While You Were Sleeping | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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While You Were Sleeping 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:40 pm
Americans waste 30 million tons of food each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Americans waste 30 million tons of food each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Americans waste 30 million tons of food each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, with 27 percent of that food suitable for consumption: fresh produce, milk, and grain products. In addition, food donations have decreased 9 percent but the number of people showing up for those donations has increased 20 percent. The Department of Agriculture estimates that recovering five percent of wasted food could feed four million people a day. In an effort to combat the large amounts of wasted food, major cities such as New York and San Francisco have developed food-rescue organizations as well as composting programs.
Source: New York Times

Premature births in the US increased 10 percent between 1996 and 2004, according to research conducted by the March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control. Ninety-two percent of those premature births occurred by C-section. C-sections are usually only performed when a natural birth is not feasible because of complications that could threaten the life of the mother or child, but many women are opting for C-sections out of convenience and their doctors are obliging due to fear of patient litigation. In 2004, 30 percent of births in the US were by C-section, an increase of 25 percent since 1970.
Source: CommonDreams.org

The US Department of Agriculture has proposed adding 38 previously nonorganic ingredients to foods that receive the “USDA Organic” label. Sales of organic foods have more than doubled in the past five years. Food is considered organic when 95 percent or more of its makeup is considered natural and was grown by a farmer who is registered and approved by organic certification bodies. Proposed organic ingredients would include 19 food colorings, sausage and hot dog casings, fish oil, and gelatin. Organic food advocates are fighting the possible change.
Source: Los Angeles Times

A recent poll of 24 countries revealed that the image of the US has improved sightly over the past year.
This improvement was largely driven by the fact that President Bush will be leaving in January 2008 and could be replaced by Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The survey of nearly 25,000 people conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project in March and April also revealed that many people blame the US in part for slumping economies and global warming, a concern that has increased since last year.
Source: New York Times

The self-storage business may have started small four decades ago, but it has grown into a $22 billion-a-year industry. There are 45,000 storage facilities in the US today. Square footage of rentable storage has increased 740 percent in the past two decades. Additionally, one billion square feet of storage space was created between 1998 and 2005, even though the average American home has grown 900 square feet in the past three decades.
Source: Alternet.org

Recently retired Army official Charles M. Smith said he was forced out of his job in 2004 as the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with Kellogg Brown & Root—the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing, and other services to American troops in Iraq since the start of the war—after he refused to approve more than $1 billion in questionable charges by the company. After Smith was removed from his position, Army officials reversed his decision, arguing that blocking the payments to KBR would have eroded basic services to troops in Iraq. KBR has been contracted for more than $20 billion by the Pentagon thus far in the Iraq War and has come under intense scrutiny from Congress and Pentagon auditors. In April, the Pentagon awarded KBR part of a 10-year $150 billion contract in Iraq.
Source: New York Times

What we think we know about global warming may not be accurate, as research findings about climate change have been controlled and distorted by political appointees in the Office of Public Affairs at NASA for at least two years. Fourteen senators requested an investigation after the Washington Post reported in 2006 that Bush administration officials had monitored and impeded communications between NASA climate scientists and reporters. The investigation disclosed in April that news releases from NASA regarding climate change were inaccurate and factually insufficient, but the Office of Public Affairs said that the topic was managed in that way for technical reasons, not political interference.
Source: Washington Post

With food prices at their highest in three decades, the world is in a hunger crisis. Several world leaders are blaming the hunger crisis on the priority of generating biofuels for reduced transportation costs, rather than using the crops and farming land to feed the needy. In order to end the crisis, food production needs to be doubled in the next 30 years, an effort that Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, estimated will cost $30 billion a year. The efforts would include providing small farmers with seeds and fertilizer, and increasing agricultural research and outreach programs to improve crop production so as to provide more food for poor countries, as well as meeting the demands for food among the emerging middle class in China and other developing countries.
Source: New York Times

Common Pleas Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan ruled in favor of the National Rifle Association that the City of Philadelphia could not enforce two new ordinances that would ban assault weapons and limit handgun purchases to one person per month. After Mayor Michael Nutter signed five gun-control bills into law last month, the NRA sued the city, arguing that only the state can regulate firearms, based on a 1996 State Supreme Court ruling. Greenspan, however, denied on procedural grounds the NRA’s request to overturn three of the recently passed laws: allowing guns to be removed from people declared to be a risk to themselves or others; doing the same for those under a protection-from-abuse order; and requiring the reporting of lost or stolen guns.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Several shark populations in the Mediterranean Sea have declined by more than 96 percent
over the past two centuries, according to a study conducted by the Lenfest Ocean program. The study focused on five of the 47 shark species that reside in the Mediterranean Sea and for which there were sufficient records to chart a long-term trend: hammerhead, blue, thresher, and two types of mackerel sharks. Francesco Ferretti, lead author of the study, said that this decline could hold serious implications for the entire marine ecosystem, affecting the food webs throughout the region. Researchers have linked the decline to decades of overfishing in the Mediterranean.
Source: New York Times

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