Shorts: us

Slaughterhouse cited for violations

Agriprocessors, the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, was slammed in a union’s report for committing scores of violations.

Among the most serious charges noted in a report by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union released Aug. 9 were inadequate protections against mad cow disease. Agriprocessors, which makes products for brands including Aaron’s Best and Rubashkin’s, had been cited by federal investigators in late 2004 for engaging in acts of inhumane slaughter.

The union, which represents 250,000 food processing employees and bills itself as “a leading voice on industry issues,” obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture records that showed food safety inspectors found 250 instances of noncompliance from Jan. 1, 2006 to Jan. 24, 2007 due to issues such as rodents and fecal contaminations.

“Each of the claims brought forward by this labor union have been addressed,” Sholom Rubashkin, vice president of Agriprocessors, said in a prepared statement. Government regulators “verified that we are currently in compliance, and there are no current food safety issues associated with any of our products.” — jta

Principal resigns over ‘intifada’ flap

Defending the use of the word “intifada” on a T-shirt has cost a New York City principal her job. Debbie Almontaser, who was to be the principal of the city’s first public school dedicated to Arabic language and culture, stepped down Friday, Aug. 10 under fire. She was to lead the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school scheduled to open this fall in Brooklyn.

The controversy began when Almontaser was asked a week ago by a newspaper about the phrase “Intifada NYC” that was printed on T-shirts sold by a group called Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media. The shirts are unrelated to the Gibran school. “The word basically means ‘shaking off,'” Almontaser said. “That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic.” The word has come to be associated with Palestinian attacks on Israel.

She apologized later, saying she regretted her remarks. But Almontaser was rebuked two days later by the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, and newspaper headlines have continued to flame the controversy. — jta