Saturday, February 21, 2009

PREDATOR STATE SECURITY 'FIXES'

The country which pursues security through predator state actions and initiatives gets very little done. A big noise is made when the public is endangered, opinions are written, congressional inquiries are convened, outrage expressed, and then it's on to the next crisis to be not dealt with.

And, so far, it has again been this way with Peanut Corp. of America and the salmonella outbreak.

"The Georgia peanut scandal is yet another warning that food inspection in this country is too fragmented and too lax," opined the LA Times newspaper. Now, you've made the required sound, roll over, time to go back to sleep for another six months.

And just in time comes another story, by the Associated Press, furnishing balance, claiming -- hey, wait just a minute, that Peanut Corp. of America guy is pretty swell.

"When the full story of Stewart Parnell and his company’s role in a nationwide salmonella outbreak is told, his friends said the story also will show him as a good businessman, a Bedford County dad and grandfather, and a caring man who never would hurt anyone," went the lead in the man's hometown newspaper, the Lynchburg News Advance.

An ex-employee told the wire news service Parnell was a great guy. "In fact, he sometimes charged less for products than he probably could have," it continued.

In the meantime, the news stream is littered with items about other companies making recalls or going under because their entire line of foods has been condemned as a result of buying from Peanut Corp. of America. Even tweeting critters have been whacked, Scott's Miracle-Gro, the manufacturer of lawn and garden products, announcing it was recalling a few of its varieties of wild bird food because they might have been made with salmonella-contaminated materials.

But how did this play out in 2007 when ChemNutra, an American company, and Menu Foods, a Canadian firm, supplied poisoned pet food in the North American market?

Pets died from kidney failure after they consumed melamine-tainted food. The melamine had been advertised as a protein powder on the AliBaba trading website by a Chinese company, whereupon it was put into pet food formulations, imported and resold through the ChemNutra/Menu Foods distribution collaboration. ChemNutra's CEOs were hauled before Congress, claims were made about insufficiency in regulation and inspection, and then almost nothing satisfying happened.

A few months later in 2008, a criminal indictment was made against ChemNutra and the Chinese company. However, the Chinese firm was long gone. As for ChemNutra, it still exists, and there's no mention of any of this -- or much of anything else -- on its website.

The US government attorney who filed the criminal indictment against ChemNutra, John F. Woods, resigned to take a position at a law firm on Wall Street.

"During Wood's tenure, the U.S. Attorney's Office of [Western Missouri] has brought some of the most important and complex cases in the history of the district," wrote the State News Service just a couple of days ago. "The office has been particularly active in areas of national concern, such as terrorism and national security, corporate crime, mortgage fraud, and consumer protection ... Under Wood's leadership, the office indicted two Chinese companies and their top executives for allegedly exporting tainted pet food ingredients to the United States, which resulted in the death and serious illness of countless pets. The office also indicted a Nevada-based corporation that purchased the tainted pet food components in China and imported them into the United States to sell to companies in the food industry. ( U.S. v. Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., et. al. and U.S. v. Chemnutra, et. al.)"

And a class action settlement resulting in a $24-million judgment was launched against ChemNutra, Menu Foods and a couple of other companies. Those who had a pet die or go to the vet while on poisoned pet food are entitled to a bit over $900/per animal in compensation. However, if you've missed this in the US news -- it hasn't been covered in any great detail after the initial scandal, and had a pet die, it's too late for you to get anything. Deadline for filing a complaint was January 27th.

"So far in the U.S., there are 22,518 claimants," reported the Ottawa Citizen in early January. "Less litigious Canadians are responsible for just 694 claims. Law firms that negotiated the deal will receive 25 per cent of the fund to cover their fees."

However, there is a snag. "[There] was an appeal of the settlement in the United States," continued the newspaper. "While we remain hopeful it will be dismissed, this will likely delay the processing of claims," said one attorney involved in the action.

About half a year later, Baxter International, a pharmaceutical company, found that its heparin drug was causing a variety of illnesses and even deaths. It had been cut with a substance designed to be a counterfeit in China. The FDA recalled the company's drug and it took a substantial charge -- $11 million against its profits -- in the first quarter of 2008. However, it remained in business and at the mid-year point reported sales up by about 13 percent although it appears to no longer be in the heparin business.

However, lawyers were looking toward filing suit against the company for negligent manufacturing practices.

"The fundamental problem is one of trust in the system," one lawyer told Michigan Lawyers Weekly in July of last year. "The regulatory system seems to be failing," the man added.

The lawyer told the publication " 'the pendulum is about to swing the other way' " in favor of more stringent FDA oversight in drug approval and manufacturing."

Well, no, that didn't happen.

Peanut Corp. of America is on the same track traveled during these two previous cases. It has filed for bankruptcy protection as lawyers gather to try and sue it out of existence.

On the other hand, while the US government has launched a criminal investigation, no charges have been handed down. Recall, that in the case of ChemNutra indictment, the case is still unresolved two years after the initial poisonings.

In the country where predator state security is the way of things, only external enemies get whacked.

Boom, killed another bunch of civilians with a Predator strike! Pakistan gives the Taliban permission to enforce Sharia law and burn down girl schools.

Spend! We need more bioterror defense! "In 2005, the UTSA South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases received a five-year $6.4 million grant to study tularemia" and advance the fight against bioterror reported a Texas business journal.

Anti-terrorism funding needed? We have 77 small business offers in the past thirty days alone, just for you, at fbo.gov.

Get the makers of poisoned food and drugs off the street, bulldoze their companies? Nah, too hard.
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