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Back to School PA Joins National Push to Keep Classrooms Open This Fall

Back to School PA PAC, an influential local parents’ rights group, has joined a national effort challenging the Biden administration to commit to keeping classrooms open in the fall, even if COVID-19 cases continue. It’s an attempt to force the Centers for Disease Control and other public health professionals to acknowledge the research showing the impact of closed classrooms was more damaging to children than the coronavirus.

The open letter was penned by a coalition of scientists, doctors and mental health professionals under the auspices of Urgency of Normal, a group that is concerned that COVID-19 mitigation measures are hurting rather than helping children.

The letter emphasizes that CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines for children do more harm than good and continue to cause significant disruption to children’s education and to working parents while providing no demonstrable public health benefit in limiting the spread.

“Currently, nearly all U.S. adults and children are protected by either vaccination or infection-acquired immunity, and the U.S. is seeing far lower hospitalization and mortality rates than in prior surges. CDC policies have serious unintended consequences–-such as school closures, increased school absences, forcing parents to miss work, and the expense and time of testing,” the group said in a press release.

“Our nation’s children suffered tremendous learning loss as a result of prolonged school closures and are battling a well-documented mental health crisis, and ongoing COVID-19 testing and isolation periods are causing additional harm,” the letter said.

Back to School PA supported school board candidates across the state in 2021 who believed schools should remain open. They endorsed more than 200 candidates and nearly 60 percent won their races. And their predecessor organization, Keeping Kids in School PAC, had a 98 percent success rate in the 2021 primary for the candidates it endorsed.

Beth Ann Rosica

“It’s a nonpartisan group of physicians and parent groups that are advocating to get back to normal for kids,” said Beth Ann Rosica, Back to School executive director. “A lot of these mandates that have been happening all over the country…So they put together a toolkit back in (the winter) to help schools and people who work with kids to put policies in place that would allow kids to experience a more normal childhood. And Back to School PA pushed that out to our parent groups. And I personally went to my own school board, trying to advocate for more normal policies for our kids.”

The letter asks the CDC and the White House to “enact policies that are more reasonable because, even though here in Pennsylvania most schools are unmasked, there are still issues impending,” said Rosica.

“Because we know that cases are going to go up again in the fall and many of the schools have policies that allow for masking up again at certain levels of transmission,” Rosica said.”

And certain school districts were requiring vaccinations for activities like participating in sports, she said.

The letter is “very much of our beliefs and philosophy,” said Rosica. “That parents should be making these decisions and not school districts or even necessarily public health officials. We think it’s a good message.”

“And it’s not political, even though some will say it is,” said Rosica. “These are liberal doctors, conservative doctors, all different kinds of community groups.”

“We have written this letter because the lives of children and their families continue to be disrupted by unnecessary COVID-19 testing, isolation, and vaccine requirements. With high levels of both vaccination and infection-acquired immunity, it is time to lift the COVID-19 mitigation measures that are preventing our children from unconditionally participating in school, camps, and sports,” said co-author Dr. Eliza Holland, a pediatric hospitalist in Charlottesville, Va.

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Meat Prices Skyrocket as White House Blames ‘Greed’

While White House press secretary Jen Psaki casts blame for rising meat prices on the “greed of meat conglomerates,” the Pennsylvania meat industry weighs in.

At a White House press briefing held on Dec. 18, Psaki claimed the rising price of food is at least partly due to the greed of meat conglomerates. According to CNBC, prices of beef and veal have gone up 20 percent between October 2020 and October 2021. And the prices of eggs, pork, chicken, and seafood have all risen between 8 percent and 15 percent in that same timeframe.

“When people go to the grocery store and they’re trying to buy a pound of meat, two pounds of meat, ten pounds of meat, the prices are higher,” Psaki said, “That is because of… you could call it corporate greed, sure.”

Psaki claimed both the secretary of agriculture and President Joe Biden have talked about the greed of meet conglomerates but didn’t clarify to what degree.

Previous reporting would suggest the Biden Administration is displeased with the consolidation of meat corporations and their stranglehold on the slaughtering and processing of meat.

“What you had is a plentiful supply of cattle in this country. There was no shortage of cattle and then you had COVID hit. You had the packers being able to get as many cattle as they wanted when they needed them,” said Darwin Nissley, director of the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association. “Then the news media, I blame some of this on the news media, (saying) how bad this is going to be. People hoarded food, whether it was beef or anything else, and (people) cleaned the meat counters out.”

Part of the problem was packers had a good supply of cattle but because of COVID-19, they did not have a full labor force to keep up with the demand of the retailers, he said. To Nissley, the increased price of meat is largely a matter of supply and demand and, right now, demand for meat is much higher than packers can keep up with.

The good news, Nissley said, is things are beginning to change. But he could not predict when prices might begin to normalize.

“She (Jen Psaki) is saying that the packers are making way too much money, and I’m saying that things are starting to change where that profit margin is starting to narrow down for the packer.”

While COVID-19 and decreased labor forces have impacted industries across the country, other causes may be affecting the price of meat.

An email statement made by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association spokesperson Hillary Makens suggested seasonal shifts in pricing may be a part of the problem alongside the high demand for meat.

“What I can tell you is that beef production remains high and the entire industry – starting with cattle farmers and ranchers – is working diligently to keep up with strong demand and provide consumers with the high-quality beef they know and love,” Makens said. “Regular seasonal shifts in price combined with higher demand have led to a temporary increase in prices.”

Still, there are those who believe the issue is more systemic, a claim that is much more in line with Psaki’s statement, but who don’t exonerate the government from responsibility.

“I think the government is partly covering their own ass,” said Sean Rosenberger, owner of Tussock Sedge Farm in Perkasie. “They’ve had a hand in creating the problem.”

Rosenberger said the government has allowed meat conglomerates to absorb other companies and monopolize for decades, and now they have gotten too big to handle. Tussock Sedge Farms, which specializes in 100 percent grass-fed and pasture-raised meat, sells directly to customers. Because of that, they deal with much smaller butchers.

“Our butcher might process 40 cattle a given week,” Rosenberger said. “Bigger processors might process a couple hundred a day.”

Rosenberger has seen several price increases on the butcher’s side in the last year. Some of those increases have been for clearly cited reasons such as the increase of packaging supplies, but other times the prices have gone up without any obvious justification.

Even more perplexing to Rosenberger is the price of meat in grocery stores.

“We’ve seen the prices of commodity beef and it’s shocked up.”

Rosenberger explained he often checks grocery store meat departments for price and quality while shopping for other things.

“We’re seeing beef that’s produced very cheaply,” Rosenberger said. “Filets for $30 a pound, ours is only $2 more than that.”

Meanwhile, the Delaware Valley Journal reached out to JBS and Cargill, two of the four largest meat processing corporations in the country that operate several plants throughout Pennsylvania. They did not respond to requests for comment.

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HOLY COW! HISTORY: Teddy’s Traumatized Thanksgiving Turkey

Call it the first ‘Fake News’ White House feud. And it arrived just in time for the holiday season. Of 1904.

In the early days of the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt’s brood burst into the White House in a whirlwind of activity unseen since Tad and Willie Lincoln ran wild there 50 years earlier. The children were, to use the polite wording of the day, rambunctious. The country was fascinated by its youthful president (he was 46 at the time) and his six energetic offspring. They made good copy, in newspaper jargon.

For example, they gave The Boston Herald a colorful story a few days before Thanksgiving. It described how when a live turkey was delivered to the White House for the First Family’s feast, the youngest Roosevelt kids gleefully chased it around the grounds. They tormented the animal and even plucked its feathers as it ran. TR supposedly watched the scene with great amusement.

Not content to let a good thing go, a Herald columnist called “The Chatterer” wrote the next day, “Apparently the Roosevelt children are chips off the old block and possess their full share of juvenile irresponsibleness. But why should they be allowed to torment and frighten an innocent turkey?”

But Teddy wasn’t laughing when the story reached his desk. In fact, he blew a gasket.

He was so worked up, he ranted about it during a Cabinet meeting, where his agriculture secretary helpfully pointed out it’s impossible to pluck a running turkey’s feathers.

The whole thing was a lie, the president growled. He explained the bird had arrived dead, dressed, and ready to cook, so his kids couldn’t have chased it, much less pulled off its feathers. Roosevelt vowed he would “stop newspaper stories of that kind.”

So, early that same evening the White House press shop issued a news release saying, “No such incident as that recited in the Herald has ever taken place since the president has been in the White House.” It went on to say the story, “marks the culmination of a long series of similar falsehoods, usually malicious and always deliberate, which have appeared in the news columns of the Boston Herald.”

And it didn’t stop there. Teddy was so furious, he banned the reporter who wrote the original account from the White House and instructed all federal agencies to give the Herald the silent treatment.

Painted into a journalistic corner, the newspaper fired back. It made a half-hearted mea culpa by admitting, “…the Herald finds that it has been the means of circulating statements which have no foundation in truth.” Then it proceeded to point out Roosevelt had made several erroneous statements. A rival paper called the apology “a trifle sarcastic.”

Now it was on in earnest as newspapers around the country weighed in. Minnesota’s St. Paul Globe opined, “It is an outrage that a public man should be pilloried through his children.” In the bombastic Southern manner of the era, the Charleston, S.C. Post took it a step further saying the reporter should be “condemned to be shot from the mouth of a cannon on the Washington Monument.”

But it ceased being a laughing matter when the U.S. Weather Bureau in Boston stopped giving the Herald its weather maps and New England forecasts.

That was too much even for Roosevelt supporters, who began criticizing him for going too far. The Manchester Union in New Hampshire got straight to the point, calling the president’s response, “censorship and nothing else.”

Maybe the Yuletide spirit brought a little peace on earth and goodwill toward men that season. Because as December drew to a close, the crisis quietly faded away. The whole laughable incident concluded with a chuckle.

The Chicago Tribune ended the saga the day after Christmas with one of the best one-line news reports of all time: “There were no White House turkey stories in the esteemed Boston Herald yesterday.”

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