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Fri, 29 May 2020
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Why an Epidemic of Dead Bats Could Make Your Groceries More Expensive

bat

It's bad enough that the U.S. honeybee population has dropped precipitously in the past few years, threatening the existence of all pollinated crops (that's one-third of American agriculture). Now an epidemic may be hitting the country's bats--and it has the potential to further threaten agriculture.

Bats are the unsung heroes of organic farming, consuming massive amounts of pests on a daily basis. The little brown bat, Montana's most common bat species, gobbles up 1,200 insects per hour and in one 2006 study, bats in South-Central Texas were shown to have an annual pest control value of over $740,000 (29% of the value of the area's cotton crop). For organic farms, this is key, since pest control is hard enough with chemicals. But even non-organic farms don't want to spend an extra three-quarters of a million killing more bugs, a cost that would no doubt be passed on to consumers. And it's not just bug-chomping: like honeybees, some bats even pollinate crops, including papayas, mangos, and figs. Reuters estimates that bats' total value to agriculture is $22.9 billion annually.

The U.S. bat population is threatened, however, by something called white-nose syndrome (pictured abobe), a deadly fungal infection that the bats pick up while hibernating. According to Reuters, more than one million bats have died since the syndrome was discovered in 2006. But the problem isn't as simple as that. The fungus that spread white-nose syndrome is also rampant in Europe, but bats aren't dropping dead there.

War Whore

Kucinich: US making Libya worse

It's been more than ten days since NATO entered Libya yet there is still no clear understanding on who the rebels are, what the endgame is or what will happen next. Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich argued the war itself is not only unconstitutional, but is making Libya worse off. "What we're doing here is enlarging a humanitarian crisis with more people becoming refugees, with more civilians put at risk of injury or death due to the bombing," he said.


Cult

Killed for believing in communism

It's been 60 years since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in the United States . They were accused of stealing information about the atomic bomb for the Soviets during the Cold War and convicted in a time largely ruled by anti-communist sentiment.The controversial case continues to be debated, especially in light of recent events involving Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks. Brian Becker from the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and Less Government's Seton Motley debate.


Newspaper

Dishonest journalists fuel war propaganda

"It's impossible to be an independent journalist in a conflict zone," Keith Harmon Snow, a veteran war correspondent said speaking on Libya. He explained many journalists in conflict zones are not honest about the war, because to tell truth they have to consider who they are working with. It is hard to tell a story that looks bad for coalition forces when you are living with and protected by coalition forces, he said.


Cheeseburger

Quinoa's Popularity Abroad Creates Health Problems at Home

Quinoa
© Thinkstock

I've been a huge fan of quinoa from the start. From a vegetarian perspective, it's the perfect plant-based food. Quinoa is a complete protein and can substitute for less sustainable proteins. Quinoa is high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.


Comment: Just a word of caution on the vegetarian perspective in general:

Burying The Vegetarian Hypothesis


NASA scientists first brought it to the U.S. when they were in search of a life sustaining protein rich food for space, according to the New York Times. Now popularity of the food has sky rocketed and with it the price at home in Bolivia. Long a staple of the Bolivian diet, its price in one of the world's poorer nations is now out of reach.

Cost of Quinoa at Home Out of Reach

Bolivians, like other third world nations, are replacing healthy indigenous foods with processed junk food because of price and availability. According to the article, Bolivia's consumption of the staple fell 34 percent, according to the country's agricultural ministry.

Light Sabers

10 NATO tankers damaged in Pakistan

At least 10 NATO oil tankers have been damaged in an attack in Pakistan's Khyber area bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani officials have said.

The incident happened at the NATO supply vehicle hub in Landi Kotal, where the bulk of supplies destined for US-led troops in Afghanistan pass through.

"The attackers damaged 10 oil tankers with mortars and small arms fire, but there was no blaze as the tankers were empty and had returned from Afghanistan after delivering supplies," tribal administration official Iqbal Khan Khattak told AFP.

The drivers had parked up at the terminal on their return journey to stay overnight in nearby hotels, he added.

Three security guards were also beheaded during the attack, local intelligence officials confirmed.

Sherlock

US: FBI wants help in decoding mysterious notes found on man's body

All right all you crime fighters, puzzle masters and cryptanalysts (if you have to ask, you aren't), here's something to keep you busy.

Join the throngs who already are offering the FBI their best guesses as to the meaning of two garbled notes found in a dead man's pockets more than a decade ago.

The FBI's Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) is seeking the public's help with two pages of ciphers recovered in 1999 by St. Charles County, Mo., sheriffs investigating the suspected homicide of Ricky McCormick about 20 miles northwest of St. Louis.

The FBI said its folks had worked on cracking the code but admitted its "really good" staff was stumped.

Handcuffs

Child-porn discovery not a 'licence to kill': Canadian man who beat his neighbour to death after finding child pornography on his computer will serve six years behind bars

A man who beat his neighbour to death after finding child pornography on his computer should serve six years behind bars, says the Crown.

Patrick Belanger, 28, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter for the July 2009 beating death of Leonard Wells, 63, in west-end Montreal.

Prosecutor Thierry Nadon told a Quebec Court judge the sentence would send a clear message to society that vigilante killings are unacceptable and that a man's pedophilic tendencies don't give citizens "a licence to kill."

Belanger will be sentenced on April 21.

He was initially charged with first-degree murder following the attack on July 25, 2009. He had been helping Wells to move and had asked to use his computer while the two were taking a break.

Dollar

Tea Party Hypocrisy? Some Lawmakers With Tea Party Ties Are on the Government Dole

The Tea Party swept into the 112th Congress with promises of cutting government spending. But according to a report out today, at least five lawmakers with Tea Party connections have been longtime recipients of federal agricultural subsidies.


"There's nothing too surprising about hypocrisy in Washington," Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, told ABC News. "This particular group, you not only have to look at the hypocrisy but you need to watch your wallet."

While the majority of American farmers receive no government money at all, at least 23 current members of congress or their families have received government money for their farms -- combining for more than $12 million since 1995 according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

Cow

US: EPA boosts radiation monitoring after low levels found in milk

Image
© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Radiation gets into the milk because it falls on grass eaten by cows.
There is no health risk from consuming milk with extremely low levels of radiation, like those found in Washington state and California, experts said Thursday, echoing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"When we have a disaster like we've had with a nuclear power plant in Japan, we're probably going to find things that are truly not a public health risk, but I think it's very difficult for the public to assimilate this information and understand the risks," said Dr. Wally Curran, a radiation oncologist and head of Emory University's Winship Cancer Center.

The federal agency said Wednesday it was increasing its nationwide monitoring of radiation in milk, precipitation, drinking water, and other outlets. It already tracks radiation in those potential exposure routes through an existing network of stations across the country.

Results from screening samples of milk taken in the past week in Spokane, Washington, and in San Luis Obispo County, California, detected radioactive iodine, or iodine-131, at a level 5,000 times lower than the limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, officials said.

At that level, a person would have to drink 1,000 liters of milk to receive the same amount of radiation as a chest X-ray, said Dr. James Cox, radiation oncologist at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center.