October 25, 2014

11 truly horrifying fast food creations

Cheese sauce on *everything*

TOPICS: FAST FOOD, MONSTROSITY, CREATIONS, BAD COMBINATIONS, FAT, , ,

The newest trend in fast food cuisine is the food portmanteau: we’ve seen Doritos Locos Tacos, the cronut, the ramen burger all take off to astounding commercial success. But some of these efforts have not been quite as well-received, perhaps because of the misguided ambition to cram as many different things into one “sandwich” as possible.

Click through the slideshow below to see where fast food has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

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  • Taco Bell

    11 OF THE MOST HORRIFIC FAST FOOD CREATIONS

    Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco

    This breakfast item consists of a waffle wrapped around sausage or bacon with a clump of cheesy scrambled eggs nestling gently in the middle, served with a side of maple syrup. It clocks in at a reasonable 370 calories, basically all of which is fat and sugar.

  • KFC

    11 OF THE MOST HORRIFIC FAST FOOD CREATIONS

    KFC’s Zinger Double Down King

    The Zinger Double Down King is essentially a dead farm on your plate: Two pieces of breaded fried chicken act as the bread, between which lie several pieces of bacon and pepper jack cheese, a huge burger patty and some kind of white sauce. It is 750 calories.

  • Hardee’s

    11 OF THE MOST HORRIFIC FAST FOOD CREATIONS

    Hardee’s Monster Thickburger

    The Hardee’s thickburger is pretty similar to the Carl’s Jr. thickburger except it’s not western (they are both just really thick burgers). It consists of two 1/3 lb. patties, four strips of bacon, three slices of American cheese and mayo on a bun. 1290 calories and 92 grams of fat. Perfect.

  • Dunkin Donuts

    11 OF THE MOST HORRIFIC FAST FOOD CREATIONS

    Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s mediocre eggs and bacon in between a donut that’s pretending like it’s a bagel. It’s 360 calories.

  • Pizza Hut Middle East

    11 OF THE MOST HORRIFIC FAST FOOD CREATIONS

    Pizza Hut Middle East’s Crown Crust Carnival

    For a short period of time, Pizza Hut Middle East served two different types of this novelty pizza, with the consumer getting to choose between stuffing their crust with cheeseburgers or chicken fillets. The toppings of the pizza would be on theme, with cheeseburger pizzas covered in special sauce and barbecue sauce, and green peppers on the chicken one. According to Eater, in 2010, the chain offered crown crust pizzas with cream cheese balls or meatballs in the crust. *Yum.*

  • Denny’s

    11 OF THE MOST HORRIFIC FAST FOOD CREATIONS

    Denny’s Mac ‘n Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt

    This sandwich starts with a beef patty on bread, adds macaroni and cheese, cheddar cheese slices and smothers it all in Frisco sauce giving you one delicious heart attack. It is 1690 calories, which is basically all of your calories for a day, and 99 grams of fat. Just, like, why?

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Joanna RothkopfJoanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sustainability. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email jrothkopf@salon.com.

This award-winning photo stunningly captures the essence of a threatened species

October 25, 2014

FRIDAY, OCT 24, 2014 11:07 AM CDT

The photo is the winning entry for this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
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TOPICS: WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR, MICHAEL ‘NICK’ NICHOLS, LIONS, SERENGETI, PHOTOGRAPHY, SUSTAINABILITY NEWS, NEWS

This award-winning photo stunningly captures the essence of a threatened species
During the rains this unnamed kopje (rock outcropping) has a waterhole that brings prey for the Vumbi pride. On this afternoon they rested closely together after all five females attacked Hildur, the second male in the resident coalition. Why? Maybe simply because there was not enough food to share. (Credit: Michael Nichols)
The grand title winner from this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has a pretty incredible story behind it. Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, the winning photographer who has worked for National Geographic for decades, said that he wanted to “capture the essence of lions in a time long gone, before they were under such a threat.”
The competition’s website has more:

 

The Vumbi pride in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park are a ‘formidable and spectacularly co-operative team,’ Nick says. Here the five females lie at rest with their cubs on a kopje (a rocky outcrop). Shortly before he took the shot, they had attacked and driven off one of the pride’s two males. Now they were lying close together, calmly sleeping. They were used to Nick’s presence as he’d been following them for nearly six months, so he could position his vehicle close to the kopje. He framed the vista with the plains beyond and the dramatic late afternoon sky above. He photographed the lions in infrared, which he says ‘cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. The chosen picture of lions in Africa is part flashback, part fantasy. Nick got to know and love the Vumbi pride. A few months later, he heard they had ventured outside the park and three females had been killed.

For more on the life of a Serengeti Lion, read this amazing essay by David Quammen in National Geographic, with even more photos by Nichols.

Joanna Rothkopf
Joanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sustainability. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email jrothkopf@salon.com.

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Cheap Solar Power Just Became An Employee Benefit For More Than 100,000 People

October 25, 2014

POSTED ON OCTOBER 22, 2014 AT 8:59 AM UPDATED: OCTOBER 22, 2014 AT 9:07 AM

Cheap Solar Power Just Became An Employee Benefit For More Than 100,000 People

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CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

If free donuts, gym memberships, or flex pay programs aren’t your preferred employee benefit, cheap solar systems could soon be an option. On Wednesday, three major companies — Cisco Systems, 3M, and Kimberly-Clark — announced they will now give employees a deeply discounted way of buying or leasing solar panels for their homes.

Called the Solar Community Initiative, the program promises a flat rate that is on average 35 percent lower than the national average and roughly 50 percent less expensive than average electric utility rates. According to the announcement, the offer will start as a benefit to more than 100,000 employees. If one percent choose to power their homes with solar, more than 74,500 metric tons of carbon emissions would be avoided each year.

Offered through Geostellar, a cost comparison site for solar panels, the program will also include options for employees’ friends and families in the United States and parts of Canada. The initiative was conceived and facilitated by the World Wildlife Fund.

“This takes the bulk purchase model from individual neighborhoods and organizations to a national scale,” Keya Chatterjee, senior director of renewable energy at WWF, said in a statement. “A coast-to-coast, low, flat rate helps mitigate two major barriers of solar adoption — complexity and price.”

The companies will offer a human resources intranet site that will provide a solar discount code and link them to Geostellar where online tools will help the employees determine their property’s solar potential.

“I get the emails: ‘Why aren’t we recycling this, or why don’t we have 45,000 more electric vehicle charging stations,’” Ali Ahmed, who manages energy and sustainability at Cisco, told the New York Times. “So we had a really good feeling that our employees would engage and latch onto this kind of discount.”

David Levine, chief executive of Geostellar, told the New York Times that homeowners paying an average of $147 a month for electricity would instead pay an average of $97 a month over 12 years if they financed the entire system, after which the payments would go to zero. The average base cost of a system will be $3 per watt, which is around 17 percent lower than Geostellar’s regular price and almost 34 percent lower than the average cost in the United States last year of $4.53, according to the New York Times.

New organizations — including companies, municipalities, schools, and clubs — can join the Solar Community initiative to increase their bulk purchasing power and utilize Geostellar’s platform to expand access to cheapsolar for employees, residents or members.

Agency warns of increased activity at volcano near nuclear plant

October 25, 2014

TOKYO —

An official at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcano division warned on Friday that a volcano in southern Japan located roughly 64 kms from a nuclear plant was showing signs of increased activity that could possibly lead to a small-scale eruption and warned people to stay away from the summit.

The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mt Ontake, erupted suddenly when crowded with hikers, killing 57 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.

Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes, the official said.

“There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption,” the official said.

The warning level on the mountain has been raised from the lowest possible level, normal, to the second lowest, which means that the area around the crater is dangerous, he added.

Ioyama lies in the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range and is roughly 64 kms from the Sendai nuclear plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co, which the Japanese government wants to restart even though the public remains opposed to nuclear power following the Fukushima crisis.

Critics point out that the Sendai plant is located about 50 kms from Mt Sakurajima, an active volcano that erupts frequently. Five giant calderas, crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions, are also in the region, the closest one 40 kms away.

The plant still needs to pass operational safety checks as well as gain the approval of local authorities and may not restart till next year.

Before giving its initial greenlight to restart the plant in July, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said the chance of major volcanic activity during the lifespan of the Sendai nuclear plant was negligible.

On Friday, the warning level for the Sakurajima volcano, which erupts frequently, was at 3, which means that people should not approach the peak.

Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” – a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean – and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014.

Noam Chomsky at United Nations: It Would Be Nice if the United States Lived up to International Law

October 24, 2014

noam chomsky

World-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky was asked what the single most important action the US can take on the issue of Israel and Palestine. He answered that the US can live up to its own laws and not send any military units to a place where there are consistent human rights violations.

After world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky gave a major address on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Amy Goodman interviewed the world-renowned linguist and dissident before an audience of 800 people. Chomsky spoke at an event sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. “One important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask,” Chomsky said.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org,The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return toMIT professor Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. Last week, he spoke before over 800 people in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly, before ambassadors and the public alike, on the issue of Israel and Palestine. After his speech, I conducted a public interview with Professor Chomsky.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most—the single most important action the United States can take? And what about its role over the years? What is its interest here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, one important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course, it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask, but live up to its own laws. And there are several. And here, incidentally, I have in mind advice to activists also, who I think ought to be organizing and educating in this direction. There are two crucial cases.

One of them is what’s called the Leahy Law. Patrick Leahy, Senator Leahy, introduced legislation called the Leahy Law, which bars sending weapons to any military units which are involved in consistent human rights violations. There isn’t the slightest doubt that the Israeli army is involved in massive human rights violations, which means that all dispatch of U.S. arms to Israel is in violation of U.S. law. I think that’s significant. The U.S. should be called upon by its own citizens to—and by others, to adhere to U.S. law, which also happens to conform to international law in this case, as Amnesty International, for example, for years has been calling for an arms embargo against Israel for this reason. These are all steps that can be taken.

The second is the tax-exempt status that is given to organizations in the United States which are directly involved in the occupation and in significant attacks on human and civil rights within Israel itself, like the Jewish National Fund. Take a look at its charter with the state of Israel, which commits it to acting for the benefit of people of Jewish race, religion and origin within Israel. One of the consequences of that is that by a complex array of laws and administrative practices, the fund pretty much administers about 90 percent of the land of the country, with real consequences for who can live places. They get tax-exempt status also for their activities in the West Bank, which are strictly criminal. I think that’s also straight in violation of U.S. law. Now, those are important things.

And I think the U.S. should be pressured, internationally and domestically, to abandon its virtually unique role—unilateral role in blocking a political settlement for the past 40 years, ever since the first veto in January 1976. That should be a major issue in the media, in convocations like this, in the United Nations, in domestic politics, in government politics and so on.

AMY GOODMAN: The role of the media, can you talk about that, and particularly in the United States? And do you think that the opinion in the United States, public opinion, is shifting on this issue?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the role of the—the media are somewhat shifting from uniform support for virtually everything that Israel does to—and, of course, silence about the U.S. role—that’s not just in the case of Israel, that’s innumerable other cases, as well—but is slowly shifting. But nevertheless, about, say, Operation Protective Edge, one can read in news reporting, news reporting in The New York Times, major journal, a criticism of Hamas’s assault on Israel during Protective Edge. Hamas’s assault on Israel—not exactly what happened, but that’s what people are reading, and that’s the way it’s depicted. Israel is—over and over it’s pointed out, “Look, poor Israel is under attack. It has the right of self-defense.” Everyone agrees to that. Actually, I agree, too. Everyone has a right of self-defense. But that’s not the question. The question is: Do you have a right of self-defense by force, by violence? The answer is no for anyone, whether it’s an individual or state, unless you have exhausted peaceful means. If you won’t even permit peaceful means, which is the case here, then you have no right of self-defense by violence. But try to find a word about that in the media. All you find is “self-defense.” When President Obama rarely says anything about what’s happening, it’s usually, “If my daughters were being attacked by rockets, I would do anything to stop it.” He’s referring not to the hundreds of Palestinian children who are being killed and slaughtered, but to the children in the Israeli town of Sderot, which is under attack by Qassam missiles. And remember that Israel knows exactly how to stop those missiles: namely, live up to a ceasefire for the first time, and then they would stop, as in the past, even when Israel didn’t live up to a ceasefire.

That framework—and, of course, the rest of the framework is the United States as an honest broker trying hard to bring the two recalcitrant sides together, doing its best in this noble endeavor—has nothing to do with the case. The U.S. is, as some of the U.S. negotiators have occasionally acknowledged, Israel’s lawyer. If there were serious negotiations going on, they would be led by some neutral party, maybe Brazil, which has some international respect, and they would bring together the two sides—on the one side, Israel and the United States; on the other side, the Palestinians. Now, those would be possible realistic negotiations. But the chances of anyone in the media either—I won’t even say pointing it out, even thinking about it, is minuscule. The indoctrination is so deep that really elementary facts like these—and they are elementary—are almost incomprehensible.

But to get back to your—the last point you mentioned, it’s very important. Opinion in the United States is shifting, not as fast as in most of the world, not as fast as in Europe. It’s not reaching the point where you could get a vote in Congress anything like the British Parliament a couple days ago, but it is changing, mostly among younger people, and changing substantially. I’ll just illustrate with personal experience; Amy has the same experience. Until pretty recently, when I gave talks on these topics, as I’ve been doing for 40 years, I literally had to have police protection, even at my own university, MIT. Police would insist on walking me back to my car because of threats they had picked up. Meetings were broken up, and so on. That’s all gone. Just a couple of days ago I had a talk on these topics at MIT. Meeting wasn’t broken up. No police protection. Maybe 500 or 600 students were there, all enthusiastic, engaged, committed, concerned, wanting to do something about it. That’s happening all over the country. All over the country, Palestinian solidarity is one of the biggest issues on campus—enormous change in the last few years.

That’s the way things tend to change. It often starts with younger people. Gradually it gets to the rest of the population. Efforts of the kind I mentioned, say, trying to get the United States government to live up to its own laws, those could be undertaken on a substantial scale, domestically and with support from international institutions. And that could lead to further changes. I think that the—for example, the two things that I mentioned would have a considerable appeal to much of the American public. Why should they be funding military units that are carrying out massive human rights violations? Why should they be permitting tax exemption? Meaning we pay for it—that’s what a tax exemption means. Why should we be paying, compelled to pay, for violations of fundamental human rights in another country, and even in occupied territories, where it’s criminal? I think that can appeal to the American population and can lead to the kinds of changes we’ve seen in other cases.

AMY GOODMAN: Final question, before we open it up to each of you: Your thoughts on the BDS movement, the boycott, divest, sanctions movement?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, BDS is a set of tactics, right? These are tactics that you employ when you think they’re going to be effective and in ways that you think will be effective. Tactics are not principles. They’re not actions that you undertake no matter what because you think they’re right. Tactics are undertaken, if you’re serious, because you think they’re going to help the victims. That’s how you adjust your tactics, not because I think they’re right in principle, but because I think they will be beneficial. That ought to be second nature to activists.

Also second nature should be a crucial distinction between proposing and advocating. I can propose now that we should all live in peace and love each other. I just proposed it. That’s not a serious proposal. It becomes a serious proposal when it becomes advocacy. It is given—I sketch out a path for getting from here to there. Then it becomes serious. Otherwise, it’s empty words. That’s crucial and related to this.

Well, when you take a look at the BDS movement, which is separate, incidentally, fromBDS tactics—let me make that clear. So, when the European Union issued its directive or when the—that I mentioned, or when, say, the Gates Foundation withdraws investment in security operations that are being carried out, not only in the Occupied Territories, but elsewhere, that’s very important. But that’s not the BDS movement. That’s BDS tactics, actually, BD tactics, boycott, divestment tactics. That’s important. The BDS movement itself has been an impetus to these developments, and in many ways a positive one, but I think it has failed and should reflect on its, so far, unwillingness to face what are crucial questions for activists: What’s going to help the victims, and what’s going to harm them? What is a proposal, and what is real advocacy? You have to think that through, and it hasn’t been sufficiently done.

So, if you take a look at the principles of the BDS movement, there are three. They vary slightly in wording, but basically three. One is, actions should be directed against the occupation. That has been extremely successful, in many ways, and it makes sense. It also helps educate the Western populations who are being appealed to to participate, enables—it’s an opening to discuss, investigate and organize about the participation in the occupation. That’s very successful.

A second principle is that BDS actions should be continued until Israel allows the refugees to return. That has had no success, and to the extent that it’s been tried, it’s been negative. It just leads to a backlash. No basis has been laid for it among the population. It is simply interpreted as saying, “Oh, you want to destroy the state of Israel. We’re not going to destroy a state.” You cannot undertake actions which you think are principled when in the real world they are going to have a harmful effect on the victims.

There’s a third category having to do with civil rights within Israel, and there are things that could be done here. One of the ones I mentioned, in fact—the tax-free status for U.S. organizations that are engaged in civil rights and human rights violations. And remember, a tax exemption means I pay for it. That’s what a tax exemption is. Well, that’s an action that could be undertaken. Others that have been undertaken have had backlashes which are harmful. And I won’t run through the record, but these are the kinds of questions that always have to be asked when you’re involved in serious activisms, if you care about the victims, not just feeling good, but caring about the victims. That’s critically important.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor, world-renowned linguist, dissident, Noam Chomsky, speaking last Tuesday in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly before 800 people in an event hosted by the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. If you’d like a copy of today’s show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org.

We wish a very happy birthday to our video producer, Robby Karran. For all our New York viewers,Democracy Now! co-host Juan González will be one of the journalists questioning the New York gubernatorial candidates in tonight’s debate. The debate will be broadcast live at 8:00 p.m. onPBSstations across New York. I’ll be speaking in Vienna, Austria, Friday at an event hosted by ORF, Austria’s public broadcaster, then on Saturday speaking at the Elevate Festival in Graz, Austria. Again, you can go to democracynow.org for more details.

October 24, 2014

Vermont Attorney General’s Office Releases Draft GMO Labeling Rules

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In Vermont, GMO labeling law goes into effect July 2016. However, a lawsuit has been filed by food companies. Who will prevail?

Vermont will hopefully be the first state in the nation to require the labeling of food made with genetically modified organisms. The right to label was hard won in a fight against biotech interests in a vote that had to be defended by a51-page court filling by Attorney General Bill Sorrell when a lawsuit was filed by Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the Snack Foods Association (SFA)– to keep consumers in the dark about what is in their food. The GMA, NAM, IDFA and SFA don’t think Vermont has the right to demand to know if their food products contain GMO – but with the new GMO labeling rules – they’ll be hard pressed to get around labeling.

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has released its first draft of the labeling rules which big food manufacturers will be expected to follow. They include nine pages of rules which include definitions of ‘food’ and ‘genetic engineering.’ They also detail that food labels must be ‘conspicuously placed’ so that consumers can tell if what they are about to purchase contains GMOs. Food manufactures won’t be able to hide the label with backgrounds or tiny font, for example. The label will say simply:

“Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

The draft will be reviewed in three public hearings that are expected to transpire over the next few weeks, in order to gather public opinion on the rules put forth.

It was just last May that Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the new GMO labeling law into effect.

When defining ‘food’ the draft states:

““Food” means (1) articles used for food or drink for humans, (2) chewing gum and (3) articles used for components of any such article. Food does not include dietary supplements.”

To define GE, the draft states:

“Genetic engineering” is a process by which a food is produced from an organism or organisms in which the genetic material has been changed through the application of: (a) in vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques and the direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles.”

Reasonably enough, the GMO label will be required to be found easily on the package when consumers are viewing it, much like the Nutrition Facts label which is already required on food packaging by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

It is estimated that Vermont’s legal battle to retain the right to label its food in-state will cost them $8 million, but it’s a small price to pay to eradicate the non-food items biotech bullies are so eager to sell to a public who doesn’t want them.

Vermont’s labeling law will take effect in July 2016 pending the outcome of the lawsuit, and it will be just in time. Over 80% of packaged foods in the US currently contain GMOs.

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Gov. Peter Shumlin announce at a rally in Burlington on June 16 that Ben & Jerry’s will rename one of its ice creams and donate $1 from each pint sold to the Food Fight Fund. The fund is to help defray the cost of defending the state’s new GMO-labeling law against lawsuits alleging the measure is unconstitutional.

Sorrell and a team of lawyers he has appointed to work on the case argued the state may make labeling restrictions to promote “informed decision-making on matters of public health and the environment.”

The state also argues that the law steers clear of violating interstate commerce, as the labeling adds no burden that outweighs the benefits.

Pointing to two court cases, Sorrell argues that federal courts have upheld New York City’s law requiring the posting of calories on menus and a federal law requiring country-of-origin labels on meat on the premise that the laws allow consumers to make more informed choices.

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Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. She also writes exclusive articles for NationofChange. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.

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Sailor on Fukushima Impact on Pacific: “It’s dead… for thousands of miles there was nothing” between US & Japan

October 24, 2014

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Sailor on Fukushima Impact on Pacific: “It’s dead… for thousands of miles there was nothing” between US & Japan — “Like sailing in a dead sea… everything’s all gone” — “Just talking about it makes me feel like I want to cry” — “No birds, no fish, no sharks, no dolphins, no turtles, nothing” (AUDIO)

Posted: 23 Oct 2014 12:00 PM PDT

What can we do about climate change?

October 24, 2014

I could rephrase this question. What should we do about climate change. The reason I might rephrase this is because we may not ben that sure of what wecan do, but we should do something. Or, more accurately, some things. There are a lot of possible things we can do, and we have little time to do them. So, maybe we should do all of them for a while. We could spend years working out what the best three or four things we can do might be, and try to implement them. But there will be political opposition from the right, because the right is inexplicably opposed to any action that smells like environmentalism or something that Al Gore might suggest. There will be powerful and effective opposition by those who happen to own or control the vast fossil Carbon based reserves because they know that whatever it is we do about climate change, it will involve keeping their Carbon in the ground, which will render it nearly valueless. The very process of working out the handful of best solutions will falter because of those opposing action. So instead, maybe we should do a Gish Gallop of climate change action. Just do everything. Every thing. It will be harder to stop.

That is a pragmatic argument for doing everything, but there is also a more systematic rational argument. When new technologies, or new applications of technologies, emerge they often take an unexpected course. In retrospect, we realize that of a handful of options, the one we picked did not do what we thought it might do. It may have fell short of expectations, or it may have functioned in an unexpected and disruptive (in a good way) matter. Meanwhile, we sometimes see that the technologies we did not develop may have been better choices. In this way, technology and industry evolve. We don’t have time for this slow evolution, so may be we should do everything and later, after some of these solutions have run for a while, weed out those that are not working as well and focus on the newly adapted, evolved solutions.

Obviously when I say “everything” (or every thing) I don’t really mean every single thing; it is reasonable to pick and choose. But we need to take a much more comprehensive approach than often suggested. In the world of clean energy there are many (increasingly institutionalized) schemes with promotors who actually spend time and energy putting down the alternatives. Pro solar people will tell you bad things about wind, and pro wind people will tell you bad things about solar. Those who wish us to have a totally reformed and rebuilt transportation infrastructure will tell you that electric cars are not the way, even though their reimagined transport system is at best a century in the future, while shifting much of our vehicular fleet to inherently efficient electric cars could be done at at time scale of a few years. So, what I mean is, do every thing that is on the table, deployable, right now. Geothermal heating and cooling in domestic, commercial, and industrial settings. No roof should be without at least some photovoltaic panels. Build more windmills. Paint the roofs white in cities. Develop incentives for people to live closer to work or travel less by working from home. Electrify everything that moves from cars to city and school buses to commuter trains. Tax Carbon, provide tax or other incentives for the purchase of highly efficient appliances. All of it.

Lawrence Torcello and Michael Mann (philosopher and climate scientist) have an interesting piece at The Conversation integrating climate science, strategies, and philosophy. In part, they say,

…the warming level already reached will likely displace millions of people worldwide. Entire island cultures may be scattered and their traditional ways of life destroyed. Any resulting refugee crisis will be exacerbated by a greater range of agricultural pests, tropical diseases, increasingly frequent heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and subsequent crop failures. Migrating climate victims will be at risk of further injustice as social and political tensions intensify….

If we fail to avoid 2°C warming, a possibility we must be ready for, aggressive action taken now will still position the next generation to better build on our efforts—while learning from our mistakes. The difficulty of our situation is no excuse for moral dithering.

That is certainly a good way to sum up what our plan should be: Aggressive.

Daily soda consumption seriously messes up your DNA

October 24, 2014

MONDAY, OCT 20, 2014 01:30 PM CDT
Daily soda consumption seriously messes up your DNA
Drinking one soda every day is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging
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TOPICS: SODA, OBESITY, AGING, AGE-RELATED DISEASES, SUSTAINABILITY NEWS, LIFE NEWS, NEWS
(Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu)
We all know that sugary soda is a major contributor to obesity– a typical 20-ounce drink can have up to 18 teaspoons of sugar and more than 240 calories. What we didn’t know is that regular soda consumption might also destroy your DNA.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health, people who drink more soda have shorter telomeres (bits of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes in cells) in white blood cells. The affected telomeres have been associated with age-associated diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers calculated that drinking one 20-ounce soda every day was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging, similar to the effects of smoking, or the inverse effect of exercising, which reduces the effects of age.

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues,” said Elissa Epel, professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco and senior author of the study. The finding was consistent regardless of age, race, income or education level.

TIME’s Mandy Oaklander reports:

 

Epel and her team analyzed data from 5,309 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from about 14 years ago. They found that people who drank more sugary soda tended to have shorter telomeres…

Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didn’t see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism,” she says.

She also didn’t see a significant link between non-carbonated sugary beverages, like fruit juice, which Epel says surprised her. But she thinks the results might be different if the data were more modern.

The study just focused on individuals at one point in time, meaning that causation has not been proven–just a very high correlation.

“We think that the jury’s still out on sugared beverages—theoretically they’re just as bad,” Epel said. “But 14 years ago people were drinking a lot less sugared beverages…they were mostly drinking soda.”

Joanna Rothkopf
Joanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sustainability. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email jrothkopf@salon.com.

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Can Cancer Be Prevented—And Even Cured—Through Diet? This Scientist Is Convinced It Can

October 24, 2014
  FOOD  
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T. Colin Campbell has set off a war with the food industry.

He says the CIA has shown up at his door with questions. Colleagues have warned him not to pursue his controversial research findings. One of his professional organizations considered kicking him out because of his research, and national panels that once wooed him now ignore him.

But in the end, T. Colin Campbell is a consummate researcher. When his findings belied one of his own foundational beliefs about nutrition, Campbell found himself standing alone at a crossroads: continue a respected and tenured academic career at a prestigious school or go public and advocate for scientific findings that counter established tenets of nutrition, contradict government dietary guidelines, are misunderstood by the medical establishment and belie the marketing claims of major food corporations.

Campbell says he chose the truth. In response to a comment that he picked a fight with a billion-dollar industry, Campbell said, “No, it’s a trillion-dollar industry.”

The professor emeritus in nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University said research has proven that consumption of animal products, including meat, fish and dairy, triggers chronic diseases and impaired health and poses a greater risk than heredity or environment. He has linked casein, a protein in milk, with breast cancer. His lifelong professional focus has been cancer and nutrition, and Campbell says that our national and global fight with cancer has targeted the wrong enemy.

Though he is scholarly and genteel, Campbell is not reserved. He’s impatient and blunt. He dismisses the Atkins diet, Paleo diet, South Beach diet and high protein diet. He’s not a supporter of celebrity physicians who prescribe diets of wild salmon, expensive grass-fed beef and costly nutritional supplements. He comes down firmly on the side of health for everyone, not just the wealthy who can afford pharmaceutical supplements of questionable health benefit and expensive prescription medications for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

Campbell advocates disease prevention at the end of a fork. He was prominently featured in the award-winning documentary Forks Over Knives, and is the focus of a new documentary Plant Pure Nation, due out in early 2015 and produced by his son Nelson Campbell.

Colin Campbell discounts physicians as reliable sources of nutritional advice for their patients. Physicians, he said, received minimal to no nutritional education in medical school and have not generally conducted investigative laboratory research themselves.

Campbell, however, has spent more than five decades in laboratory research, much of it publicly funded. He’s adamant the public has a right to know his results.

“Diet can be used to prevent and reverse cancer just like it prevents and reverses heart disease,” he said. “A diet high in animal protein increases the amount of carcinogens going to the cells. It increases the enzyme MFO (mixed function oxidase) that causes increased carcinogenic activity.”

In the lab, Campbell has shown that increasing consumption of animal protein alters MFO and activates cancer while decreasing consumption detoxifies cancer. A high protein diet derived from animal products increases cell replication and increases oxygen free radicals associated with cancer and aging.

“High-protein bars are crazy,” Campbell said. “Plants alone can easily provide all the protein we need.”

By demeanor and upbringing, Campbell is an unlikely warrior. He grew up on a dairy farm in Virginia convinced of the nutritional value of milk. Early in his academic career as one of the youngest tenured professors at Cornell University, Campbell was researching dietary protein among children in the Philippines and was surprised to see a high correlation between consumption of animal protein and liver cancer. He was further surprised when he read an obscure research paper published by scientists in India linking dairy protein with cancer.

“This was counter to everything we believed,” he said.

The work started a line of inquiry that amassed the scientific foundation for what Campbell calls a “whole-food, plant-based diet: whole foods, no processed foods, only plants, no meat, fish or dairy and no added oils.” He wrote about the diet and his epidemiological studies in his book The China Study. The book, written with his son Thomas Campbell, was published in 2005 and was expected to have a limited audience. It has now sold over a million copies and been translated into 25 languages. Campbell’s sequel, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, came out in 2013 and is a New York Times bestseller.

After 50 years of nutritional biochemical research, Campbell views casein as one of the most relevant chemical carcinogens ever identified. He’s critical of the Komen Foundation for ignoring the research and expanding its marketing income by putting pink ribbons on yogurt containers.

Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader said, “We focus on studies with humans. What we attempt to do is present scientific evidence. There are no large, peer-reviewed studies” linking casein with human breast cancer.

Some of Campbell’s research is epidemiological and based on animal studies, but that does not make it less compelling, said Mladen Golubic, chief medical director at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Disease Reversal. Golubic suggested the Komen pink ribbon should not go on yogurt but on kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

“Campbell’s research is basic science. It’s very compelling and elegantly done,” Golubic said. “When it comes to human cancer, the data is not as clear. But knowing that not a single nutrient in milk can’t be gotten from plants, there is no reason not to avoid milk.”

Golubic said epidemiological studies like Campbell’s work published in The China Study are not flawed, but are weaker than randomized control clinical trials with human subjects.

There have been no large-scale clinical trials with humans to test the efficacy of the whole-food, plant-based diet for prevention and treatment of cancer; however, a small study at the Cleveland Clinic has shown the whole-food, plant-based diet reversed coronary heart disease among patients.

Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, a dairy industry group, said a claim linking dairy with disease is a misinterpretation.

“The weight of the evidence indicates that a healthy, balanced diet includes fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt,” Miller said in a statement. “Researchers have examined the potential of milk and milk products and many of milk’s components (e.g. casein, calcium and vitamin D) to be associated with specific cancers such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. The research overall is inconclusive.”

He claims the science is more conclusive linking dairy consumption with health and prevention of cancer.

Rekha Chaudhary is not so convinced. Program director in hematology and oncology at the University of Cincinnati school of medicine, Chaudhary invited Campbell to present at the school recently to physicians and medical students. She said she invited him because he speaks with the authority of sound scientific research. She credits his research with changing the way she treats her own patients.

“When a cancer patient used to ask me ‘What about diet? What changes should I make?’ my response was ‘none. Go home and eat some ice cream,’” she said. “That’s not what I say now. I’m a very different doctor now. Dr. Campbell has 57 years researching the effects of nutrition on health, specifically nutrition on cancer. I am now very enthusiastic about the role of nutrition in fighting cancer.”

Chaudhary said she had no instruction in plant-based diets when she was in medical school. That was also the experience of Thomas M. Campbell, co-author ofThe China Study with his father. After immersing himself in research for the book for several years, Thomas Campbell decided to enter medical school. Although the book was called the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” by the New York Times, it wasn’t influencing medical education in this country.

“The role of diet in health is one of the most crucial questions of our time, but nutrition is a forgotten science,” Thomas Campbell said.

Now a family practitioner in Rochester, NY and director of the Campbell Institute for Nutrition,” Campbell said, “In 2001, my father asked if I would help with the book. I read thousands of abstracts and studies, and became more interested in nutrition and health. During this period, I completed my transition [away from meat and dairy].”

He entered medical school with this background in nutritional science and was confronted firsthand not only with the total lack of nutritional education but misinformation about nutrition.

“I put my head down and learned. I decided I can’t advance this idea without experiencing the conventional structure of education and work within the system,” he said. “There were times of intense personal irritation, but it was neither the time nor place to educate people.”

He recalls one lecture during his second year of medical school when a question was asked about whether there was any evidence showing heart disease is related to diet.

“People snickered at the idea. A cardiologist said there is a little evidence, but no one would want to follow the [prescribed] diet,” he said. “I held my tongue, but after the lecture I went to the computer lab with another student, pulled up the Ornish and Esselstyn diets [plant-based, whole-food diets] and pointed out that 75 percent of people who start these diets stick with the diets.”

Today, as a physician, he tells his patients, including children, to avoid all animal products.

“I tell them they can get off their medications and reverse their disease,” he said. “I tell them this is absolutely the best diet for kids and adults. The evidence is deep and clearly established for reversing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There is also good evidence of its role in kidney stones and gallbladder. For cancer prevention, there is a lot of evidence this diet helps. In terms of reversing cancer, there is a lack of direct evidence, but there is good evidence nutrition likely plays a role.”

What is needed are large-scale, randomized clinical trials, he said.

His book, The Campbell Plan, covers the how-to of the diet and comes out in March 2015 published by Rodale Press.

Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said diet is the leading cause of poor health in this country and worldwide. His own research findings are compatible with Campbell’s work.

“The diet Campbell advocates, the whole-food, plant-based diet, really is a healthy diet. It is perhaps the healthiest diet people can achieve. But will everyone adopt it?” he said. “If anyone asks me what is the best diet, it’s reasonable to recommend it, but there are other healthy diets.”

However, even as a supporter of Campbell’s work, Giovannucci said the link between casein and breast cancer may be too reductionist and may not cause other nutritional synergies. Even Campbell says focusing on casein and human health is reductionist, but he adds that laboratory science bears out the link.

“I agree with Campbell when he is speaking broadly and holistically, but I’m not convinced casein is the worst factor in diet,” Giovannucci said. “The worst thing in the western diet is eating too much. Body size.”

Despite that, Giovannucci said there is no nutritional benefit in dairy that is not available from plant sources.

The science is sound showing a plant-based diet is superior to consumption of animal products, Giovannucci said, but public health policy continues to recommend animal consumption.

“Why doesn’t the science translate into public health policy? Because public policy is driven by commercial interests,” he said. “Even well-meaning people like pediatricians continue to recommend dairy.”

While it may be valid to choose milk over sweetened beverages, he said, the research does not support dairy providing strong bones later in life.

“Advocating the benefits of dairy is too simplistic,” he said, noting research shows increased dairy consumption actually correlates with increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Research that concludes dairy is beneficial must be questioned, he said, because such “research is shaped by commercial interests.”

Although more randomized controlled clinical trials are needed to study the plant-based diet and disease, Giovannucci said it is unrealistic to insist that epidemiological work like Campbell’s is inconclusive.

If we were to dismiss epidemiological work as inconclusive, we’d still be debating  the health problems associated with smoking, he said.

Miller of the National Dairy Council said research funded by the dairy industry is subject to the same scrutiny all published research goes through as part of the peer-review process. He cited a Tufts University report comparing dairy checkoff-funded obesity research with research done by the National Institutes of Health that concluded industry research was unaffected by its funding. Countering Giovannucci, Miller maintained that research shows consumption of dairy foods improves bone health.

The Cornell Chronicle, published by Cornell University, was slated to publish an article on Campbell’s work this spring. A staffer at the publication sent Campbell a copy of the piece, but it was later spiked with no explanation. Campbell said this is just another example of a university yielding to industry pressure. A spokesman at Cornell declined to comment or issue a statement about the school’s situation with Campbell.

“Cornell is now working hard to discredit me,” Campbell said.

He understood years ago that researching the health benefits of a plant-based diet would challenge the status quo. When he returned to the United States from China following field work for his massive epidemiological study, the CIA turned up at his door.

“They offered me ‘assistance’ with translation,” he said wryly, speculating that they really wanted access to his collection of blood and urine specimens. He declined the assistance.

Another pioneer in the field of dietary and lifestyle changes, Dean Ornish, said “Dr. Campbell made a very landmark contribution by showing that people in Asia and China who ate a whole-food, plant-based diet had lower rates of the major chronic diseases that afflict not only our country but countries throughout the world” as they adopt the American diet.

As a result, we are seeing the “globalization of chronic diseases,” he said.

Ornish combines his dietary recommendations with other lifestyle recommendations. For the past three and a half years, Medicare has covered the Ornish program, and the doctor said cost savings are significant.

Questioned about the correlation between dairy casein and breast cancer, Ornish said, “There are studies that show a link, but I think the jury is still out to make that definitive.”

However, he said his program combining diet guidelines calling for elimination of meat and dairy with lifestyle changes has shown that progression of early-stage prostate cancer can be arrested and reversed. He expects to see similar results with breast cancer.

“We haven’t studied breast cancer, but we are doing that now, and most things that affect prostate cancer affect breast cancer as well because they are both hormonal diseases to a large extent,” he said.

In his book Whole, Campbell wrote about the effort of key people in the American Society for Nutrition to expel him from membership. The Society did not offer a spokesperson to be interviewed for this article and did not give a written statement about Campbell’s claims.

Today, Campbell divides his time between homes in New York and North Carolina and a rigorous lecture schedule. He is blunt in his assessment of the role of government in public health policy and nutrition, contending government is ignoring science and giving too much weight to corporate research.

A vast, global economy stretches from agriculture, including crops, livestock and agrochemical corporations, to the medical establishment, including hospitals, drug and pharmaceutical companies. That economy, Campbell said, is based on established dietary guidelines calling for consumption of meat and dairy.

“Research shows nutrition can determine if a carcinogenic exposure results in the development of cancer or whether the cancer cells are suppressed. Chemotherapy is really not a good approach. Radiation and surgery are not the best approach. We’ve been on the wrong track,” he said. “The public is being misled with tragic consequences.”


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