Monday, October 19, 2009

PETA Stunts Are Still Trashy

Targeting elementary school children with a bloody elephant character? That was so last week. This week, PETA put up a billboard in the United Kingdom featuring a child killer near the victim's home. But (thankfully) the animal rights wingnuts have been dealt a setback in that country: The government-run Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned a different PETA billboard from the country. Why? For wrongly implying that eating meat causes H1N1 “swine” flu:
The agency said the poster -- on which the words "meat kills" and "go vegetarian" were transposed over the names of deadly diseases, of which swine flu featured most prominently -- was misleading and could cause undue fear and distress.

But the ASA noted that of the four diseases referred to on the poster -- E. coli, mad cow, swine flu and MRSA -- only two were known to have originated from eating meat, and said the advert could cause some readers to wrongly infer swine flu could be caught in this way.

Perhaps the ASA figured out that an organization whose Senior Vice President breathlessly says that “[w]e’d love it if the world turned vegan tomorrow” isn’t going to give meat a fair shake.

PETA is also in the news for offering a $2,500 reward for information in a case of four dead pit bulls found in a trash bin. Does the crime sound familiar? Yep. PETA’s own employees went on trial after they were caught red-handed dumping 31 pets in the trash to rot in 2005. Right after killing them in the back of a PETA-owned van.

So let’s review the PETA philosophy: Meat makes you sick, at least until someone reminds the public that it doesn’t. And animals aren’t garbage—unless it’s PETA doing the trash dumping. PETA has killed more than 21,000 dogs, cats, and other “companion animals” since 1998, and it’s suddenly upset over the deaths of four dogs.

Pot? Kettle? You can’t spell “pathetic” without the letters P, E, T, and A.


Senate insurance proposals put premium on "healthy" living

More government meddling in people's private lives

Get in shape or pay a price. That's a message more Americans could hear if the health care reform bills passed by the Senate Finance and Health committees become law. By more than doubling the maximum rewards and penalties that companies can apply to employees who flunk medical evaluations, the bills could put workers under intense financial pressure to lose weight, stop smoking or even lower their cholesterol.

The initiative, largely eclipsed in the health care debate, builds on a trend that is already in play among some corporations and that more workers will see in the packages they bring home during this month's open enrollment. Some employers offer lower premiums to people who complete personal health assessments; others offer only limited benefit packages to smokers.

The current legislative effort takes the trend a step further. It is backed by major employer groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. It is opposed by labor unions and groups devoted to combating serious illnesses, such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Diabetes Association.

President Obama and members of Congress have declared that they are trying to create a system in which no one can be denied coverage or charged higher premiums based on their health status. The health insurance lobby has said it shares that goal. However, so-called wellness incentives could introduce a colossal loophole. In effect, they would permit insurers and employers to make coverage less affordable for people exhibiting risk factors for problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

"Everybody said that we're going to be ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But this is in effect discrimination again based on preexisting conditions," said Ann Kempski of the Service Employees International Union.

The legislation would make exceptions for people who have medical reasons for not meeting targets.

Under current regulation, incentives based on health factors can be no larger than 20 percent of the premium paid by employer and employee combined. The legislation passed by the Health and Finance committees would increase the limit to 30 percent, and it would give government officials the power to raise it to 50 percent. A single employee whose annual premiums cost him and his employer the national average of $4,824 could have as much as $2,412 on the line. At least under the Health Committee bill, the stakes could be higher for people with family coverage. Families with premiums of $13,375 — the combined average for employer-sponsored coverage, according to a recent survey — could have $6,687.50 at risk.

An amendment passed unanimously by the Health Committee would allow insurers to use the same rewards and penalties in the market for individual insurance, though legislative language subsequently drafted by the committee's Democratic staff does not reflect that vote, Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), for the committee's ranking Republican, has said. The bill drafted by the Senate Finance Committee would set up a trial program allowing insurers in 10 states to use wellness-based incentives for individuals.


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