Archive for August 7, 2008

Obama Says America is No Longer What It Once Was

“America is …, uh, is no longer, uh … what it could be, what it once was. And I say to myself, I don’t want that future for my children.”

I wish he would be more specific here.  Which America does he want?  The one prior to the Civil War wherein he could be property?  The America prior to integration when black-owned businesses flourished?  The America with the Jim Crow laws?  The one prior to 1900 where the average life span was less than what he celebrated at his birthday this week? Maybe he prefers America when it belonged to Great Britain.  That must be it.

America at this point in time has the best living conditions EVER for the majority of its people.

Oh, snap.  He probably prefers America before Al Gore invented the internet.

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No Evidence to Support Organic Is Nutritionally Superior

New research in SCI’s Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture says there is no evidence to support the view that organically grown crops contain more major and trace elements.

New research in the latest issue of the Society of Chemical Industry’s (SCI) Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows there is no evidence to support the argument that organic food is better than food grown with the use of pesticides and chemicals

Many people pay more than a third more for organic food in the belief that it has more nutritional content than food grown with pesticides and chemicals.

But the research by Dr Susanne Bügel and colleagues from the Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, shows there is no clear evidence to back this up.

In the first study ever to look at retention of minerals and trace elements, animals were fed a diet consisting of crops grown using three different cultivation methods in two seasons.

The study looked at the following crops – carrots, kale, mature peas, apples and potatoes – staple ingredients that can be found in most families’ shopping list.

The first cultivation method consisted of growing the vegetables on soil which had a low input of nutrients using animal manure and no pesticides except for one organically approved product on kale only.

The second method involved applying a low input of nutrients using animal manure, combined with use of pesticides, as much as allowed by regulation.

Finally, the third method comprised a combination of a high input of nutrients through mineral fertilisers and pesticides as legally allowed.

The crops were grown on the same or similar soil on adjacent fields at the same time and so experienced the same weather conditions. All were harvested and treated at the same time. In the case of the organically grown vegetables, all were grown on established organic soil.

After harvest, results showed that there were no differences in the levels of major and trace contents in the fruit and vegetables grown using the three different methods.

Produce from the organically and conventionally grown crops were then fed to animals over a two year period and intake and excretion of various minerals and trace elements were measured. Once again, the results showed there was no difference in retention of the elements regardless of how the crops were grown.

Dr Bügel says: ‘No systematic differences between cultivation systems representing organic and conventional production methods were found across the five crops so the study does not support the belief that organically grown foodstuffs generally contain more major and trace elements than conventionally grown foodstuffs.’

Dr Alan Baylis, honorary secretary of SCI’s Bioresources Group, adds: ‘Modern crop protection chemicals to control weeds, pests and diseases are extensively tested and stringently regulated, and once in the soil, mineral nutrients from natural or artificial fertilisers are chemically identical. Organic crops are often lower yielding and eating them is a lifestyle choice for those who can afford it.’

Source: EurekAlert

This comes as no surprise to those of us that have followed these “organic” movements that have sprung up, been debunked, died down, and sprung up again ad infinitum.  If you want to eat organic because you are fearful of pesticide residue or think that eating organic makes you a better person, knock yourself out.  If you are worried that you are somehow harming your children because you can’t afford the $8 per lb. organic veggies, don’t worry.  Buy the non-organic variety.

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Bicycle-By Shooting on Moncrief and 13th, 1 Dead

Another victim is in Shands Hospital.  Police think it *may* be drug related. 

UPDATE: has more details:

Police are searching for the gunman, who fled the scene on a green Beach Cruiser bicycle. Jefferson described him as a black male wearing blue jeans shorts and a white shirt. He said the gunman rode up to two men sitting by a bike crosswalk and began firing.

Family members of the dead man have identified him as Michael “Yum Yum” Perry Jr., 21. Perry’s mother and more than a dozen other grieving friends and relatives have gathered at the scene.

Doris Woodard, who identified herself as Perry’s cousin, said she was told he was the target of a drug-related hit. She said she was told someone rode up on a bike, shot her cousin once and then fired multiple shots while he was down.

Woodard said the attack was over a dispute about drug turf. The area just west of Interstate 95 is well-known for gunshots and drug deals.

The jobs that used to be available for young black and white men who have opted to drop out of school are no longer there.  If other avenues had been open, would they have taken them?  A former employee of ours was shot to death by the JSO several years ago because he decided that working was for foolish people, and he quit his job in order to hang with his friends and do armed robberies of fast food restaurants for the money to feed his drug habit.  This was at a time when illegal aliens* hadn’t yet taken over the construction and landcaping industries and there were plenty of legitimate jobs available for an industrious worker.   Our young employee had previously done prison time for carjacking, so he was no stranger to violent crime.   Perhaps life would have turned out differently for those young men if they would have had other opportunities.  Perhaps not, as this is the life that they chose.

Would these young men have been targeted for robbery and/or murder if they had been engaged in a legitimate enterprise such as selling cheap imported tennis shoes at the corner of this disputed drug turf?   Definitely!   

*It may sound as though I’m angry at illegal aliens.  If the young white and black men had actually wanted to work at manual labor, industries would not have had to go to illegal labor.  When I was running a construction crew, the average age of the men was 40.  The young high school drop outs and graduates who could not read a tape measure thought that they should be paid $25 per hour for a training wage and got aggravated that they were not paid as much as somebody who had 20 years on the job.

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13 Indonesians Hospitalized With Bird Flu Symptoms

Health workers rushed to a village in western Indonesia to test for bird flu after 13 people were hospitalised with symptoms of the disease and dozens of chickens died, a government official said.

It will take days for test results to come back, said Memed Zulkarnaen, spokesman for the National Bird Flu Commission, adding that the condition of those suffering from high fever and respiratory problems “appears to be improving.”

The 13 were admitted to two hospitals in the past week after chickens started dying in Air Batu, their village on Sumatra island, 680 miles north-west of the capital, Jakarta. The birds tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

A team of epidemiologists was sent to the village to take blood and swab samples from family members and neighbours of those living near the outbreak, Zulkarnaen said.

Indonesia has regularly recorded human deaths from bird flu since the virus began ravaging poultry stocks across Asia in 2003. Its death toll of 112 accounts for nearly half the 240 recorded fatalities worldwide.

Bird flu remains hard for people to catch, but health experts worry the virus could mutate into a form that passes easily between humans, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions.

So far most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.

Source:  The Press Association

Also covered in the International Herald-Tribune and Reuters India, where doubts were expressed that this could be bird flu because the patients were recovering. 

The Indonesian government has been very secretive about the bird flu problem, but their reaction shows that bird flu is alive, well, and they very much fear that the virus may mutate to more easily infect humans at any time.  An unverified report by a nurse said that 3 people have died in addition to the 13 hospitalized. 

Reuters also reports:

JAKARTA, Aug 3 (Reuters) – A 19-year-old Indonesian man died from bird flu last week, a health ministry official said on Sunday, bringing the total death toll from the virus in the Southeast Asian country to 111.

Nyoman Kandun, the health ministry’s director-general of communicable disease control, said tests confirmed the man was infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza when he died last week in a hospital in Tangerang, west of Jakarta.

Kandun, who responded via mobile phone text, did not elaborate.

Even though it is no longer news, the problem has not disappeared.

UPDATE: Villagers did not have bird flu.

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National Agricultural Summary 7/27 – 8/3/08

Corn: Acreage at or beyond silking reached 83 percent, 12 points behind last year and 8 points behind the 5-year average. Nearly one-fourth of the crop reached the silking stage during the week, with major development occurring in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Iowa’s corn development was well behind normal, with only 73 percent at or beyond silking, 20 points behind the 5-year average. Development was delayed in all States except Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Silking was complete in North Carolina, but was still ongoing elsewhere. Nationally, corn acreage was 17 percent at or beyond the dough stage, 20 points behind last year and 15 points behind the normal pace. No corn acreage had reached the dough stage in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but more than half had reached the dough stage in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Condition of the corn crop was rated 66 percent good to excellent, unchanged from a week ago.

Soybeans: Seventy-eight percent of the soybean acreage was at or beyond the blooming stage, 12 points behind last year and 10 points behind normal. Most of the soybean-producing areas received some moisture during the week, except Minnesota and Wisconsin. Portions of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois received 2 to 4 inches of rain, with some areas in Missouri receiving more than 4 inches. Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa were all 12 or more points behind the 5-year average pace for blooming. However, Missouri continued to lag the furthest behind, with only 48 percent blooming, compared with 71 percent last year and 75 percent for the 5-year average. All States lagged the normal pace except Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee. Pod-setting had occurred on 37 percent of the nation’s soybean acreage, 27 points behind last year and 21 points behind normal. Pod-setting was delayed in all States except Michigan, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Condition of the crop was rated 63 percent good to excellent, up 1 point from last week.

Winter Wheat: Eighty-six percent of the winter wheat crop was harvested, 7 points behind last year and 6 points behind the 5-year average. Harvest was virtually complete in all States except Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington. In Montana, South Dakota, and Idaho, harvest progress was 46, 29 and 22 points behind normal, respectively.

Cotton: Acreage at or beyond the squaring stage reached 92 percent, 1 point behind last year and 3 points behind the 5-year average. Squaring was complete or nearly complete in all States except Oklahoma and Texas. The most rapid squaring advancement occurred in Oklahoma, where 13 percent of the acreage reached or exceeded squaring during the week. Sixty-seven percent of the cotton acreage was setting bolls, 2 points ahead of last year but 5 points behind the 5-year average. In Arizona and Oklahoma, boll-setting was delayed by 19 or more points. Elsewhere, progress ranged from 11 points behind normal in Kansas to 10 points ahead of normal in Missouri. Cotton bolls were opening on 8 percent of the nation’s cotton acreage. The most significant progress was in Texas, at 16 percent, and Arizona, at 10 percent. Cotton condition was rated 47 percent good to excellent nationally, unchanged from the previous week.

Sorghum: Fifty-one percent of the national sorghum crop reached heading by week’s end, 13 points behind last year and 9 points behind the 5-year average. Delays were evident in all States when compared with normal, except in Colorado and New Mexico, where heading was ahead of the 5-year average by 26 and 9 points, respectively. Coloring, at 30 percent nationally, was 5 points behind last year but 1 point ahead of the 5-year average. Development in Arkansas significantly lagged the 5-year average, while Colorado’s progress was 38 points ahead. In Louisiana, where coloring advanced 16 points during the week, progress was 14 points ahead of the normal pace. Nationally, 22 percent of the sorghum acreage had reached maturity, the same as last year but 3 points ahead of the 5-year average. Texas acreage was 56 percent mature and Louisiana acreage was 42 percent mature. Condition of the crop was rated 50 percent good to excellent, down 1 point from last week.

Rice: Rice acreage at or beyond the heading stage reached 39 percent, 22 points behind last year and 20 points behind the 5-year average. In Louisiana and Texas, 87 percent or more of the acreage was at or beyond heading. Development advanced 10 or more points during the week in all States except Louisiana. In the Delta, heading in Arkansas and Mississippi lagged 33 and 31 points behind the respective 5-year average paces. Rice condition was rated 71 percent good to excellent, an increase of 1 point when compared with the previous week.

Small Grains: Barley harvest was 8 percent complete, 24 points behind last season and 12 points behind the 5-year average. Barley harvest was underway in all States. In Washington, harvest was 15 percent complete by week’s end, 14 points behind last year and 8 points behind the 5-year average. In Minnesota, harvest was 5 percent complete, 48 points behind last year and 27 points behind the 5-year average. Barley condition was rated 53 percent good to excellent, 4 points lower than last week. Oat harvest was 34 percent complete, 28 points behind last year and 18 points behind the 5-year average. Texas harvest was complete, 3 points ahead of last year and 1 point ahead of the 5- year average. All other areas were behind the normal pace. Oat condition was rated 57 percent good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week. Spring wheat harvest was 6 percent complete, 17 points behind last year and 13 points behind the 5-year average. Washington led the way with 10 percent harvested, followed by South Dakota at 9 percent. However, those states trailed their respective 5-year averages by 16 and 47 points. Spring wheat condition was rated 56 percent good to excellent, 4 points below the previous week.

Other Crops: Peanut pegging reached 89 percent by week’s end, 4 points ahead of last year’s pace but 1 point behind the 5- year average. Development was within 6 points of normal in all States. Condition of the crop was rated 60 percent good to excellent, a 2 point decline from the previous week.

Source:  USDA

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