Friday, April 18, 2014

From books to pork

The 10 most challenged books of 2013.

Sticking with XP..  if you care.

Jesus's wife.

Super rats?

Showtime's climate change scientist:
An evangelical Christian, married to a pastor, living in conservative West Texas, and widely regarded as a top-notch climate scientist, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe is a rare breed on paper — in person, she’s even rarer. Deftly moving between topics like science, religion, and gender with equal parts insight and levity, Hayhoe is an unassuming force of nature.
Rabid Christianists trying to get rid of no-fault divorce.  As if making it harder to divorce will make marriages better....

What democracy?

We're number one!

How safe will our pork be if the Chinese are in charge of production?  Here are the companies that Smithfield owns:
The acquisitions have caused concern among regulators in the United States regarding the company's control of the food supply. After Smithfield's purchase of Murphy Family Farms, the Agriculture Department described it as "absurdly big."[6] As of 2006 four companies – Smithfield, Tyson, Swift & Company, and Cargill – were responsible for the production of 70 percent of pork in the United States.[14] 
The company had 46,050 employees in the United States, Mexico and Europe as of 2012, and an annual revenue of $13 billion. It raises 15.8 million pigs a year, producing 3.8 billion pounds of fresh pork and 2.7 billion pounds of packaged meat, sold as 50 brands of pork products and 200 gourmet foods.[15] Along with specialty brands such as Paula Deen Collection, and international brands such as Weight Watchers, the company's 12 core brands are Armour, Carando, Cook's Ham, Curly's Foods, Eckrich, Farmland, Gwaltney, Healthy Ones, John Morrell, Kretschmar, Margherita, and Smithfield.[16] The company also operates The Genuine Smithfield Ham Shoppe and a restaurant, Taste of Smithfield, both in Smithfield, Virginia.[17]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is Saudi Arabia mad at us? Do we care?

Well... we've never really discussed why 15 of the 17 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, have we?  And bin Laden was Saudi as well.... But Saudi Arabia has oil, so we must be friends...

Is America's relationship with Saudi Arabia broken beyond repair?
Barack Obama arrives in Riyadh seeking rapprochement with an aggrieved Arab ally whose interests are increasingly at odds with its key western backer. 
The president's flying visit – no more than an evening in the Saudi king's palace – is his first since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, which drove an initial wedge between both capitals. 
Ever since, relations have tangibly soured, with US outreach to Iran and ambivalence on Syria particularly irking Saudi leaders, who believe their arch-foe, Tehran, has been empowered at their expense. 
So bothered has Riyadh become by what it sees as naive appeasement of Iran that it now seems ready to project itself regionally without US cover. 
"The US has underwritten the regional security order for the past 70 years and it sees now as a good time to disengage," one senior figure told the Guardian recently. "We will have to do it all ourselves." 
Saudi anger is rooted in the US response to the Arab awakenings that rumbled through North Africa and the Middle East in the three years since Mubarak, a staunch regional ally, stood down.
Another top heavy bloated monarchy perched on top of an increasingly angry neglected population wondering when the Arab Spring uprising will start in their country and whether the US will ride in on its white horse?

Weirdness and beyond

The weird things we've found to eat.  Can you imagine how hungry we had to be to figure out how to eat them?

Wells Fargo.. foreclosing people one client at a time.

Hobby Lobby... going after birth control.  The definition of rape culture.

Anybody have an invention they'd like to have produced?

Women in the gaming industry.

Should we worry if the engineered bacteria making jet fuel (which is fantastic) escapes into the wild?

Ten cooking tips for the kitchen.

Maybe there's a Super Earth out there too?

And speaking of weird things... a spider as big as your face.  That's one more country I'm not visiting....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Women, grammar, and exercise!

What women were wearing when they were sexually attacked... debunking one myth about rape.  And myths about birth control.

English, the language of oopses.  And grammarphobia.

We're drinking the wrong kind of milk?  And look!  We've made a superbug to eat the supercorn!

What do you still do now that you did when you were poor?

Scars (nsfw)

No wonder I feel like California didn't have a winter!  We didn't!  And:
A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. 
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."

Fukushima fallout.

Elizabeth Warren and what she has done for you.

US Government to Deregulate Meat Industry

Scary scientist is scary.

Underwater archaeology.

Why this runner runs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

This affects all of us who border the Pacific... and beyond.

Tepco?
Fukushima operator may have to dump contaminated water into Pacific: As Japan marks the third anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Tepco is struggling to find a solution for hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water  
What gives you the right to poison our oceans with radioactivity?  (Ignore our 'work' on the Bikini Islands.) Is this the best idea you can come up with for the continuous leaks and the huge quantity of radioactive water?  Tepco, the company that has gangsters taking over contracts and hiring homeless people to work clean up?  Why should we trust you when you tell us it is safe to do this?

We must never forget Fukushima and the lessons it has taught us.  At least we can see some changing attitudes about nuclear power.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Your medicine could be coming from China.

Daily Kos (via Steve Bates):
Recently, Diane Rehm had a show about prescription drugs sold in the U.S. that are manufactured outside of the U.S. Unknown to me (and probably many others) many of the prescription drugs that we take were actually manufactured outside of the United States. According to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the FDA: Eighty percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in drugs taken here are actually manufactured in other countries and about 40 percent of the finished drugs are coming from other countries.
Really?  China?  This China?

China, selling fox meat as donkey meat to its clients.  Not that I'll ever eat donkey meat.  That's not the point.  It's that, again, China is caught selling something inedible/ poisonous/ toxic/ contaminated/ mislabeled to customers.  Don't they have an 'FDA' branch of the government that enforces quality controls?  If they don't, why would anyone trust China to sell anything reliable, safe, or uncontaminated?

Here is the list culled from the many posts on my blog on China's ongoing problems in food and industrial safety.

Gutter oil made in China... from dead animals and garbage.  Are we sure we want them to process our chickens?

They never seem to learn:

 220,000 Pounds Of Poisoned Dead Fish Scooped Up In China In Reminder Of Pollution Plaguing Country
Authorities have scooped up around 100,000 kilograms (220,000 pounds) of dead fish they say were poisoned by ammonia from a chemical plant, environmental officials and state media said Wednesday, in a reminder of the pollution plaguing the country. 
The Hubei province environmental protection department, notified of the piles of dead fish in central China's Fuhe River on Monday, pointed the finger at local company Hubei Shuanghuan Science and Technology Stock Co. Officials said sampling of its drain outlet showed that ammonia density far exceeded the national standard. The company said it wasn't going to immediately comment. 
Inadequate controls on industry and lax enforcement of existing standards have worsened China's pollution problem, stemming from three decades of breakneck economic growth. High-profile incidents this year involving dead animals in rivers – not only deaths attributed to pollution but also carcasses dumped by farmers after die-offs at farms – have added to public disgust and suspicions about the safety of drinking water. 
The latest incident has affected the nearby fishing village of Huanghualao, where 1,600 residents make a living from fishing, said the village's Communist Party secretary, Wang Sanqing.
Adding yet one more thing that illustrates why we can't trust food products (or anything else) from China:
More than 900 people have been arrested in China for involvement in meat-related crimes, including producing fake beef and mutton from animals such as rats, minks and foxes, authorities reported. 
A total of 382 cases of alleged crimes in food industry were uncovered in a three-month campaign launched by China’s Ministry of Public Security on January 25, the ministry reported.
In addition to producing falsely-labeled meat, the crimes included using banned chemicals in processing of products, selling meat infected with various diseases and injecting water into meat to pad up its weight, according to Xinhua news agency. 
Security officials seized more than 20,000 tons of illegal meat products during the crackdown.
The ministry said it will now focus on dairy products, continuing a larger campaign to combat crime and violations in food industry.
Nice to see official attempts to crackdown on this unregulated industry.  But I bet I will be posting yet another article sometime soon about poisonous/ toxic/ polluted/ contaminated products made in China.  Because that's the way it is.

Update:  I do hope the Chinese scientists know what they are doing....
Scientists warn Chinese-made air-transmissible bybrid bird flu puts humanity at risk

From my many posts on this subject:

Fake Medicine from China Threatening Lives in Africa

 *sigh*

Add it to the list:

BEIJING—The discovery of unusual levels of mercury in Chinese-produced infant formula reignited fears about the safety of the country's scandal-ridden dairy industry, and underlined the severe challenges the government faces in improving food safety.
Mercury in baby formula.

Pills for human consumption containing human remains.

China poisons more pets:
November 18, 2011 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an important bulletin warning consumers that chicken jerky products (also marketed as chicken tenders, strips or treats) may be associated with serious illness in dogs.
Over the past 12 months, the FDA has observed an increase in the number of complaints regarding canine illnesses associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China.
These complaints have been reported to the government by both dog owners and veterinarians.
And here is the ever-expanding list:

But according to FSN, the biggest reason to avoid ultra-filtered honey is that pollen is the only sure-fire way to trace the source of honey to a geographic location. As a result ultra-filtered honey is often used to mask the shady origins of certain kinds of honey -- especially Chinese honey, which is subject to heavy import tariffs on account of its frequent contamination by heavy metals and illegal antibiotics. Chinese honeymakers ultra-filter their honey, and then ship it through byzantine paths, to sneak their sham product onto American grocery shelves without being hit with a tariff.
Vinegar from China kills 11 people.

"From steroid-spiked pork to glow-in-the-dark meat to recycled cooking oil collected from sewers, a series of illnesses and scandals linked to tainted food has put officials on guard. But tougher measures have had little effect amid an official culture of secrecy."

Watermelons spiked with growth chemicals explode in the fields... so the farmers feed the forchlorfenuron saturated melons to fish and pigs.

Waste water forced into pigs going to market.

Fresh milk tainted with melamine and toxic substances extracted from leather scraps... killed 6 children in China and sickened 300,000.

Rice is contaminated with heavy metals like cadmium.

Fake rice made from plastic, potatoes and resin.

Pulverized lime added to bleaching agents widely used in flour production. Pulverized lime damages the lungs and the entire respiratory system.

Cadmium in children's toys and little girl jewelry. Lead in toys: Thomas the Tank Engine, baby bibs, cub scout badges, wooden blocks. Formaldehyde in candy, in baby clothing. Coma-inducing date rape drug in toys.

Asbestos in toys.

"The rampant use of chemical additives in animal feed can be traced to 1999. According to Gao Yinxiang, the research and development of high-protein feed additives was a hot field among scientists about 10 years ago due to shortage of animal fodder in the country at the time.

From that time, it's hard to define the exact role that scientists played in the evolution of the melamine scandal. Yet scientists certainly contributed to it by developing unsafe protein alternatives. Many Chinese are now calling on scientists to examine their conscience before making profits at the expense of public safety."

Melamine in pet food kills house pets in the US. Melamine is found in wheat, corn and rice gluten.

China says no to inspections and destroys evidence.

Rat poison in breakfast porridge.

Pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella. Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

Toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.

Highly toxic puffer fish sold as monk fish.

Fake blood protein.

Wild mice used for meat.

Defective tires.

Use of illegal drift nets.

Fake kosher food.

Insecticide-tainted dumplings.

More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.

Poisoned chocolate.

Toxic drywall which caused houses to be uninhabitable.

Fake Cisco routers

Misuse and overuse of antibiotics. "Studies in China show a "frightening" increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus bacteria, also know as MRSA."

The list will inevitably be added to. When are we going to learn this is what happens to corporations when there is no regulation?




Friday, February 28, 2014

Bees? What bees?

Covered in bees!

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.

Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But vanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health.

“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”