Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Food and Product Recalls

More pistachio, drug, and vehicle recalls.

Mar 31---Jeffersonville Meijer recalls GROUND BEEF Products
Mar 31---Setton Pistachio recalls All PISTACHIO Products---U.S./Canada
Mar 31---Kraft recalls Planters' brand PISTACHIOS
Mar 31---Union International recalls Packaged Peanut PRODUCTS
Mar 31---Potent Life/ Supreme Protein BARS recalled---Canada
Mar 31---Premier Foods recalls Batch of Bisto Favourite Gravy GRANULES---U.K.
Mar 31---Conair Corp. recalls CLOTHING IRONS
Mar 31---Yamaha Motor offers free repair for 450/660/700 Model Rhino VEHICLES
Mar 31---Stanley recalls STUD SENSORS---Australia
Mar 31---Gloria Man. recalls Powder FIRE EXTINGUISHERS---France
Mar 31---Daimler Trucks recalls 2008-2009 L-Line/ Columbia TRUCKS
Mar 31---Blue Bird recalls 2008-2009 Vision SCHOOL BUSES
Mar 31---Jayco recalls MOTORHOMES---Australia
Mar 31---Caraco Pharmaceutical recalls Digoxin TABLETS
Mar 31---FDA Acts to Halt Marketing of Certain Unapproved Prescription Narcotic DRUGS
Mar 31---AstraZeneca recalls NebuChamber DEVICES---U.K.
Mar 31---CP Pharmaceuticals recalls Multiparin/ Monoparin PRODUCTS---U.K.
Mar 31---James Leckey Designs recalls Medical POSTURE BELTS---U.K.

Message From WWF: Earth Hour A Success!!

Climate Change Message Heard Around the World!

Thank you Canada for becoming part of the solution by sending a strong message to world leaders about the need for action on climate change! Earth Hour was a huge global success with 3,937 cities and towns turning out their lights, across 88 countries. With almost a billion people mobilized, Earth Hour 2009 was the biggest environmental demonstration in history! Millions of Canadians took part all across the nation, along with nearly 1,000 businesses, helping to make our skylines go dark.

People were inspired across the country and around the globe as monuments such as the CN Tower, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Acropolis and the Empire State Building went dark. This year we welcomed new participation from people in countries such as India and China, and welcomed back the countries that celebrated Earth Hour in 2008.

Thanks to everyone for making our climate change message heard around the world. However you celebrated, we hope it was a truly memorable experience and we hope that you continue to take actions every day to reduce your ecological footprint. Remember to make every hour Earth Hour by joining WWF-Canada's web-based community, The Good Life! The next few months will be critical as we wait to see how global leaders react to this united call for action on climate change.

Make sure you view images and videos from across Canada and around the globe. Then share your Earth Hour experience with the world and make your call to action loud and clear by uploading your images and videos today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Food and Other Products Recall

Mar 30---Union International Food Company recalls Several SPICE PRODUCTS
Mar 30---European Food & Feed Recalls---Week 13
Mar 30---European Food & Feed Recalls---Week 12
Mar 30---AVA recalls Several Myanmar TEA LEAVES---Singapore
Mar 30---RC2 recalls The First Years Classic Pooh Pacifier & Pacifier Attacher PACKS---Australia
Mar 30---Mallinckrodt Inc.reports issues with Phosphoco P32 (Chromic Phosphate P32) MEDICATION---Canada

Italians "Up Anchor"

Photo courtesy of Luxury Homes Network.

In a move designed to protect marine life from anchors, Italy is planning to ban luxury yachts from entering some waters and dropping anchor in many others.

The Italian Riviera has long been a millionaires’ summer playground with many of the rich and famous drifting idly on warm currents, dropping anchor on a whim and soaking up the sun/surf culture. This idealistic lifestyle could be at risk after the Liquria region announced plans to ban boats from dropping anchor along its coast.

Franco Zunino, Liguria's environment councillor, says that boats indiscriminately dropping anchor are destroying the riviera's Posidonia seagrass meadows. These meadows are not only home to a wide variety of marine fauna including seahorses, fan mussels, sea turtles, starfish and wrasse; but, they are a valuable carbon sink helping to protect the environment of the planet.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Boats can no longer drop anchor in front of the exclusive resort of Portofino; and, 26 new sites will be added to the list. These new sites extend from the French border to neighbouring Tuscany and will off limits to vessels over 5m (16’) according to the National Association of Shipbuilders. This will ban practically all boats and the association likened the plan to "changing the highway code at every [regional] border".

The region is weighing up land-controlled "intelligent buoys" used in Greece and Spain that allow boats to moor without damaging the seabed.

Alarming Prediction Concerning "Nessie"

Photo courtesy: FunFacts

Global warming may have claimed one of its most well-known and well-loved victims according to Nessie hunter Robert Rines.

After 37 years; Rines, an 85-year-old American, will make one last trip in a final attempt to locate Nessie. He candidly admits, “Unfortunately I’m running out of age.”

Robert, a World War II veteran, started looking for Nessie in 1971. He had gone to Loch Ness with another monster hunter and identified moving targets with sonar equipment. He had been bitten with the Nessie bug. The following year he returned; and, the rest is history. He says, “I had the misfortune of seeing one of these things with my own eyes.” What he saw was a 25’ long hump with the texture of elephant skin gliding through the water.

Rines knows what he saw; but, the trail seems to have gone cold. Nessie sightings have fallen off; and, Robert Rines now fears Nessie may be dead – a victim of global warming.

In this vein, he wants to check the almost 100 contacts on the loch bottom believing one may be Nessie’s remains.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sheep Eating Palila Bird Out Of House and Home

Critically-endangered palila bird on a mämane tree. Photo by: USGS.

Earthjustice, an environmental legal organization, has filed legal papers against the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources on behalf of the critically-endangered Palila bird. Earthjustice accuses Hawaii of failing to keep feral sheep and goats out of the Palila’s last habitat. If the birds lose this habitat, there is nowhere else they can go.

Apparently, courts have already issued three orders – the first in 1979 – that found the state guilty of not protecting the Palila birds from the environmental desecration done by the browsing habits of both sheep and goats. This puts the state of Hawaii squarely in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The Palila bird (a Hawaiian honeycreeper) lives its entire life dependent on the native mämane trees. The birds build their nests in these trees; feed on their seeds; and the only insect they eat is the native caterpillars found only in the seedpod of the mämane trees. Pretty limiting lifestyle.

The feral sheep and goats not only feed on these trees competing with the Palila for the same food source; but, they trample and kill young saplings which has the potential to destroy the habitat in the long-term.

“The state is not taking effective action to keep the sheep out of the Palila’s critical habitat, and the Palila population is suffering for it,” said John Harrison, president of the Hawaii Audubon Society. “Palila are on a crash-course toward extinction in large part because browsing animals are allowed to continue to destroy their only habitat.”

In the last five years, the Palila population has plummeted more than 60%, from 6,600 individuals in 2003 to 2,600 in 2008.

Earthjustice is requesting a fence be constructed by 2011 that would keep sheep and goats out of the Palila’s last habitat. They are also requesting the effectiveness of sheep hunting that already occurs in the habitat be increased. Earthjustice filed the papers on behalf of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Hawaii Audubon Society, and the National Audubon Society.

Hawaii is the state experiencing the most dire bird crisis: 31 bird species are currently endangered in Hawaii. Out of 13 birds that are considered possibly extinct in the US, nine of them are from Hawaii.

Contact the Governor of Hawaii - Linda Lingle - to show your concern.

Constituent Services
State Capitol, Room 415
Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813
Phone: (808) 586-0221 or (808) 586-0222
Fax: (808) 586-0019

Governor's Office
Phone: 808 586-0034
Fax: 808 586-0006

Food and Other Product Recalls

Mar 29---Halal International Processing recalls Frozen MEAT/ POULTRY Products
Mar 29---Torres Hillsdale Country Cheese expands Listeria Tainted CHEESE recall
Mar 29---Arya Ice Cream recalls California Dream Nut Sundae ICE CREAM
Mar 29---The Produce Patch recalls Cascade TRAIL MIX
Mar 29---Awrey Bakeries recalls Several CAKES w/Peanuts
Mar 29---Natural Selection recalls Aunt Patty’s Cascade TRAIL MIX
Mar 29---Wright Popcorn & Nut recall Carmel CORN/Bulk Chop PEANUTS
Mar 29---Daimler recalls 2006-2008 Orion VII TRANSIT BUSES
Mar 29---Pacific Coachworks recalls 2008 Tango TRAVEL TRAILERS
Mar 29---Volkswagen recalls 2009 CC VEHICLES
Mar 29---Volkswagen recalls 2008 R32 VEHICLES

Saving the Tasmanian Old-Growth Forests

Here are some suggestions for helping to save the Tasmanian oldgrowth forests:

Contact the buyers of Tasmania's Woodchips: Paper manufacturers Oji, Nippon and Mitsubishi are the three biggest Japanese buyers of Tassie's woodchips. Email them.

Contact the Australian Government: Email the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and the Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull- ask them to show leadership on this issue of international importance.

If you're an Australian, visit your local member of Parliament: This is a very powerful action. As people make the effort to see their local member, the Tasmanian Forests will become an important political issue which must be addressed. No need to be an expert - just a concerned citizen!

Raise your voice as investor and customer: Commonwealth Bank of Australia, AMP and Perpetual Investments are all major shareholders in Gunns Ltd.

Visit The Wilderness Society website for a detailed background to the Styx campaign.

Eight-five percent of Tasmania's logged old-growth forests end up exported, mainly to Japan (Photo courtesy of Island Lescure)

Just after the very unpopular “scientific” whale hunts by the Japanese have ended, they find themselves in the spotlight again.

Last year, Japanese paper companies Nippon and Oji admitted to misleading their customers for years – approx. 10 years actually – regarding the recycled content of their paper products. Claims were being made that the paper contained more recycled content that it actually did. In some cases, even though recycled content was claimed - there were, in fact, no recycled materials in the paper at all. Even worse, it was revealed that they were purchasing woodchips sourced from the destruction of old-growth and mature forests in Tasmania.

What exactly is the Tasmanian old-growth forest? The forest is a large stand of Eucalyptus trees known as E. renans. Not only are the E. regnans the largest of the 600-plus species of Eucalyptus found in Australia; but, they are the tallest standing hardwood trees in the world. They are second in size only to the world-famous Californian redwoods. The average growth of a mature E. regnans ranges from 75-90m (246'-295') with a life expectancy of up to 450 years. Currently, the tallest tree recorded in the Styx Valley is measured at 91.6m (300.5'). The tallest Redwoods exceed 100m (328'). They are being logged at an unsustainable rate and are considered by environmentalists are endangered.

Interesting that these trees are in a valley named "Styx". In Greek mythology, the River Styx divided two worlds - Earth and the Underworld. It was the dividing line between life and death. Losing this forest could be the end of several ecosystems.

That scandal caused major embarrassment for the companies and led to the resignation of Nippon Paper’s president, Masatomo Nakamura. In January 2008 Shoichiro Suzuki, chairman of the Japan Paper Association and Oji Paper admitted they had been falsifying the amount of recycled content in their paper products. He refused to resign; but, admitted they had “betrayed public trust”.

Despite the committees that were set up; the investigations into the scandal; and Nippon’s and Oji’s public apologies, a report by two Australian conservations groups claim to present “irrefutable evidence” that the companies are still importing at least 268,000 green tons of woodchipped Tasmanian old-growth forests. The Japanese paper companies claim this is not true.

The report ‘Oldgrowth for Export’ highlights how those companies, the two major customers of Tasmanian woodchipping giant Gunns, are receiving old growth woodchips.

Sobering highlights from ‘Oldgrowth for Export’ report by groups The Wilderness Society and Still Wild, Still Threatened include:

- Approximately 78% of the original extent of tall-eucalypt forests have already been cleared or are available for logging
- 61 000 hectares of tall-eucalypt RFA old growth are currently unprotected from logging
- The dominant product from logging of Tasmania’s public native forests is pulpwood (86%), with less than 5% becoming solid wood products
- The vast majority of pulpwood from Tasmanian native forests – and an even higher proportion of pulpwood sourced from publicly-owned RFA old growth forests – are exported by Gunns Ltd as woodchips
- A significant proportion (at the absolute lowest, 20%) of woodchips from mature and old growth forests are exported to Japan

Over 85 percent of these felled trees end up as woodchips for export, mainly to Japan, at the price of a measly AUS$10 per ton ($7.00 US).

"Whilst the Japanese paper companies were misleading people about using recycled paper in their products they were actually buying large amounts of old growth woodchips from Tasmania," explains Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaign manager for The Wilderness Society (Tasmania).

"We know that environmentally-conscious consumers in Japan will not want to source paper products that are made from the destruction of irreplaceable forests in Tasmania," states Oosting.

"We hope that this exposure and a backlash from Japanese consumers will help convince Nippon and Oji to cease buying woodchips from old growth and high-conservation-value forests in Tasmania and take a more environmentally responsible path into the future."

The full report is available at http://www.wilderness.org.au/articles/old-growth-for-export-article.

Sign the petition to save Tasmanian old-growth forests, if you are so moved.

Next blog: More actions to take to help save the Tasmanian old-growth and mature forests.

Food Product Recall

One more for the list.

Ball Park BRAND BEEF FRANKS Nationwide Recall - actually Cheese Frank Products Mislabeled

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Food and Other Products Recall

Unfortunately, yesterday seems to be a day FULL of recalls. Check them out.

Mar 27---Kroger recalls Private Selection PISTACHIO NUTS
Mar 27---Power Marcanio et Fils issues allergy alert on Several PRODUCTS---Canada (at first, the page appears blank; but, the info starts waaay down the page)
Mar 27---Péché Gourmet issues allergy alert on Several CANDIES---Canada (info starts waaay down page)
Mar 27---Abu Lafia issues allergy alert on Several BISCUIT PRODUCTS---Canada (info waaay down)
Mar 27---PaleyBar expands Jam-N-Peanuts BARS recall---International
Mar 27---Menora Foods recalls Jindi/Top Paddock/Wattle Valley/Willow Grove CHEESES---Australia
Mar 27---Emomarche recalls Cigalou Special Poultry/ Fish CURRY---France
Mar 27---UL Warns of APPLIANCE CONTROLS w/Counterfeit UL Mark---U.S./Canada (info waaay down)
Mar 27---UL Warns of Counterfeit Portable Cabinet LIGHT SYSTEMS---U.S./Canada (info waaay down)
Mar 27---Central Fireplace recalls Direct Vent GAS FIREPLACES---U.S./Canada
Mar 27---Quebec orders recall on PoliceTASERS---Canada
Mar 27---Health Canada Advises Canadians Not to Use Electronic CIGARETTES---Canada
Mar 27---TOWELLING CLOTHS w/various decorations recalled---France
Mar 27---My Play Fun recalls Baby Bath Time Fun Plastic TOY RATTLE---Slovakia
Mar 27---Stargazer recalls NAIL POLISH---Slovakia
Mar 27---Police Action Team Black OTY MACHINE GUN recalled---Finland
Mar 27---LiHong recalls Set of 3 Soft BALL TOYS---Finland
Mar 27---Jumbo recalls Pink Baby's JACKETS---Greece
Mar 27---Burberry recalls Children's Clothing SETS/ COATS---Greece
Mar 27---Sunparty Happy Kids recalls Children's SPORTS OUTFITS---Bulgaria
Mar 27---Several Food Imitating SCENTED CANDLES recalled---Denmark
Mar 27---KSD recalls Food Imitating SCENTED CANDLES---Denmark
Mar 27---Eurotrade recalls Folding White STEP STOOL---U.K.
Mar 27---Travel Log recalls Universal TRAVEL ADAPTORS---U.K.
Mar 27---Pescatore/Pesci Kids recalls White Cotton BONNETS---U.K.
Mar 27---Learn & Fun recalls Pull-Along TOY TELEPHONE---Germany
Mar 27---Abro Industries recalls Abro-20 SPRAY PAINT---Latvia
Mar 27---BAVs Enterprise recalls SVP Feesto SPRAY PAINT---Latvia
Mar 27---Bache recalls Blue Children's SHOES---Spain
Mar 27---Due Esse recalls Multicolored LIGHTING CHAINS---Spain
Mar 27---Bella Tunno recalls Binker SOOTHER HOLDERS---Spain
Mar 27---Tanis Herrero recalls Ladie's Black/Gold SANDALS---Spain
Mar 27---Force Pistol TOY GUN w/Darts recalled---Poland
Mar 27---Park recalls Wooden SWING SETS---Sweden
Mar 27---Bao Bei Zhiyue recalls Children's Toy RATTLES---Czech Republic
Mar 27---ZeXt/PMS recalls Wall Socket Travel ADAPTERS---Czech Republic
Mar 27---Nefit/ Buderus recalls Several GAS BOILERS---Netherlands
Mar 27---Eurocamping recalls 1091/1090 Piezo Camping LIGHT/ STOVE---Netherlands
Mar 27---Plein Air recalls Portable CAMPING STOVES---Netherlands
Mar 27---New England Wheels recalls 2005-2007 FORD VANS w/Ricon Lifts
Mar 27---Citroen recalls 2007 C4 Picasso VEHICLES---Germany
Mar 27---Ford recalls 2004-2008 SX/SY Territory VEHICLES---Australia
Mar 27---Ford recalls 2009 Ka VEHICLES---Greece
Mar 27---Yamaha recalls 2009 YZF-R125 MOTORCYCLES---Greece
Mar 27---Honda recalls 2009 GG2/GG3 Jazz VEHICLES---Greece
Mar 27---Dongfeng Motors recalls 2006 Sunny VEHICLES---China
Mar 27---Novo Nordisk Ltd. recalls Novofine Insulin PEN NEEDLES---U.K.
Mar 27---Department of Health recalls Sci-tica HERBAL PILLS---Hong Kong
Mar 27---Department of Health recalls Shan Dian Qiang Xiao Shou SLIMMING PRODUCT---Hong Kong

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beauty Products Kill Marine Life

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Plastic factors into beachings at least 50 percent of the time. Rescue workers were unable to save this whale near Tokyo.

While beauty products may be good(?) for humans; they are plastic death for marine mammals. The question one might be asking is: How can something I use in the privacy of my own bathroom harm sea animals on the other side of the earth?

Most people cannot afford pricey specialized spa treatments and usually buy a tube of exfoliating facial scrub for a do-it-yourselfer at home. These facial scrubs contain rough particles specifically for the purpose of removing dead cells on the surface layer of skin when rubbed vigorously onto the face. The intent is to remove the old, dead, gray cells causing healthier, newer cells to be exposed for a younger, glowing look.

While a facial scrub is an effective technique, experts are split regarding the overall benefits of a “scrubbing” cream. No one has ever scrubbed anything clean with a feather; so, it stands to reason that these particles will have rough surfaces (sea salt, crushed almond shells) in order to grab and remove the dead cells. Unfortunately, there is some evidence they also are capable of scratching the skin underneath. Synthetic (plastic) “microscubbers” are gaining in popularity lately because they can be molded into perfectly round, little spheres that are unlikely to scratch the skin’s underlying layers making them seem more user-friendly.

Now on to the problem. How can my microscrubbers be resposible for a whale beaching in Tokyo?

When garbage makes its way into the ocean – whether it comes from cruise ships, tributaries, sewage systems, air currents – eventually it ends up in the garbage vortex in the Pacific Ocean. (See Jan.7/09 blog) This floating garbage dump is twice the size of Texas and approximately 3.5 ton (3.17 metric ton) in weight. It has been determined that 80% of this is plastic; including the tiny synthetic microbeads we’ve flushed down the sink after our facial scrub. Nice, glowing skin for us – death for sea life.

We all know about the hazards of plastic bags, plastic six-pack rings and other plastic hazards harming or killing sea life; but, some facial cleansers must now be added to the list.

These plastic microbeads are so small (approx. the size of one grain of sand) they don’t always get filtered out of the water system before the water makes it back to the ocean. Small sea life like mussels, clams, and crustaceans mistake them for plankton and feast on them. These creatures are now loaded with plastics which they pass up the food chain to larger fish, otters, octopi and whales.

A connection has now been made between ingested plastic and beached whales. Whales, like every other marine animal, cannot digest plastic so it ends up in their tissues and stops them from functioning properly. A researcher at Aberdeen University who studies beached whales says plastic is a contributing factor in beaching at least 50% of the time.

Check your facial scrub labels for organic ingredients only. Many big-name brands use the plastic microbeads for scrubbers. These include Olay, Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear and Dove among others.

Biodegradable exfoliants include crushed nut shells, sea salt, sugar, ground bark and sand. Avalon Organics, St. Ives, Burt’s Bees and Freeman are a few of the brands that still use the organic, biodegradable materials for scrubbers. Personally, I am a slave to Burt’s Bees and Freeman.

If you chose to stop using a facial scrubber because of the plastic microbeads, a letter to the company explaining your choice would go a long way to help making our oceans plastic-free.

Earth Hour is Tomorrow, March 28/09

Earth Hour is just over 24 hours away now and I wish to share WWF's (World Wildlife Federation) top 25 things to do on March 28, 2009 from 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm.

Here are some ideas for how to spend the hour:

1. Attend local Earth Hour events - or organize one. Add your event, or get details on events near you at Events.EarthHourCanada.org.
2.Go outside and look at the stars.
3.Find a great viewing spot to see your town or city go dark at 8:30 p.m.
4.Take pictures and post them to the Earth Hour Facebook page.
5.Go for a lantern walk through a park.
6.Patronize local restaurants and businesses taking part in Earth Hour.
7.Gather your family or friends for a candle-lit dinner.
8.Meet your neighbours at a street or block party.
9.Have an acoustic music jam.
10.Talk to your children about how much electricity your family uses. Brainstorm ways to reduce it.
11.Tell ghost stories.
12.Listen to the birds, bats or other wildlife.
13.Play flashlight tag.
14.Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree. And leave it there.
15.Play Pictionary with glow-in-the-dark markers.
16.Change all your light bulbs to energy-efficient versions.
17.Have a night game of shinny with a glow-in-the-dark puck or ball (wear reflective vests).
18.Take a walk in the moonlight.
19.Have a candlelit bath.
20.Put a glow stick on your dog's collar or leash and go for a walk.
21.Toast marshmallows over a tea light candle.
22.Get out your Ouija board.
23.Have a wine or scotch tasting in the dark.
24.Get out the sleeping bags and camp out on the living room floor.
25.Make a list of ways you could reduce your energy consumption every hour of every day.

Happy Earth Hour, friends.

Food & Other Products Recall

Here is the first list of recalls from "totalrecallinfo.com", a site recommended by Anonymous. This site gives all recalls worldwide that pose a threat to the consumer (including medical recalls). I will be doing this list every other day. Links will be there for all products to show details and pictures (if available).

So, here is the first list from "totalrecallinfo.com". Another good site is "usfoodsafety.com".


Mar 26---Sara Lee issues allergy alert on Ball Park BEEF FRANKS---U.S./Canada
Mar 26---Wilcoxson Ice Cream/ Huckleberry Haven recall Peanut Containing ICE CREAM Products
Mar 26---Organic To Go recalls 2007 Peanut Butter COOKIES
Mar 26---McCain issues allergy alert on SHEPHERDS PIE---Australia
Mar 26---Kronfagel recalls Frozen CHICKEN BREAST Products---Sweden
Mar 26---Electrolux Home Care recalls Cordless STICK VACUUMS---International
Mar 26---Outerwears Inc. recalls FILTERS used in Fuel Funnels
Mar 26---Lenovo recalls ThinkVision Speaker AC ADAPTORS---International
Mar 26---Zoll Medical warns owners about AED Plus DEFIBRILLATORS---International
Mar 26---Fort Dodge Lab. recalls Veterinary Factrel/ Torbugesic TREATMENTS
Mar 26---Baxter Healthcare recalls http://www.totalrecallinfo.com/freerecalls.php?id=10667
Mar 26---Remel Inc. recalls Dryspot Staphytect Plus Agglutination TESTS
Mar 26---Medtronic recalls Complete SE Self Expanding Biliary Stent SYSTEMS
Mar 26---Actavis recalls Acetaminophen/ Codeine Phosphate BOTTLES
Mar 26---BD Diagnostic recalls PrepStain SYSTEMS---International
Mar 26---Rochester Medical recalls Magic3/ Hydrosil Intermittent CATHETERS---International
Mar 26---ImClone Systems Inc. recalls Erbitux (Cetuximab) INTRAVENOUS---International
Mar 26---Biosite Inc. recalls Triage Drugs of Abuse Panel TEST KITS---International
Mar 26---LifeScan Inc. recalls OneTouch SureStep TEST STRIPS---International

Mar 25---Bigol & Cortdera Inc. issues allergy alert on Berkeley Bakery Ensaymada UBE
Mar 25---Limoilou recalls Glass Jarred MEAT SAUCE---Canada
Mar 25---Bizou International recalls NECKLACE w/Flower Pendants---Canada
Mar 25---Potent Life PRODUCTS added to recall list---Canada
Mar 25---CHINESE FRUIT imports halted due to Pesticides---Kazakhstan
Mar 25---AT&T recalls http://www.totalrecallinfo.com/freerecalls.php?id=10649
Mar 25---Zebco recalls Advanced Youth Fishing Rod & Reel COMBO SETS---International (wrong picture)
Mar 25---Four Star Group recalls Fresh Décor 10 Count LED Star STRING LIGHTS---International
Mar 25---MM Compound recalls Hooded Fleece SWEATSHIRTS---International
Mar 25---La Jolla Sport recalls http://www.totalrecallinfo.com/freerecalls.php?id=10645---International (wrong picture)
Mar 25---Golden Grove Trading recalls Children’s Hooded Fleece JACKETS---International
Mar 25---Rusty North America recalls Hooded Fleece SWEATSHIRTS---International
Mar 25---Dysfunctional Clothing recalls Hooded Fleece SWEATSHIRTS---International
Mar 25---GAF Control recalls Sunair FAN HEATERS---Australia
Mar 25---ShangHai HuNan recalls Bang Shi HAIR DYE---Singapore
Mar 25---Atlantic Bus recalls Several 2006-2007 TRANSIT BUSES w/Ricon Lifts
Mar 25---Mitsubishi recalls 2008-2009 Lancer/Outlander VEHICLES---International

These recalls are international, so no matter where you live this list is of benefit to you. I have made notations at the end of the descriptions for two recalls that had wrong pictures attached once you visited the page via the hyperlink.

Stay safe, friends.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Your Fish Dinner Contains More Than Just Omega-3s

Photo courtesy of Discovery website.

A short while ago, I did a blog on all those lovely little extras that get into our water supply. Delights such as insecticides, pesticides, prescription medications, toxins: in short everything we let enter our sewer system, flush down the toilet or allow to soak into our earth.

To the surprise of no one (who thinks anyway), researchers have announced that fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major US cities had residues of prescription medications in their tissues. This included; but, was not limited to various medications used to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and depression. (I think my water's been looking a little cloudy lately!!)

"The average person hopefully will see this type of a study and see the importance of us thinking about water that we use every day, where does it come from, where does it go to? We need to understand this is a limited resource and we need to learn a lot more about our impacts on it," said study co-author Bryan Brooks, a Baylor University researcher and professor. He has published more than a dozen studies related to pharmaceuticals in the environment.

Brooks maintains that a person would have to eat hundreds of thousands of fish dinners to get even a single therapeutic dose. However, researchers including Brooks, have found that even extremely diluted doses of medication harm fish, frogs, and other aquatic species due to their constant exposure to the contaminated water.

Brooks and his colleague, Kevin Chambliss, tested fish caught in rivers close to the wastewater treatment plants release sites in Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Orlando, FL., and compared them with fish taken from New Mexico’s pristine Gila River Wilderness Area, an area free from human pollution.

Much of the contamination comes from medication that the body has not metabolized and excretes; and/or, medications that have been flushed down the toilet. Earlier research has already established that fish absorb the medicines (and other pollutants) because sewage treatment plants do not remove 100% of toxic residues.

The researchers tested for 24 different pharmaceuticals as well as 12 chemicals found in personal care products. They found 7 drugs and 2 soap scent chemicals in fish from all five of the urban river sites. The amounts of chemicals found varied; but, some of the fish had many different compounds in their liver. The reference fish caught in rural New Mexico had no such chemical residues found anywhere in their bodies.

Trace concentrations of numerous pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking water of at least 46 million Americans. I would suspect the numbers are similar in Canada, Europe, UK and other developed countries. Limited laboratory studies have shown that human cells failed to thrive or assumed unusual shapes when exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.

"This pilot study is one important way that EPA is increasing its scientific knowledge about the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment," said EPA spokeswoman Suzanne Rudzinski.

Food Product Recall

Wow, there are alot of recalls lately. Unfortunately, here are three more.

• Back to Nature Nationwide Recall of Nantucket Blend Trail Mix Containing Pistachio Nuts

• The Georgia Nut Company Nationwide Recall of Snack Products with Shelled Pistachio Nuts

CHEF BRUCE aidells Spicy Mango with Jalapeño Smoked Chicken Sausage Recall

Seems pistachios are the problem nut to be aware of lately.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Food Product Recall

Another food product has been recalled. This one is:

• Torres Hillsdale Country Cheese Recalls Brands Aguas Calientes, El Jaliciense, and Torres Hillsdale Country Cheese

Please do not rely on this list as your sole resource for recalled food products. I do the best I can to keep up with potentially harmful foodstuffs; but, I am not affiliated with any government agency, NGO, or any agency of any kind.

I hope my continued posting of food recalls helps keep some of you safer.

How Much Grease Is In Your Hamburger?

Being a vegetarian, I particularly love this clip. It has nothing to do with the environment around us; but, everything to do with the environment within us.

This artist goes to a popular burger chain (unnamed) and buys 10 burgers. He takes them home and uses them to recreate the Mona Lisa on a giant paper canvas with just the grease from these burgers. Watch and learn and then go vegetarian!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Doubt Regarding Mount Redoubt

All photos courtesy of World of Mystery

Anchorage, Alaska; one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth – rugged, natural, generally unspoiled, a tough place to live populated by people tough enough to live.

Anchorage is also home to Mount Redoubt, an active volcano, which is leaving no doubt as to the possibility of an eruption. About 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, Mount Redoubt towers 10,200’ into the air belching smoke while shaking off the effects of its long sleep. Scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory, which was formed in response to the 1986 eruption of Mount Augustine in the Cook Inlet, Alaska, warn that an eruption is imminent.

The scientists have a variety of tools to predict eruptions. As magma moves beneath a volcano before an eruption, it often generates earthquakes, swells the surface of a mountain and increases the gases emitted. The observatory samples gases, measures earthquake activity with seismometers and watches for deformities in the landscape.

Last year on November 5, the threat level was raised from green to yellow after geologists noticed the emissions had begun to change and minor melting was occurring near the summit. Sunday, March 22, 2009, the threat level jumped to orange due to a sharp increase in earthquake activity below the volcano. There are no more stages before eruption.

Volcanoes unlike earthquakes usually send out enough warning signs of impending eruptions that people have time to prepare. Alaska's volcanoes are not like Hawaii's. "Most of them don't put out the red river of lava," said the observatory's John Power. Instead, they typically explode and shoot ash 30,000 to 50,000 feet high - more than nine miles - into the jet stream.

"It's a very abrasive kind of rock fragment," Power said. "It's not the kind of ash that you find at the base of your wood stove. They use this to polish all kinds of metals," he said.

Due to the jagged edges of this particulate, injuries can occur to the skin, eyes and breathing passages. The young, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are especially vulnerable. Putting it another way, enough ash under a windshield wiper will scratch glass. Needless to say, local hardware stores and auto parts shops are doing a booming business in protective eyewear and masks.

There is another danger when this type of volcano erupts. It's potentially deadly for anyone flying in a jet. Monday, March 22, 2009, all local planes were grounded for safety reasons. "Think of flying an airliner into a sandblaster," Power said.

When Mount Redoubt last acted up on Dec. 15, 1989, she sent ash 150 miles away into the path of a KLM jet carrying 231 passengers. The plane’s four engines flamed out.

As the crew tried to restart the engines, "smoke" and a strong odor of sulfur filled the cockpit and cabin. (Must have seemed like Hell to the passengers and crew!!) The jet dropped more than 2 terrifying miles, from 27,900 feet to 13,300 feet, before the crew was able to restart all engines. The plane landed safely at Anchorage; but, it required $80 million in repairs before flying again.

The particulate is mildly corrosive; but, masks, filters and goggles are excellent protectors. Alaskans are advised to stock up with flashlights, batteries, food, water, prescriptions, candles, matches, tinned goods, manual can opener and anything else they would need if they had to remain housebound for several days.

Other recommendations include staying indoors as much as possible; going outside only if necessary; long-sleeved shirts; long pants; and using goggles and glasses instead of contact lenses. If no filter is available, a damp towel held over both mouth and nose makes an adequate replacement.

Video from Associated Press of Mount Redoubt

Food Product Recall

Two more food products on the recall list. Check out the information below.

• Neco Foods Recalls Atlantis Smoked Fish Dip
• Kirkland Organic Brown Eggs and O Organic Grade A Large Brown Eggs

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Human Achievement Hour

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has announced in a press release that they are introducing Human Achievement Hour to be held March 28, 2009 between the hours of 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Human Achievement Hour is an alternative for persons who do not wish to celebrate Earth Hour; but, wish to exercise their right to keep their lights on.

One of the contributors to this press release is Myron Ebell. Myron is Director of Energy and Global Warming policy at CEI. He also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises over two dozen non-profit groups in this country and abroad that question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies.

So without further ado, I present the press release:

CEI Announces “Human Achievement Hour” to Coincide with “Earth Hour”

Prominent D.C.- Area Supporters Include: Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, WMATA, Target, and George Washington University Hospital; other Nationally Recognized Institutions With Events Planned During Human Achievement Hour Include Wal-Mart, New York Times, and United States Marine Corps

by Michelle Minton
March 19, 2009

Michelle Minton, 202-340-7078
Eli Lehrer, 202-615-0586

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2009 — The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a leading free-market think tank, plans to recognize “Human Achievement Hour” between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on March 28, 2009. The new one-hour holiday coincides with Earth Hour, a period of time during which governments, individuals, and corporations have agreed to dim or shut off lights in an effort to draw attention to climate change.

“We are so proud that millions of people plan to show their appreciation for human achievement by doing things like eating dinner, watching television, going to the movies, and brushing their teeth,” says Human Achievement Hour Founder and CEI Policy Analyst Michelle Minton. “Never before has a new holiday caught on so quickly.”

The new one-hour holiday, unknown prior to this press release, has already received overwhelming support from many of Washington, D.C.’s leading institutions. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, for example, tells CEI that it does not plan to shut down all of the city’s bus and rail lines for the “Earth Hour.” The Kennedy Center, likewise, has scheduled a performance of the long-running play Sheer Madness, a jazz concert, and a dance performance to coincide with the Human Achievement Hour. Washington, D.C.’s Target store, furthermore, will remain open until 10:00pm on the evening of the 28th. The Smithsonian Institution also plans a film showing that will extend into Human Achievement Hour.

“We salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that helps make human achievement possible,” says Myron Ebell, CEI’s Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy.

Other organizations around the world and the nation have planned events in support of the new holiday. For example, The United State Marine Corps will continue its combat and humanitarian operations around the world during Human Achievement Hour. The New York Times confirms that it intends to put out a paper on March 29th, 2009 (preparation and printing for that issue will take place during Human Achievement Hour). At least 30,000 movies will also be screened in celebration of Human Achievement Hour. Hospital emergency and operating rooms, likewise, will remain open in Washington and in the rest of the country. Nearly all of the nation’s Wal-Mart locations will also be open during Human Achievement Hour.

Those wishing to celebrate Earth Hour, however, do not need to take part in Human Achievement Hour. “Earth Hour is a viable alternative to human achievement hour,” says CEI Senior Fellow Eli Lehrer. “Those who wish to celebrate Earth Hour should sit in the dark, turn off the heat, and breathe as little as possible.”

It goes without saying that, except for CEI itself, the institutions listed above have not actually endorsed “Human Achievement Hour.” (All the quotes and facts, however, are real and may/should be used.)

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.

Food Product Recalls

I'm adding a new feature to this blog. When food products are recalled, I will post it here along with a link that describes the product, the details of the recall and a picture of the product.

March 18/09 - Wegmans Organic Butter Flavor Microwave Popcorn Recall

Hopefully, these blogs will be few and far between.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More New Videos

I found more great videos to add to the line-up on the right-hand side. Included now are videos from ForestEthics, WaterAid and WWFCanada. Enjoy!!

Ways To Recognize World Water Day

Tomorrow is World Water Day. There are many ways we can celebrate World Water Day not just tomorrow; but, for the rest of the year as well. Water is something we in the Americas tend to take for granted sometimes. We are not always as careful with it as we should be. However, after viewing Mr. Wasif's photos, I have renewed my personal vow to be even more careful with the water I come into contact with.

I hope that Mr. Wasif's pictures touched you in the same way they touched me. It does us all good to have our senses and sensibilities shaken up once in a while. It has been a long time since images have spoken to me so loudly and so profoundly.

Here is my list of ways to celebrate World Water Day: March 22 every year.

1. Visit the World Water Day 2009 website and the official World Water Day website. They have tons of good ideas.

2. Encourage those you talk to to visit Munem Wasif's photo gallery, "Salt Water Tears: Lives Left Behind in Satkhira, Bangladesh" - a moving exhibit.

3. Do you have a blog, Facebook account, MySpace page or other website or know someone who does? Set up some links and become a water advocate.

4. Visit the websites of such water-oriented charities and organizations as WaterAid, Ecover (associated with WaterAid), the WaterAid channel on YouTube, World Health Organization (water division),the Global Water website or the Water Environment Federation website. These sites should provide enough food for thought for a 15-course banquet!

5. Write letters (either snail mail or email) to your various levels of government urging them to help provide clean water to all earth's inhabitants. Calendar this and send out one letter a month (on the 22nd). Twelve snail mails and/or emails a year is very little in comparison to the gravity of the world's water situation. The steady influx of mail will prove your sincerity about the problem. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

6. Encourage others to join in writing letters. It takes just a few minutes and the more voices that are heard, the more likely it is that change will occur.

7. Use water frugally. The more water I save, the more water there is for others.

I think the theme of exhibit says it all: "Whether we live upstream or downstream, we are all in the same boat."

Friday, March 20, 2009

World Water Day - March 22

All images courtesy: Prix Prictet

World Water Day, celebrated on March 22 every year, is an initiative of the United Nations recognizing that life cannot exist without water. This year's theme: "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities" and "Whether we live upstream or downstream, we are all in the same boat." Considering the emerging hostilities surrounding increasing water shortages, the theme seems very apropos this year.

The images captured by Munem Wasif detail in stark black and white the daily impact the scarcity of clean, safe water on the people living in poorer, more rural communities. The title of Mr. Wasif’s exhibition is: “Salt Water Tears: Lives Left Behind in Satkhira, Bangladesh.” Bangladesh is one of the most at-risk countries for flooding, droughts, and scarcity of potable water in the world. If a picture is worth a thousand words; then, surely, Mr. Wasif’s images are worth five thousand words.

The gutwrenching exhibition is supported by the prestigious Prix Pictet and WaterAid. WaterAid is a UK charity which helps communities in the developing world gain access to safe water as well as sanitation and hygiene education. Currently in Bangladesh over 65 million of the total population 0f 140 million have no access to basic sanitation.

Mr. Wasif was commissioned to photograph a project managed by the charity in the Satkhira region in south-west Bangladesh. The lives of the people living there have been destroyed by increased salinity in the water table.

Cows paddle through water in search of pasture. Bolabaria, Satkhira. 2009

A boat sits idle on once-fertile land now barren from salinity. Gabura, Satkhira. 2008

The sweetwater pond that supplies the drinking water is 2 hours away. This woman needs to come here twice a day. Bolabaria, Satkhira. 2009

A mother holds her unconscious child. The child has a tumour on his/her back. The husband will not return home that day. He is fishing to support his family. Chuna, Satkhira. 2008

After viewing Mr. Wasif's revealing photos, I know I feel very blessed to be able to turn on my tap and have clean, drinking water whenever I want. It's a right I'll not give up easily.

Next blog: Ways we can make a difference!

Underwater Volcano Erupts

Copyright Sky News UK.

Yesterday, March 19, 2009, scientists were trying to get closer to the site of an underwater eruption yesterday 34 nautical miles from the capital of Tonga.

Residents of Nuku’alofa awoke to plumes of volcanic smoke and/or steam which could be seen clearly on the northern horizon from the Nuku’alofa waterfront yesterday morning. Officials suspect these eruptions may be related to a quake which struck March 13, 2009. This quake was 4.4 in magnitude and struck about 35 km from Nuku’alofa at a depth of nearly 150 km.

The smoke was reported to the Ministry of the Tonga Defence Services as early as March 17 when the government geologist and staff of the Geological Division started making plans for a closer look. Finally, a patrol boat was secured on March 19, 2009.

Meanwhile, there was nothing much the Government geologist Kelepi Mafi could say until they got closer to the site and could assess "whether an island has emerged above the water or all these activities are still taking place under the water."

Despite equipment that can not differentiate between an earthquake and a volcanic eruption, Mafi is certain from their seismic chart and the smoke that was seen from Nuku’alofa, that this was an “underwater volcanic eruption.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There's WHAT In My Sunscreen?!!

Photo courtesy: Discovery Channel Website

One day in the not-to-distant future, you may be on the beach when someone offers to pass you the hippo sweat which you generously slather all over your sun-worshipping body. The times they may be a’changing; but, hippo sweat?

Most people don’t realize that hippos actually have incredibly sensitive skin. Intrinsic to their survival is a red-coloured, glandular secretion known as “hippo sweat”,

Hippo sweat contains microscopic structures that scatter light thereby protecting the mammals (and their sensitive skin) from painful burns says a new study. Scientists are hoping they can put this knowledge to work in an advanced sunscreen/sunblock that may help protect humans from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays including skin cancers.

"It would be nice to also try and replicate the antiseptic and insect-repellent characteristics of the sweat, to obtain a four-in-one product: sunscreen, sunblock, antiseptic, insect repellent," co-author Christopher Viney told Discovery News.

"Just so long as the stuff doesn't smell like hippo," added Viney, a professor in the School of Engineering at the University of California, Merced.

In one experiment with hippo sweat, Christopher Viney, along with colleagues Emily Reed, Lisa Klumb and Maxwell Koobatian had keepers at Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo remove some of the sweat from an enclosure where the hippos had rested. The sweat was placed in sealed plastic containers where, even after several months of storage, no signs of yeast, bacteria or fungal contamination were found.

Microscopic analysis of the sweat revealed it contained two types of liquid crystalline structures: banded and non-banded. The banded structures are “characterized by concentric dark rings” when viewed under certain magnifications, Viney explains.

"The rings are the result of a structural periodicity that occurs on a scale comparable to the wavelengths of visible light," he said. "This means that the sweat is an effective scatterer of light, so that it combines both sun-blocking and sun-screening properties."

The non-banded structures "enhance the ability of the sweat to spread over the surface of the animal, by reducing the viscosity of the sweat."

Research on the molecules in the red and orange pigments contained in the sweat show that these pigments are capable of absorbing ultraviolet light. However, the pigments can cause the secretions to be of such a vivid red colour many onlookers have thought the hippo was bleeding when he/she was only sweating.

According to David Kaplan, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University School of Engineering has this to say about the study’s authors: they "have a terrific handle on novel functional materials that come out of nature." He added that Viney is leading world expert in the field.

Kaplan's own department often turns to natural materials in their work because "nature has provided us with substances that have emerged after eons of evolution. There is so much invaluable data that has yet to be mined."

Viney agrees. "As a student said to me several years ago, nature is full of solutions to our technical problems," he said. "We just have to figure out how to look in the right place, and ask the right questions."

I think I would reword that slightly to: “We just have to figure out how to look in the right place (if it still exists), and ask the right questions (if they’re still pertinent).”

Readers: would you wear a sunscreen/sunblock made from hippo sweat?

This Just In...

The Seattle Times is the only daily newspaper left in Seattle, Washington, USA. Unfortunately, the Times is in trouble and may have to fold. If this is the case, that would make Seattle the first major city without a daily newspaper.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Product That Causes Some of The Worst Environmental Damage Is...

Gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing automobiles; fast “food” (I use the term “food” loosely); McMansions; plastics; the list is endless – all are polluters worthy of bricks and boos; but, which is the most polluting.

Surprisingly, possibly the largest polluter of all time is ***drum roll, please*** toilet paper. It would appear that the pampered posteriors of a privileged American public cause more environmental devastation than is known. The reason is because the public insists on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when visiting the facilities.

"This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution."

Toilet paper has a two-fold impact on the environment. Forests are cut down for the raw material plus many chemicals are used in the pulp manufacture.

Greenpeace has launched a campaign to try to educate Americans/Canadians about the environmental costs involved. The campaign will also try to derail an aggressive marketing ploy by the paper industry giants to introduce new, luxury, brands promoted by celebrities.

More than 98% of the toilet roll sold in America comes from virgin wood, said Hershkowitz. In comparison in Europe and Latin America up to 40% of toilet paper comes from recycled products. Greenpeace this week launched a cut-out-and-keep ecological ranking of toilet paper products.
"We have this myth in the US that recycled is just so low quality, it's like cardboard and is impossible to use," said Lindsey Allen, the forestry campaigner of Greenpeace. In Canada (at least), recycled, unbleached toilet paper is of a very acceptable standard – at a lower price both to the consumer and the environment.

The New York Times reported a 40% rise in sales of luxury brands of toilet paper in 2008. This includes those brands with lotion; extra soft; quilted; extra layers; and air pockets. Paper companies are going all out to keep the buying public from defecting to cheaper brands as the recession deepens. Kimberly-Clark spent $25 m in its third quarter on advertising warning against the horrors of allowing inferior paper to touch their sensitive bottoms.

Kimberly-Clark, which touts its green credentials on its website, strikes back by rejecting the notion that it is foisting destructive products on an unwitting, unsuspecting American public.

Dave Dixon, a company spokesman, says that recycled tissue has been on the market for many years. The American public obviously does not want to buy them.

"For bath tissue Americans in particular like the softness and strength that virgin fibres provides," Dixon said. "It's the quality and softness the consumers in America have come to expect."

Dixon tried to lessen the impact by saying the company used products from sustainably farmed forests in Canada.

Americans already consume three times more per person than the average European, and 100 times more than the average person in China. Yet barely 1/3 of the paper products contains recycled materials.

"I really do think it is overwhelmingly an American phenomenon," said Hershkowitz. "People just don't understand that softness equals ecological destruction."

Global Water Discussions Draw 120 Nations

Photo Courtesy of the Scurry Group

Istanbul is home to the World Water Forum 2009 to address the ever-increasing water crisis. In just 21 short years (2030) one-half of the world’s population (approx. 4 billion people) will be living in areas of “acute water shortage”. In response to this finding issued in a report by the UN last week, 120 countries have convened in Istanbul in an attempt to ensure an adequate water supply worldwide and prevent wars breaking out over water resources.

Already there are growing tensions and small skirmishes between many countries fighting over rivers, lakes and glaciers. If these issues are not addressed now; we will stand no chance of addressing them later. We must make provisions now to ensure that the water-deprived areas will be provided for during future crises.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the meeting, said that water scarcity is a "potent fuel for wars and conflict," according to Reuters. Today there are 1 billion people living without access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the situation will only get bleaker. Wars and conflict don’t seem so fantastic when you ask yourself the question, “How far would I go to ensure my child(ren) had sufficient safe water to drink?"

A particularly striking example of just how far people are willing to go is the Sudan, where water shortages are one of the underlying causes of the Darfur crisis. The issue is very complex; but, the combination of decades of drought, desertification, and overpopulation are among the causes of the conflict.

Water is also a major issue between Israel and its Arab neighbors; and, the states of Central Asia. Here it is a case of one of the world's driest places, trying to grow thirsty crops (cotton and grain) as their main source of livelihood.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan has asked the World Water Forum to intercede in its dispute with Kyrgyzstan.

These cases – being played out on the world stage - will set the tone for years to come on how effective dialogue and moderation will be considered by the “dry” nations; and, consequently how willing they will be to participate in them. The dry nations, of course, have the most to lose.

By 2050, our population will have increased by 2.5 billion souls for a total of 9.1 billion of us swarming over the planet. Unfortunately, most of these births will be in countries that have problems with water shortages/scarcity already. Adding more demands to a system that cannot handle the present demands is just adding fuel to the fire. As these dryland populations increase alleviating poverty and hunger will become exponentially more difficult.

News of what specific action will be taken by the council remains vague — Reuters offers only this report:

"The heads of state, environment and development ministers, scientists and development organizations hope to draw up a list of recommendations to help safeguard water resources and to share experiences where projects have been successful."

This is a massive first step towards addressing this goliath of an issue – recognizing the coming water shortage and engaging 120 countries (and counting, hopefully) in dialogue regarding the handling of the situation.

Let’s hope it is not too little, too late. The talks take place March 16-22, 2009. Also on the agenda will be discussions on how to avert catastrophic floods and droughts as climate patterns change; and, how the global financial crisis threatens to hit large-scale water infrastructure projects with the next several years.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The City That Wiped Out Hunger

Restaurant Popular (People's Restaurant) by Bruno Spada/MDS
Some people’s definition of Utopia is a place where there is no hunger. If this were the single defining quality of Utopia, then Belo Horizonte, Brazil may very well be that place.

In 1993, the newly-elected city government of Belo Horizonte made food a right for its citizenry. This would be no mean feat for the city of 2.5 million. The logistics were overwhelming with 275,000 people living in abject poverty and close to 20% of the city’s children hungry. However, they have nearly reached their goal using only 2% of the city budget to finance the undertaking. How do they do it?!

The new mayor, Patrus Ananias, began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the realization of this new food distribution system.

Frances Moore Lappé (author of Diet For A Small Planet) says in an article for the Spring edition of Yes! Magazine: (Here is a link to the home page of Yes!. There a lot of “green” articles online. Definitely worth a look!!)

The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce-which often reached 100 percent-to consumers and the farmers. Farmers' profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.

It is not clear whether the family farmers pay any sort of tax on the public spaces; but the “ABC” markets do. ABC is the Portuguese acronym for “food at low prices”. Entrepreneurs are given the chance to bid on high-traffic plots of land to sell their produce. The winners agree to sell approximately 20 healthy food items (as determined by the city agency) for about ¾ of the market price. These food items are usually bought from in-state farmers and chosen by store owners. The rest of the produce they sell may be sold at full market value. In addition, every weekend they are to take a fully-loaded produce truck to the poorest areas of town so even those unable to reach the markets have access to good, healthy food.

Three large-scale "People's Restaurants" (Restaurante Popular) serve nutritious meals to 12,000 people a day. These meals cost the equivalent of $0.50; but, no one is ever asked to prove they are poor.

Again, from the article in Yes! Magazine:

Belo’s food security initiatives also include extensive community and school gardens as well as nutrition classes. Plus, money the federal government contributes toward school lunches, once spent on processed, corporate food, now buys whole food mostly from local growers.

In just a decade Belo Horizonte cut its infant death rate—widely used as evidence of hunger—by more than half, and today these initiatives benefit almost 40 percent of the city’s 2.5 million population. One six-month period in 1999 saw infant malnutrition in a sample group reduced by 50 percent. And between 1993 and 2002 Belo Horizonte was the only locality in which consumption of fruits and vegetables went up.
Ryerson University in Toronto is offering a summer course that includes a week long field trip to Belo Horizonte to meet with key stakeholders that keep the city food secure.

As Lappé says, "Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy."

This earth has the capacity to produce enough food to feed everyone on the plant adequately and nutritionally. The problem is with the people who distribute it or not…

What can we do? We can send a copy of the original article and/or send an email to every level of government in our country asking why our city/province/state/district/etc. cannot do the same.

It’s not as expensive as one would think to wipe out hunger. When the all the books were balanced; the totals tallied; and the beans crunched; it cost every resident of Belo Horizonte, Brazil the grand total of one cent per day per resident. Looking at it another way: every resident paid $3.65 a year to wipe out hunger in their city. How cheap is that!?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fearful Friday the 13th

Lucky 2009 has three Fridays the 13th in one year. Three in one year happens once every 11 years. The first was in February, second one is today, and the last one is in November.

The connection between bad luck and Friday the 13th is not very clear. Perhaps it has links to the 13th guest at the Last Supper betraying Jesus; but, regardless of where it started, it has become a superstition with a life of its own.

Here are five Friday-the-13th facts:

1. Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia as well as friggatriskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

2. Many hospitals have no room 13, some tall buildings have no 13th floor and some airline terminals have no Gate 13.

3. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month (Friday or otherwise) and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

4. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12." Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

5. The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number. The number 12 is seen everywhere: 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 of anything in a dozen. The number 13 appearing one number after this seems incomplete.

Meanwhile the belief that numbers are connected to life and physical things — called numerology — has a long history.

"You can trace it all the way from the followers of Pythagoras, whose maxim to describe the universe was 'all is number,'" says Mario Livio, an astrophysicist and author of "The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved" (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Thinkers who studied under the famous Greek mathematician combined numbers in different ways to explain everything around them, Livio said.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Are Ravers Killing An Incredibly Rare Tree In Cambodia?

Photo: Monogrammed ecstasy pills seized from a lab in Indonesia (Microgram Bulletin)

Ecstasy has been called the “love drug”. While you are high you are possessed of euphoria unlike any other drug. Fear and anxiety are lessened; while feelings of intimacy are increased. As one anonymous raver said, “When you’re on X, you love the whole world.”

Meanwhile, in the Cambodian rainforest the increasingly rare Mreah Prew Phnom tree (Cinnamomum parathenoxylon) is being cut down by poachers for the type of oil it produces. This rare tree is found in Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of the last wilderness reserves left on mainland Southeast Asia.

The Cambodian Ministry of Environment and conservationists have shut down several distilleries producing an oil found in cosmetics and MDMA (ecstasy) – most of which is exported to North and South America.

"The factories had been set up to distill 'sassafras oil'; produced by boiling the roots and the trunk of the exceptionally rare Mreah Prew Phnom trees and exported to neighbouring countries," such as Thailand, Vietnam, USA and China, reports Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the conservation group involved in the recent raids.

Most people are unaware the toll the life cycle of sassafras oil production is taking on the environment.

How does this rare tree become the ‘love drug’?

- the chopped up roots are shredded to a fibrous consistency
- this is cooked in a large metal vat over a wood fire for at least five days (this requires firewood from surrounding trees)
- Safrole, a colourless to slightly yellow oil, is the result and is the beginning of the manufacture of ecstasy (MDMA - methylenedioxymethamphetamine)

David Bradfield, advisor to the Wildlife Sanctuaries Project of FFI says, “Sassafras oil processing plants are usually located besides streams to provide water for boiling and cooling the distilled oil

These fly-by-night operations often leak oil into the streams harming local animal and plant life. "There are frequently dead fish and frogs floating in the streams near these distilleries," Bradfield adds.

The contaminated water from this area ultimately flows through the rest of Cambodia contaminating the drinking water of millions through the Mekong and Tonle Sap river systems.

The workers in these fly-by-night operations have to eat; so, they rely on poaching – often taking rare animals such as tigers, pangolins, peacocks, pythons and wild cats. What they don’t eat, they sell for extra income on the illegal wildlife black markets. All this poaching endangers the livelihood of the estimated 12,000 – 15,000 hunter-gatherers who legitimately live and hunt in the wildlife sanctuary.

The purity of the Cambodian sassafras oil makes it highly sought after even though the production of it was made illegal in 2004 in an attempt to preserve the Mreah Prew Phnom tree. Since this highly lucrative trade is worth millions of dollars, it will be difficult to eradicate.

Bradfield warns: "The production of sassafras oil over the last 10 years has severely depleted these trees and if the illicit production isn't stamped out soon, they could become extinct in the near future.”

Two Changes Have Been Made In This Blog

Readers: I have made two changes to the blog.
1) I have changed the colour of the hyperlinks to white. It's about the only colour I don't blog in; so, I would use it to prevent anyone missing the extra information I usually put in every blog. I have several readers who read every word and would read more if I included it.

2) I have moved the "followers" segment to the right-hand side partway down for those crazy enough to publicly admit they read my material. I, of course, get the glory!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How To Reduce The Pesticide Risk

Every year, the toxicity level of pesticides and other toxins used in agriculture is being lowered. What was considered to be a “safe” level when I was a child is now considered to be unacceptable. My body may be a temple; but, at my age, I’m afraid to find out what it's a temple to.

We all know by now that pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems:
- nervous system anomalies
- carcinogenic (cancer) effects
- hormone system effects
- skin, eye and lung irritations (possible precursors to other things?)

Pesticides are in a category unlike no other. We willingly release into the environment (more specifically onto foodstuffs we intend to eat) chemicals with the sole purpose of killing living organisms: insects, plants, and fungi that are considered pests.

We have no closer physical relationship with anyone or anything on this planet than we do with our food and drink. The old saying “You are what you eat” (ripped off from Brillat-Savarin) is absolutely true. What we eat and drink literally becomes part of our body. What is excess or unusable is discarded; and, the rest becomes our corporeal being. Even pregnancy does not duplicate this. The baby at all times maintains a completely separate environment from the mother.

Yet, pesticide manufacturers continue to defend the use of their products stating that the residue left on produce is not sufficient to harm anyone. They never seem to have any actual data to back this up since (conveniently) most safety tests are geared to find gross, obvious toxic effects. Since there are no real tests for studying the effects of low-dose pesticides, the pesticide and chemical manufacturers can claim safety since the full effects of exposure to these chemical mixtures have not been demonstrated. I suspect this might be because the tests that would give these results have never really been carried out.

While it may not surprise to learn that the majority of the US population has detectable concentrations of multi-pesticide residues in their bodies; it does surprise to learn they have also been found in the developing fetus. This information was gathered by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during biomonitoring studies.

The risk is especially great for children. Exposure to pesticides and other chemical toxins starting in the womb can create changes, subtle or otherwise, in their development and growth through to adulthood. Since their bodies are so young and underdeveloped, they have a much harder time dealing with these chemicals than adults do. As a result, their tolerance level is much lower than an adult’s while their chance of being damaged is much higher.

There are several ways of addressing the risks of pesticide exposure.
- Buy organic whenever possible. If not possible, wash all fruits and veggies before use in a water bath of 3-4 tbsp. baking soda to a sink or pot of water.
- Exercise our right to be informed. Are you Canadian? Visit the Health Canada website. There is alot of information there plus a list of people to contact with questions, concerns, comments, etc. Another website to check out is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Write to our Prime Minister Steven Harper demanding our right to know what pesticides are being used on our food.

Prime Minister Steven Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

email: pm@pm.gc.ca
fax: 613-941-6900

Are you American? Visit the US Food and Drug Administration website. There's good information there plus links to contact them with questions, concerns and comments. Another good website is the Food Safety and Inspection Service. To keep up-to-date on recalls and health hazards, go to USFoodSafety.com. Write to President Obama to let him know this is a grave concern to Americans.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

TTY/TDD (for the deaf)
Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121

You can email him via the website: thewhitehouse.gov

- visit your local markets where pesticide use may be less or non-existent. Ask questions. If enough people ask questions and voice their opinion, it will change.
- write your local produce supplier making your wishes for pesticide-free produce known.
- support local organizations working toward pesticide-free produce. There are many ways to show support without having to donate (it's a hard financial time for all).
- write a letter to the editor. Stimulate conversation. Talk with friends.