Five at 8 – 10/5/09: The tragedy of tainted meat

I dare you not to smile when you hear a banjo. Here’s this week’s Monday Morning Rouser:

1) The sickening of Stephanie Smith. Leave it to the New York Times to produce a heck of a video piece on the Cold Spring, Minnesota woman, who was one of hundreds sickened by tainted meat from Cargill. It’ll make you have a salad for lunch:

“I ask myself every day, ‘Why me?’ and ‘Why from a hamburger?’ “Ms. Smith said. In the simplest terms, she ran out of luck in a food-safety game of chance whose rules and risks are not widely known.

Meat companies and grocers have been barred from selling ground beef tainted by the virulent strain of E. coli known as O157:H7 since 1994, after an outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants left four children dead. Yet tens of thousands of people are still sickened annually by this pathogen, federal health officials estimate, with hamburger being the biggest culprit. Ground beef has been blamed for 16 outbreaks in the last three years alone, including the one that left Ms. Smith paralyzed from the waist down. This summer, contamination led to the recall of beef from nearly 3,000 grocers in 41 states.

She was in a coma for nine weeks, and suffered brain damage.

2) Caricaturist Trevour Meyer’s video is part of cartoonist and humorous illustrator Tom Richmond’s tribute to caricaturist Joe Williams, who died last month:

Joe worked for me for several years at my booth at the Mall of America. He was quite a character, doing everything from caricatures to murals to airbrush t-shirts and bedsheet banners… you name it, Joe did it to earn a living as an artist. When the traffic versus rent at the Mall of America became too out of balance Joe bought my equipment from me and took over the booth himself, which he ran for a year or so before moving on to do fairs, festivals and the like.

3) What do “we” stand for these days? President Obama has decided not to upset the nation’s banker — China — and so he won’t be seeing the Dalai Lama during his visit to the U.S. this week.

Says the Washington Post:

The U.S. decision to postpone the meeting appears to be part of a strategy to improve ties with China that also includes soft-pedaling criticism of China’s human rights and financial policies as well as backing efforts to elevate China’s position in international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. Obama administration officials have termed the new policy “strategic reassurance,” which entails the U.S. government taking steps to convince China that it is not out to contain the emerging Asian power.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama could be the last, CTV says. Still lots of good reading on the MPR site from the Dalai Lama’s last visit to our area.

4) Ty Pennington? Casenovia, Wisconsin doesn’t need no Ty Pennington.

Meanwhile, Pennington and the Extreme Makeover Home Edition crew are working on St. Paul’s East Side and the “cone of silence” is firmly in place. A Springfield, Missouri TV station reveals the difference between reality and TV in these home makeovers.

5) A new TED video. Taryn Simon’s photography. She says in the years after 9/11, when the media and the government was looking elsewhere for secrets, she “turned inward.” She came up with “The American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar.” She even makes nuclear waste look beautiful.

Bonus: The giant balloon festival is underway in New Mexico.


Last week the Minnesota Vikings renewed their drive for a new stadium to be built largely at public expense. How willing are you to help pay for a new Vikings stadium?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Economists worry that a new normal of lower employment may be settling in as the recession eases. Unemployment now stands at 9.8 percent and is higher than some had expected.

Second hour: Job search experts, including a headhunter, weigh in on how the employment market is changing with the recession.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Mississippi River water quality expert Nancy Rabalais answers questions about the river watershed.

Second hour: Wildlife artist and best-selling author David Allen Sibley talks about his newest book, “The Sibley Guide to Trees.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Neal Conan and guests gauge the

effect of the nastier elements on our political discourse.

Radio Lab (2-3 p.m.)We’ll be carrying the show this week. But I don’t have any sort of rundown of today’s content.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Claudio Sanchez reports some states are using education stimulus money to make up for state cuts in education.

In North Carolina, community colleges have opened their doors — again — to “illegal immigrants.” That’s going over big.

NPR also is running an extensive profile of media critic Jeff Jarvis.

  • Jim!!!

    Of course the Dalai Lama is just a man. Perhaps he has misgivings about yet another child being brainwashed into thinking he is “reincarnated” from some previous spirit of another person. Good on him if that’s what he’s thinking.