February 29, 2012
By Robert Fisk
If Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability, “I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons”.
Thus thundered our beloved Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in one of the silliest pronouncements he has ever made. Hague seems to spend much of his time impersonating himself, so I’m not really certain which of Mr Hague-Hague’s personas made this statement.
Flaw number one, of course, is Hague-Hague’s failure to point out that there already is another Middle East “nation” that has, in fact, several hundred nuclear weapons along with the missiles to fire them. It’s called Israel. But blow me down, Hague-Hague didn’t mention the fact. Didn’t he know? Of course, he did. What he was trying to say, you see, was that if Iran persisted in producing a nuclear weapon, Arab states – Muslim states – would want to acquire one. And that would never do. The idea, of course, that Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons because Israel already possesses them, did not occur to him.
Now as a nation that sells billions of pounds worth of military hardware to Gulf Arab nations – on the basis that they can then defend themselves from Iran’s non-existent plans to invade them – Britain is really not in a position to warn anyone of arms proliferation in the region. I’ve been to the Gulf arms fairs where the Brits show alarming films of an “enemy” nation threatening the Arabs – Iran, of course – and the need for these Arab chappies to buy even more kit from British Aerospace and the rest of our merchants of death.
Then comes the historical killer in Hague-Hague’s peroration. He warns of “the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented” which could produce “the threat of a new Cold War in the Middle East” that would be “a disaster in world affairs”. Now, I know that Hague-Hague sits in the throne room of Balfour and Eden – both pseudo-experts on the Middle East – but does he really have to mess up history so badly? Surely the most serious round of nuclear proliferation occurred when India and Pakistan acquired the bomb, the latter a nation which is awash with al-Qa’ida chaps, home-grown Talibans and dodgy intelligence men.
Still, it was good to be reassured that “we are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at the moment”. Maybe later, then. Or maybe after President Assad eventually falls, thus depriving Iran of its only – and valuable – ally in the Middle East. Which is, I suspect, what a lot of the roaring and raging against Assad is all about. Get rid of Assad and you cut out part of Iran’s heart – though whether that will induce the crackpot Ahmadinejad to turn his nuclear plants into baby-milk factories is another matter. For here’s the rub. The mighty voices calling for Assad’s departure grow louder every time they refuse to involve themselves militarily in the overthrow of the same man. The more they promise not to “do a Nato” on Syria – every time they claim there can be no “no-fly” zones over Syria – they get angrier and angrier at Assad. Why doesn’t he just go off to retirement in Turkey, end the theatre once and for all, and stop embarrassing us all by bludgeoning his country with shells and sniper fire, killings thousands – journalists among them – while we rage on innocently from the stalls?
August 5th, 2011
By: Lauren Williamson
Cargill announced a voluntary recall Thursday of 36 million pounds of ground turkey products in connection with a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 77 people nationwide, seven of them in Illinois.
The meat producer has also suspended production of ground turkey products at an Arkansas processing plant until it can determine the source of the contamination, Cargill said in a statement.
Of the seven reported illnesses in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Health said at least one person lives in DuPage County. The other cases were reported in Cass, Cook, Madison, Peoria, Will and Williamson counties.
At least one person in Illinois was hospitalized, the health department said. The ages of those infected range from 3 to 60.
The first illness in Illinois tied to this outbreak was reported March 21, while the most recent case was June 29, the health department said.
Salmonella is a food-borne illness characterized by diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that usually lasts from four to seven days, the health department said. Most people recover on their own, but in some cases the diarrhea is severe enough that the patient requires hospitalization.
Cooking meat such as ground turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees should kill salmonella bacteria, the health department said.
Keep raw poultry and its juices away from ready-to-eat foods such as fruit or already-cooked food. Wash hands and food preparation surfaces thoroughly after they come into contact with raw poultry.
Customers who purchased turkey products on the recall list should bring them back to the store where they bought them for a full refund, Cargill said. Questions can be directed to Cargill’s customer service department at 1-888-812-1646. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has a food safety hot line: 1-888-MPHotline.
April 19th, 2011
The Raw Story
A sampling of grocery store meat in five US cities has shown a type of drug-resistant bacteria is contained in about one quarter of beef, chicken, pork and turkey for sale, a study said Friday.
Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause skin infections, pneumonia, sepsis or endocarditis in people with weak hearts, was found in 47 percent of samples, said the study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The study drew fire from the meat industry, which pointed to the “small sample” taken and said its findings were misleading.
More than half — 52 percent — of the infected samples contained a tough strain of S. aureus that was resistant to at least three types of antibiotics.
Most of the time, the bacteria would be killed off during cooking, but risks of contamination can come from handling raw meat in the kitchen and touching other utensils, or from eating meat that is not fully cooked.
“For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial,” said Lance Price of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, and senior author of the study.
“The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today.”
S. aureus is not among the four bacteria routinely tested in meat by the US government: Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus.
More than two million people in the United States are infected with these bacteria annually, and hundreds die. The young and the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
The 136 samples that were tested included 80 brands of meat and were taken from 26 retail grocery stores in five cities: Los Angeles; Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Flagstaff, Arizona; and the US capital, Washington.
The report said the bacteria was found inside the meat and therefore was not likely to have come from handling.
Instead the likely culprit was “densely stocked industrial farms, where food animals are steadily fed low doses of antibiotics… ideal breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that move from animals to humans,” the study said.
“Antibiotics are the most important drugs that we have to treat Staph infections; but when Staph are resistant to three, four, five or even nine different antibiotics — like we saw in this study — that leaves physicians few options,” Price said.
The study did not assess the risk to the population posed by the resistant staph strain.
“Now we need to determine what this means in terms of risk to the consumer,” said co-author Paul Keim, director of the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.
The biggest meat and poultry trade association in the US, the American Meat Institute, said the study “misleads consumers about US meat and poultry, which is among the safest in the world.”
“Despite the claims of this small study, consumers can feel confident that meat and poultry is safe,” said AMI Foundation president James Hodges in a statement.
The AMI statement added: “These bacteria are destroyed through normal cooking procedures, which may account for the small percentage of foodborne illnesses linked to these bacteria.”
April 4th, 2011
By: Emanuella Grinberg
Jennie-O Turkey Store is recalling nearly 55,000 pounds of frozen, raw turkey burgers that may be contaminated with Salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Saturday.
The recall pertains to packages of “All Natural Turkey Burgers with seasonings Lean White Meat” with a “use by” date of December 23, 2011, the FSIS said on its website.
The ground turkey, which comes in 4-pound boxes containing 12 patties, is sold exclusively at Sam’s Club, Jennie-O said on its recall website.
People who have purchased the product should not consume it. They can return it to a Sam’s Club store for a full refund, Jennie-O said.
An investigation of a Salmonella outbreak in 10 states found three people in Colorado, Ohio, and Wisconsin reported illness after eating the Jennie-O ground turkey, leading the FSIS to determine there is a link between the product and the outbreak, the agency said on its website.
The last of these illnesses was reported on March 14.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial food-borne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or are undergoing chemotherapy.
The most common symptoms of the illness caused by eating food contaminated with Salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever, according to the FSIS. Additional symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.
February 7th, 2011
By: Deborah Huso
A specialized diet may help ease the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, according to Dutch researchers.
A recent study from Radboud University and the ADHD Research Center in the Netherlands observed 100 children, ages 4 to 8, with ADHD. Researchers divided children into two groups and gave them either an “elimination diet” or a typical healthy diet for five weeks.
The elimination diet was limited to rice, water, white meat poultry, such as turkey, and some fruits and vegetables. Researchers kept wheat, tomatoes, oranges, eggs and other dairy products out of the diet since these foods are often linked with food allergies and intolerances.
Upon completion of the initial five weeks, researchers selected a new group of children based on their reaction to the first part of the study. Scientists monitored the children while incorporating new foods into their diets based on individual blood results.
The findings, published in The Lancet medical journal, revealed that a restricted diet led to significant improvements in the symptoms of some ADHD sufferers.
Dr. Jan Buitelaar, lead study researcher, child psychologist and professor, and head of general and child adolescent psychiatry at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, said researchers cannot pinpoint exact foods that affect all children. “It is very dependant on the individual child,” Buitelaar told AOL Health.
During the first part of the study, 64 percent of children in the elimination diet group had significant improvements with regard to their ADHD symptoms. Researchers also noted a decrease in defiant behavior.
The study concluded that “a strictly supervised restricted elimination diet is a valuable instrument to assess whether ADHD is induced by food.”
Dr. Eric Braverman, author of “The EDGE Effect” and “Younger (Sexier) You,” says chocolate, caffeine, sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, saturated fats and dyes can affect or worsen a child’s ADHD.
“These foods cause abnormal transmissions of dopamine, serotonin and an imbalance of the brain’s neurotransmitter and regulation processes,” Braverman told AOL Health.
Parents of children suffering from ADHD can reduce the child’s diet to rice, water, white meat, and fruits and vegetables that contain no risk of allergy. Then they can start adding foods to to his or her diet while monitoring the child’s behavior.
“You observe behavioral improvement week by week as you add food until you see evidence of behavioral changes,” explains Buitelaar. “It may take several weeks to determine the incriminating foods.”
ADHD, is one of the world’s most common mental disorders among children, according to the National Institute for Mental Health. Statistics from the American Psychiatric Association show 3 to 7 percent of school-aged children suffer from ADHD.
September 20, 2010
By Brad Bumsted and Mike Wereschagin
Taxpayer-funded bulletins listed meetings of Tea Partiers, Quakers and Pittsburgh anti-war activists as potential security threats.
A year’s worth of bulletins released Friday by the governor’s office shows the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response warned state Homeland Security officials about events as far away as the Sinai and as easy to predict as looking at a calendar.
The reports ignited controversy earlier this week when opponents of Marcellus gas drilling learned that gas companies had received the “Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin” listing their planned participation in public hearings as part of a warning about potential terrorist threats to public infrastructure.
Gov. Ed Rendell denounced the reports on Tuesday and said he won’t renew the institute’s $103,000 contract when it expires in October. State senators plan a hearing to investigate. At least one activist plans to file a civil rights lawsuit.
A November report said two Tea Party rallies against illegal immigration might attract “white nationalists.”
“I think it is one of the more bizarre things I’ve ever heard,” said Karen Kiefer, a Tea Party activist from Scottdale. “A lot of people say they never feel safer than at a Tea Party rally. They got $103,000 in taxpayers’ money to compile these bogus lists? That is absolutely shocking.”
The co-director of the institute yesterday defended the bulletins and took issue with Rendell’s criticism of its work, saying the governor is “regrettably, misinformed. … We provide information on potential issues that may require enhanced security responses in the protection of clients’ obligations to public safety and protection of their assets.”
The co-director, Michael Perelman, a former York city police officer, said in a brief telephone interview: “The indications that the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response tracked gay groups is inaccurate and offensive.”
Rendell had no response to Perelman’s comments, press secretary Gary Tuma said.
Rendell on Tuesday said the information the institute gave the state “has no value. … It may have some value to other people, but it had no value to us.”
The reports were supposed to help state Homeland Security officials protect critical public infrastructure, a post-9/11 federal mandate. Most reports, however, are dedicated to possible terrorist action in places such as Ireland, Afghanistan, Turkey and Chile. It notes Pennsylvania colleges that have study-abroad programs in those countries.
One report, in August, listed “newly identified corporate targets of pro-life boycotts.” The institute said the boycott list, which included the YMCA and Johnson & Johnson, represented a “low-to-moderate” threat because it could be used by “more militant anti-abortion elements and lone wolves.”
The most recent report, issued Monday, listed the dates of upcoming Jewish holidays and noted they would result in “very high attendance at Jewish houses of worship and public gatherings in Pennsylvania.”
A November bulletin noted an approaching anti-war protest in Philadelphia by the Brandywine Peace Community and the American Friends Service Community, a Quaker organization. The protesters planned to wear placards saying, “Dear President: Do Not Send More Troops to Afghanistan. War is Not the Answer,” the terror institute wrote.
Another report alleged links between G-20 protesters and an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh. Protests of the September 2009 G-20 world summit resulted in 193 arrests.
Several reports issued this month warn that opponents of Arizona’s immigration law planned to protest at the Pirates game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and that an animal rights group will protest the Lulu Shrine Rodeo in Plymouth Meeting. It quotes “activist material” that calls the rodeo “the worst of the worst.”
“We’re an open organization,” said Kenneth Miller, an organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World, which had planned the Diamondbacks protest. “It’s terrible that our government officials view our protest as a security threat. That’s sick.”
The institute’s monitoring of drilling opponents led to the following headline in one bulletin: “Would-be protesters to become ‘Citizen Journalists.’ ” The report attributed the information to a website run by the natural gas company Chesapeake Energy.
Luzerne County Republican Sen. Lisa Baker announced a Senate committee she chairs will conduct a hearing, saying citizens are “angry about what appears to be a serious abuse of government power.”
The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee’s hearing is set for Sept. 27, Baker said.
“People were targeted for no reason, other than they were exercising their fundamental rights of free speech and assembly,” Baker said.
In his statement, Perelman said the institute identified “threats to critical infrastructure and to people.”
The institute “operates within the scope of the law in fulfilling the contractual obligations of its clients,” he said.
June 8, 2010
FARS News Agency
“The conditions we are experiencing today need planning for new orders in the world and (our) cooperation and co-thinking for organizing the conditions,” Ahmadinejad told reporters before departing for Istanbul, Turkey to take part in the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
Reminding that major world and Asian players will take part in the Istanbul conference, the Iranian president underlined that “Iran, too, will have active participation in drafting the final statement, taking stances as well as mutual consultations” with participants in the conference.
Ahmadinejad said that his visit will take place at the invitation of Turkish President Abdullah Gul, and pointed out that he is slated to meet other foreign officials during the visit.
June 8, 2010
Hurriyet Daily News
Translation and document-sharing tools are among the Google sites recently barred in Turkey, which has maintained a widely unpopular two-year ban on YouTube for perceived insults against the country’s founder.
Turkey’s Telecommunications Communication Presidency, or TİB, released an official statement Friday saying it had blocked access to some Google IP addresses “because of legal reasons.”
Internet users in the country have recently complained about difficulties in accessing docs.google.com, translate.google.com, books.google.com, google-analytics.com and tools.google.com.
According to the TİB statement, some Google applications may be completely inaccessible or, at the very least, take a long time to load, a move that may affect websites, portals and even the performance of individual computers.
June 2, 2010
By Tulay Karadeniz
Turkey demanded Israel lift its blockade of Gaza as a condition for normalising relations but added it was time that “calm replaced anger” after Israel’s deadly raid on a Turkish-backed aid flotilla.
“The future of ties with Israel will depend on the attitude of Israel,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara on his return from the United States.
“I see no reason for not normalising the ties, once the Gaza blockade is lifted and our citizens are released.”
Turkey cancelled joint military exercises and recalled its ambassador from Israel after the flotilla incident on Monday, which has infuriated the Muslim country.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s usually fractious parliament unanimously passed a non-binding declaration calling for a review of economic, political and military ties with Israel.
Davutoglu said three of nine activists killed when Israeli commandos stormed ships trying to take aid to Gaza had been identified as Turks. A fourth had a Turkish credit card, but his nationality had not yet been confirmed.
He was speaking as Israel’s navy prepared to block another aid ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, which expects to reach the point of Monday’s interception between Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Davutoglu spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday to discuss the diplomatic crisis, and had been in New York a day earlier for a U.N. Security Council meeting called by Turkey to pass a resolution condemning Israel’s actions.
Turkey was awaiting the repatriation on Wednesday of hundreds of activists from Israel, after sending civilian and military aircraft to bring them home.
“I told Mrs. Clinton on the phone that we would review all ties with Israel if our citizens were not released within 24 hours, which is tonight,” Davutoglu said, though he noted two of them were too badly wounded to travel.
Washington faces a delicate task handling a crisis between two heavyweight military powers whose friendship has helped U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.
Davutoglu called for the United Nations to investigate the incident, and was scathing about the prospects for an Israeli probe.
“We want a detailed investigation by the United Nations into Israel’s rogue state actions,” Davutoglu said. “What can be expected from an investigation run by a state in criminal status? It’s Israel’s actions that need to be investigated.”
Once a close ally of Israel, Turkey became a harsh critic after the Israeli offensive in Gaza in December 2008.
But the killings of Turks on a Turkish-flagged ship in international waters has brought the strained relationship between the Jewish state and Turkey’s Islamist-leaning government close to breaking point.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has become one of the most popular figures in the Islamic world by championing the Palestinian cause.
With an election due next year, his strong stand could help win support for his Islamist-leaning AK Party, and some analysts see Turkey’s increasing antipathy to Israel as fitting the ruling party’s domestic agenda.
Protests have been held outside Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul since Monday.
“It’s time that calm replaced anger in reaction to Israel, people should avoid impulsive behavior,” Davutoglu said.
“The security of families of Israeli diplomats, Israeli tourists and Jewish Turks is our nation’s honour. We will be making sure they are safe.”
April 28, 2010
by Dana Tyler
Is it or isn’t it? How do you know when organic packaged food really is organic?
A watchdog group filed several complaints Tuesday saying what you see is not necessarily what you get.
You buy organic, thinking it has to be healthier for you because you believe it’s grown or processed without chemicals that will hurt you and the environment.
“I believe what I see, but I also think you have to be an educated consumer and you have to take responsibility to look at what you eat. It goes both ways,” organic food shopper Stacey Lender said.
Organic food shoppers, read labels closely.
“It says USDA organic. Who’s checking that? Is everything kosher, so to speak?” shopper David Altman said.
The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, is checking things out and Tuesday filed a legal complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, saying three food companies — Oskri Organics, Organic Bistro and Newman’s Own Organics — are deceiving consumers by misrepresenting the words “organic” or “organics.”
“Organic Bistro, for instance, uses organic vegetables and grains, but does not use organic chicken, organic turkey,” Cornucopia’s Charlotte Vallaeys said.
On Tuesday night Organic Bistro said its labeling clearly informs consumers about what they’re purchasing.
So what’s in a name? The Cornucopia Institute says everything when it comes to calling something organic. The organization says process foods labeled as organic must contain 95-100 percent organically produced raw or process agriculture products.
Ed Burke stocks Newman’s Own Organics at Fairway Market and stands by the tough scrutiny organic food products undergo.
“The report is suspect in my mind,” Burke said. “I don’t buy it.”
“We certainly respect Newman’s Own for generous donations to charity, but when it comes to labeling of organics we believe that they can certainly do better,” Vallaeys said.
She said the Newman’s Own cookies use conventional sugar, canola oil, and cocoa. The company founded by the late actor and his daughter responded Tuesday saying “For seventeen years Newman’s Own Organics has been certified by Oregon Tilth, an independent third party certifier accredited by the USDA’s National Organic Program.”
On Tuesday night the USDA said it’s committed to the integrity of the organic seals and continues to place greater emphasis on compliance.