Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Toxic Chemicals in Products

Thought you might be interested in the following newsletter. Links at the bottom if you're interested in signing up with them - TT

Executive Director's Letter
Investors Focus on PVC in Packaging and Products

Eleven (11) of the 43 resolutions investors have filed on toxic chemicals and product safety during the last three proxy seasons have focused wholly or partly on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in packaging, toys, and other products. Investors have been in contact with an additional 22 companies regarding their use of PVC. Prompted by potential consumer marketplace impacts of major campaigns by environmental health advocacy organizations in the US and overseas, investor inquiries to companies and shareholder resolutions have surfaced important information about corporate policies and have encouraged companies to move along the PVC reduction and phase-out path. These engagements signal that a PVC packaging tipping point has passed in the marketplace, as other materials are increasingly being sought by both retailers and their suppliers and as use of alternatives grows.

PVC is a problem substance throughout its lifecycle. It’s manufactured from carcinogenic vinyl chloride monomer, posing an occupational hazard. Depending on how it’s being used, it can contain lead and other chemicals that pose a hazard, particularly to children. PVC is not readily recyclable as are other plastics. PVC can be a reputational or litigation hazard for major firms: Wal-Mart and other companies have had to pull lead-tainted bibs and children’s lunchboxes from their shelves.

Sears published a PVC phase out policy in November 2007 following a year of consultations with both investors and environmental activists. These conversations followed withdrawal of a November 2006 shareholder resolution requesting a sustainability report from the company. When filing the resolution, the shareholders had raised PVC as a particular concern. At Target, shareholders did not file a resolution, but spoke to the company behind-the-scenes during the course of a high profile activist campaign focused on PVC. Activists raised PVC issues during the company’s annual meeting, and the company ultimately announced plans to phase out PVC from various product lines and to further explore alternatives.

At Bed Bath and Beyond, shoppers can now find prominent displays of “chlorine free” shower curtains. Bed Bath and Beyond managers discussed this and other initiatives with investors, in the aftermath of a 22% yes vote on a shareholder resolution raising questions about the company’s policies regarding PVC and other chemicals.

Wal-Mart and other companies have made very public commitments to phasing out PVC packaging, and are making progress in doing so, but other companies have been reducing reliance on PVC more quietly. For example, during the course of withdrawing a resolution at Costco on safer chemicals policies, investors were informed that the company had been working to reduce use of PVC, but had not said much publicly about it.

Additional companies have shared information with investors about their PVC progress and goals in response to inquiries, even in the absence of formal resolutions. For example, in the past year, Schering Plough, Logitech, Motorola and Nokia have provided such details. Schering-Plough signaled that its move from PVC for some of its consumer products was influenced by Wal-Mart’s interest in PVC reduction.

Companies clearly are responding to growing consumer interest in going PVC-free. A February 12, 2008 Wall Street Journal story on PVC toys noted that PVC-free plastic toys are attracting venture capitalist interest, and that Mattel and Hasbro are testing a corn-based plastic for their toys. Markets are moving away from PVC both for packaging and specific product lines, providing opportunities for both fast-moving companies and their investors.
Richard A. Liroff, Ph.D Executive Director

Proxy Update—36.1% Yes Vote on First Resolution of the Season

In January, the first toxic chemical/product safety resolution of the 2008 proxy season was voted upon at the annual meeting of medical device manufacturer Becton, Dickinson. The resolution, asking the company to report on how it is addressing likely tightening of regulations on medical devices in the European Union, received a 36.1% Yes vote from shareholders. Two proxy voting advisory services—Institutional Shareholder Services and PROXY Governance, urged support of the resolution.

Toxic Chemicals and Safer Products in the News

'Thomas' toymaker settles suit over lead for $30M Julie Schmit, USA Today January 23, 2008 The maker of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys has agreed to a $30 million class-action settlement stemming from last year's recalls, the first in what's expected to be a wave of settlements.

The chemicals within Anne Underwood, Newsweek February 4, 2008 Many common household products contain compounds that could be affecting our health and can be found in our bodies, according to the recently released "Is it in Us?" report.

Retail goes green, from ground up Ngoc Nguyen, Sacramento Bee January 28, 2008 Kaiser-Permanente reports cost-savings from working with manufacturers to create polyvinyl chloride-free carpeting and IV bags and from a phase-out of mercury in medical devices.

Greener Cleaners Michael McCoy, Chemical & Engineering News January 21, 2007 Consumer demand for environmentally friendly cleaning products has changed the game for chemical suppliers. This new interest is proving to be a wake-up call to chemical companies that supply the cleaning products industry. Clorox has introduced a family of natural cleaners sold under the Earth-friendly name Green Works.

State to probe development of 'green' chemicals Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times January 31, 2008 In an effort to reduce industry's reliance on toxic compounds, state environmental officials today will lay out a framework for transforming California into a leader in the development and use of "green" chemicals.

Chemical-related illnesses cost stateTerence Chea, The Associated Press January 16, 2008 A new study by University of California researchers details the economic, environmental and public health effects of industrial chemicals and calls for state policies to phase out dangerous substances and promote safer alternatives. Toxic chemicals cost the state an estimated $2.6 billion annually in medical expenses and lost wages. The report is available here.

The Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) is a collaborative partnership of investmentmanagers, advised by nongovernmental organizations, concerned about the market and health risksassociated with corporate toxics policies. It serves as an informational resource and secretariat forinvestors working to reduce portfolio risk related to toxic chemicals. For more information, visit us onthe internet at http://www.iehn.org/ or contact RLiroff@iehn.org.

Corporate-NGO Partnerships to Advance Safer Chemicals

Companies are forging important collaborative linkages with NGOs concerned about safer chemicals policies. For example, there is increasingly close technical cooperation between advocate Health Care Without Harm on the one hand and health care leaders such as Consorta and Kaiser-Permanente on the other. Likewise, the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell has created a Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3), comprised of corporate leaders from multiple sectors and environmental health NGOs, all engaged in sharing innovations and generating useful tools. Another example is the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics working with the more than 750 corporate signatories to its Compact for Safe Cosmetics on useful tools to speed the elimination of carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants, and other chemicals of concern from cosmetics. Finally, the NGO Clean Production Action has produced “The Green Screen for SaferChemicals” that it has shared with companies, including Wal-Mart, as a tool for screening and ranking chemicals.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Today's Mad Cow News

The USDA says A Little Mad Cow's OK!
Gather.com - Boston,MA,USA
This article reiterates the USDA's stand on the 143 million pounds of beef that was potentially contaminated with mad cow disease. ...

Food safety should concern everyone
Mid Columbia Tri City Herald - Kennewick,WA,USA
We doubt the Mad Cow scare of 2003 that started in our own backyard has faded from the industry's memory, but the attention this case has drawn should ...

Mad cows, bad enforcement
Seattle Times - United States
Among regulation changes after the Yakima County case of mad cow was discovered was a ban on putting so-called downer cows, cattle that are sick or injured, ...

Inspect the system
Arizona Republic - Phoenix,AZ,USA
Federal regulations ban most "downer" cows from the food supply because an animal that is too sick to walk is more likely to carry mad-cow disease or ...
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Community News You Can Use
Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
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Pakistan causes worldwide YouTube outage

Most of the world's Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours Sunday after an attempt by Pakistan's government to block access domestically affected other countries. The outage highlighted yet another of the Internet's vulnerabilities, coming less than a month after broken fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean took Egypt off line and caused communications problems from the Middle East to India.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080225/ap_on_hi_te/youtube_outage_pakistan

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Meat recalls mired in secrecy

The recent record recall of 143 million pounds of raw and frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse was pretty chilling.
The recall was triggered by undercover video taken by the Humane Society of cows too sick to stand being dragged and prodded across the slaughtering floor.
But here’s something else that might disturb you: If you wanted to find out whether your neighborhood grocery sold any of that meat, forget it. It’s classified.

http://www.kansascity.com/198/story/501416.html

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www.FayetteFrontPage.com
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Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone
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Close of Wikileaks website raises free speech concerns

Internet activists this week gave a Swiss bank and a San Francisco judge a powerful demonstration of the "Streisand Effect."
That's Internet jargon for any effort to suppress online information that backfires by drawing much wider publicity.
In this case, the Julius Baer Bank sought an injunction against Wikileaks, a website that anonymously publishes whistleblower documents, for posting papers purporting to show money laundering and tax evasion schemes at the bank's Cayman Islands branch. A federal district judge late last week took the unusual step of shutting down the entire site instead of removing just the bank's documents.
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0222/p02s02-usgn.html
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Sometimes being toxic can be good...

Man Tells Wife Off, Rouses Her From Coma
A desperate husband who learned a hospital was about to take his comatose wife off life support managed to awaken her doing the one thing he knew she hated — being "told off," it is reported by the Daily Mail.
Yvonne Sullivan, 28, of the English seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset suffered severe blood poisoning during childbirth July 5. The baby, named Clinton, died after the 14-hour labor and Sullivan fell into a coma moments later, according to the report.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,331889,00.html

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Mad Cow News

The beef recall has sparked my curious vein again and so I have created a Google alert on the term. I thought I'd share.

Just a fun tidbit (well, fun for me anyway), one of the stories originates from Riverside, CA. I lived there many years back. I left at the tender age of 4 so I don't have any lasting memories, but I do have photos. Bet it's changed a whole lot since then!

Beef Recall Impacts Trade Negotiations
The Associated Press - Those markets closed to the US cattle industry in 2003 after a scare over mad cow disease. Schafer said at a convention of meat packers and processors that ...

Ag Secretary: Trade negotiations set back due to beef recall
Press-Enterprise - Riverside,CA,USA
Those markets closed to the US cattle industry in 2003 after a scare over mad cow disease. Speaking before meat packers and processors, Schafer said the ...

Judge asked to stop older Canadian cattle imports over mad cow
Brantford Expositor - Canada... interests urged a federal judge in Sioux Falls Tuesday to stop imports of older Canadian cattle because of the potential threat of mad cow disease. ...

USDA Refuses to Recall "Comingled" Meat That Contains Beef from ...
Natural News.com - Phoenix,AZ,USA
(NaturalNews) Following the unprecedented recall of 143 million pounds of beef that was potentially contaminated with mad cow disease, the USDA has decided ...

Recall spurs local action
Nogales International - Nogales,AZ,USA
Such cattle are not to be slaughtered for consumption because it's possible they could carry mad cow disease. USDA recalled 143 million pounds of frozen ...

Extreme acts of animal cruelty
Salon - USA
Because anemic animals are often the most diseased -- their meat may be contaminated with E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease -- federal regulations hold ...
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Follow up on satellite blog from a few days past

Transparency of Satellite Shootdown Offers Model
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Feb. 21, 2008 - The way the United States handled the shootdown of a dead reconnaissance satellite last night offers a model of the transparency it encourages other countries more secretive about their military operations to adopt, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command said today.
Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating pointed to the huge difference between last night's mission, aimed at destroying a satellite hurtling toward Earth, and the secret anti-satellite weapons test the Chinese conducted in January 2007.

"We've told people what we're going to do; we've told them how we're going to do it, and it's very open," Keating said.

The rationale behind the two missions was distinctly different, as well. President Bush decided to shoot down the satellite to preclude a danger to humans from hydrazine, a toxic fuel that would have been used to steer the satellite had it worked. The Chinese test, in contrast, was designed to test an anti-satellite weapon.

To carry out its mission, the U.S. fired a modified Standard Missile 3. The Chinese, in contrast, fired a specially designed anti-satellite weapon.

Keating told reporters he hopes the Chinese will learn from the U.S. model. "We would hope that they can see how to do an operation like this, emphasizing the transparency, emphasizing clear intentions, realizing --that while we don't have press embedded on the ship -- everybody knows what's going on," he said. "The Chinese did not do that when they launched their anti-satellite test. We hope there are some lessons that become apparent to them."

U.S. defense officials have long encouraged China and other nations around the world to be more transparent about their military operations. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates encouraged more openness during his visit to China in November.

Keating visited China in January in an effort to bolster the two countries' military relationship and promote improved communication. He told Pentagon reporters in November that solid communication between the United States and China will help reduce the potential for misunderstanding. This will leave "less room for confusion that could lead to confrontation, to crisis," he said.

"That's our goal," he said. "To get there, we reduce the chance for misunderstanding."

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mad Cow & Meat

On one of my old websites, which no longer exists, I had a mad cow section. I collected stories and information about this horrible disease. I know there's a rather tiny potential for a person to contract mad cow disease in the big scheme of things, but it's such a nasty bugger that it's worth keeping an eye on trends and possibilities.

After reading about it over the years I'm not so sure that here in our great and usually wonderful country that we're as safe as "they" like to portray. We don't keep our cows around long enough to figure out whether they might have it. We raise 'em and kill 'em quick.

Years back I read a book by a reporter who traveled the country and wrote about our food supply. One of the things I remember in particular was how chickens were processed. If the chicken has a diseased wing or other part it was, per his reporting, targeted for chicken parts or canned chicken. The problem part was discarded, the rest was used. So picture this: a chicken with cancer in one part of its body, the rest cut up and stuck in a styrofoam container covered with shrink wrap in your local grocery store. Yum. Somehow I don't think they have doctors checking these little critters to see if maybe there are cancer cells in its breast or whatever part is deemed OK for us to eat.

If I hadn't already been a vegetarian that would have been enough to stop me from ever eating chicken!

Here's a story or two on the latest and greatest scare in regards to our meat supply:

Inspectors say meat safety is threatened
LOS ANGELES - Sometimes, government inspectors responsible for examining slaughterhouse cattle for mad cow disease and other ills are so short-staffed that they find themselves peering down from catwalks at hundreds of animals at once, looking for such telltale signs as droopy ears, stumbling gait and facial paralysis.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080221/ap_on_re_us/slaughterhouse_abuse

Canadian mad cow concerns focus of U.S. lawsuit
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Lawyers representing cattle, consumer and health interests urged a federal judge in Sioux Falls today to stop imports of older Canadian cattle because of the potential threat of mad cow disease.
An attorney for the federal government countered that a preliminary injunction should not be granted because rules and changes in the industry do a good job of protecting American animals, people and markets.
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080219/mad_cow_080219/20080219?hub=Health

US meat recalled after mad cow concerns
It is the biggest food recall in US history. About 65 million kilograms of beef products from a Californian slaughterhouse have been recalled because of concerns about the plant's production line. Some animals were unable to stand and that has prompted concerns about their ability to be tested for infections like mad cow's disease.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/18/2165650.htm?section=world

Beef industry responds to secret video
DENVER (AP) About 150 school districts have stopped using beef from the Southern California slaughterhouse where workers were caught on videotape abusing sick or crippled animals.And two fast-food chains, Jack-In-the-Box and In-N-Out, say they will not use beef from Westland/Hallmark Meat Company
http://www.kxmb.com/News/210796.asp

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Naked Mole Rats... ugly little things...

My son sent me a photo of a naked mole rat. I thought it had to be a PhotoShop creation... but nope, these little ugly critters really do exist. Luckily for all those of us who live elsewhere, they are native to East Africa. They're ugly, fast, go backwards and forwards and, you can probably figure this out just by looking at the photo, they can't see very well. Those two wite things hanging below its nose are teeth.
I'll pop a couple of links below just in case you'd like to know more. The first link is the best, you probably won't need or want to look at more unless you just simply become obsessed with discovering all there is to know about them...


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Woman Claims Best Buy Lost Laptop, Sues for $54M

MINNEAPOLIS -- A woman is suing Best Buy for $54 million because she claims the consumer electronics retailer lost her laptop while it was in for repairs and tried to cover up its disappearance.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/industries/retail/article/woman-claims-best-buy-lost-laptop-sues-54m_479810_7.html

Toxic Note: I think I am going to start taking all my stuff to Best Buy if this lady wins. Sooner or later they'll lose something of mine... at least I can always hope...

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Blowing up a satellite

And I thought the political parties were paranoid! We have a satellite dropping down to earth that could land on someone's head. It's filled with toxic fuel. The U.S. has determined that we're gonna have to blow it up in space to try to avoid having it do whatever damage it might do if it continues to fall to the earth.

Sounds like a kinda-maybe-almost winner right? I'm not so sure but better minds than mine have looked at the problem and decided blowing it up out in space is better than having it land here. Not sure what happens to all that fuel that gets torched up in the heavens, hopefully it won't someday rain down on our heads...

Whether it's a good idea or not, the Chinese and Russians are concerned. They think that we're using this as a way to test our weapons in space. Maybe we are going to glean some data from blowing it up, but the alternative to blowing it up isn't exactly thrilling.

I haven't seen where anyone has come up with a better solution than blowing it up out in space. I'm not sure what the Russians and Chinese want us to do? Maybe we should have target practice, let everyone fire a missile at the satellite at the same time?

If you really want to be paranoid and suspicious, think about the secret imaging sensor that was on the satellite. Is that the real reason they want to blow it up? Hide whatever it was? Here's another thought for you... this thing went up... then failed. How come we spent all the money for this thing-a-majiger and yet we can't do it well enough to have it stay up there were we wanted it? And here's another.... what were they looking at with the secret imaging sensor? Read the story below. The sensor is kind of mentioned as an afterthought in the last sentence.

China concerned about US satellite plans

BEIJING - China said Sunday it was concerned about U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite that is hurtling toward Earth with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080217/ap_on_re_as/china_dead_satellite
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California packer makes largest U.S. beef recall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A California meatpacker accused of animal cruelty is making the largest U.S. meat recall on record -- 143 million lbs, the Agriculture Department said on Sunday

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080217/ts_nm/food_recall_hallmark_dc

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shop Smart: Beware Of Harmful Counterfeit Goods

(SPM Wire) Fake goods can do more than just save you money -- they can negatively impact your family's health.

A recent investigation of counterfeit goods conducted by Consumer Reports magazine found that today's fakes are not just the usual knockoffs like bogus handbags or watches. Some unsafe counterfeits in circulation include phony oil filters, fake diabetic strips that give erratic readings and even brake pads made of kitty litter, sawdust, and dried grass.

And investigators have seized electrical power strips, extension cords, and smoke alarms with phony Underwriters Laboratories (UL) marks; toothpaste made with a chemical found in antifreeze; and cell-phone batteries that could explode.

In addition to posing potential health threats, fakes are estimated to cost legitimate businesses up to $250 billion in yearly sales. And while it's not against the law to buy phony goods, it's not a victimless crime.

You may expect counterfeits to be sold by vendors on city streets, but they also are marketed on the Internet, at some deep discount stores, at flea markets, salons, swap meets and college campuses.

"Goods are showing up in different outlets other than the guy on the street corner, so more people could be exposed to products that pose a danger to their health and safety," said Tod Marks, senior editor, Consumer Reports.

The easiest way to avoid counterfeits is to deal with reputable dealers authorized to sell a manufacturer's products. Consumers should be suspicious of third-party Web sites that offer deep discounts for products that are usually pricey.

Here are some tips from the experts at Consumer Reports on avoiding bogus merchandise:
* Think twice before buying at deep-discount and dollar stores, which have been sources of fake extension cords, toothpaste, and batteries.

* Avoid no-name products. A manufacturer's name and address is no guarantee of safety, but at least it lets you contact the company to try to remedy problems.

* Inspect labels and packaging. Missing or expired "use by" dates, broken or missing safety seals, misspellings, or unfamiliar or flimsy packaging for big-name brands should send up a warning flag.

* For electrical goods, look for the UL safety mark. A silver holographic seal is required on decorative lighting made worldwide and on fans, other lighting and the like made in China.

* It's especially hard to tell whether car parts are authentic. Use a mechanic who has been reliable, or a new one that comes with a recommendation.

The full report on counterfeit goods appeared in Consumer Reports magazine and is also available online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

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Tax Refunds Explained and Clarified...

From an email:

If you don't understand the Democrats' version of tax refunds, maybe this will help explain it:

50,000 people went to a baseball game, but the game was rained out.

A refund was then due.

The team was about to mail refunds when a group of Congressional Democrats stopped them and suggested that they send out the ticket refunds based on the Democrat National Committee's interpretation of fairness.

Originally the refunds were to be paid based on the price each person had paid for the tickets. Unfortunately that meant most of the refund money would be going to the ticket holders that had purchased the most expensive tickets. This, according to the DNC, is considered totally unfair. A decision was then made to pay out the refunds in this manner:

People in the $10 seats will get back $15. After all, they have less money to spend on tickets to begin with. Call it an "Earned Income Ticket Credit."

People in the $25 seats will get back $25, because it "seems fair."

People in the $50 seats will get back $1, because they already make a lot of money and don't need a refund. After all, if they can afford a $50 ticket, they must not be paying enough taxes.

People in the $75 luxury box seats will each have to pay an additional $25 because it's the "right thing to do".

People walking past the stadium that couldn't afford to buy a ticket for the game each will get a $10 refund, even though they didn't pay anything for the tickets. They need the most help.

FBI is looking for these people (among others):

Jonathan Lamar Davis is wanted for armed bank robbery in North Carolina.

Cesar Armando Laurean is wanted for murder in North Carolina. En EspaƱol.

Malcolm Eugene Kysor is wanted for escaping from prison in Pennsylvania.

Sergeant Christopher Reyka Murder Victim

Michael Jason Registe is wanted for murder in Georgia.

Noel Lopez is wanted for conspiracy to transport minors to engage in prostitution in New Jersey.

Omid Tahvili is wanted on fraud charges in Los Angeles, California.

Farhad "Fred" Monem is wanted for mail and wire fraud in Portland, Oregon.

Robert Gaye is wanted for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor female in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Igor Fisherman is wanted on racketeering and fraud charges in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Anatoli Tsoura is wanted on racketeering and fraud charges in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Plaurent Dervishaj is wanted for being a fugitive from a foreign country.

Juan Jose Esparragoza-Moreno is wanted on drug charges in Texas.

Jose Gustavo Badillo is wanted for rape in Oklahoma.

Semion Mogilevich is wanted on racketeering and fraud charges in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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STORM WORM VIRUS

With the Valentine's Day holiday approaching (well, it's here now ;-), be on the lookout for spam e-mails spreading the Storm Worm malicious software (malware). The e-mail directs the recipient to click on a link to retrieve the electronic greeting card (e-card). Once the user clicks on the link, malware is downloaded to the Internet connected device and causes it to become infected and part of the Storm Worm botnet. A botnet is a network of compromised machines under the control of a single user. Botnets are typically set up to facilitate criminal activity such as spam e-mail, identity theft, denial of service attacks, and spreading malware to other machines on the Internet.

The Storm Worm virus has capitalized on various holidays in the last year by sending millions of e-mails advertising an e-card link within the text of the spam e-mail. Valentine's Day has been identified as the next target.

Be wary of any e-mail received from an unknown sender. Do not open any unsolicited e-mail and do not click on any links provided.

If you have received this, or a similar e-mail, please file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

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FDA Advises Seafood Processors About Ciguatera Fish Poisoning in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued a letter to seafood processors, advising them of recent illnesses linked to consuming fish carrying the ciguatera toxin, which has led to cases of ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) in consumers. The toxic fish were harvested in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is located in federal waters south of the Texas-Louisiana coastline.

FDA had considered CFP from fish in this geographical area extremely rare until recently, when several outbreaks were confirmed in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, Mo. The illnesses were linked to fish caught near the marine sanctuary. FDA now considers CFP to be a food safety hazard that is reasonably likely to occur in grouper, snapper, and hogfish captured within 10 miles of the marine sanctuary and amberjack, barracuda and other wide-ranging species captured within 50 miles of the sanctuary.

FDA’s letter urges seafood processors who purchase reef fish and other potentially ciguatoxic fish directly from fishermen to reassess their current hazard analyses and update their Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans as necessary. FDA’s seafood HACCP regulation requires processors to have and implement written plans to control food safety hazards. This updated information differs from what is currently listed in FDA’s Fish & Fisheries Products Hazards & Controls Guidance, Third Edition.

Ciguatera poisoning is caused by the consumption of tropical reef fish that have assimilated ciguatoxins through the marine food chain from toxic microscopic algae. The toxins that cause ciguatera cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing, and toxic fish do not look or taste differently from nontoxic fish. The only way to detect CFP is through laboratory testing.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include nausea, vomiting; diarrhea; numbness and tingling of the mouth, hands or feet; joint pain; muscle pain; headache; reversal of hot and cold sensation (such that cold objects feel hot and vice versa); sensitivity to temperature changes; vertigo, and muscular weakness. There also can be cardiovascular problems, including irregular heartbeat and reduced blood pressure. Symptoms usually appear within hours after eating a toxic fish and go away within a few weeks. However, in some cases, neurological symptoms can last for months to years. There is no antidote for CFP; symptoms can be treated most effectively if diagnosed by a doctor with 72 hours. CFP is rarely fatal.

If you think you may have ciguatera poisoning, report your symptoms and what fish you ate to your doctor, local emergency room or health department. If possible, save meal remnants. For more information on the treatment of ciguatera poisoning, contact the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.

FDA will continue to monitor the presence of ciguatera in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and the application of seafood HACCP controls by seafood processors. Failure to meet the requirements of the HACCP regulation may result in enforcement actions by the agency.

FDA’s letter to industry http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~comm/haccp4f2.html is part of the agency’s efforts to take preventive steps to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Prevention is the cornerstone of the FDA’s new Food Protection Plan, launched in November 2007. The plan combines science and a risk-based approach of prevention, intervention and response to ensure the safety of domestic as well as imported foods eaten by American consumers.

For more information
Ciguatera fish poisoningwww.cdc.gov/nceh/ciguatera/default.htm www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/community/aquatic/index.html

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The melting pot is headed for a melt down

Two articles below, not exactly related other than loosely because they both discuss on minorities.

We live in an ever-shifting culture and it looks as though major shake-ups are happening as I type. After reading the second article I understand now why our Government is stepping so lightly when it comes to immigration, the Hispanic vote and the amnesty issue.

The efforts to put a wall on the Mexican border may be like trying to put a plug in a dam that is already crumbled. If the population of Hispanics is as large as it seems, before the wall is built, they'll be voting to put in welcome centers.

I watch and wonder about the future of America. We're dependent on cheap, lead contaminated, Chinese products, our computer industry and much of our help desks are dependent on cheap labor from India, the Chinese and Japanese own huge portions of our businesses and industry, and our workers are cheap labor from Mexico and other countries.

At the top of the heap are elected officials wanting to give away the farm to stay elected. Universal health care? bridges to nowhere? checks to everyone? welfare? the list of handouts goes on and on.

We quibble about economic injustice and making amends for past hurts. We focus on the past instead of the future. We're busy pointing fingers rather than trying to work together for a better future. We fiddle --- and piddle with inconsequential things in the big scheme of things --- while our Rome burns.

The melting pot is headed toward a melt down.

Green "Disparate Impact"
It was front-page news on the January 14th issue of the San Francisco Chronicle that blacks by the tens of thousands have left the San Francisco Bay area since the 1990 census. Since my book Applied Economics analyzed this situation a few years ago, it was nice to see that the information has finally reached the San Francisco Chronicle, though they have yet to explain the politics and the economics behind the exodus.
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2008/01/15/green_disparate_impact

Whites to become minority in U.S. by 2050
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Non-Hispanic whites will become a minority in the United States by 2050, with immigrants and their children driving 82 percent of U.S. population growth in coming years, a new study said on Monday.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080212/ts_nm/usa_population_immigration_dc

Saturday, February 02, 2008

FBI Identifies Recurring Fraudulent E-mail Scam

The FBI has recently developed information indicating cyber criminals are attempting to once again send fraudulent e-mails to unsuspecting recipients stating that someone has filed a complaint against them or their company with the Department of Justice or another organization such as the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, or the Better Business Bureau.

Information obtained during the FBI investigation has been provided to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS has taken steps to alert their public and private sector partners with the release of a Critical Infrastructure Information Notice (CIIN).

The e-mails are intended to appear as legitimate messages from the above departments, and they address the recipients by name, and other personal information may be contained within the e-mail. Consistent with previous efforts, the scam will likely be an effort to secure Personally Identifiable Information. The nature of these types of scams is to create a sense of urgency for the recipient to provide a response through clicking on a hyperlink, opening an attachment, or initiating a telephone call.

It is believed this e-mail refers to a complaint that is in the form of an attachment, which actually contains virus software designed to steal passwords from the recipient. The virus is wrapped in a screensaver file wherein most anti-virus programs are unable to detect its malicious intent. Once downloaded, the virus is designed to monitor username and password logins, and record the activity, as well as other password-type information, entered on the compromised machine.

“Through FBI investigations we frequently uncover information about ongoing cyber attacks and scams. We share this information through our partnership with DHS to alert the public and the private sector,” noted James E. Finch, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division.
Be wary of any e-mail received from an unknown sender. Do not open any unsolicited e-mail and do not click on any links provided. To receive the latest information about cyber scams please go to the FBI website and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov. For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI's New E-Scams and Warnings webpage.

They're comin' to get you...

All you speed freaks better watch out, it's gettin' easier and easier for those spinning red and blue lights to catch you... (my nick-name when I was younger was lead-foot. While my foot has gotten a tad lighter, it's simply 'cause I made myself get a vehicle with less pickup that shakes when it hits those higher speeds!)

Laser Atlanta Rolls Out the Latest Weapon in the War on Speeders

ATLANTA (BUSINESS WIRE)--Law enforcement officers battling dangerous speeders have a new high-tech weapon in their arsenal, and it fits in the palm of a hand. The new SpeedLaser® B, for its compact binocular shape, is the smallest, lightest SpeedLaser on the market. (To see the SpeedLaser® B in action, go to http://www.laseratlanta.com/speedlaser_b.htm.)

“This is the latest in a long line of innovations from Laser Atlanta and SpeedLaser to assist law enforcement officers in their daily efforts to make our highways safer places to travel,” said James Kelly, President and CEO of Laser Atlanta. “The new SpeedLaser B puts all of our frontline features like stealth, jammer detection and inclement weather modes into a rugged package that fits in the palm of your hand.”

Designed for use in a comfortable, horizontal position, the IACP-listed SpeedLaser B is as easy to use as a pair of binoculars. The vehicle’s speed in miles or kilometers and other user selected information appear in the intelligent LED head-up display that automatically rotates to either vertical or horizontal position. SpeedLaser is independently tested to obtain measurements in any type of weather and on vehicles at a farther distance than any other system. Jammers and detectors also failed to prevent a reading because of SpeedLaser’s proprietary Stealth Mode technology.

SpeedLaser is LIDAR or laser-based as opposed to RADAR, which provides several advantages including the ability to target a single vehicle on busy roadways and fast measurement speeds. With a target size of only 3” at 100 feet and the ability to take a reading of a targeted vehicle in just 0.3 seconds, speeding motorists have very little chance of detecting the SpeedLaser or slowing down before a speed reading is taken.

About Laser Atlanta

Since 1989, Laser Atlanta has been one of the leading innovators in the design, manufacture and sale of LIDAR products. We use our unique laser platform to provide ranging solutions for the military and civil engineering community. Since 1991, Laser Atlanta is the trendsetter for LIDAR speed detection devices for law enforcement. With the fastest acquisition time, longest range and proprietary Stealth mode, SpeedLasers produce tickets that stick even against drivers using jammers. With three models from which to choose, the best warranty in the business and all-weather use, SpeedLaser is the World’s Best for the World’s Finest.TM Visit http://www.laseratlanta.com/ for more information.

SpeedLaser and Laser Atlanta are registered trademarks of Laser Atlanta, LLC.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Having a hard time getting tech support help?

80 percent of India's Internet service went down Wednesday night. Turns out two cables snapped and poof, Internet doesn't exist of much of the Middle East. As I type, Egypt is still almost completely down. Yep, the article below says they're getting sporadic service at best.

As I'm sure most know, India is now handling a large portion of our tech support and other type calls. I recently had a HUGE problem with Amazon and could only talk to people who definitely weren't located on this hemisphere. Snotty attitudes, horrible follow-up, such poor service that I cancelled my account with Amazon. I'll pay a bit more for good service any old day and I'll do without if it means dealing with attitudes.

If I had known that India was down yesterday, I might have spent a portion of the day calling tech support, Amazon and a few others just to have the refreshing opportunity to talk with someone without an accent.

I have yet to talk to someone from India who talked to me like I was not a bug they wanted to flick off their shoulder. I KNOW there are some great people in India, I have a good friend who originally hails from there. Love her, she's great people. Had a couple of doctors from India some years back, no problems.

I think these companies just hire snippy people. Could be a factor of how much they're being paid, too. Somehow it's cheaper for Amazon and other companies to pay long distance phone bills and pay the people than it is to hire folks here in the good ol' USA.

Wonder how the outage is affecting the financial markets here, and in the Middle East and Asia?

Here's an irreverent thought that will probably have folks yelling at me... Cows are sacred in India. I bet you won't find McDonald's, Burger King or any other meat selling company outsourcing to India .

India works to resume Internet services
NEW DELHI - Bandwidth providers said they expected India's Internet service to be back to about 80 percent of its usual speed by the end of Friday, a day after Internet service across a swath of Asia and the Middle East was disrupted.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080201/ap_on_hi_te/internet_outages

Using taxes to get kids off their butts...

So this new group in New Mexico, "No Kid Left Inside", wants to use taxes to try and get kids off their butts and into sports. They are proposing, pushing, to add a one-percent sales tax onto video games and televisions. The money would be used to fund more sports.

Uh huh.

I understand the sentiment, it is a good idea for kids to participate in sports IF they want to do so. However, having more programs to entice video playing kids to pack up their game and head outdoors isn't going to work.

They like what they're doing. Plus, it's easier on the parents. All a Mom or Dad has to do to get peace and quiet is pick up a baby-sitter at the local video outlet for twenty buck or more, depending on the game, and park their kids in a chair.

They don't have to take their time to tote them to a game, sit there for hours watching the rug rats torture a ball, then pay for snacks when it's their turn and, heaven forbid, interact with other parents and children.

Nope, they can get their nails done, clean the house, finish that brief, relax in front of the boob tube... the list is endless as to what the parent would have to give up. It's easier for them to complain about the growing obesity problem we are facing in this country. It's easier all around.

I contend that if parents wanted their children involved in sports, they would have started them on that track long before the kids knew how to push the video game buttons. Well-rounded kids can do both.

There are some children who will never play sports. They may want to paint, sculpt, play music, work on cars, re-program Dad's computer or have some other interesting ideas as to how they want to spend their time.

I'm never for raising taxes. There's plenty of money for sports, we just have to stop building bridges to nowhere, supporting dead beats and funding stupid research projects.

By the way, what you want to bet that if they DO manage to push through the tax that the end result will be more managers and staff? They'll have to put together committees or oversight Boards to watch and spend the money. How long before there's a shortfall in one area and the funds are re-directed to build roads to get to the local parks? Let me count the ways our government can spend tax money...

N.M. tax would target TVs, video games
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Dave Gilligan remembers being pushed outside to play baseball and other sports, but feeling it just wasn't for him. So the 24-year-old business owner is skeptical about a proposal to nudge kids off the couch and out the door by taxing televisions and video games sold in New Mexico. The idea could backfire, he says.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080201/ap_on_re_us/no_child_left_inside