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Archive for July, 2007

COMMENTARY: GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP TO MOTHER EARTH

Posted in Miscellaneous on July 31st, 2007

GROWING UP, I WAS TAUGHT THAT IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY GENERATION TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR THOSE WHO WILL FOLLOW

CryingIndian.jpg Oh Joy, another hot and muggy New York type of day! The sort of day so unpleasant that the mere act of leaving one’s air-conditioned bubble can be traumatizing .

But what would I know Big Apple summer days? I live and work about as far as one can from New York and not fall off the American Continent, in the area known to millions of teens, tweens, and twenty-something as “the OC” .

But apparently, three thousand miles is not sufficient anymore to escape the unseasonable weather. This, in my opinion, flies in the face of the politically motivated spin-doctors’, sycophants, and right wing retainer’s contention that the temperature changes are purely cyclical and have nothing to do with the escalation of what we have come to know as Global Warming.

Cyclical my ass! The climatologists agree; there is no evidence to support such a theory, none. Not that evicence and scientific grounding matter all that much to these particular groups of naysayers who are more concerned with figuring out a way to get out in front of the Global Warming issue, while still providing cover for the many corporations contributing to it’s advancement. Luckily, people are hesitant to buy these long on rhetoric and short on science answers all that much anymore.

Make no mistake; the extreme weather conditions plaguing our country and our planet, today, the droughts, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis and the famines are either the result of, or exacerbated, by Global Warming. Here again, the climatologists are in agreement.

For society, acknowledging this is half the battle. The second half is a call for action, and action in this situation usually requires sacrifice.

Why should I have to sacrifice, the little voice inside me questions, plaintively? Isn’t it enough that I drive a hybrid car, light my house with CFL’s, sort my recyclables and offset my carbon? Why should I have to sacrifice when everyone around me drives gas-guzzling SUV’s, wastes energy, and, all in all, lives like the wolf is not at the door?

Growing up, I was taught that it is the responsibility of every generation to make the world a better place for those who will follow. Even being generous, there is no way that my baby boomer generation and the members of Generation X, which came along later, can take credit for making the world a better, safer place to live and raise our families.

Within the span of our lives, the world has become a sicker, less healthy place. Pollution is at life threatening levels in many parts of the world. Much of the world’s people do not have enough to eat. There is genocide taking place in Darfur.

Closer to home, fossil fuels have been allowed to dominate the national discussion at the exclusion of virtually all alternate forms of energy. The exception to this, and there is always an exception, is the recent resurgence of nuclear power, which industry proponents are shamelessly attempting to brand as the new green energy.

It was while sitting here in the air conditioning, pondering all of these heavy thoughts that I sat down to compose this posting, feeling guilty that I had not added much to the conversation, lately. At times like this it is easy to feel troubled about one’s place in life. To realize that pretty much all of the best efforts that you have undertaken on a personal level to combat global warming and make the planet a healthier place for us all, are being more than undone by that lumbering thirty-year-old highly inefficient air conditioner running in the next room.

It is this unit, running full tilt from dawn to dusk for the better part of the last week, that has kept my life more or less bearable.

The rational side of me knows that I cannot play into this line of thinking. I cannot allow the bad of the heat wave to overshadow all of the good that I and the family, and all of you, our faithful readers, have accomplished in our personal campaigns to become earth wise.

For example, I know that it is a good thing to shop at local merchants, to sort and recycle my cans and bottles, and to feed the family locally grown produce. This is true even if the local product lacks the organic pedigree of some of the fruits and vegetables available at the nearby Whole Food’s Market. While the Whole Foods produce probably has a marginally better taste, much of it has the misfortune of being produced hundreds, if not, thousands of miles away and carries with it a nasty carbon footprint.

But you know all of this and you don’t need me to wast space here preaching to the choir, particularly on such a hot, muggy day. Suffice it to say that it is one of the ironies that keeps life interesting, that the environment and the health of the planet, contrary to what the politicians may want you to believe, is one of the few issues that transcends political, religious, and ethic divisions.

It is this inclusivity, which gives man a fighting chance at being able to reverse the planet’s slide into oblivion by giving us hope that with a little effort on our part, and yes, some sacrifice, we may be able to convert enough of our friends and neighbors to this wiser lifestyle to make a difference.

So come on my friends, walk your talk and be a part of the solution. I am counting on all of you. Don’t make me look like a foolish optimist once again.

-LIB

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ANTIBIOTICS MAKE THEIR WAY INTO THE VEGETABLES WE EAT

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Eco Thugs, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxic Food on July 31st, 2007

ROOT CROPS, SUCH AS POTATOES, CARROTS, AND RADISHES, THAT DIRECTLY COME IN CONTACT WITH SOIL, MAY BE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO ANTIBIOTIC CONTAMINATION.

251.jpg Cattle in this country are fed corn, which upsets their stomachs, so they are given antibiotics, which end up in the beef we eat. Fertilizer made from the manure from these cattle—and other food animals treated with antibiotics—may also put antibiotics into the vegetables we eat. The danger in all this is that it could lead to antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The USDA has been evaluating the impact of antibiotic feeding in livestock production on the environment, trying to figure out whether food crops accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with manure that contains antibiotics. The irony is that it’s organic farming that relies most heavily on manure fertilizer. In fact, it’s mandated if vegetables are labeled “organic.”

Plant uptake of antibiotics was evaluated in a greenhouse study involving three food crops: corn, lettuce, and potatoes. Plants were grown on soil modified with liquid hog manure containing a commonly used veterinary antibiotic. This antibiotic was absorbed by all three crops.

Concentrations of antibiotics were found in the plant leaves. Concentrations in plant tissue also increased as the amount of antibiotics present in the manure increased.

MORE….

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ALDICARB SULFOXIDE PESTICIDE DISCOVERED IN GINGER FROM CHINA

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Eco Thugs, Health Watch, News Brief on July 31st, 2007

NAUSEA, HEADACHE, BLURRED VISION, DIZZINESS, DIARRHEA, VOMITING, MUSCLE STIFFNESS AND DIFFICULTY IN BREATHING ARE AMONG THE SYMPTOMS OF ALDICARB SULFOXIDE POISONING

ginger.jpgDr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), today warned consumers not to eat fresh ginger imported from China after a state monitoring program detected the presence of an unapproved pesticide in some batches of imported ginger, according to a news release

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s residue monitoring program detected the presence of aldicarb sulfoxide, a pesticide that is not approved for use on ginger. According to the CDPH, the product is known to have been distributed to Albertson’s stores and Save Mart stores in northern California by Christopher Ranch of Gilroy, Calif. CDPH and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are tracing the imported ginger from the importer, Modern Trading Inc. in Alhambra, Calif., to determine the full distribution of the product and to identify other retail stores that may have received the product, according to the CDPH.

There are no reports of illness associated with the contaminated ginger, but the CDPH advises consumers who may have purchased this product from Albertson’s stores and Save Mart stores in northern California to discard it.

Symptoms of aldicarb poisoning in humans are likely to occur within the first hour following exposure.

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ACCORDING TO ROLLING STONE, WASHINGTON’S BRIGHT PROGNOSIS FOR THE FUTURE OF ETHANOL IS “NOT JUST HYPE — IT’S DANGEROUS, DELUSIONAL BULLSHIT”

Posted in Alternative Energy, Corporate Greed, Eco Thugs, Government Shenanigans, News Brief, Pseudoscientific Babble on July 31st, 2007

CORN BASED ETHANOL IS A GIFT TO AMD COMPLETE WITH A HEAPING PACKAGE OF SUBSIDIES

maize.jpgHIGHLIGHTS:

Ethanol doesn’t burn cleaner than gasoline. Nor is it cheaper.

Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption — yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop.

The increasing acreage devoted to corn for ethanol means less land for other staple crops, giving farmers in South America an incentive to carve fields out of tropical forests that help to cool the planet and stave off global warming.

Not all ethanol is created equal.

Ethanol made from sugar cane has an energy balance of 8-to-1 — that is, when you add up the fossil fuels used to irrigate, fertilize, grow, transport and refine sugar cane into ethanol, the energy output is eight times higher than the energy inputs.

Gasoline has an energy balance of 5-to-1.

Corn ethanol an energy balance of only 1.3-to-1 making it practically worthless as an energy source.

READ THE ROLLING STONE ARTICLE

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MESSING WITH THE WORD “ORGANIC”

Posted in Consciousness, Health Watch, News Brief on July 31st, 2007

FOOD COLORINGS, STARCHES, SAUSAGE CASINGS, HOPS, FISH OIL, CHIPOTLE CHILI PEPPER, GELATIN, CELERY POWDER, DILL WEED OIL, FROZEN LEMON GRASS, AND A SWEETENER CALLED FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES ARE ADDED TO THE LIST OF INGREDIENTS ACCEPTABLE IN PRODUCTS LABELED ORGANIC.

groceries1.jpgWhat does “organic” really mean?

According to USDA regulations, a product called “100 percent organic” must contain all organic ingredients. If the label just says “organic,” a processed food product can have up to 5 percent non-organic ingredients by weight — if those ingredients are on the USDA’s “national list” of approved non-organic ingredients.

Until last month, there were only five ingredients on the list: cornstarch, water-extracted gum, kelp, unbleached lecithin, and pectin. But the list just got longer and there’s quite a debate taking place as to whether this is good or bad for consumers.

On June 9th, the USDA added 38 non-organic ingredients to the national list: 19 food colorings, two starches, casings for sausages, hops, fish oil, chipotle chili pepper, gelatin, celery powder, dill weed oil, frozen lemon grass, and a sweetener called fructooligosaccharides.

These 38 items, chosen from more than 600 requested by food manufacturers, can now be used as minor ingredients in 95 percent organic products if a company can prove to its certifier that an organic version is not available in the quality or quantity needed.

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POLITICAL FLUNKIE SUPPRESSES GLOBAL HEALTH REPORT

Posted in Government Shenanigans, Health Watch, News Brief on July 30th, 2007

EX-SURGEON GENERAL TOLD PAPER NOT DEFERENTIAL OR POLITICAL ENOUGH

180px-Surgeon_operating,_Fitzsimons_Army_Medical_Center,_circa_1990.JPEG Three people directly involved in its preparation said its publication was blocked by William R. Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.

A surgeon general’s report in 2006 which described among other things the link between poverty and poor health and urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and for corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. was kept from the public by Mr. Steiger, a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, because the report did not promote the administration’s policy accomplishments.

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TOYOTA TO ROAD TEST PLUG-IN HYBRID

Posted in Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, Global Warming, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Transportation on July 25th, 2007

TEST VEHICLE USES LOW-CAPACITY NICKEL-METAL HYDRIDE BATTERIES

pluginhybrid.jpg Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled a “plug-in” hybrid car based on its popular Prius model Wednesday, saying it would test the fuel-saving vehicle on public roads – a first for the industry.

But the world’s biggest automaker said the car, called the Toyota Plug-in HV, was not fit for commercialization since it uses low-energy nickel-metal hydride batteries instead of lithium-ion batteries believed to be a better fit for rechargeable plug-in cars.

Unlike earlier gasoline-electric hybrids, which run on a parallel system twinning battery power and a combustion engine, plug-in cars are designed to enable short trips powered entirely by the electric motor, using a battery that can be charged through an electric socket at home.

Many environmental advocates see them as the best available technology to reduce gasoline consumption and global-warming greenhouse gas emissions, but engineers say battery technology is still insufficient to store enough energy for long-distance travel.

“It’s difficult to say when plug-in hybrids could be commercialized, since it would depend largely on advances in battery technology,” said Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto, in charge of Toyota’s (Charts) powertrain technology, told a news conference.

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NEW STUDY: EAT MORE TO WEIGH LESS

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief on July 25th, 2007

THE SECRET IS EATING LOW CALORIE VERSUS HIGH CALORIE FOODS

251.jpg Yes, you read that correctly. And no, it’s not the latest diet fad.

Chalk it up to energy density – a theory that has been simmering in nutrition circles for years. It’s an idea that also fits well with our supersized eating habits, since it’s based on volume. In fact, one of the leading researchers in the field has dubbed the idea “volumetrics.”

Here’s how it works: Swap high-calorie (also known as energy-dense) foods with lower-calorie (low-energy-dense) fare.

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DOCTOR LINKS DAIRY PRODUCTS TO INCREASED CANCER RISK

Posted in Miscellaneous on July 24th, 2007

CITES AN ASSOCIATION BETWEEN DAIRY CONSUMPTION AND HORMONALLY SENSITIVE CANCERS

180px-Many_types_of_cheeses.jpgDr. Robert Bibb’s working on a book titled “Death by Dairy” to warn consumers about a possible dietary danger.

From 1928 to 1948, milk was exposed to ultraviolet light to form vitamin D, Bibb said. During that time, no active hormones were present in milk. Then the industry started adding vitamin D powder, a cost-saving alternative, but soon after, breast and prostate cancer rates began a steep rise.

“My working hypothesis is that ultraviolet light incidentally inactivated the homones and proteins in dairy – and we proved this at Clemson [University]. There’s an association between dairy [consumption] and hormonally sensitive cancers. I looked, but I can’t find any other factors that fit epidemiologically [for the rise in cancer].”

Non-dairy consuming countries, such as China and Japan, have lower rates of prostate and breast cancer, Bibb said.

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STATIN DRUGS TIED TO INCREASED CANCER RISK

Posted in Health Watch, News Brief on July 24th, 2007

Statins_190883a.jpg Is anyone really all that surprised that another so-called miracle drug has some nasty side effects, in this case, potentially life threatening ones? Nor, for that matter, are we surprised that the story, based on an American study, was not culled from the American mainstream media and appears to be blacked out here in the land where it originated?

The problem is as I see it that very little surprises us anymore.

So here it is, ripped from today’s headlines, the total skinny about statins, courtesy of our friends across the pond and London’s Times Online.

-LIB

Lowering cholesterol with statins may slightly increase the risk of cancer, a study suggests.

It is not clear whether the cancer cases are caused by the drugs, or are a consequence of the low levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol produced by taking them.

The result, which amounts to one extra case of cancer for every 1,000 patients treated, surprised the researchers who discovered it. They were looking for new evidence on the known side-effects of statins on the liver and muscle wasting.

“This analysis doesn’t implicate the statin in increasing the risk of cancer,” said the study leader, Professor Richard Karas, of Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston. “The demonstrated benefits of statins in lowering the risk of heart disease remain clear. However, certain aspects of lowering LDL with statins remain controversial and merit further research.”

The team reviewed the results of 13 previous trials, involving more than 41,000 patients and all published before November 2005. They detected higher rates of cancer among the patients whose use of statins achieved the lowest levels of LDL cholesterol.

This may be important because recent statin trials have shown that a more aggressive lowering of LDL produces greater benefits to the heart. There are moves to lower the cholesterol targets aimed at by GPs, on the assumption that doing so will do no harm. But there have been suggestions that there may be a greater risk of side-effects if a more aggressive statin treatment is used.

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