YOUR DAILY WEEKLY READER: smoke and mirrors, piss and vinegar



WAIT, SO SMOKING CIGARETTES DOES MAKE YOU COOL? OR AT LEAST A GO-GETTER?: “No matter how hard you try, you don’t hate the tobacco industry nearly enough. Oh, I know, the 5 million tobacco-related deaths a year worldwide provoke intense revulsion, as does the $289 billion a year price tag for U.S. tobacco-related illness ($133 billion for direct medical costs and $156 billion for lost productivity), not counting the billions in lost productivity from second-hand smoke. But it gets worse. Based on a series of articles written by British researcher Mark Petticrew, the tobacco industry has been systematically subverting the scientific process, changing reality to fit its needs as only a multi-zillionaire evil empire can do. And not just little stuff—you know, like paying some poor slob in a lab to creatively adjust results in a series of mouse experiments. No, they went after some of the largest ideas of the 20th century by seducing medical giants with money and false friendships: Hans Selye, the Hungarian-Canadian endocrinologist who introduced the world to the concept that stress can be bad for one’s health, and cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, who coined the term “Type A personality” and promoted the role of this type of behavior in the development of heart disease. Petticrew, working through a treasure trove of papers from the 1950s on, has found convincing documentation that this manifestation of Big Tobacco’s misinformation movement may eclipse even the jaw-dropping 1994 testimony to Congress by the leaders of the “Big Seven” tobacco companies who averred—with a straight face and a hand on a Bible—that in their opinion, nicotine was not addictive.” (via The Daily Beast)


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CRUELTY IN STATE PRISONS IS ONLY GROSS IF YOU ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT IT: “Former Department of Corrections Chief James McDonough said Tuesday that events at his former agency "smacks of torture, sadism, murder, cover up, and ignoring of the facts."  McDonough, the former drug czar and DOC secretary under Gov. Jeb Bush, was responding to a series of reports in the Miami Herald alleging the abusive deaths of inmates and cover-up at the agency. McDonough was tapped to head the prison department by Bush from 2006-2008 after Bush fired Secretary James Crosby, who was convicted for taking kickbacks.  "I am revolted by what I am hearing, just as I am by what I am not hearing,'' said McDonough, a retired army colonel and Purple Heart recipient, in an email Tuesday to Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown. "The latter refers to the silence and lack of sense of outrage by Department officials, or for that matter, other officials. "There is only so much that can be feigned as we 'wait for the conclusion of an official investigation','' he wrote. "These cases did not end tragically last week; they ended in horrific and suspicious deaths some years ago.  Where has the leadership been?" For the last month, Brown has chronicled how an inmate was herded into a scorching hot shower and left until he collapsed and died, how another inmate was placed in solitary confinement and gassed multiple times by guards after he had begged to be taken to the hospital for a worsening medical condition, and how officials covered up the deaths once they were investigated. DOC officials who discovered the death of inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo at Franklin Correctional Institution said the prison’s medical staff, corrections officers and supervisors later conspired to fabricate reports and lie to law enforcement about the events of the inmate’s death.” (via Miami Herald)


IN WHICH CONSERVATIVE COMMISSIONER TONY ORTIZ WILL LIKELY HAVE TO BITE HIS MUSTACHE WHILE WONDERING ALOUD JUST WHAT “TRANSGENDER” MEANS: Orlando may outlaw discrimination against transgender people, forbidding businesses and landlords from denying employment, housing or public accommodation to those who identify themselves as a member of the opposite sex. If the City Council approves, transgender people would be added to the list of classes that are formally protected from discrimination. Orlando businesses would be prohibited from denying jobs or promotions, turning away renters or buyers of homes or refusing service at restaurants, bars, hotels and other accommodations to anyone because they are transgender. Orlando's anti-discrimination ordinance already includes sexual orientation, as well as classes formally protected from discrimination by federal law: race, national origin, religion, gender, disability, age and marital status. "I think it's appropriate as we continue to try to promote diversity, fairness and equality in Orlando," Mayor Buddy Dyer said. "The cities that are going to be successful are the ones that are able to attract the young, smart entrepreneurs, the people who do startup companies and high-tech. And they want to live in socially progressive cities." In 2002, before Dyer was elected, Orlando drew nationwide attention when it adopted anti-discrimination protection for gay people. It was a controversial issue at the time. Thousands of letters, cards and e-mail from opponents across the country deluged City Hall before the vote. The final public hearing lasted five hours, with some critics saying gays spread disease and are prone to pedophilia.” (via Orlando Sentinel)



THIS IS ONLY A TEST, A $400K GRUDGE MATCH OF A TEST ABOUT, WELL, A TEST: “Gov. Rick Scott has capitulated in his crusade to require all state workers to submit to suspicionless drug tests, giving up on about half of the state’s classes of workers in a drawn-out legal battle that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Accountants, economists and translators at the Department of Economic Opportunity; museum curators and librarians at the Department of Environmental Protection; and painters, carpenters and groundskeepers at the Department of Military Affairs are among the nearly 1,000 job classes Scott’s lawyers have deemed totally or partially ineligible for drug screening, according to court documents filed last month. While Scott has agreed not to test those classes of jobs, the governor has not conceded that forcing state employees to undergo urinalysis is unconstitutional despite lower court rulings that spurred the concessions. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year refused to take up the case, but it is believed Scott will again ask the high court to rule on the case if he ultimately loses in lower court proceedings. So far, Scott has spent more than $400,000 on legal battles about his attempts to require drug testing for state employees and welfare applicants. A union representing state workers filed a lawsuit over a 2011 executive order requiring across-the-board random urinalysis for about 85,000 state employees. A separate case involves a challenge to a 2011 state law requiring drug testing of welfare applicants. Courts have ruled against the state in both cases, which remain under appeal. The drug tests are on hold while the legal fights continue. Scott campaigned four years ago on the drug tests and has insisted they are necessary to keep Florida families safe. (via the Tampa Tribune)


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