Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just Say Neigh to Horsemeat

When was the last time you enjoyed horsemeat? Well, if you live in the UK, chances are you have unwittingly enjoyed remnants of some nag last week.

The revelation of horsemeat being combined with beef sold in Ireland and England has major grocery supermarkets on a huge defensive in an attempt to claim ignorance that suppliers have been including horsemeat and ‘beef trim’ (whatever the heck that is) as beef. In fact, Ireland’s food agency, the Food Safety Authority claims that recent testing revealed up to 29% of the contents labeled as beef actually contained horsemeat. Britain’s Food Standards Agency claim to also be investigating.

The Silvercrest processing plant at the heart of the scandal is under the microscope for supplying supermarket giant Tesco with beef burger products containing horsemeat. Another supermarket giant, The Cooperative Group, conducted its own DNA testing and determined 17.7% horsemeat in particular beef products.

According to sources, beef is Ireland’s number one food export, and Tesco is Ireland’s number one customer accounting for almost 10% of the country’s €1.9 billion annual beef exports.

Politicians, activists and civil servants alike are now calling for accurate food labeling laws to protect consumers from the nefarious practices of those who include filler products. But one must wonder how such practices can occur unchecked for so long. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that these mammoth supermarket chains have employees within their fold who must have known the practice was occurring?

It turns out that including horsemeat in beef products is not illegal, so long as it is appropriately labelled as such. This means when all is said and done, violators and their corporate partners will, at best, face infractions for failing to properly label their beef products – the proverbial slap on the wrist.

What this also means is that consumers who purchased ‘beef’ overpaid dramatically and that Tesco and The Cooperative Group profited by the same degree. Follow the money, criminal investigators will tell you, and motives will soon become crystal clear.

Who Pays for Freedom?

Recent troubles in Syria have an unexpected consequence on the friendly nation of Sweden, and the price of being so generous is inflated government spending on immigration and asylum policies that some Swedes believe is bordering on the absurd.

No other western nation has opened their borders to the plight of those of Syrian nationality than has Sweden, despite repeated requests to members of the European Union to follow suit, although it can be said that Germany has made significant inroads in an attempt to ease the Swede’s burden.

Imagine a country of only 9.5 million inhabitants permitting 8000 new Syrians in 2012 and projecting a doubling of that amount to 16,000 for 2013, and what that does to the infrastructure and society of such a small country.

Some of the backlash appears to be racially motivated, while others feel the pinch of rising cost of living due to supply and demand. Others criticize the ease at which Syrians are able to immigrate to Sweden. Showing up on an airplane to clear customs is enough to be granted asylum for Syrians seeking Swedish citizenship. With asylum comes the meal ticket paid for by Swedish citizens and many Swedes resent that their generosity has been usurped.

It is estimated that 7000 Syrians currently live in temporary accommodations in Sweden such as hostels and tents, as regular apartments and living accommodations are filled to saturation levels. The exploding budget for housing immigration seekers alone has already topped $115 million. And that is a number Swedes feel is difficult to live with, despite their willingness to contribute fairly to those affected by the conflict in Syria.

Only a few years ago we were blaming Syria for contributing to world terrorism by harboring and training extremists whose goal was to create havoc, disrupt economies, and cause death and destruction to western nations. Now it appears the Europeans have forgiven them and are prepared to have their economies adversely affected by essentially paying their living costs while harming the pocketbooks of its own citizens.

So who should pay for the freedom and standard of living for Syrians fleeing their homeland? With Swedes growing increasingly reluctant to shoulder the financial burden and changes to their culture and society, and European Union members adverse to grant even one asylum visa, one has to wonder why the brotherhood of what we know as the Middle East is not opening their arms to Syrians in their time of need.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Unlocking the Big Brothering of the Vatican

Hold on to your skeleton keys Batman, the Vatican is embracing swipe technology!

The world’s smallest state is being retrofitted with high tech gizmos and gadgets as part of its modernization plan to beef up security and track employees. Some suggest this is a direct response to the scandal that has become known as Vatileaks.

Regardless of the intent, it certainly runs counterintuitive to the rest of the Vatican’s thinking process. It would appear that maintaining currency and relevance applies only to those areas not directly connected to selling the product of religion itself.

While Catholic priests continue raping children with the knowledge and complicity of those in a position to eradicate such perversion, while the Catholic Church maintains archaic positions that are literally killing their followers (i.e. forbidding condom use), while the Catholic Church continues to practice exclusionary religion, and while the Catholic Church hoards ill-gotten riches far exceeding the wealth of many sovereign states while claiming poverty, they have decided to leap into the 21st century by installing security measures auspiciously as a contemporary prudence.

It would be easier to digest the Big Brothering of the Vatican as merely good business sense if their theological thinking was also in keeping with the times. However, it is likely closer to the truth to view recent demonstrations and uprisings in Italy, Greece and other parts of Europe as a wake-up call for the Pope and Company to further erect barriers between themselves and those they purportedly serve as a form of protection from the anger erupting at their doorstep.

Lord knows Vatican Army with their shiny spears are in no position to defend such a den of iniquity.