Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dirty Little Secret About E Coli

There's a dirty little secret about E. Coli, salmonella, campylobacter and other forms of food poisoning that hasn't become common knowledge for the general public -- yet -- and there is considerable cause for concern.

What's the dirty little secret? The news, according to this Associated Press article is alarming some sectors of the health industry:
It's a dirty little secret of food poisoning: E. coli and certain other foodborne illnesses can sometimes trigger serious health problems months or years after patients survived that initial bout. Scientists only now are unraveling a legacy that has largely gone unnoticed.

What kind of health problems? Here's one example from the article:
Consider Alyssa Chrobuck of Seattle, who at age 5 was hospitalized as part of the Jack-in-the-Box hamburger outbreak that 15 years ago this month made a deadly E. coli strain notorious.

She's now a successful college student but ticks off a list of health problems unusual for a 20-year-old: High blood pressure, recurring hospitalizations for colon inflammation, a hiatal hernia, thyroid removal, endometriosis.

"I can't eat fatty foods. I can't eat things that are fried, never been able to eat ice cream or milkshakes," says Chrobuck. "Would I have this many medical problems if I hadn't had the E. coli? Definitely not. But there's no way to tie it definitely back."

Donna Rosenbaum of the consumer advocacy group Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.) is quoted saying;
"We're drastically underestimating the burden on society that foodborne illnesses represent."

S.T.O.P.'s newly elected president, Ms. Nancy Donley of Chicago, is no stranger to the effects of food poisoning. Their website indicates that "Ms. Donley, who previously served as S.T.O.P.’s President from 1996-2004, is nationally known for her extensive advocacy work on preventing foodborne illness and death. She became a member of S.T.O.P. and started her advocacy work after the tragic death of her six-year-old son, Alex, in 1993 from E. coli O157:H7-contaminated meat."

Now, if you are really curious to learn more about foodborne illnesses, you really should spend some time on the S.T.O.P. website. There " a collection of stories and testimonies given by victims and families of victims of foodborne illness. They bear witness to the fact that existing and emerging foodborne illness ravages victims without mercy."

The Center for Disease Control is aware of the problems relating to foodborne illness. They say foodborne illnesses cause 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths a year. Among survivors, some long-term consequences are obvious from the outset. Some required kidney transplants. They may have scarred intestines that promise lasting digestive difficulty.

But unfortunately, there has been little data collected on what happens to food poison survivors AFTER...
For now, some of the best evidence comes from the University of Utah, which has long tracked children with E. coli. About 10 percent of E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, where their kidneys and other organs fail.

Ten to 20 years after they recover, between 30 percent and half of HUS survivors will have some kidney-caused problem, says Dr. Andrew Pavia, the university's pediatric infectious diseases chief. That includes high blood pressure caused by scarred kidneys, slowly failing kidneys, even end-stage kidney failure that requires dialysis.

"I don't want to leave the message that everyone who had symptoms ... is in trouble," stresses Pavia.

Miserable as E. coli is, it doesn't seem to trigger long-term problems unless it started shutting down the kidneys the first time around, he says. "People with uncomplicated diarrhea, by and large we don't have evidence yet that they have complications."

There are other proven long-term consequences of food poisoning. You can read the article here for more details.

In addition to foodborne illnesses, antibiotic resistance is also one of the top concerns for the Center for Disease Controll.

The "dirty little secret" on foodborne illness comes out following another important article published on January 20, 2008, in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Bacteria race ahead of drugs Falling behind: Deadly infections increasingly able to beat antibiotics"

Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't take you back to the manure issues surrounding CAFOs, considering the above news.

So many, many times before on this blog I've pointed out study after study after study regarding how long these pathogens can survive in our soils and waters. You need only look to our 303d water reports to see the E. Coli problems in Indiana waterways.

My point is this -- if you can't kill it first, you shouldn't be planting it in (or spraying it on) the ground in such massive, concentrated quantities.

BigAg has been on a mission to push farmers to "grow big or get out" for years now. And yet, in all their talks about so-called "nutrient" absorbance capacity of the land in "safe manure handling practices" it simply astounds me that they spend so little time on the health issues relating to factory farming practices that appear to be leaving a dirty trail all the way from the farm to the fork.

And what supremely ticks me off is how their push for BIG has slaughtered so many family farms across this great nation while they -- Big Ag -- keep digging into taxpayer pockets to deal with the issues surrounding their "model" for the future of our food -- to have taxpayers pay to clean up their mess.

They're eager to throw another few billion at the FDA for tighter food safety.

They're happy to see more billions flow to the USDA for greater food safety.

They eagerly wait to see how much more money can go into farm subsidies and the like to deal with everything from........

DANG IT!!! They created the dang mess in the first place... even convincing small farmers, who would have had to quit and lose their farms, to go BIG so they could compete in the industry -- glossing over the unresolved problems tied to this style of Agriculture. AND NOW -- DIG DEEPER INTO TAXPAYER POCKETS ...scare the hell out of them to make them pay more, and more, and more... and... geez. It's time to get responsibility back where it belongs, dangit!!

Sorry. Got a little carried away with this post. (taking a deep breath here)

Gotta run -- but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be back soon with more on this issue.

Want to do something right now?

Call Rep. Crawford ASAP and request that he schedule HB 1168 for a hearing and vote in House Ways and Means Committee. They're trying to keep it out.

His office number at the statehouse is 317-232-9875.

The toll free number for the Indiana House is 800-382-9842.

You only have until Thursday, by the way. Yeah, they like to slip past these as fast as possible -- my humble opinion.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Senate Bill 43 and more

There is a vote coming up on Monday, January 14, 2008 -- regarding Senate Bill 43. This Bill has 3 parts, according to an email I received:
1. Environmental rules are subject to automatic expiration but can be readopted with a public notice. (Good)

2. Allow solid waste management fund to provide grants and loans for technologies for conversion of solid waste into energy with priority to waste tires ("Incineration" was deleted but waste to energy is converted by burning. This section is unneeded, unjustified, and needs to be removed.)

3. Establishes procedures to prevent imposing double fees for storm water management (Good)

This is a quote from the Bill that the email sender wrote is cause for concern:
Allows use of the state solid waste management fund to provide grants and loans to promote beneficial uses of technologies for the conversion of solid waste into energy or another useful product by incineration, and gives priority to grants and loans for technologies for the conversion of waste tires.

The "conversion of solid waste into energy or another useful product by incineration" had me squirming in my chair. It leaves things wide open as to what kind of solid wastes can be burned and why they can be burned.

After all, the term "solid waste" can mean so many different things, can't it? Imagine a massive pile of ...well... say, oh-I-dunno... manure. Now, that would qualify under the term "solid waste" pretty good. Just imagine the possibilities!

Frankly, I haven't had a chance to even read the Bill. I've been SWAMPED with other things (solid and otherwise) raining down on my head this month. But I'm guessing that some large stockpilers of so-called "solid wastes" are already figurin' on how to reach into them thar' taxpayer pockets to help pay for some pretty big incineration experiments, hmmmmmm?

Do you really think vast quantities of poop would even be considered for this "incineration" clause?

Well, apparently Bob Kraft from the Farm Bureau "testified in support of SB 43 but stated that it didn't go far enough and could be applicable to fund projects for 'animal waste' to develop that technology."


The email sender sent along these comments:
Personally, we feel deceived by the language in this bill. If "animal waste" was to be included in this bill, it should have been included in the text and not hidden as it was in this bill.

This was not by accident and was supported by Senator Gard. When the environmental groups did not support Part 2 of this bill, she made the statement that "you can't have it both ways" meaning that you can't complain about manure waste and not allow it to be paid for by this fund.

We also think that with our Forbes rating of 49th out of 50 states, we cant afford to be taking any money out of this fund for other uses. We were offended to hear Farm Bureau ("Goliath") wanting to steal funds for CAFOs from the solid waste management fund ("David"). Depleting this fund will disrupt programs that are already in place and working. Part 2 needs to be taken out of this bill.

If you have a bit of spare time this weekend, you might want to take a quick look at the Bill (link), then maybe draft up an email for the Energy and Environmental Affairs Chair and Members.

For your convenience, here's a list of details and contact info:

AGENDA FOR: Energy and Environmental Affairs
MEETING: January 14, 930AM, Room 233
CHAIR: Senator Gard


AGENDA: SB 0043 SB 0046 SB 0160 SB 0178 SB 0199 SB 0200

State Sen. Allen Paul Back in the Headlines

He's back. And he's brought the CAFO subject front and center once again. State Senator Allen Paul is making headlines. Check this out:
"We discussed the issue last year, but this is one of the state's biggest challenges," Paul said. "It's a highly emotional issue. Once the land is gone, it's gone. If we had a moratorium for three years and really worked on this at the state and local level, we could address some of the legitimate issues." Read more...

And Now for Something Completely Different

This little video has had over 13 million views. It should lighten things up a bit. hehehe

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bizarre January Weather

Freak Tornadoes, Flooding and High Temperatures

Tornadoes ripped through parts of Wisconsin late yesterday afternoon and into the evening, hitting Kinosha County hardest, particularly near Wheatland. (see news here)

By comparison, we were pretty lucky. Although road flooding caused a 2-hour school delay this morning -- the kids first day back after the holiday break -- there's little damage here. (thankfully)

We hit record highs for January temperatures thus far... and the last time tornadoes appeared in Wisconsin in January was way back in 1844. So the year 2008 is definitely starting out with bizarre weather patterns.

In Other Wisconsin News

Speaking of Wisconsin, not sure if you saw this Op-Ed piece by guest columnist, Mark A. Kastel, regarding factory farming in the Wisconsin "Capitol Times" -- it's worth reading, written from the family farmers' point of view. Here's a small excerpt:
The result of this trend has been the loss of thousands of family businesses that were healthy and integral parts of their rural communities. They have been replaced by "farms" milking hundreds or thousands of cows, in confinement conditions, most milk cows never being let out of the giant barns -- barns that have been constructed with the help of state and federal loans and grants.

This public money has shifted dairy production in our state, and in many others, to a model that has become a grave ecological threat to air and water quality by concentrating the manure equivalent of a small city on one industrial site. Wisconsin has experienced a rash of serious groundwater and surface water catastrophes from major-league manure spills over the last decade. And our tax money has been used to create employment for an exploited class of immigrant worker instead of family-supporting jobs for our new residents or existing Wisconsinites.

In monitoring the press around the country, as one of the leading organic industry watchdogs and family farm advocates, we rarely respond to the agribusiness frontmen extolling the virtues of industrial food production. Most of these articles appear in the industry's trade publications. But when they appear in the pages of The Capital Times, there is a disconnect we no longer feel can go unanswered.
Three cheers to Mark for a well-written piece!

No More Living High on the Hog

Interestingly enough, in reference to the economic side of things for farming in general, not sure if you heard about the grim outlook for hog farming in 2008 and early parts of 2009.

Perdue University came out with some numbers that paint a grim forecast. They strongly urge cutbacks in production. Here's a quote regarding the 2008 economic picture:
"The year appears to be very bleak for hog producers in general. There will be too large of supply for most of the year and costs from feed are very high. Losses of about $30 per head for farrow-to-finish operations are expected in the early part of the year. Then maybe $10 to $15 per head of losses in the spring and summer quarters, and $15 to $20 per head of losses for the last quarter of 2008." Chris Hurt, Purdue University
The Pork Industry is hoping China's increase in demand might compensate, but an interesting article here tells most money market watchers to not expect much from China in the short term ahead. Not sure if it will affect the pork industry, but might have an impact on other areas.

But the point is, for a small family farm the news for pork could be grim -- but it could possibly be a whole lot worse for a factory farm. The surplus hogs would tend to pile up a whole lot faster in an assembly line setting pushing those huge losses through the roof in a very short period of time.

The big Mitch Daniels pork-push might turn into some tough breaks for this State.

SIDENOTE: Note the interesting info on the President's "Plunge Protection Team" in the last article referenced above. Makes you wonder where all our tax dollars really are going these days. Surely not into the stock markets?

The Juggling Act

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Watching the news, whether it be politics, business, economy, weather... seems everything is turning into a juggling act. So, here's a video clip that might brighten your mood. Make sure you have your sound turned up. Then sit back and enjoy. Be sure to watch it all the way through to appreciate the big finale. Click to watch video now.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fox News Gets Blasted by Ron Paul Supporters

And the race is on...

The 2008 kickoff for election year has already produced its first explosion as news was "leaked" that Ron Paul would be excluded from a Fox News debate. With the Internet racing at the speed of light, it's hard to separate fact from fiction -- and sometimes even harder to verify just who said/did what when it comes to politics.

So, I started digging past the many outraged Ron Paul support sites, like:

- this mention in the Houston Chronicle
- this mention in the L.A. Times blog
- this mention in the ever popular Swamp Tribune
- and this massive protest page put up by Ron Paul supporters

...finally coming across this story by Left Coast Views, which suggests the entire story was warped.

I'm still uncertain if there actually is -- or isn't -- some form of presidential elect Republican debate/meeting suppose to be taking place with Mike Wallace as the moderator/interviewer on January 6/2008.

But one thing is for certain, any Republican debates -- now and in future -- to be hosted, moderated and/or televised by Fox News would be best to include him as it seems the elderly ob-gyn has accumulated a very passionate following.

I wonder how many emails Fox News received over this?

On another note, the answer to the last riddle...

QUESTION: "How big is the biggest diamond now known to man?"

ANSWER: it's estimated to be approximately 2,500 miles across and weighs approximately 10 billion-trillion-trillion-carats. Needless to say, it's not on our planet. It's actually the crystallized interior of a white dwarf (the hot core of a star that is left over after the star uses up its nuclear fuel and dies) known as star BPM 37093. So, it's not only the biggest diamond known to man, it's also (for now) the biggest known diamond in our galaxy. If you're curious, here's a link to more detail.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

5 Big Stories Missed in 2007

There are 5 BIG STORIES that were either buried or skipped entirely by mainstream media in 2007 that might have tremendous impact on 2008. As we head into the New Year, I thought it prudent to highlight them here. In no specific order, they are:

1. In World Events - Ms. Bhutto's Taped Interview Provides Shocking Revelations

Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, loved by many in her country, was brutally assassinated at the end of 2008 throwing the country into turmoil. But the big story that was either buried (or skipped?) goes back to a previous attempt on her life.

When she first returned to Pakistan in October of 2007, her convoy was hit by a deadly bombing attack in which 158 of her loyal followers lost their lives.

In early November, following the attack, she was interviewed by Sir David Frost -- a taped interview (linked here) -- when she revealed astonishing news about Osama Bin Laden that, if true, should have rocked the headlines throughout the USA.

But our media never said a word about it.

It was just a tiny segment, one second about one third of the way into the interview, a small part of just one sentence... in which she describes one of three people she believes is behind much of the terroristic activities in their region. She says, and I quote:
"...he also had dealings with Omar Sheikh, the man who murdered Osama Bin Laden..."
After listening to the entire interview several times, the first set of questions that come to mind are:

Was it just a slip of the tongue and she meant "the man who murdered David Pearl" ...? Or did she really mean OBL? What is the truth? Why didn't David Frost follow up on the statement with her? Why did he accept the statement so easily? What do they know over there that we do not know over here?

The next set of questions are even more uncomfortable:

Was it missed by our media? Was the information about OBL that she referred to withheld? Is our media still trying to be corroborated the story? Or have our media been instructed not to dig too deeply here?

Before the mention of "the murder" she clearly mentions OBL's son as the leader of one of several groups that General Musharrif wrote to her about and told her she might be under threat from.

But she responded to him in a letter naming three names that she felt should be investigated -- three people she believed strongly are out to stop democracy in Pakistan through the funding and supporting of activities by those groups.

Interestingly, OBL was NOT one of the names on the list for those groups. No.

But in the interview she CLEARLY and PRECISELY named the son -- not the father -- as the leader of one of the groups she was told might be out to attack her; almost as though it's common knowledge over there that the father is no longer alive?

If the information she said is true (hard to doubt based on how it was said and in the context in which it was delivered), then it's sure to have a profound impact going into 2008 on how some will view the so-named "war" in which our country is embroiled.

She was VERY SPECIFIC in naming names. I find it difficult to believe she meant someone other than OBL. But, will we ever know the truth?

You can watch the interview here and draw your own conclusions.

2. North American Monetary Events - The Dawn of a Different Dollar?

Everyone in financial sectors is hopping up and down, talking about the sub-prime mess, but few have highlighted one important story that blipped on the screen as early as 2006 and continued "blipping" in 2007 which could drastically change how we view the dollar in 2008 and beyond.

By now, you've probably seen (maybe even closely watched) what happened in Europe when the monetary system was changed over to the Euro, right?

Think something like that can't happen on our shores?

Think again...

In certain circles it's been said the Amero dollar is coming. The ability to make it happen (and acceptable) however, is fraught with a few obstacles that need to be addressed.

Starting out in 2007, the first hurdle was that the American dollar was too high, the Mexican far too low, and everything needed to be leveled out to somewhere near the middle where the Canadian dollar fit nicely... or so the story goes.

So, the sub-prime mess -- was it an instrument (pure conjecture on my part) to make certain conditions come about (?) -- or was it, as reported, just really poor, and I mean really really really really shoddily poor, judgement and incompetance throughout the entire credit and financial chain.

Hard to believe so many so-called financial wizards could be so culpable as a whole, isn't it?

Beyond the value of currencies in North America, there is another hurdle that must be overcome. The second hurdle is to get all three countries on board with the plan with some form of an agreement. Make sense?

Well, well, well... lookey here. Watch this blip on mainstream media: "NORTH AMERICAN UNION"

So, now we have this here little agreement in place since 2006 plus a massive drop in the American dollar value on world markets. What next?

The third hurdle would be getting the people to believe in a new form of currency that would encompass all of North America. High inflation coupled with high unemployment is a recipe for recession (actually bordering depression) which some say would definitely accomplish the goal.

I'm guessing that would spur people to accept a new currency.

You know, on December 23, 1913, the Federal Reserve Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson. He seems to have had some regret afterward as this quote attributed to him would seem to suggest:
"A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, all our activities are in the hands of a few men... (W)e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world; no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men." -- Woodrow Wilson
By events of this past year, one can't help but think along the same lines as Mr. Wilson.

If you really want to understand a bit more about fiat currencies and would like some light reading on the history of money, here's an interesting piece you might enjoy.

It's old news already, and yet the full story hasn't been written yet; but keeping a careful eye on the evolution of our dollar would be well-advised in light of the preceding.

Is the Amero Dollar on the way? Here's another little "blip" on the mainstream media screen. Check this short 2006 video out: "The Amero - North American Currency"

It's no wonder the entrepreneurial establishment of the Liberty Dollar had to be swiftly -- and most thoroughly -- shut down so close to the end of 2007. It would be a terrible thing if another form of "currency" were to appear in the middle of all of this, wouldn't it? Gotta stop that nonsense from happening... I say tongue-in-cheek.

3. Health in our Future - Salmonella Microbes and More

What happens to salmonella microbes when they are exposed to space travel? Answer -- "The returning microbes are now three times as nasty as their primitive Earth-bound cousins." (link)

That little-reported experiment probably means nothing to people residing on our planet, but it could mean a whole lot with respect to any foods sent to the space station or beyond.

You see, the nasty little microbe problem here on earth is worse than most people are probably even aware... and new "morphs" are emerging all the time.

If these pesky little salmonella microbes could triple in size, what could happen to things like e. coli, listeria, etc., etc.?

The MRSA superbug story hit mainstream media, but missing in most coverage was the animal connection. Just like the e. coli contaminated water investigation in the California produce growing regions, again the animal connection was treated lightly at best.

Add up all the recalls (and recalls that might have been missed?) and you might start thinking these pesky bugs are being churned out on our planet at factory-level speeds.

The year 2008 is shaping up to be a challenging one for bio-tech scientists to wrestle with, possibly taking their attention off of fabricating new proteins and manipulating genes, and instead seriously studying the nasty spread of microbes that are quickly turning into unstoppable killers.

It's not too late it?

In other health news, there are experiments underway regarding how we (humans) age that are producing mind-blowing theories. For one example, it's believed among some scientists involved that humans are actually capable of living to be 1,000 years old. But, as with anything so radical that could have the potential to wipe out trillion dollar industries like the health industry, there are people who want to stop the research. (Go figure.)

For a bizarre look at the experimentation underway that has, in my opinion, completely fallen off the mass media screen, check this blog out.

Imagine if we actually did live up to 1,000 years in age. That's a very very long time to get to the truth of some unanswered (even forgotten) questions. Picture the huge body of knowledge and experiences we could then pass on to future generations. Hmmmmm....

4. That's Entertainment - the Move to Digital TV

Okay, this is a short one. I just find it odd that not more about it appears in mainstream media, but maybe I'm not watching the right stations. And for those who don't already have a digital viewing capable television set, they most likely won't be watching any television beginning on February 18, 2009. Why? That's when the big switch goes through and television stations will stop broadcasting analog signals.

Those with cable or satellite services won't need to bother with getting a converter.

But for the rest...

You can read more about it and learn how you can get your digital tv converter coupons (2 per family) free from the Government in this article.

5. Asteroid Collision - The Answer to My Last Riddle

In my last post, I posed the following riddle:
QUESTION: What are scientists watching closely as we near January 30/2008 that is: big (about 50 meters in diameter), flies at a speed of 1.2 km per second (8 miles/second) and carries the potential to unleash energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb?
The answer was supposed to be posted the following day, but you simply wouldn't believe how busy things have been here for me.

So, number five on the list of BIG STORIES MISSED is actually the ANSWER to the riddle.

You see, there is this asteroid hurtling its way through space, that a couple weeks ago was said to have a one in 75 chance of hitting Mars on Jan. 30, 2008. Hey -- that's this month!

And it looks like the asteroid now has an even higher probability of slamming into Mars, at least according to this Reuters article on the subject.
The JPL website notes that, in the unlikely event of an impact, the head-on collision would take place on January 30th at 2:55 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, with an uncertainty of a few minutes.
The odds are now about 1 in 25 ...which by any calculation is positively HUGE when it comes to space. You can bet star watchers all over the world will be waiting and watching with baited breath to see what happens later this month.

And if it hits?

Scientists will have a field day! Just imagine how much data can be retrieved by our little robots on Mars... that is, if the dust fallout doesn't totally destroy their solar energy collecting capabilities.

This is one collision the scientific community is actually hoping will take place.

It's shaping up to be a very interesting year ahead.

Happy New Year to all of you... and thank you for reading. I appreciate you.

PS: And the next riddle is.

QUESTION: How big is the biggest diamond now known to man?

Gotta run. See 'ya soon!