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by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

According to Robin Marty of, today's young whippersnappers are snorting bath salts and plant food to get their kicks. I knew I was getting old when I had to check the media to find out  about the latest youth drug menace.

But, before you go and blow your allowance at the Body Shop  or the garden center, keep in mind that "bath salt" and "plant food"  are just euphemisms that web-based head shops use to sell these amphetamine-like drugs , according to a 2010 report by the UK Council on the Misuse of  Drugs. The active ingredients of this legal high are mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

Despite what the media would have you believe, these  designer drugs are not ingredients in common household  products. You cannot get high on actual bath salts or plant food.  Sorry. Gardeners, if you bought exotic imported "plant food" online, and  it arrived in an impossibly tiny packet, don't feed it to your plants.

Anti-choice black op linked to James O'Keefe

At least a dozen Planned Parenthood clinics across the country have recently been visited by a mysterious, self-proclaimed "sex trafficker" who was apparently part of a ruse to entrap clinic employees. Planned Parenthood reported these visits to the FBI.

In each case, the man reportedly asked to speak privately with a clinic worker, whereupon he asked for health advice regarding the underage, undocumented girls he was supposedly trying to traffic.

Jodi Jacobson reports at RH Reality Check:

[Prominent anti-choice blogger] Jill Stanek and  other anti-choice operatives, including Lila Rose of Live Action Films  are effectively claiming responsibility for sending  pseudo "sex  traffickers" into [Planned Parenthood] clinics, and also warn of "explosive evidence,"  of which they of course present.....none.  They appear to have no  credible response to exposure of their efforts to perpetrate a hoax on  Planned Parenthood.

As Jacobson points out, sex trafficking is a very real problem. And a sex trafficking hoax diverts time and resources that the authorities who could be hunting down real traffickers. She adds:

Victims of sex trafficking, after all, also need sexual health services because they are effectively being raped regularly and are more likely  to contract sexually transmitted infections and experience unintended  pregnancies. Does this help them get treatment?

Lila Rose of Live Action Films is a former associate of right wing hoaxster James O'Keefe, who orchestrated a sting operation against the social justice group ACORN. O'Keefe was sentenced last year to three years' probation for scamming his way into the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in January, 2010.

Sex, lies, and the classroom

To mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Radio Project presents a discussion of sex ed in American schools, federal funding for sex ed, and advocacy by interest groups and parents. Guests include Phyllida Burlingame of the ACLU and Gabriela Valle of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice.

Hot coffee!

Remember the woman who sued McDonald's after she spilled a hot cup of coffee in her lap? Corporate interests made Stella Liebeck into a national joke, even though she won her suit. Hot Coffee is a new documentary that tells the story behind the one-liners. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews Ms. Liebeck's daughter and son-in-law.

McDonald's corporate manuals dictated that coffee be served at 187 degrees, in flimsy styrofoam cups. A home coffee maker usually keeps the brew between 142 to 162 degrees, and most people pour their Joe into something sturdier than a styrofoam cup. If you spill that coffee on yourself, you have 25 seconds to get it off before you suffer a 3rd degree burn. Whereas if you spill 187-degree coffee on yourself, you've got between 2 and 7 seconds.

Companies are expected to produce products that are safe for their intended use. McDonald's was serving coffee to go, through drive-through windows, with cream and sugar in the bag. By implication, it should be safe to add cream and sugar to hot coffee in a car. In the pre-cup-holder era, millions of Americans were probably steadying their coffees between their legs to add cream and sugar every day. A responsible restaurant would not dispense superheated liquids in flimsy to-go cups. Indeed, McDonalds' own records showed that 700 people had been scalded this way.

In 1992, the plaintiff was a passenger in a parked car, attempting to add cream and sugar to her coffee while steadying the cup between her knees. When she opened the lid, the cup collapsed inward, dousing her with scalding coffee. The 79-year-old woman sustained 3rd degree burns over 16% of her body. She needed skin grafts to repair the damage. Initially she only sued to recoup part of the cost of the skin grafts. But the judge who heard the case was so outraged by McDonald's disregard for customer safety that he urged the jury to award punitive damages.

Another theme of Hot Coffee is how medical malpractice caps are forcing taxpayers to cover the medical costs of people who are injured by negligent health care providers.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Originally posted to The Media Consortium on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 09:26 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Right teaches us (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Statusquomustgo

    Anti-choice black op linked to James O'Keefe

    when you can't find the facts to support your reality, then you must stage lies to support your reality. This somehow makes you a morally superior person in their world.

  •  I don't have much sympathy for the coffee lady (0+ / 0-)

    The lid is an important structural element to a styrofoam cup. Remove it and the cup can be collapsed with very little lateral stress.  For a 79-year-old person to pretend not know this is a little hard to believe.

    McDonald's was serving coffee to go, through drive-through windows, with cream and sugar in the bag. By implication, it should be safe to add cream and sugar to hot coffee in a car.

    I guess you've never heard of drive-through beer vendors?  They're pretty common in some places.

    •  Hard to imagine the kind of mind (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Pandoras Box, Karl Rover

      that has little sympathy for a 79yr woman w/3rd degree burns. srsly

      "But much to my surprise when I opened my eyes I was the victim of the great compromise." John Prine

      by high uintas on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 12:23:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  you need to get a few more facts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and not just base your opinion on something you heard on the news

      there was a great deal more to this story

      "We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering!" - The Shoveler

      by Pandoras Box on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 02:36:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I recall reading several articles about this (0+ / 0-)

        But I haven't read the trial transcript - have you?

        Taking the lid off of a styrofoam cup while holding it between your legs (which means squeezing it with some amount of pressure) would lead to a fairly high likelihood that the cup would collapse. Doing it with hot coffee -- whether 140 degrees or 180 degrees -- is foolish.

        •  she wasn't the only person who had this (0+ / 0-)

          happen to her

          During discovery, McDonalds produced documents showing more than 700 claims by people burned by its coffee between 1982 and 1992. Some claims involved third-degree burns substantially similar to Liebecks. This history documented McDonalds' knowledge about the extent and nature of this hazard.

          McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

          Further, McDonalds' quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonalds had no intention of reducing the "holding temperature" of its coffee.

          I don't care HOW she was holding it.  People SPILL their coffee for many reasons and not all of them their fault.  For this to have happened over 700 times before and for McDonald's to continue to maintain this policy is irresponsible to all its customers.

          But this woman won her case, and the response is overwhelming that she is a fool.  

          "We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering!" - The Shoveler

          by Pandoras Box on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:31:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess we'll agree to disagree (0+ / 0-)

            People SPILL their coffee for many reasons and not all of them their fault.  

            Not all, but sometimes - probably most times.  I believe in her case it was her fault.  

            Had I been on that jury, I don't think I would have voted in favor of her claim unless the cup was physically defective, the lid had been incorrectly applied by a McDonald's employee, or a McDonald's employee had poured the coffee on her.  

            Beyond that it's someones else's fault.  Not McDonald's.

            I think that verdict was wrongly decided.

  •  Question: (0+ / 0-)

    I figured medical malpractice caps would be worded so as to cap "pain and suffering" damages, not damages awarded to cover the cost of treatment and lost wages...?

    Also, a very minor technical note: while McD's coffee was unreasonably hot, it wasn't superheated. Superheating usually involves heating a liquid to a temperature above its boiling point while preventing it from boiling - you can do this in a microwave with a very smooth, very clean cup filled with water, microwaved for a few minutes. Inserting something like a wooden spoon (with a VERY long handle) can trigger sudden boiling, with accompanying splashing. And now, this episode of "Doing Stupid Things Unwisely" will end.

    "Neskon would be a good choice, except he's a flame-trooper. They're all bug-eyed madmen."

    by Shaviv on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 12:10:12 PM PST

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