Robin Roberts Comes Out, Thanks ‘Long Time Girlfriend’ And?

It is almost 2014…

Sometime around two A.M. on the morning of December 31 1968 I came out to some of the best friends I ever had.  I didn’t exactly articulate every thing that rather hysterical night, but I set foot on the path that lead to my coming out and starting the process of changing sex.  The actual coming out as transsexual took a couple of months, initially everyone assumed I was coming out a gay.

That was a long time ago.

That was before Stonewall.

At that point coming out meant something.

It was daring.  We didn’t have same sex marriage in over a third of the states.  We didn’t have all these corporations with non-discrimination policies.

Now we have a national coming out day, which is something meaningful to newbies…  I guess but pretty damn ho-hum to me.

Coming out is meaningful to the person doing it, a statement of self.

But for most of us, the folks who made coming out a common thing…

It has been a long time since coming out was something courageous or daring.  After all being LGBT isn’t strange or alien, it’s just something some people are.

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California Transgender Rights Law Set To Take Effect In State Schools

From Huffington Post:


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A new law that spells out the rights of transgender students in kindergarten through 12th grade is set to take effect in California on Jan. 1. To get ready, school districts are reviewing locker room layouts, scheduling sensitivity training for staff and reconsidering senior portrait dress codes.

But educators also are watching and waiting. The first-of-its-kind statute could end up suspended within days of its launch if a referendum to repeal it qualifies for the November ballot.

To obtain a public vote on the law, a coalition of conservative groups has collected hundreds of thousands of signatures. Counties have until Jan. 8 to verify them through spot-checking.

The secretary of state can approve the referendum, determine that it failed or order a review of every signature.



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iPads for Newborns? Marketing Tablets for Babies ‘Horrifies’ Parents, Experts

Apple is like a nasty cancer.  A blot upon humanity.

From Common Dreams:

It’s Christmas Eve in the Digital Age, but for those concerned about the growing amount of screen time that teenagers and young children—even infants—are now experiencing, the holiday gift-giving season may become an increasingly “horrifying” affair.


As the rise of technology dovetails with the multi-billion dollar toy and media industries, children are now growing up in a digital environment that may seem harmless to some but could be dramatically harming key components of their physical, mental and emotional growth at one of the most precious and fragile stages of human development.


The New York Times reports on Tuesday:


A recent survey of 1,000 parents with children between 2 and 10 found that more than half planned to buy a tech item for their children this holiday season. About two-thirds of those planned to give a tablet or smartphone, according to the survey, which was taken for PBS Kids, the brand of the public broadcasting network aimed at young children.

“Smarter Giving With Apps!” shouted the December cover of Manhattan Family, a monthly publication geared to families with young children. The article, written by a kindergarten teacher, noted that “traditional gifts, like clothes and toys” can be costly “and not always what children are wishing for.” Apps, on the other hand, she wrote, are cost-effective, educational and fun — the perfect gift.


But are they the perfect gift? Hardly, say experts.


In fact, child development researchers and doctors are increasingly alarmed by the growing amount of screen time that children—especially those under the age of two—are receiving or being allowed.


In October, as Common Dreams reported, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an updated version of their media usage guidelines for young children and warned parents that adolescents should have no more than 1 to 2 hours of screen time per day and that children under the age of two should have none whatsoever.

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Unemployment Benefits Can Be ‘The Difference Between Making It And Not Making It’

From Huffington Post:


PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. — Charlie Walker was working from home one day last January when he got a call from his manager, who had already assembled several other senior employees in his office.

“I can’t remember exactly how he said it — change of business conditions or whatever else — long story short: you’re out of here,” Walker, 55, said in an interview. He’d worked for the business-to-business publisher for 11 years. “Everyone else was in the office because they were able to pull them in. I got laid off by phone.”

He didn’t know how to react. His 6-year-old daughter, Emmalee, had been playing with dolls on the floor of their two-story home in this Philadelphia suburb while her father got fired.

“I hang up the phone and I look at her and say — she doesn’t know these things — and I said, ‘I just lost my job,'” he said. He immediately wished he hadn’t burdened his daughter.

The next thing he did was call his wife, Andrea, so they could begin downscaling their lifestyle. No more restaurants, no new winter coat, no more zero balance on the credit cards. Since then, between her job with a local government agency that serves senior citizens and his roughly $300 per week in unemployment benefits, they’ve been able to juggle their expenses.

“The unemployment wasn’t that much, but it made the difference,” Andrea Walker said.

The benefits are at an end. Congress skipped town for the holidays without reauthorizing federal unemployment insurance, which is available to workers after they use up the usual six months of benefits provided by states — which Charlie Walker has done. Next Saturday, he will be among more than 1 million workers whose federal benefits prematurely expire.

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5 Ways the Christian Right Perverts Religion to Push Inhumane, Unfettered Capitalism

From Alternet:

The Christian right works hard to craft theological arguments to support corporate policies.

By Amanda Marcotte
December 18, 2013

The classic understanding of the relationship between social and economic conservatives is simple: Social conservatives are often understood as dupes who let their obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives convince them to vote Republican, often against their own economic interest. This was what President Obama was getting at when he said that working-class whites who vote Republican “cling to guns or religion.”

There’s some truth to that, but if you start to dig a little deeper, it turns out that the Christian right doesn’t just bait believers into voting against their economic interests. On the contrary, the Christian right works fairly hard at trying to create theological arguments to support economic policies Republicans champion, such as slashing the social safety net or allowing unfettered capitalism to rapidly expand income inequality and environmental damage.

Here are the various ways Christian right leaders glaze over the Jesus of the Bible and push their followers to worship one who looks a little more like a Nazarene Ayn Rand.

1) Arguing that Jesus was a capitalist. By and large, the “loaves and fishes” man portrayed in the New Testament can in no honest way be reconciled with the aggressively capitalist attitude of modern Republicans, which holds that profit should never be constrained by concerns such as human rights and basic dignity for all. So conservatives are usually just elusive on the subject. However , Pope Francis’s recent comments regarding the excesses of capitalism have created some pushback on the right.

The favorite argument is that the Pope just doesn’t understand Christianity, which is totally pro-capitalist, no matter how excessive it gets. Ramesh Ponnuru blithely suggested that the Pope’s remarks show that the Pope just doesn’t understand “markets could instead enable a creative form of community” and that more “evangelizing still needs to be done” to convince the Pope that real Christians should embrace capitalism. Never mind that Pope Francis is from Argentina, where the “creative form of community” brought on by an eagerly capitalist, anti-socialist government was expressed through the creative disappearance of people whose left-wing politics were a threat to the capitalist community.

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Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’

From The Guardian UK:

Industry expert warns of grim future of ‘recession’ driven ‘resource wars’ at University College London lecture

Posted by
Monday 23 December

A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.

At a lecture on ‘Geohazards’ earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London (UCL), Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.

Dr. Miller critiqued the official industry line that global reserves will last 53 years at current rates of consumption, pointing out that “peaking is the result of declining production rates, not declining reserves.” Despite new discoveries and increasing reliance on unconventional oil and gas, 37 countries are already post-peak, and global oil production is declining at about 4.1% per year, or 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d) per year:

“We need new production equal to a new Saudi Arabia every 3 to 4 years to maintain and grow supply… New discoveries have not matched consumption since 1986. We are drawing down on our reserves, even though reserves are apparently climbing every year. Reserves are growing due to better technology in old fields, raising the amount we can recover – but production is still falling at 4.1% p.a. [per annum].”

Dr. Miller, who prepared annual in-house projections of future oil supply for BP from 2000 to 2007, refers to this as the “ATM problem” – “more money, but still limited daily withdrawals.” As a consequence: “Production of conventional liquid oil has been flat since 2008. Growth in liquid supply since then has been largely of natural gas liquids [NGL]- ethane, propane, butane, pentane – and oil-sand bitumen.”

Dr. Miller is co-editor of a special edition of the prestigious journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, published this month on the future of oil supply. In an introductory paper co-authored with Dr. Steve R. Sorrel, co-director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex in Brighton, they argue that among oil industry experts “there is a growing consensus that the era of cheap oil has passed and that we are entering a new and very different phase.” They endorse the conservative conclusions of an extensive earlier study by the government-funded UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC):

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The Meaning of a Decent Society

From Robert Reich:

By Robert Reich
Thursday, December 19, 2013

It’s the season to show concern for the less fortunate among us. We should also be concerned about the widening gap between the most fortunate and everyone else.

Although it’s still possible to win the lottery (your chance of winning $648 million in the recent Mega Millions sweepstakes was one in 259 million), the biggest lottery of all is what family we’re born into. Our life chances are now determined to an unprecedented degree by the wealth of our parents.

That’s not always been the case. The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches – with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone – was once at the core of the American Dream.

And equal opportunity was the heart of the American creed. Although imperfectly achieved, that ideal eventually propelled us to overcome legalized segregation by race, and to guarantee civil rights. It fueled efforts to improve all our schools and widen access to higher education. It pushed the nation to help the unemployed, raise the minimum wage, and provide pathways to good jobs. Much of this was financed by taxes on the most fortunate.

But for more than three decades we’ve been going backwards. It’s far more difficult today for a child from a poor family to become a middle-class or wealthy adult. Or even for a middle-class child to become wealthy.

The major reason is widening inequality. The longer the ladder, the harder the climb. America is now more unequal that it’s been for eighty or more years, with the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of all developed nations. Equal opportunity has become a pipe dream.

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The Mask You Live In – Trailer

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Protesters smash Google bus window amid more eviction protests

From Raw Story:

By Pando Daily
Friday, December 20, 2013

On December 20, 2013

Tensions between Bay Area activists and tech institutions ratcheted up this morning when protestors attacked a Google bus in West Oakland, smashing the bus’s rear window while Google employees were inside. Local news organization KQED reports that Google has confirmed the attack.

One Google employee took to Twitter to post evidence of the encounter. A picture shows protestors standing in front of the bus holding a sign that says, “Fuck Off Google.”

Protestors published a colorful account of the incident on local forum “[A] person appeared from behind the bus and quickly smashed the whole of the rear window, making glass rain down on the street. Cold air blew inside the bus and the blockaders with their banners departed. The kind young man left the bus and outside someone threw fliers with a smiley face logo and the message ‘disrupt google’ into the air.”

Two blockades of tech company buses were planned this morning, one in San Francisco and the other in West Oakland. The San Francisco group was organized by a loose coalition of housing activists, including representatives from Eviction Free SF, Our Mission No Eviction, and Just Cause. For the SF protest, roughly 100 people showed up and blocked an Apple bus for 30 minutes.

The spokesperson for the San Francisco group, Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, claims the two protests were not connected. “I have no idea who is organizing the West Oakland protest,” she says. “We just heard a rumor it was happening a few days ago and thought it was perfect timing since the same pressures are happening on both sides of the bay.”

Based on the activists’ account themselves, it appears the rowdier West Oakland protest was a smaller group. The account said:

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Just Another Front Yard Garden Fighting City Hall

From Common Dreams:

Florida couple told to uproot her vegetables, but now she’s fighting back

Jon Queally

It happened in Quebec, we watched it play out in Orlando, and now in the town of Miami Shores, Florida a retired architect named Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom are fighting city officials who said they couldn’t grow vegetables in their own front yard.

  As she explained to NPR in a radio segment that aired Monday, Ricketts planted her vegetables in the front yard because it faces south—”that’s where the sun is.” But now, even though she gardens “for the food and for the peace it brings her,” city officials told her she had to uproot the veggies and remove the garden.

As Greg Allen reported for All Things Considered:

There are lots of things planted in Ricketts’ front yard: a pomegranate tree, a blueberry bush, papaya, strawberries, pineapples, flowers and green plants.

But noticeably absent is anything considered by Miami Shores to be a vegetable. That’s because earlier this year, after tending her garden for 17 years with nothing from the neighbors but compliments, Ricketts was ordered to dig up her veggies.

She says she was surprised several months ago when a zoning inspector stopped by.

“He told me I was not allowed to have vegetables in the front yard,” she says.

Though Hermine and Tom fought the order all the way to the town’s zoning board, the board chairman refused the appeal and Ricketts ultimately complied by removing the offending plants in her front yard.

The battle, however, was not over as the couple tapped the national advocacy group Institute for Justice who agreed to take on the case.

And Ari Bargill, a lawyer now representing Ricketts as she contests the city rules, told NPR that the ban against front yard vegetable gardening is an affront to other guaranteed property rights.

As he explained to NPR, Miami Shores must have a very good reason to restrict what individuals can do in their own yard, “and that is not the case with a ban on vegetables.”

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Merry Fucking Christmas, Happy Fucking Holidays

If you presume that we are extremely unhappy campers, during this season when cheerfulness is the expected norm if not required by law, then you are correct.

As of early last Thursday our lives were turned into a total disaster.

We had been struggling along in this time of radically lowered expectations for senior citizens.

We had our home, in a really nice suburb.  Unlike many we are not underwater on it.

We bought it new in 2003. Honestly at the time it was sort of one those houses lower middle class folks dream of having.  Or maybe we are sold the idea that this is what we should dream of having.  At any rate 2003 was before Bush the Lesser and his merry band of Bank Fraudsters, Wall Street thieves and Corporate Liars/Criminals had totally tanked the economy.

In their quest for grandiosity and homes that sell to buyers fantasies developers in Texas and many other places build in fatal design flaws.  It is as though the process of hiding everything that makes the house function requires them to make compromises.

I sometimes feel as though these homes are supposed to last for as long as the mortgage and no longer.

One of those major design flaws our builder included was putting the hot water tanks in the attic.

Now I can see the reasoning. Heat rises and and isolation from the living area lessens air conditioning costs, also it increases our anemic water pressure.

But when something goes wrong as it did for us last Thursday the result is a disaster that isn’t far short of a house fire or tornado. On Thursday the expansion tank joint ruptured sending huge amounts of water spraying  throughout the attic.  We first became aware of this when major waterfall started cascading down the wall of our family room.

First we had the plumber in, then the drying out damage mitigation people started. Because all that water plus insulation and dry wall represents a great mold environment they are telling us they are going to have to take down a bunch of walls, take up flooring, ceiling and basically rebuild half of our house.

Our house is currently filled with huge dehumidifiers and blowers, which means the place sounds like a factory floor.

We are stressed to the max with insurance claims people, facing the possibility of being forced to find a different place to live while our house is torn apart.

These bastards act as though our expecting them to provide for our losses is an affront. They seem to think they should be able to just keep the money we paid in premiums while we eat the loss of of our home.

Hell of a way to end the year.

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Suzy Bogguss

I’m Just Not Obsessed With Gender and/or Some Supposed Gender Binary

Gender seems to be an obsession of the religious right, corporate advertisers, Feminist Studies/Gender Studies Majors and a lot of TS/TG folks.


Not so much…

Do I think some aspects of gender are innate?

Please…  If you don’t then you have never watched Animal Planet.  Humans are animals, animals show gender and aren’t socialized into that role therefore some of what we call gender is innate.

Make-up, high heels and all the merchandise of gender?  That’s socialization.

I get really tired of people in the TG Community telling me I have to fight the “gender binary.”

No what I have to do is pay the mortgage, gas, power, water etc so that I don’t become homeless in my old age.

As I wrote earlier this week the holiday season has become a time when people feel they have license to hit you with begging pleas and guilt trip you for not giving.

Do people live in a vacuum?  Aren’t folks aware of how the middle class has been destroyed and how little most people have now that a handful of people have so much?

I’m a product of the 1960s.  I don’t have a problem with people expressing themselves any way they feel when it comes to gender.  I’ve spent my live in bohemian alternative cultures where marching to the beat of your own drummer is considered admirable.

But your cause is your cause and there is a difference between asking me to support your cause and demanding I support it via guilt tripping me if I have other priorities.

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Let’s protect the future of caterpillars, caribou & mankind

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Labor Productivity Growing At Rapid Clip, But Workers Won’t See Much Benefit

From Think Progress:

By Aviva Shen
on December 17, 2013

American workers increased their productivity over the summer at the fastest pace since 2009, according to new data released by the Labor Department. Higher productivity is generally welcomed by analysts as an indicator of strong economic growth, but may not translate into much benefit for workers.

Though workers produced more per hour over the third quarter of 2013, their hourly wages haven’t quite kept up. Theoretically, increased productivity means businesses can pay workers more without triggering inflation. However, this logic has failed to play out in real life, as wages have stagnated even as worker productivity soared over the past decade. Productivity rose even faster after the 2008 recession due to massive layoffs that allowed businesses to reduce their labor costs while remaining workers increased their output. Workers’ share of the economy, meanwhile, dropped to record lows during this period.

Boosted productivity, then, has largely benefited businesses, not workers. Businesses’ labor costs dropped in the third quarter, suggesting little movement in terms of wages or new hiring. Some companies have touted draconian efficiency schemes to reduce labor costs, paying employees minimum wage while literally counting the seconds it takes a worker to complete a task. As labor expenses drop, corporate profits are sky-high.

Though productivity has risen, the quality of work has declined. Low-wage, part-time jobs in the retail and service sectors have made up the bulk of job growth since the recession. Though these low wages help businesses reduce their labor costs, taxpayers usually pick up the slack; workers are increasingly turning to public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet.

Even with low labor costs, many businesses are fighting a minimum wage increase that could lessen the persistent gap between productivity and compensation. Studies show that the minimum wage, if it had kept pace with productivity gains over the past 30 years, would have been $21.72 last year — a far cry from President Obama’s recent proposal of $10.

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Precarious Democracy

From In These Times:

A political agenda for the precarious class.

BY Joel Bleifuss
December 17, 2013

In our January 2014 issue, In These Times explores how life has become increasingly precarious for the many Americans who lack job security—a trend that is the predictable result of the ongoing disempowerment of the American worker.

But it is not only the corporate system that is impoverishing our citizens. Millions of Americans face a precarious financial future, thanks to the democratic institutions that are meant to represent them.

Seniors who rely on Social Security are beset by D.C. budget-cutters bent on reducing cost-of-living increases. The poor go hungry in the wake of congressional cuts to food stamps. Retirees in the public sector face uncertain futures as state and local governments turn away from their pension obligations.

As college costs rise, recent graduates, temping for dollars, struggle to pay record-setting student loans.

The list could go on and on.

It’s not that the United States, one of the richest countries on earth, lacks the resources to remedy the situation. The problem is how our nation’s immense wealth is distributed—or, more accurately, how it is maldistributed to the very few. The figures are stark: In 2010, the richest 1 percent of Americans owned 35 percent of the nation’s privately held wealth, and the next 19 percent owned 54 percent. The remaining 80 percent of Americans held only 11 percent of the wealth.

In a speech on Dec. 4, 2013, President Obama decried “an economy that’s become profoundly unequal” with the end result being that “a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family.”

There are remedies. National and state laws mandating more progressive taxation could transfer some of the wealth held by the top 1 percent into public coffers, where it could be allocated to alleviate the precarious existence of Americans.

Will that happen? Fat chance.

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Pope on Christmas: A Christian that shows off is a pagan

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BREAKING: New Mexico Supreme Court Declares Statewide Marriage Equality

From The Advocate:

New Mexico becomes the 17th state to enact marriage equality, with a unanimous decision by the state’s highest court.

BY Sunnivie Brydum
December 19 2013

In a landmark decision, the New Mexico Supreme Court declared that marriage rights must be extended to same-sex couples throughout the state.

The state’s highest court unanimously ruled that denying committed same-sex couples the right to marry violated the Equal Protection clause of the New Mexico constitution.

“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law,” reads the ruling.

The court rejected the argument presented by marriage equality opponents that the state had a legitimate governmental interest in “responsible procreation and childrearing,” declaring that supposed interest “is not reflected in the history of the development of New Mexico’s marriage laws. Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying. In addition, New Mexico law recognizes the right of same-gender couples to raise children.”

The unanimous decision orders all county clerks in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and also confirms the legal validity of the unions of same-sex couples who married in New Mexico prior to today’s decision, after officials in several counties began issuing marriage licenses to them.

“This truly is a historic and joyful day for New Mexico, said Laura Schauer Ives, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, one of the groups that represented the six same-sex couples in the case before the court, along with the national ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “As a state, we have always strived to treat all families with dignity and respect, and today’s decision allowing loving, committed same sex couples to marry continues that tradition. The more than 1,000 same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico can now rest certain knowing their marriages will be recognized and respected by our state.”

Added NCLR legal director Shannon Minter: “Today’s decision by the  New Mexico Supreme Court is a powerful affirmation that same-sex couples are equal members of New Mexico’s diverse culture and must be given the same legal protections and respect as other families. With this ruling, New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and at least eight Native American tribes that permit same-sex couples to marry. This is an important day, not only for New Mexico, but for the entire country.”

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New Study: 97% of All Chicken Breasts Contain Harmful Bacteria

From Alternet:

Consumer Reports shines a sickening light on America’s most popular meat.

By Rod Bastanmehr
December 19, 2013

A new Consumer Reports study finds a disturbingly high statistic: 97% of the chicken breasts CR tested were found to harbor bacteria that could make you sick. That’s just three percent shy of all the chicken.

The report analyzed more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased at stores across the U.S., and found potentially harmful bacteria lurking in almost all of the it. The staggering statistic also included organic brands, so foodies beware: a revised label and trendy buzzword does not a safe poultry make. The numbers came to light during an intensive investigation after the October news of a national salmonella outbreak linked to three Foster Farms chicken plants, which soon yielded troubling results for more than just the one company’s chicken product. In the case of the Foster Farms outbreak, nearly 390 people were infected, with 40% of them hospitalized in critical condition—double the percentage historically linked to salmonella outbreaks.

The news marks a particularly dark turn in what is widely considered America’s most popular meat. Consumer Reports estimates that Americans buy an average of 83 pounds of chicken per capita annually. Each year, nearly 2 million Americans fight antibiotic-resistant infection, with 23,000 succumbing to the virus. As a result, many are calling for the Food and Drug Administration to release new guidelines addressing antibiotic overuse in livestock.

The Consumer Reports test found bacteria in chicken purchased in markets in 26 states across the country. Additionally, the report found that almost none of the major brands were free of bacteria, more than half were tainted with fecal contaminants, about half of the samples tested positive for at least one multi-drug-resistant bacterium, and of the 65% of samples that tested positive for E. coli, nearly 18% featured particularly vicious strands of the disease that are known to heighten the probability of urinary-tract infection substantially higher.

While cooking chicken at specific temperatures does tend to kill bacteria if heat reaches at least 165 degrees fahrenheit, the temperature may not be enough to eliminate risk of exposure, as bugs and disease may linger elsewhere on kitchen surfaces, faucets and utensils. Even worse, contaminated chicken can affect people not buying chicken when it lingers on shopping carts at the grocery stores.

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When Happiness Died in America…

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