” section of the Sunday New York Times.

In one America an addicted mom is arrested and charged with assault, held on $2,000 bond, with her picture plastered all over the news. In another America well-heeled moms who “don’t have time” for rehab and 12-step meetings and need to avoid the stigma of drug addiction to preserve their social status hire “sobriety coaches” to hold their hands and tell them it’s okay to be stressed-out about having to be thin and beautiful. Such an impossible standard, who can blame them for reaching for the Percocet now and then? Poor things.

I honestly do not want to hear from another one of these Special Snowflakes who melt under the stress of their privileged lives. If Mallory Loyola has to have her face plastered across the news and now has a criminal record and is charged with assault, then so should Tamara Mellon, Mary Karr, “Jeanne” the anonymous Fortune 500 marketing exec, and all the rest. Alternately, if Jeanne et. al. get the compassion, understanding and personal attention that comes from hiring a coach, then why shouldn’t Mallory Loyola?

Says “Jeanne The Fortune 500 marketing exec”:

“I was my daughter’s age when my dad came out as an alcoholic,” said Jeanne, a marketing executive, who spent her youth going to Alateen, an offshoot of A.A. meetings for teenage family members. “I never thought that would be me,” she said. Rehab was not a viable option. “What working mom can be away for 30 to 60 days?” she added. “And how would I explain it?”

So she hired Natasha Silver Bell, 38, a sobriety coach on the Upper East Side, who is a divorced mother and former addict. Jeanne has been seeing Ms. Silver Bell once a week for the last four months, paying roughly $2o0 for an hour sit-down session, which also grants calling or texting privileges. “I liked that I could do it without disrupting my schedule,” Jeanne said.

And yet, we expect the Mallory Loyolas of the country to make time for it, explain it, etc., nor do we afford them the anonymity and privacy that Jeanne so cherishes.

Forgive me if this injustice rubs me the wrong way.

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Filed under healthcare, Tennessee

Congratulations, Unidentified N.C. Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

A Friday evening trip to PetSmart for a man and his wife resulted in a trip to the ER thanks to what police say is likely an accidental gun discharge by some nervous Nellie too askeered to hit the local mall without his or her fireams:

A man and his wife were going into the PetSmart when someone’s .22-caliber gun discharged somewhere near the building, police said. The shot hit the building and then hit the man’s shoulder, police said.

Several nearby stores were locked down just in case the incident was serious. However, police don’t believe there is any threat to the public.

A trip to PetSmart to buy some goddamn dog food now involves risk of bodily injury, possibly even death, because of Freedom! Second Amendment! Constitution!

Everything I’ve always said that’s wrong with open carry, concealed carry, guns-in-cars, guns-in-restaurants, guns everywhere, etc. is realized all across America every single week. Some innocent person going about their life is put at risk by a gun-humping yahoo who for inexplicable reasons (*cough*cough*FOX NEWS*cough*cough*) has been led to believe the streets of America are not safe for ordinary, unarmed citizens. You people are crazy. If you can’t see you’re being manipulated by a corporate interest that profits from fearmongering, you’re also stupid. Please just stay home if you’re that scared.

By the way, we have a Second Amendment Hero runner-up this week, this one in South Carolina, though our Hero is from North Carolina (what are the odds!):

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office

A 2-year-old child was inside an Orangeburg hotel room that was struck by a bullet when a guest’s gun went off early Thursday.

Investigators were sent to the Holiday Inn Express about 7 a.m. where they spoke with a Virginia couple who said they were awakened by a gunshot. The man said when he got up to investigate, he found a hole in a glass door and what looked like a bullet on the floor.

At that point, a North Carolina man began knocking on the couple’s door to explain and apologize. He said he was staying in the room next door and had been putting his .45 caliber Colt pistol in his luggage. As he did, the handgun fell to the floor, discharging a round through his closet and into the Virginia couple’s adjacent room.

No one in the room, including the 2-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, was injured.

Management and the North Carolina man reached an agreement about paying for the damages, the report states. No charges have been filed.

No, filing charges would be wrong. /snark

As more people carry their weapons out in the world where the populace congregates, we will see more incidents like this happen. Not all of them will have such happy endings. I predict we’ll look back on this era of loosening gun carry laws as a particularly crazy period of American history, a time when America capitulated to the forces of fear over reason. We’ve been here before (Red Scare, anyone?). The people who led that charge have not been remembered well by history. The gun loons won’t be, either.

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Filed under gun control

Your State Under Republican Rule

Hey, Gov. Bill Haslam: you might want to rethink that whole “we can’t afford the virtually free Medicaid expansion” deal the Feds are offering:

Crews were called to the Advance Auto Parts on Nolensville Pike after the robbery occurred around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to a release from the Metro Nashville Police Department.

With a black mask concealing his face and a semiautomatic pistol in hand, he demanded money from a cash register. He allegedly repeatedly told the clerk “my girl’s got cancer, I need this money,” police said.

After the cashier complied, police said, the suspect fled on foot near the Full Gospel Mission Church.

I swear to God, Republicans have no clue how to run a government. On the other hand, I guess they’re wishing/hoping that cashier had been armed so he could “stand his ground” and shoot and kill the guy. Problem solved!

Republicans don’t care about people, plain and simple. They don’t care about black people, poor people, sick people, or anyone who’s either not a fetus or or a person of the “corporate” person.

Looks like it’s time for me to amend my “Top Signs Your Healthcare System Is Broken” list and add #6: when people rob you at gunpoint to pay for their girl’s cancer treatment.

I’m sick to death of Republicans driving people to desperation because they’ve never had to wonder where their next meal is coming from and assume everyone who does is just lazy. Fucking fuckers.

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Filed under healthcare, Nashville, Republican Party, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

GMOoooooops

There was a pretty robust discussion about GMOs over here on a recent Good News Friday thread where some longtime friends of the blog likened my anti-GMO stance to the anti-vaccine hysteria we’ve seen take root among less educated segments of the population.

So imagine my surprise to hear this story discussed on the radio today:

GMOSeralini.org welcomes the news of the republication of the chronic toxicity study on the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and a commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603, led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini. The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.

The study found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU. Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.

The study was first published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012 but was retracted by the editor-in-chief in November 2013 after a sustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists.

Now the study has been republished by Environmental Sciences Europe. The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication. The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.

The republished study is accompanied by a separate commentary by Prof Séralini’s team describing the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the editor of FCT to retract the original publication.

GMOSeralini.org editor Claire Robinson commented: “This study has now successfully passed no less than three rounds of rigorous peer review.

I believe this is the study I mentioned in comments on the GNF post that was derided as being not peer reviewed, pulled by the publisher for sloppy work, etc. Turns out it was pulled due to intensive Monsanto-generated pressure.

Dr Jack A Heinemann, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Canterbury New Zealand, called the republication “an important demonstration of the resilience of the scientific community”. Dr Heinemann continued, “The first publication of these results revealed some of the viciousness that can be unleashed on researchers presenting uncomfortable findings. I applaud Environmental Sciences Europe for submitting the work to yet another round of rigorous blind peer review and then bravely standing by the process and the recommendations of its reviewers, especially after witnessing the events surrounding the first publication.”

I continue to maintain that treating the earth like a petri dish with these genetically-modified crops simply for fun and profit is playing with fire.

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Filed under food supply, science