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Food Prices Jump Most Since 1974

shopper @ groc store
© AP/Al Behrman
In this March 1, 2011 photo, a customer looks at fresh vegetables at a Kroger Co. supermarket in Cincinnati. Wholesale prices jumped last month by the most in nearly two years due to higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years.
Wholesale prices rise 1.6 pct. due to biggest jump in food costs in more than 36 years

Wholesale prices jumped last month by the most in nearly two years due to higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years. Excluding those volatile categories, inflation was tame.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the Producer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in February -- double the 0.8 percent rise in the previous month. Outside of food and energy costs, the core index ticked up 0.2 percent, less than January's 0.5 percent rise.

Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974. Most of that increase was due to a sharp rise in vegetable costs, which increased nearly 50 percent. That was the most in almost a year. Meat and dairy products also rose.


Wisconsin protesters target bank that supported Governor Walker

Wisconsin Shame
© The Raw Story

As the protesting spirit spreads in Wisconsin, one tactic that union members are now adopting is to take aim at institutions that have donated heavily to Governor Scott Walker.

Members of the Wisconsin firefighter's union set out for a local branch of the M & I Bank on Thursday to withdraw their personal savings. The UpTake, which describes itself as "a citizen-fueled, online video news gathering organization," reports that "on Thursday members of the union withdrew close to $200,000 from the bank."

A website titled "Keep on eye on Marshall & Ilsley Bank" had been targeting the M & I Bank since last month. "After working families gave Marshall and Ilsley Bank (M&I) a $1.7 billion bailout in 2008," the site explains, "their executives did an about face and funded Governor Scott Walker's attack on our right to collectively bargain. In fact, their financial help combined was more than what the Koch Brothers contributed. And while Governor Walker was demanding austerity from working people, M&I CEO Mark Furlong got an $18 million golden parachute. Even after the bank was having difficulty paying back its TARP loan."


Midsomer Murders: On the trail of the real Midsomer

© Unknown
As uproar threatens the sleepy world of Midsomer Murders, Iain Hollingshead visits Haddenham - which has featured regularly in the long-running murder mystery series - to discover the truth behind the camera.

If Greg Dyke, the former Director-General of the BBC, thought the organisation he once led "hideously white", I wonder what he'd make of ITV's Midsomer Murders.

Yesterday, there was uproar when Brian True-May, the show's co-creator and executive producer, told Radio Times that the drama, which regularly attracts six million viewers and is just starting its 14th series, has thrived because its all-white cast shows the true English village - a genteel, if somewhat homicide-prone, contrast to the multiculturalism that prevails in Britain's cities.

It is, he said, the "last bastion of Englishness". An ITV spokesman declared himself "shocked and appalled" by the comments made by Mr True-May, who was promptly suspended by the production company, All3Media.

Heart - Black

UK: Locked up and sedated: Dementia patients being denied basic rights, says damning report

Elderly patients with dementia are being illegally locked in their rooms and sedated in hospitals and care homes, a report warns.

Staff are routinely flouting official guidelines and depriving confused residents of their basic human rights in the belief that it is in their best interests.

A highly critical study warns that hospitals and care homes are breaking the law by 'restraining' the elderly without authority - locking them in rooms overnight, sedating them or even binding them to beds and chairs.
Golden years
© Alamy
Golden years: But an inquiry has revealed that many elderly people in care are being abused and neglected (Posed by models)

The inquiry by the Care Quality Commission points out that nurses and care home staff often resort to such measures to prevent patients coming to harm through falls and other injuries - but by law they must apply for permission. The commission, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, warned that many staff are unaware of this.


U.S. State of Michigan set to allow voiding of union contracts

Detroit - The Michigan House gave final approval on Tuesday to granting state-appointed emergency managers broad powers to break labor deals with failing schools an cities, and the plan is expected to be signed into law.

New Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign the draft law soon, asked for the plan to extend the powers of emergency managers appointed to save failing programs. Detroit Public Schools, the state's largest district, has been under emergency management for two years.

House members voted 62-48 to approve an amended version of the bill Senators passed last week. Several Democratic attempts to change the bill were rejected before the final vote.

Last week, hundreds of pro-union demonstrators had jammed the Capitol in Lansing from the rotunda to the floors above to protest the plan in a scene similar to the weeks of opposition raised by workers at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

Light Sabers

Anonymous hacker group declares war on Pentagon

PJ Crowley resigned after calling Pfc. Bradley Manning treatment "counterproductive and stupid" - meanwhile Anonymous hackers warn they'll target Quantico Monday if Manning is not released. Bradley Manning is now catatonic and has to stand around naked as President Obama defends the treatment of the young prisoner. Anonymous' Barrett Brown says the deadline has come and gone for the Pentagon to improve Manning's conditions and they will proceed with their mission.


Japan abandons stricken nuke plant over radiation

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers
© AP Photo/Kyodo News
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers, mobilized to wash away radioactive material emitted from a nuclear power plant damaged by Friday's earthquake, put on protective gear on their arrival in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

Fukushima - Japan suspended operations to prevent a stricken nuclear plant from melting down Wednesday after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw.

Earlier officials said 70 percent of fuel rods at one of the six reactors at the plant were significantly damaged in the aftermath of Friday's calamitous earthquake and tsunami.


Fourth blast hits Japan nuclear plant - media

A fourth explosion has rocked the Fukushima nuclear plant on Tuesday at Unit 4 at the facility, the Japanese Kyodo news agency reports. The agency also reported high levels of radiation at Unit 3, which was hit by a blast on Monday.

In his televised address on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced that radiation had spread from the three damaged reactors in the plant. He has asked people living within 30 kilometers of the Fukushima complex to stay indoors to avoid potential health risks from radiation.

"We are making every effort possible so that no further explosion, or no further leakage of radioactive material, would happen," the Japanese prime minister told journalists at a news conference. "The people at the power plant are carrying out an operation to inject water to cool the reactors, despite their putting themselves in a very dangerous situation. So in that sense, we hope that we can avoid further radiation leakage."


UK: Three-year-old is UK's 'youngest ever alcoholic'

© Agence France-Presse
A three-year-old child who was treated in hospital for addiction to alcohol is thought to be Britain's youngest ever alcoholic, health officials say
A three-year-old child who was treated in hospital for addiction to alcohol is thought to be Britain's youngest ever alcoholic, health officials said Monday.

The youngster was one of 13 people under the age of 12 who were diagnosed as alcoholics by the state-run National Health Service (NHS) in central England between 2008 and 2010.

Health officials declined to give details of the three-year-old's condition or disclose the toddler's identity due to patient confidentiality rules.

An NHS spokeswoman said: "We treat alcohol abuse very seriously, and have specialist teams and experts on hand who are there to treat young patients with alcohol-related problems."


Nearly 200,000 people evacuated near Japanese nuclear plant