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Global food prices double in ten years: Unsustainable population growth a significant factor

Image
© Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Soybeans harvested with a combine in Walnut, Illinois. U.S. farmers increased the harvesting of soybeans at the fastest pace in at least three decades as warm, dry weather allowed for fieldwork after a drought this year reduced yields.
Food prices that doubled in the past 10 years are more the result of population growth and increased demand for protein-based diets than any cyclical reasons, according to Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer at Olam International Ltd. (OLAM), the Singapore-based commodities trader.

Three of the biggest annual gains in food prices in the past 20 years occurred since 2007, with the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization's global food price index climbing to a record in 2010. Wheat and soybeans led commodities gains last year and corn jumped to a record in August.

"We've had a long period of food real price declines and food surpluses and we've had three very rapid food crises," Verghese said at the Kingsman sugar conference in Dubai yesterday. "The price inflation that we've seen in the three episodes is more a structural story and not a cyclical issue."

Question

"I was trying to make the horse have a baby."

Mendoza
© The Smoking Gun
When it comes to post-arrest statements, the admissions made by a Texas man busted for having sex with a horse are a good reminder why suspects should take advantage of their right to remain silent.

In a statement given to a sergeant with the Wharton County Sheriff's Office, Andrew Mendoza, 29, waived his assorted rights and told of a late night encounter with a brown horse.

Mendoza, who had been waiting to hear from his girlfriend, noted that, "I told myself that if she didn't call me I was going to go next door and mess with the neighbor's horse."

Which is what occurred, Mendoza, seen at right, told Sergeant Raymond Jansky.

"I was trying to make the horse have a baby," Mendoza explained. "I was thinking it would have a horseman baby."

He added, "I ain't going to lie, I blew a nut in the horse. I then got off the bucket and put my clothes back on and left. I promise that I have not been back over to the horse since that time."

The horse lover, whose rap sheet included a wide variety of felony and misdemeanor collars, later pleaded guilty to public lewdness and criminal trespass and was sentenced to four months in jail.

Mendoza's criminal career subsequently ended when he hanged himself in a county jail, where he was being held on indecency with a child and trespassing charges.

USA

Anti-government sentiment: On the rise?

Handgun
© David Ryder/Getty Images
A demonstrator carries a handgun while listening to speakers at a pro-gun rally on Jan. 19, 2013 in Olympia, Wash.
President Obama's push for tighter gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown school shootings has led to an increase in anti-government rhetoric that parallels the rise of militia groups in the early 1990s, according to experts.

"The response to Obama's talking about gun control has been enormous," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic extremist groups.

Potok sees parallels between the political discourse today over gun control, and a period in 1993 and 1994 when militia groups began forming after shootouts between federal officers and extremists at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas.

"There's been a huge amount of rage and it's been at enormous volume. It's come from state legislators, county sheriffs and even congressmen," Potok said. "A lot is coming from the militia groups where the rage is white hot."

Another expert says that while angry rhetoric doesn't equate to violent activity, it should not be ignored.

"It's not the fact they are stating their opinions that people should be concerned about -- it's willingness to commit violence -- but you have to take rhetoric seriously," said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigations for the Anti-Defamation League. "It could mean that people expressing these sentiments might commit violence or convince others to commit violence. You ignore it at your peril."

Info

Saskatoon woman hit in head with machete

machete
Saskatoon police are searching for suspects after a woman was hit in the head with a machete.

It happened around 5:30 a.m. CST Sunday.

Police said they were called to the 400 block of Avenue X South on the west side of the city about a 23-year-old woman suffering from a cut to the head.

She said she had been walking in the area when two men approached her and one of them hit her with the machete.

The two men ran off.

The woman ran into a friend on the street shortly afterward and the police were called.

She was taken to hospital and treated for injuries police described as non-life-threatening.

The woman was unable to provide police with a description of the men or the exact location of the attack.

Source: CBC News

Smoking

Hysteria: Family of smokers on airplane forces costly diversion

Sunwing Halifax-to-Dominican flight diverted to Bermuda; passengers spent night in hotel.


The airline that was carrying a family of smokers who caused a Halifax flight to be diverted to Bermuda this weekend says it was a costly incident for everyone involved.

A Sunwing flight travelling from Halifax to the Dominican Republic on Friday night had to make an emergency landing after passengers were found smoking in the plane's bathroom.

According to the Bermuda Police Service another passenger alerted the crew and the smokers became verbally abusive.

Police removed a mother, father and two sons, aged 16 and 22, from the flight.

"I cannot believe that passengers did this. I'll bet you it's been 20 years since smoking was allowed on an aircraft," said Daryl McWilliams, the vice-president of media relations with the airline.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard it. I said, 'No, no, what did you say?"

McWilliams said under Canadian transport regulations the plane needed to land at the nearest available airport, which happened to be Bermuda

Laptop

Online search ads expose racial bias: study

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© AFP Photo
Ads pegged to Google search results can be racially biased because of how certain names are associated with blacks or whites, according to a new study.

Harvard University professor Latanya Sweeney found "statistically significant discrimination" when comparing ads served with results from online searches made using names associated with blacks and those with whites.

The study contrasted online searches using names such as "Ebony" and "DeShawn," with those such as "Jill" and "Geoffrey."

Pistol

Oklahoma school says 'zero tolerance' for bullying after teen shoots self in bathroom

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Cowetta School Superintendant Jeff Holmes
Authorities in Oklahoma on Monday were unable to confirm if bullying was involved after a 15-year-old male killed himself with a gun in a Cowetta school bathroom.

Speaking to reporters at press conference, Superintendent Jeff Holmes explained that a "ninth grade student at Cowetta Intermediate High School died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound" soon after school began on Monday morning.

Coweta Police Lieutenant Donnie Krumsiek praised the school faculty for their response, saying that "unfortunately a life was lost but it could have been a lot worse."

Health

Alabama hostage standoff ends with boy safe and murder suspect dead

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© Photograph: Landov/AL.COM
Agents stormed the bunker after hostage talks with Jimmy Lee Dykes broke down, police said
After a weeklong standoff, police raid Jimmy Lee Dykes' bunker fearing five-year-old hostage was in 'imminent danger'

FBI agents raided the backyard bunker of a murder suspect holding a five-year-old boy on Monday, freeing the child whom they believed was in "imminent danger".

By the time the raid was over, the suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was dead, FBI spokesman Steve Richardson said. The boy was unharmed and was receiving treatment at a local hospital.

Bad Guys

Alabama hostage crisis enters second week of standstill

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© Reuters
Jimmy Lee Dykes is shown in this undated handout photo. The man is suspected of shooting a school bus driver to death and taking a five-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker as the standoff with police continues in Midland City, Alabama.
As the Alabama hostage crisis continues into its seventh day, police say they have discovered more details about the captor holding a 5-year-old boy in an underground bunker after taking him off a school bus.

Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran, fatally shot an Alabama school bus driver and took the 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to the bunker underneath his home. Holding the boy hostage, Dykes promised not to hurt him and kept an open line of communication with authorities.

Authorities delivered items including medicine, a Hot Wheels toy car, and food, including Cheez-Its, to the 5-year-old using a ventilation pipe. The boy suffers from a mild form of autism, but the captor has done his best "to make the environment as comfortable as possible for the child," the FBI said.

The FBI has not discussed a motive for the kidnapping, but neighbors described the assailant as a loner with no children of his own. Dykes lives along a dirt road outside of Dothan, a small town in southeast Alabama. The 65-year-old is estranged from his family and told some of his family member "to go to hell", said Mel Adams, a Midland City Council member who has known Dykes since they were ages 3 and 4, in an AP interview. The man has an adult daughter, but lost touch with her two years ago. He also has a brother and a sister that he has lost contact with.

The kidnapper's neighbors told AP that Dykes once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for stepping onto his property, and guarded his property at night with a gun and a flashlight.

Birthday Cake

Oregon baker denies lesbian couple a wedding cake

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© Credit: YouTube
He isn't the first, either. How bakeries are becoming an unlikely battleground in the struggle for gay rights

Oregon baker Aaron Klein could face legal action after refusing to do business with a lesbian couple who sought a cake for their upcoming wedding.

As reported by KATU, the woman who filed the complaint says she had previously purchased a wedding cake from Sweet Cakes Bakery for her mother without incident, but was denied service after she told Klein the cake she wanted to buy was for her same-sex wedding.

Cue inevitable pun about this guy being anything but sweet.