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Mon, 02 Aug 2021
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Horse meat used by 2 Swiss restaurants for steak tartare

Horsemeat Burger
© Rainer Zenz
Vaud - Just when you thought the whole horse meat scandal was over, two Swiss restaurants have been caught using horse meat instead of beef in their steak tartare dishes.

The scandal was uncovered by "A Bon Entendeur", a consumer affairs program aired on Tuesday by the French language Swiss broadcaster, RTS.

Both restaurants are in the canton of Jura and the consumer affairs program tested 15 of the raw meat meals from restaurants in western Switzerland. A chemist who analyzed the phoney steak tartare said,

"One can properly talk of obvious and blatant deceit."

However, there is not just deceit involved in the incident, as apparently only four meals tested were found to be free of elevated levels of bacteria. Bearing in mind that the meat in the dish is served raw, one can only imagine the dangers.

In restaurants in the canton of Vaud, two plates of steak tartare were found to be particularly infected, and exceeded the acceptable levels for bacteria many times over.

Better Earth

Bavarian taxi driver returns elderly couple's €250,000

Thomas Güntner
© Video screengrab
Thomas Güntner is a taxi driver in Würzburg, Bavaria found €250,000 on the back seat of his taxi and returned it to the elderly couple who had left it behind.
A Bavarian taxi driver found €250,000 on the back seat of his taxi on Monday. He then tracked down the elderly couple who had left it behind and would not accept a finder's reward from them.

Thomas Güntner is a taxi driver in Würzburg, Bavaria. As reported in Die Welt (German language), he had picked up an elderly couple at the bank and shortly after he drove them home, he noticed a cloth bag sitting on the back seat of his car.

On peeking inside the cloth bag, he was shocked to find €250,000 in €500 notes.

He told the media on Tuesday, "I was totally perplexed and surprised, that people could carry around so much cash and then forget it."

He added that keeping the money just wasn't an option, as he knew that "it would probably be the downfall of the old couple."

BR.de reported (in German) that around 30 minutes after discovering the cash, he arrived at the couple's house, cash in hand. The woman met Güntner at the door, with tears in her eyes, so grateful to the man.

Alarm Clock

Unwelcome experiment: Neighbors of frac sand mine wait for someone to monitor toxins

Mount Frack,
© forwardonclimate via Flickr
“Mount Frack,” a 3-story high pile of frack sand in Winona, Minnesota on the Mississippi River. This mountain of carcinogenic silica (frac) sand was right across the street from an organic produce market and bakery. In the background of this February 11, 2013 photo is the historic Winona County Courthouse.
Despite complaints of asthma and studies proving groundwater contamination, most residents next to frac sand mines don't have any protection from industrial toxins.

The hydraulic fracturing movement has already taken off in the U.S., expanding an industry that requires the mining of silica sand, the drilling of oil and natural gas wells and the storage of toxic fracking wastewater.

Yet in the midst of the boom, Americans are still not sure how the expanding industry is impacting their health. Scientific data is still in the collection phase, and independent tests don't bode well for those living in the midst of the boom.

Now, years after the industry has been introduced, Minnesota is considering air quality mining to detect whether the silica sand mining industry is presenting a threat to area residents' health.

States like Minnesota and Wisconsin have become targets of the fracking industry, as they possess deposits of silica sand, a component of the fracking process. To frack a well, a combination of chemicals, silica sand and water is shot deep into the earth to break up and access oil and gas deposits.

The "frac sand" mining industry has created concern among those living in communities that have recently been turned into mining boom towns, as the impact of silica sand particles on local residents' health is unknown. What is known, however, is that silica sand causes silicosis. For those working in the mines, strict regulations are imposed - yet for those living next door, there are none.

While mining has been occurring for a few years, Minnesota is still in the planning phases for its first air quality monitoring studies. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing erecting an air quality monitoring system on the roof of a community center - one that would not only monitor silica sand particle presence, but also air pollution caused by the increased diesel truck traffic.

The move in Minnesota is similar to those carried out in traditional fracking states. Studies conducted on groundwater in Pennsylvania have emerged this year, exposing contamination years after the industry was given a key to the state's resources.

Arrow Down

Shoppers submit to naked body scans to enter candy store in California

We set up this prank downtown San Luis Obispo with a real body wand, hidden microphones and cameras. The goal was to see how far we could take this scanning and if people would let us! To our surprise, most people didn't put up much of a fight and went along with the person ahead of them in line... which was our plant that we actual scanned again and again. People along the sidelines were freaking out as well and not sure how to intervene. Of course, once the gag was pushed to the limit, we all let the customer know it was a prank and and it was all love, hugs, high fives and laughs! 100% loved to be involved... but it does make you think!

NO! The last guy in the outtakes was NOT A PLANT. He was certainly a funny character who popped up on the radar that afternoon for sure. "Isn't America free?" Awesome.


Collapsing civilization: Britain told social inequality has created 'public health timebomb'

© Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
In Britain one child in four lives in poverty, the report says.
UK is failing its children, women and young people on a grand scale, says Marmot report on links between inequality and health

Women and children in the UK would have longer and healthier lives if they lived in Cyprus, Italy or Spain, and Britain is facing "a public health timebomb", according to a study by an expert on inequality and health.

Sir Michael Marmot, who is known worldwide for his work on the social determinants of health, says much of the rest of Europe takes better care of its families. Life expectancy for women and death rates among the under-fives are worse in the UK, where there is also more child poverty.

The public health time bomb Marmot describes is caused by the large number of so-called Neets - young adults who are not in education, employment or training.

Women in the UK can expect to live to 83, but those born in a number of other European countries will live to a riper old age: in Germany and Cyprus, their life expectancy is 84, while in Italy, France and Spain it is 85.


Russell Brand takes on the crisis of civilisation. But what now?

Russel Brand
© Tony Woolliscroft/WireImage
Celebrity comedian's critics miss the point on urgent need for 'revolution' to avert planetary extinction - yet question is still how
Celebrity comedian's critics miss the point on urgent need for 'revolution' to avert planetary extinction - yet question is still how

During his Wednesday night interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC Newsnight, comedian and actor Russell Brand said what no politician or pundit would ever dare say: that without dramatic, fundamental change, the prevailing political and economic system is broken, and hell-bent on planetary-level destruction:
"The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass and exploiting poor people all over the world. And the legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political powers."
Yesterday, Brand published an extended essay in the New Statesman fleshing out in detail his case for a "revolution" - not just a political and economic transformation, but one fundamentally rooted in a shift in consciousness toward a new way of thinking.

Cardboard Box

UK university students relying on bin-raiding (dumpster-diving) to survive


Bin raiding team with food items retrieved from supermarket bins in York - left to right: Santiago Parilli, Ursula Wild, Jo Barrow, Robin Lee
It emerged this week that Tesco discarded 20,000 tonnes of food in the first six months of 2013 - but not everyone is horrified. Jo Barrow, a 21-year-old student at York University and one of a growing band of 'bin raiders', reveals the appeal of rifling through supermarket refuse

It's 2am on a bitterly cold winter night, and my friends and I are nervously looking over our shoulders in an exposed supermarket forecourt. As certain as we'll ever be that we're alone, one of us clambers over the fence that protects the back lot and disappears on the other side. We pause, nervously silent, listening for footsteps. There's a click and a squeak; our friend opens the gate and we slip in.

We pull on our gloves and head to the bins by the shop. We try the first one: locked. The second is locked too. We head to the third, breath held, and pull at the lid. It's stacked high with casually discarded food: pâtés, grapes, bacon, bars of chocolate, curries - it was all there, if a little the worse for wear and, legally speaking, unfit for human consumption. We unfurl some bin liners and, quite literally, dive in.

My friends and I have been living off bin food for more than two years. We're students, so the quick and easy access to seemingly limitless and varied free food is too good an opportunity to pass up - and it's changed our lives. Somehow, with no time, barely any cooking ability and little money, we've been feeding ourselves better than we'd ever have been able to if we'd stuck to the usual student staples of eggs and bread-with-stuff.


Fukushima whistleblower exposes yakuza connections, exploitation of cleanup workers

© Reuters/Issei Kato
Workers wearing protective suits and masks are seen next to the No.4 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture
Revelations from a Fukushima cleanup worker-turned-whistleblower have exposed the plant's chaotic system of subcontractors, their alleged mafia connections and the super-exploitation of indigent workers doing this dangerous work.

The allegations, contained in an investigative report by Reuters, have also exposed deeply-rooted problems within Japan's nuclear industry as a whole. In the report, detailing the everyday realities of workers at the stricken facility, Reuters interviewed an estimated 80 casual workers and managers. The most common complaint voiced was the cleanup effort's utter dependence on subcontractors - which it is alleged endangered not just workers' rights, but also their lives.

Tetsuya Hayashi, a 41-tyear-old construction worker by trade, applied
for a job at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, after he suspected that the plant was in deeper trouble than it was willing to admit. The $150 billion cleanup effort, which is expected to last several decades into the future, has already required up to 50,000, mostly casual workers.

However, Hayashi only lasted two weeks on the job, as it became apparent that the vast network of subcontractors involved in the cleanup efforts could not care less for his rights (or his health), while Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant's operator, was doing little except giving subcontractors a slap on the wrist.

Hired to monitor the exposure to radiation of plant workers leaving the job during the summer of 2012, Hayashi was assigned to the most bio-hazardous sector and given a protective anti-radiation suit. However, even with the suit on, we exceeded his safe annual radiation quota in less than an hour.

The subcontractor who hired Hayashi was not following nuclear safety rules, according to exposure guidelines by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reuters reported.

Comment: See also: Fukushima's Nuclear Mafia


Number of people relying on food banks tripled in a year


Food banks have seen a surge in use - "Children are going to school hungry", says Mark Ward, Trussell Trust
The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.

The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.

A third of those being helped were children, and a third needed food following a delay in the payment of benefits.

A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.

The Labour MP Frank Field, appointed by David Cameron as the government's poverty advisor, will head up the committee along with Conservative Laura Sandys.


Forbes ranks Putin world's most powerful person, downs Obama

Vladimir Putin
© Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AFP
US President Barack Obama (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been ranked the most powerful person in the world by Forbes. He topped the list of the 72 world figures that "matter the most," while US President Barack Obama was rated second.

Putin's Syria "chess match" that prevented the US strike, and his having the last word in the diplomatic row over the fugitive NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, didn't go unnoticed with the editorial rating of the influential American business magazine, and were noted among the reasons for his top place.

Comment: With Vladimir Putin's RECENT efforts to avoid another war in the Middle East, it sure seems like he is becoming more of a peacemaker than war waging imperialist. Not bad for a "autocratic leader," "ex-KGB strongman," and "dictator".