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The New York Times reports that auditors have found, “An influential cattle industry group misused money raised from ranchers and farmers for promoting beef sales and violated federal rules by spending some of it to support lobbying activities, according to an outside financial review.” The influential group is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the money comes from beef checkoff funds. 

Money went for lobbying (not allowed under federal rules) and money went for travel expenses of the association’s chief executive, who accompanied her husband, Forrest L. Roberts, on marketing trips to New Zealand and Texas. 

• Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, Rand Paul, was quoted in Details magazine as saying coal mining (and oil well drilling) need less government control, not more. Paul told an audience in Harlan, Kentucky, that the recent coal mine disaster in West Virginia, that killed 29 men, will be used to pass more rules, something Paul disagrees with. As for mountaintop removal mining, Paul said:

I think they should name it something better. The top ends up flatter, but we’re not talking about Mount Everest. We’re talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here. And I’ve seen the reclaimed lands. One of them is 800 acres, with a sports complex on it, elk roaming, covered in grass. 

If the mines are unsafe, Paul said, referring to the West Virginia disaster, people won’t work there. “I want to be compassionate,” Paul said, “and I’m sorry for what happened, but I wonder: Was it just an accident?”

A mine safety attorney, Tony Oppegard, said Paul’s remarks were “idiotic.” The reaction from the United Mine Workers was equally strong. Paul’s opponent, Democrat Paul Conway, had no comment.  

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