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Monday, February 2

Have A Great Day! 

Bored with the media and the internet? Try doing something really interesting, read a book. Or if you can't afford the $16-$25 necessary to buy a paperback these days, read "In These Times" (2/16/2004 issue). They have an article on Mad Cow Disease, which was only discovered in cows beginning in 1985, but whose origins stem all the way back to 1755. By the way, Mad Cow Disease affects cows, the human strain is called TSE and usually affects cannibals. It's a fascinating disease. If you were a regular McDonald's food eater in the 1970s and '80s you may be the one of the over 40 billion lucky to have been served. Some day, possibly when you are older, your brain will turn into sponge and huge holes will form in it. You will go completely nuts and die a horrible death. If you were one of the lucky to not have been served, congratulations. Otherwise, "Have A Great Day!"

Advance preview of "How Now Mad Cow", In These Times 2/16/2004:

"...Since 1993, I have devoted numerous "First Stones" to mad cow and related diseases. Nearly every prediction -- and warning -- from scientists who are experts in this field has come to pass. Yet, by and large, the mainstream media have chosen to listen to the palliative pronouncements of government officials and industry flacks. With mad cow disease now established in the United States that may be changing.

Mad cow, first discovered in Great Britain in 1985, is a type of malady known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The disease gets its name from the sponge-like formations that occur in the brains of infected mammals. The sheep form of the disease, which has been recognized since 1755, is known as scrapie. In Britain, cattle contracted mad cow disease, known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), by eating protein feed supplements that contained scrapie-infected sheep.

The human strain of TSE comes in several forms, including Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD), Kuru (a TSE that several decades ago plagued a population of New Guinea cannibals before changes in dietary laws), and new variant CJD (nvCJD), the form of the disease that comes from eating infected cattle.

The USDA has long known that mad cow disease posed a threat. However, department officials were worried about danger to the industry -- not the public. In 1991, the USDA prepared contingency plans to deal with the possibility that mad cow disease could rear its ugly head in the United States. To wit, it drew up a strategy paper titled "BSE Public Relations." That plan reads in part, "The mere perception that BSE might exist in the United States could have devastating effects on our domestic markets for beef and dairy." And it noted that the agricultural industry is "vulnerable to media scrutiny" regarding "the practice of feeding rendered ruminant products to ruminants and the risk to human health" that might stem from this practice."

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