October 29, 2014


Privatized Food Inspection Raises More Safety Concerns. In response to last week’s discovery that a shipment of imported beef from Canada was contaminated with the pathogen E.coli 0157:H7, Food & Water Watch today urged USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to reassess the agency’s positions on equivalency for privatized inspection systems, stop the implementation of those systems domestically and uphold the U.S.-Canada border inspection program. Food and Water Watch

Unmanned Rocket Explodes at Liftoff in Virginia. An unmanned Orbital Sciences Corp. rocket carrying cargo for the international space station suffered a catastrophic failure seconds after liftoff Tuesday, dealing a potential setback to NASA’s program to privatize such missions. . .. The launch was supposed to be the third cargo resupply mission by Orbital Sciences to the space station. NASA also has contracted with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX as the company is known, to ferry food, other supplies and scientific experiments to the orbiting laboratory. But Tuesday’s events are bound to ground the Antares rocket for at least several months, while NASA and company experts dissect data, determine what went wrong and put fixes in place. Wall Street Journal

TX: Texas Road Proposition Popular with Voters. An overwhelming majority of Texans seem poised to approve the Proposition 1 constitutional amendment on Nov. 4 that would provide an additional $1.7 billion/year of state oil and gas production tax revenues to road projects. . . . The proposed state constitutional amendment stipulates that the new transportation money cannot be used to build toll roads or acquire right of way for them. Bond Buyer

TX: Unpopular Toll Road Idea We Said Was Dead Might Not Be Dead. North Texas’ regional transportation officials recently announced that they would no longer recommend forcing people out of their homes in the countryside northeast of Dallas to build another toll road, because it turned out that people didn’t like the idea. “We thought we had consensus that we should proceed in this direction, and obviously we were wrong,” said Michael Morris, transportation director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, when we talked last week. But does a regional transportation official’s recommendation even mean anything anymore? In this fast-paced world of Texas transportation officials and unpopular toll road projects, the state is sending mixed messages about whether the toll road is really dead.  Dallas Observer (blog)

IN: US bankruptcy judge approves reorganization plan for private Indiana Toll Road. A federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved a reorganization plan for the Indiana Toll Road that should speed the sale of the 157-mile road forward. Federal Bankruptcy Judge Pamela Hollis confirmed a plan that will put the 75-year lease of the road out to bid after listening to a swift presentation from lawyers for Indiana Toll Road Concession Co., which currently holds the lease and operates the road. nwitimes

MD: Hearing scheduled for concerns on city water system privatization. Concerns about Baltimore selling its water system to a private company will be vetted at a City Council hearing at 5 p.m. Dec. 1. Councilman Carl Stokes said while Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration has stressed that there are no plans to sell the water system, he wants agency officials to explain why they are looking for a consultant to study operations. “Why go to an outside vendor rather than rely on [the city’s] own expertise?” Stokes said. It’s unclear when the city’s spending panel will vote on the proposed $500,000 study. The hearing announcement came as hundreds rallied outside City Hall to draw attention to their concerns about keeping the water system public, as well as a call for good jobs, safe streets and high-quality schools. Baltimore Sun

KY: Dems push sleeper issue in Kentucky Senate race: Social Security privatization. The other day, the Dem-aligned Senate Majority PAC made a splash by going up in Kentucky with a very harsh ad hitting Mitch McConnell over his previous support for Social Security privatization. . . .The dust-up shows that Democrats are pushing hard to make Social Security privatization a sleeper issue in the last days of the Kentucky Senate race. And they were handed an unexpected opening in this regard, when McConnell himself made an offhand reference to his own involvement with George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization efforts in 2005. “He wanted us to try to fix Social Security,” McConnell said during a recent speech. “I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate…to help us. Washington Post (blog)

TN: Charter School Resistance Flares. When leaders of the Yes Prep charter group walked into a hostile meeting at American Way Middle School Monday, Oct. 27, set up by the Achievement School District, they also walked into a “Save Our School” rally organized by opponents of the school’s takeover by the state-run district. The result was a tumultuous show of opposition in which Yes Prep leaders left without getting to make their case for running the school for the ASD. Memphis Daily News