October 19th, 2018

Soft drink foes cheer victory, lament remaining junk foods in schools

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Soft drink foes cheer victory, lament remaining junk foods in schools

Monday, May 8, 2006

Last week’s announcement that most soda manufacturers will stop selling their sugary products in U.S. schools did not mention that avoiding lawsuits was part of the motivation for the self-imposed ban. Some of those who threatened legal action to stop the soda sales are patting themselves on the back over the agreement, while lamenting that the deal did not go far enough, and now plan to press for more restrictions.

“Though there is room for improvement — sugary “sports” drinks still will be sold in schools, for instance — this voluntary agreement is certainly good enough that CSPI will drop its planned lawsuit against Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury-Schweppes and their bottlers,” said Michael F. Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest . “I hope this settlement contributes to the momentum that is building in Congress for legislation that would require USDA to update its standards for foods sold outside of school meals. That would enable USDA to eliminate the sale of candy, cookies, French fries, potato chips, and other snack foods, as well as sports drinks, that are standard fare in school vending machines and stores.”

In the wake of the announcement of the agreement by the three largest soft drink companies, their bottlers and the public health advocacy group, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Jacobson thanked his team of litigators for “negotiating effectively with the soft-drink industry over the past six months, and for demonstrating that the judicial system can play an important role in spurring public health advances.”

Richard Daynard, a law professor and president of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, which threatened the soft-drink industry with lawsuits, said in an institute press release, “The industry agreement with the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association comes after sustained pressure from potential litigation and negotiations with public health groups and their lawyers. It is a credit to the role of litigation and the legal system as a component of effective public health strategy.”

“This agreement demonstrates the potential of public health litigation to help control the obesity epidemic,” he said.

In an email exchange with the James Logan Courier, Margo Wootan, director of Nutrition Policy for the Center for Science in the Public interest, said, “Last week’s announcement that soft drink companies will pull all sugary sodas from schools is great step toward improving school foods. This agreement is the culmination of the tremendous national momentum on improving school foods — from the local policies (in LA, NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, etc.), state bills (in 2005, 200 bills were introduced in 40 states to get soda and junk foods out of schools), the strong bipartisan bill pending in the U.S. Congress, and threats of litigation against soda companies.”

“While today’s agreement is a huge step forward, it is by no means the last step” wrote Wootan, ” We still have a lot of work to do to improve school foods.”

The agreement, announced Wednesday morning by the William J. Clinton Foundation, means that the nation’s biggest beverage distributors, and the American Beverage Association, will pull their soda products from vending machines and cafeterias in schools serving about 35 million students, according to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.

Under the agreement, high schools will still be able to purchase drinks such as diet and unsweetened teas, diet sodas, sports drinks, flavored water, seltzer and low-calorie sports drinks for resale to students.

The companies plan to stop soda sales at 75 percent of the nation’s public schools by the 2008-2009 school year, and at all schools in the following school year. The speed of the changes will depend in part on school districts’ willingness to change their contracts with the beverage distributors.

Some food activists criticized the deal for not going far enough and undermining efforts to go further.

Michele Simon, the director of the Center for Informed Food Choices, based in Oakland, Ca., called the deal “bogus” and a “PR stunt” by “Big Cola” in an effort to “sugar coat it’s image.”

“This announcement could potentially undermine ongoing grassroots efforts, state legislation, and other enforceable policies,” wrote Simon in an article at www.commondreams.org,” For example, in Massachusetts where a stronger bill is pending, a local advocate is worried about the adverse impact, since legislators could easily think that Clinton has taken care of the problem and ignore the bill. What was already an uphill battle—getting schools and legislatures to take this problem seriously—was just made worse, not better, by this bogus agreement.

“Even from a health standpoint, the deal is hardly impressive. Diet soda full of artificial sweeteners, sports drinks high in sugar, and other empty-calorie beverages with zero nutritional value are still allowed in high schools,” Simon wrote, “Also, parents concerned about soda advertising in schools will not be pleased with the agreement. Not a word is mentioned about the ubiquitous marketing children are subjected to daily in the form of branded score boards, school supplies, sports bags, and cups (just to name a few), which is required by exclusive Coke and Pepsi contracts. “

She’s not the only one criticizing the deal.“ While the initial details are promising, PHAI is concerned about some aspects of the agreement as it is being reported,” Daynard said in the press release. “The continual sale of “sports drinks” is a cause for concern. While they have a role for marathon runners and others engaged in sustained strenuous sports, for most students “sports drinks” are just another form of sugar water. Furthermore, the change in beverages offered must be carefully monitored and cannot depend entirely on the schools’ willingness and ability to alter existing contracts. Soda companies have spent decades pushing these unhealthy drinks on children and should bear the responsibility for their removal. PHAI is also concerned about the enforcement of this agreement and its silence on industry marketing activities in the school system,” he said.

“Importantly, the agreement doesn’t address the sale of chips, candy, snack cakes, ice cream, or any of the other high-fat, high-calorie, high-salt foods that are sold widely in schools,” said Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “This is a voluntary agreement and is not enforceable, we need Senator Harkin’s school foods bill to lock in the beverage standards and give them the force of law.”

Even the diet drinks, which will still be offered, need to go, said Ross Getman, an attorney in Syracuse, NY. Getman has advocated that soda should not be sold in public schools and that long-term “pouring rights” agreements, which give a company exclusive access to sell their brands at a school, are illegal for a variety of reasons.

Getman, who contends that some diet sodas are contaminated with benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, said the soda “industry gets an “F” for incomplete” for “the industry’s failure to pull all soda from school and to recall products.”

Schools account for about $700 million in U.S. soft-drink sales, less than 1 percent total revenue for Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury, the nation’s largest soda companies.

Ten of the largest U.S. school districts have already removed soft drinks from vending machines, according to Getman. States including California, Maine and Connecticut have also banned sugary sodas in schools.

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October 18th, 2018

Pakistan Taliban say Baitullah Mehsud is dead

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Pakistan Taliban say Baitullah Mehsud is dead

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baitullah Mehsud, am?r (leader) of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is dead, said two Taliban leaders in a phone call to the BBC. Mehsud was reportedly killed on August 5, 2009, during a U.S. drone attack on South Waziristan; however, Hakimullah Mehsud, who was recently chosen as Baitullah’s successor, and Wali-ur-Rehman told the BBC that Mehsud had died on Sunday, August 23, 2009 of injuries sustained on August 5.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik delayed giving official confirmation and asked for patience and an announcement by ISPR or other agencies. Major General Athar Abbas, ISPR spokesman, and Robert Gibbs of the White House had said that his death could not be confirmed although U.S. National Security Adviser James L. Jones had claimed that there was “pretty conclusive” evidence that proved Baitullah Mehsud had been killed and that he was 90% sure of it.

Mehsud formed the TTP from an alliance of about five pro-Taliban groups in December 2007, and commanded up to 5,000 fighters. Pakistan blamed him for numerous attacks including the assassination in 2007 of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and wife of President Asif Ali Zardari, according to Bloomberg News. The U.S. offered a US$5 million bounty for his capture. According to the BBC, Pakistan had been unable to provide tangible evidence of his death because of the “remote and hostile terrain” of South Waziristan.

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October 18th, 2018

Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center

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Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Thursday, NASA officials confirmed that a small plastic bag of cocaine was found two days before in a secure space shuttle processing facility within the Kennedy Space Center located in Merritt Island, Florida.

An employee found the bag in Orbiter Processing Facility #3, where the Discovery is being prepared for a March launch to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The man immediately notified security, and local police were soon called to the scene. From there, the bag’s contents were tested, and the results came back positive for cocaine.

The center’s director, Robert Cabana, assured the press that neither the Discovery nor the hangar in which it is being housed was compromised by the presence of the illegal drug. He went on to affirm that neither he nor his agency condone the use of any controlled substance by any employee while they are on the job, and that whoever is responsible will be fired and then prosecuted for the offenses.

Furthermore, Cabana stated that besides probing the criminal nature of what occurred, NASA will also conduct a full review of recent work performed on the Discovery as to make sure that there were not any other potential problems with the shuttle that investigators may have missed the first time.

Although a drug test was performed on each of the facility’s over two-hundred workers before they left Wednesday, “There was nothing obvious,” said the center’s public relations spokesman, Allard Beutel.

He goes on to say, “Nobody was obviously under the influence when they were working, because we have supervisors there, security in there. It wasn’t obvious somebody was under the influence of this substance, or any other, for that matter.”

Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut himself, says he is confident that the guilty party will be found, brought to justice, and then sent “out the door.”

Beutel concluded his statement by reaffirming NASA’s “zero-tolerance” policy for controlled substances, “People know how serious this is, and how serious[sic] people take it,” Beutel said. “And it’s not acceptable. That’s the bottom line.”

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October 17th, 2018

On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016

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On the campaign trail in the USA, May 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

The following is the first edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: a former Republican congressman briefly joins the Libertarian Party and runs for vice president; the Democratic Party names its National Convention Platform Drafting Committee amid controversy; and Wikinews interviews a candidate who had a surprisingly strong performance in the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary.

Contents

  • 1 Summary
  • 2 Ex GOP congressman joins LP, seeks VP, then leaves
  • 3 DNC aims for unity with Platform Drafting Committee picks; controversy ensues
  • 4 Interview with overachieving West Virginia Democratic protest candidate
  • 5 Related articles
  • 6 Sources

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October 16th, 2018

Five police officers killed in Dallas, Texas during sniper attack

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Five police officers killed in Dallas, Texas during sniper attack

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Thursday, five police officers were killed and seven were injured after a sniper attacked a public protest march in downtown Dallas, Texas. Sources indicate at least three other people were taken into custody for questioning relating to the attack. The march was held to protest the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota during engagements with police officers.

Police identified 25-year-old Micah Johnson as the suspect. Johnson had previously served in the US army, and police reported he said he wanted to exact revenge upon police officers after news of Sterling and Castile’s deaths. Ammunition and weapons were found inside Johnson’s home. Dallas Police reported the policemen were shot at from a height. Officials said two civilians were also injured in the attack.

Micah Johnson served for the United States Army Reserve from 2009 until early 2015, including a tour of Afghanistan. Johnson had no criminal record. His attack was reported to be a lone mission.

After the attack earlier on Thursday, police killed Micah Johnson in El Centro College’s parking lot by a bomb explosion.

Hillary Clinton, 2016 United States presidential election candidate and favorite for the Democratic nomination this July, said, “There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be. No-one has all the answers. We have to find them together.”

After Johnson was killed, Mike Rawlings, Dallas’ mayor, said “We believe now the city is safe”.

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October 16th, 2018

Zimbabwe cancels education year for 4.5 million after political and economic troubles

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Zimbabwe cancels education year for 4.5 million after political and economic troubles

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zimbabwe’s 4.5 million students will not receive what was once the golden standard of education in Africa—or any education at all this school year.

Political violence during the country’s recent presidential elections hit schools hard with strikes, murder and violence against teachers, and looting. Some schools were turned into places of torture after teachers were driven out.

The country’s educators were targeted by Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF party, for alleged support of the opposition.

Now the country faces a second crisis due to economic troubles and an inflation rate of two trillion percent. The few teachers still around have seen their salaries made worthless and are unable to acquire teaching supplies. “We don’t even have chalk, or red pens, never mind books,” says Amos Musoni, one of the few teachers still working. Schools like the one where Musoni works have given up educating and simply entertain the children before sending them off for lack of equipment.

Not even Zimbabwe’s four top universities have been spared. The universities have been unable to open without funds, water, or electricity, like many public schools. College students, unable to register, are left waiting for more information.

Pass rates in the nation went from 72 to eleven percent, with many schools not seeing even one pass. Schools in the countries have not been able to prepare students for tests without timetables or even the results from last year.

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October 15th, 2018

China’s winter weather threatens food supplies

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China’s winter weather threatens food supplies

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Chinese official says harsh winter weather is threatening food production and adding to inflationary pressures. Political pressure is also building on the government for its failure to anticipate and solve the problems.

A top Chinese disaster relief official was quoted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper Thursday as calling it the worst natural disaster since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949.

Tens of millions of Chinese have been affected by the snowstorms across the central and southern parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands are camping out in train stations, hoping the snowed-in trains will start running again to take them home for the lunar new year holiday. An unknown number of people are stranded on icy highways, cut off from adequate heat and food.

The situation is so serious that Premier Wen Jiabao has personally visited train stations in Hunan and Guangdong provinces in the past couple of days. He is telling stranded workers the government is trying to get transportation moving so they can get home for the holiday. But other officials have advised migrant workers to forget about going home, and stay in their places of work.

Officials say unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfalls have destroyed crops and greenhouses, and are severely affecting winter food production. Chen Xiwen is the deputy director of the Communist Party‘s leading financial team.

Chen says the impact of the disaster in southern China on winter crop production is extremely serious. He says the impact on fresh vegetables and fruit has been catastrophic in some places.

Prices for fresh fruit and vegetables have doubled in some of the worst-hit areas. The situation is exacerbating the rise in food prices that began last year.

China’s consumer price index rose nearly 5 percent for all of 2007, and was up 6.5 percent in December alone. A major part of the increase was in food prices.

Chen, however, says he does not expect inflation this month to get worse, despite the crop damage being caused by the snow.

Chen says winter grain and edible oils are grown mainly in the north, which is outside the storms’ reach, and winter wheat production will not be seriously affected.

Two weeks of ice and snowstorms have killed more than 60 people and caused more than three billion dollars in direct damage.

China’s top weather expert told state media Thursday the storms will last well into the new year holiday, which begins February 6.

The lunar new year is China’s most important holiday. Normally, tens of millions of people would be heading home at this time.

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October 15th, 2018

Doctor robbed, car-jacked and locked in boot while car set alight

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Doctor robbed, car-jacked and locked in boot while car set alight

Monday, March 19, 2007

A 34 year old obstetrician from Forestville on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has escaped after he was robbed, car-jacked and locked in the boot (trunk) of his BMW, which was set alight. Police say the doctor was locked in the boot while his car was set alight, but was allowed to escape before flames engulfed the vehicle.

The Doctor was believed to have been heading to The Mater Hospital in North Sydney when he was waiting at the intersection of West and Falcon Streets in Chatswood around 3:15AM AEDT when a small red sedan with two men claiming to be police officers signalled him to stop. After crossing the intersection, the doctor stopped his car at the side of the road.

The doctor was then approached by the two men and when he asked to see identification, one man grabbed the keys from his car’s ignition before they both pulled the doctor out of his vehicle, hit him in the stomach with a hammer and stole his mobile phone and wallet. The robbers also demanded his key and credit cards along with their access codes before locking him in the boot.

Police allege that the men drove to several locations to withdraw cash and buy things before driving to Carisbook Street in Linley Point at around 4 a.m. local time where they set the car alight with the doctor still in the boot.

Crime Manager of the Harbourside Local Area Command, Detective Inspector Houlahan said that the doctor then “heard a click in the boot area and he heard someone call out: ‘Get out of the car'”

“When he pushed the boot up he found his car engulfed in flames.”

Det. Insp. Houlahan said the doctor told police he did not unlock the boot himself, and it appeared the man’s captors unlocked it before fleeing.

Det Insp Houlahan said that the doctor appeared to be “very distraught” and tired after the ordeal, and wanted to get home and see his wife and two young daughters.

He could only provide police with a vague description of his captors, but said the men were both Caucasian males aged in their 20s, and that one of them was about six feet tall (183cm) with short blond hair and medium build said Det. Insp. Houlahan.

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October 14th, 2018

United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

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United States begins testing equipment for demolition of a major VX nerve gas stockpile

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Testing began on a chemical reactor at the Newport Chemical Depot near Terre Haute, Indiana on Friday morning. If successful, the reactor will be put to use destroying the large VX nerve gas stockpiles stored at the facility over the course of the next two years. After the disposal project experienced several delays, the facility announced it would begin pumping VX into a completed disposal unit for testing. The unit consists of a chemical reactor in which the VX will be mixed with water and sodium hydroxide, heated to 194°F while mixed with paddles. The resulting chemical, called hydrolysate, is chemically similar to commercial drain cleaners and has similar properties. If the test is successfully completed , the unit will continue processing the VX until the entire stockpile has been neutralized, a process projected to take two years. Administrators expect to complete testing on May 10, 2005.

According to the controversial plan, the finished waste product would be shipped to New Jersey for final reprocessing. The inert chemical would then be emptied into the Delaware River where natural attenuation would occur.

Residents near the proposed river disposal site in New Jersey oppose this idea. The contractor for the final component of this disposal would be the DuPont Corporation.

NCD is a bulk chemical storage and destruction facility in west central Indiana, thirty miles north of Terre Haute. Originally founded during World War II to produce RDX, a conventional explosive, it later became a site for chemical weapons manufacturing during the Cold War. It is now used to securely store and gradually neutralize part of the US stockpile of VX.

VX was manufactured by the U.S. in the 1950s and 60’s as a deterrent to possible Soviet Union use. It was never deployed, and the manufacture was halted in 1969 after an order signed by then-president Richard Nixon.

In 1999, the Army announced it awarded a disposal contract to Parsons Infrastructure & Technology, Inc., a business unit of Parsons Corporation. Some 220 civilian Parsons employees work at the facility, which is supervised by an Army officer reporting to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, and a board of civilian government overseers called the Indiana Citizens’ Advisory Commission, some of whose members are appointed by the state governor.

Security at the facility is controversial. A private security service, supplemented by a complement of Indiana National Guard soldiers, guarded the facility until April 14, 2005, when the soldiers were withdrawn. An Indianapolis television station has questioned security measures in some of its special reports.

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October 14th, 2018

American Academy of Pediatrics supports dairy for lactose intolerant children

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American Academy of Pediatrics supports dairy for lactose intolerant children

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in the September 2006 issue of its journal Pediatrics, supports the use of dairy by lactose intolerant children.

Dr. Melvin B. Heyman, author of the article, says that just because a child is lactose intolerant, does not mean that they should avoid dairy altogether. Many lactose intolerant people can consume small amounts of dairy.

Heyman says that dairy consumption is important, especially for children, because of its high calcium content. The calcium is, in turn, important for stengthening growing bones. “If dairy products are eliminated,” the article says, “other dietary sources of calcium or calcium supplements need to be provided.”

Lactose intolerance is a condition, present in the majority of human population above the age of infancy, due to which the body cannot tolerate lactose, a sugar present in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance causes a range of unpleasant abdominal symptoms, including stomach cramps, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea.

As lactose intolerance is inherent, its prevalence varies by ethnic group. For example, while only 12% of American Caucasians have it, its prevalence is 75% among African Americans, 93% among Chinese, 60%-80% among Ashkenazi Jews,and 100% among American Indians. Many people do not realize that they have this condition simply because they have eaten dairy all their lives and view the symptoms of lactose intolerance as “normal”.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has long stated that the risks of consuming dairy far outweigh the benefits. According to PRCM’s fact sheet, called “Parents’ Guide to Building Better Bones”, there are many healthy ways of getting enough calcium and promoting bone health. Many foods contain calcium, not just dairy. Also, it is important to consider the amount of calcium absorbed, not just the amount of calcium present in a food. For example, more than three times as much calcium is absorbed from one serving of Total Plus cereal as from one serving of 2% milk.

PCRM promotes a strictly vegetarian diet. Despite its name, it claims only 5 percent of its members as physicians. PCRM has also been accused of having links with animal rights “extremists”, in particular Jerry Vlasak, a former PCRM spokesman who called for the murder of scientists who use animals in research.

The report in News-Medical.Net says that Ann Marie Krautheim, with the National Dairy Council, a dairy lobbying group, says

she hopes the report will educate parents on how to continue to include dairy in the diets of children sensitive to lactose and also help improve their nutrient intake. Krautheim says calcium-fortified beverages and other foods which seek to provide an alternative source of calcium, do not provide an equivalent nutrient package to dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

This last statement, however, that dairy products are superior to calcium-fortified foods, is not supported by the article in Pediatrics.

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