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New States Require TV and PC Recycling

Four additional states have implemented laws banning electronic waste like old computers and televisions from going to landfills.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina now require consumers to recycle old electronics.

Similar measures are already in effect in a number of states, and with the most recent states to jump onboard included, 24 states now prohibit trashing electronic waste.

Most of the government mandates apply to computers, televisions, personal digital assistants, video game consoles and stereo parts, AP said.

Walter Alcorn of the Consumer Electronics Association told AP that the electronics industry is supportive of recycling, but he did express concern over differing policies in 24 states.

Posted in Electronic Waste, Recycling & Waste0 Comments

Salmaan Taseer Assassinated by Own Guard in Islamabad

Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, was assassinated in Islamabad by one of his security force protectors Tuesday, officials said.

A report by the Associated Press of Pakistan said that the Punjab governor was shot while riding in his motorcade through a market district in the nation’s capital.

Police official Mohammad Iftikhar told AP that Taseer was shot by a member of his own guard, who later surrendered to the police. Five others were wounded in relation to the Islamabad attack.

Taseer, a senior member of the ruling party (the Pakistan Peoples Party), was against Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The attacker said he disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to the policy.

He was rushed to Polyclinic in a critical condition before he died, the News Tribe reported. He had been shot 27 times.

Meanwhile, more violence erupted in the southwestern city of Turbat when a school bus near a girl’s school was bombed, UPI reports. Five children were wounded, one of them critically. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

On Monday, five ostensibly politically motivated murders took place in Karachi, UPI said. A violent mob spilled into the streets and set fire to to buses, a rickshaw and a hotel after a local politician was gunned down.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Politics, Politics & Politicians0 Comments

Mexican Drug Wars Killed 12,000 in 2010

Mexican drug wars have killed at least 12,000 people this year, officials said Friday.

The Los Angeles times reported that as of Nov. 30, 12,456 people lost their lives to drug-related violence in Mexico, making 2010 the country’s deadliest year since President Felipe Calderon launched an effort to eradicate drug activity in 2006.

Mexican attorney Gen. Arturo Chavez said Thursday that over 30,000 people have been killed in the drug wars since Calderon’s crackdown against cartels four years ago.

Chavez and federal authorities said Thursday that La Familia, one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels, was critically weakened by the recent deaths or arrests of some of its key members.

“The systematic weakening of this criminal group due to the actions of the federal government has forced some of its members to adopt false rhetoric about helping the people of Michoacan, when in fact their operational methods are to terrorize and rob them,” Mexican officials said in the statement.

Officials maintained that they would not negotiate with drug cartels. “The only option that remains for these criminals to hand themselves over to the authorities,” the government said.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Politics0 Comments

McDonald’s Faces Class Action over Happy Meals

McDonald’s Faces Class Action over Happy Meals

McDonald’s Corp. is facing a class action lawsuit that claims the fast-food giant baits young children into buying nutritionally poor meals.

California mother of two Monet Parham says she filed the lawsuit in conjunction with The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Wednesday in San Francisco. She believes the chain restaurant violates several consumer policy laws by marketing Happy Meals directly to young children.

“What kids see as a fun toy, I now realize is a sophisticated, high-tech marketing scheme that’s designed to put McDonald’s between me and my daughters,” Parham said, according to The Associated Press. “For the sake of other parents and their children, I want McDonald’s to stop interfering with my family.”

The suit doesn’t seek damages, but aims to convince the court to stop McDonald’s from advertising meals that contain toys to California children.

McDonald’s says it is ready to fight the suit.

“We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food,” company spokesperson Bridget Coffing said in a statement. “We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet.”

San Francisco recently barred the burger chain from including toys in meals with more than 600 calories or more than 35 of their calories from fat.

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said.

Steve Gardner, litigation director for the CSPI, says that a typical Happy Meal containing a cheeseburger, fries and a Sprite has 640 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat and nine teaspoons of sugar.

Posted in Children’s Health & Parenting, Courts & Litigation, Food & Nutrition0 Comments

Ban on Stem Cell Research Upheld by Judge

Sept. 8, 2010 (EcoWorld) – Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research remains blocked after a judge refused the Obama administration’s request to lift a temporary injunction.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth, in an order issued on Tuesday, held that the injunction should remain in place until a final determination of the issues is conducted by the court. The Obama administration had argued that the injunction was stopping important research projects and scientific advances.

Lamberth disagreed with the Obama administration’s assessment, writing that the administration was “incorrect about much of their ‘parade of horribles’ that will supposedly result” from the injunction. Lamberth explained that lifting the injunction would “flout the will of Congress” which was expressed in the Dickey-Wicker Amendment (a 1996 law prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for research in which embryos are destroyed).

Although Lamberth added that Congress “remains perfectly free to amend or revise the statute,” but that he is not free to do so.

Opponents of stem cell research celebrated the decision as a victory for human embryos.

As a result of the judge’s order, the National Institutes of Health announced that no new grants for stem cell research would be considered. While existing research could continue, this funding would not be renewed once it comes up for routine review. Consequently, hundreds of researchers currently working on stem cell research will be forced to find alternative funding sources, or halt their research.

The ruling on Tuesday stems from a March 2009 decision by President Obama to permit the use of human embryonic stem cells in research supported by federal dollars. This was in opposition to former President George W. Bush, who had only permitted research on existing cell lines. The original case in Lamberth’s court was brought by a group of Christian organizations and two researchers who are opposed to the use of human stem cells in research.

Posted in Politics0 Comments

China 'e-waste' Recycling Said Hazardous

CORVALLIS, Ore., Aug. 26 (UPI) — Much of the world’s electronic waste ends up in China for recycling, an activity creating significant health and environmental hazards, researchers say.

Scientists from China and Oregon State University have identified toxic elements in the emissions from cottage-industry recycling workshops in southern China that use low-tech methods to separate reusable electronic components from circuit boards, a university release said Thursday.

Their study was conducted in Shantou City, population 150,000, in southern China’s Guangdong province.

They collected samples as workers were removing the electronic components by heating the circuit boards over grills on stoves burning coal briquettes.

In this “roasting process,” researchers found numerous organic chemicals, heavy metals, flame retardants and persistent organic pollutants being emitted into the air via the smoke.

“The most immediate problem is the health of the workers and the people who live in the city,” Bernd R.T. Simoneit, OSU professor and one of the authors of the study, said. “But this may also be contributing to global contamination. For example, previous studies have found carcinogens in wind-carried dust from Asia.

“The next step is to see to what extent this is harming the environment and creating a health hazard for both the workers, and people living in the path of the emissions,” Simoneit said. “Some of these chemical compounds may be carcinogens; others may be just as harmful because they can act as ‘environmental disruptors’ and may affect body processes from reproduction to endocrine function.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Carcinogens, Chemicals, Coal, Electronic Waste, Other, Recycling0 Comments

UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Argonne photon source lab to be upgraded

ARGONNE, Ill., May 3 (UPI) — Argonne National Laboratory officials estimate the U.S. Department of Energy will spend more than $300 million to upgrade the lab’s photon source facility.

“This is a major step in securing America’s scientific future by taking an already premier facility and preparing it to meet the next generation of scientific needs and discoveries,” said Argonne Director Eric Isaacs.

Officials said the upgrade will be more cost-effective than building a new facility and will make revolutionary improvements in performance needed to address the sustainable energy and health research needs of the future.

“The upgrade will also add new X-ray facilities, make existing X-ray facilities 10 to 100 times more powerful and almost double the number of experiments that can be carried out in a year,” Argonne officials said. “At present, the Argonne Photon Source serves the experimental needs of more than 3,500 researchers each year, more than any other scientific user facility in the Western Hemisphere.”

Scientists said the Advanced Photon Source uses high-energy X-ray beams to explore the atomic and molecular structures of materials and living organisms as small as a few nanometers, enabling breakthroughs such as improved battery technologies, an unprecedented understanding of how engine fuel injectors function, treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus and other diseases, the creation of nanomaterials, and advances in nanobiology, among other developments.

Two new genes linked to autism

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 3 (UPI) — U.S. researchers said they have identified two additional genes that may be linked with autism.

Study co-author Ning Lei of Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Studies says there is no known cause of autism, but mutations of several genes have been linked to autism.

Lei and colleagues analyzed data from the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange on 943 families who had more than one child diagnosed with autism and had undergone genetic testing.

Investigators compared the prevalence of 25 gene mutations that appeared in the study participants’ families with a control group of 6,317 individuals.

The study identified mutations in four genes within the study group families — two of the genes have been previously linked to autism.

One of the new genes identified was neural cell adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2) — linked to the hippocampus in the brain — a region of the brain that has been associated with autism.

“While mutations in the NCAM2 gene were found in a small percentage of the children that we studied, it is fascinating that this finding continues a consistent story — that many of the genes associated with autism are involved with formation or function of the neural synapse,” Lei said in a statement.

“Studies such as this provide evidence that autism is a genetically based disease that affects neural connectivity.”

The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver.

E-waste increasing in developing world

TUCSON, May 3 (UPI) — U.S. scientists said they’ve determined developing nations will produce at least twice as much electronic waste as developed countries by 2016.

A study by Assistant Professor Eric Williams and colleagues at Arizona State University also foresees that by 2030 developing countries will be discarding up to 700 million obsolete personal computers per year compared to 300 million by developed countries.

Williams said not only is there a continuing increase in ownership of PCs and other electronic devices worldwide, but at the same time technological advances are shrinking the lifetime of consumer electronics so people discard the products sooner than ever before.

“Our central assertion is that the new structure of global e-waste generation … combined with economic and social considerations, call for a serious reconsideration of e-waste policy,” the researchers said.

The findings are detailed in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Prostate cancer drugs under safety review

WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday it is reviewing the safety of several commonly used prostate cancer drugs.

The FDA said a preliminary review suggests an increase in the risk of diabetes and certain cardiovascular diseases in men treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists.

“GnRH agonists are drugs that suppress the production of testosterone, a hormone that is involved in the growth of prostate cancer,” the FDA said. “This type of treatment is called androgen deprivation therapy. Suppressing testosterone has been shown to shrink or slow the growth of prostate cancer.”

The drugs under review are Lupron, Trelstar, Eligard, Synarel, Vantas, Viadur and Zoladex.

Officials said the medications have been associated with a small increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and sudden death in men.

Based on those initial findings, the FDA said it believes healthcare professionals should be aware of the potential risks and carefully weigh the benefits and risks of GnRH agonists when determining a treatment for patients with prostate cancer.

However, the FDA said patients should not stop treatment unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electronic Waste, Other0 Comments

E-waste Increasing in Developing World

TUCSON, May 3 (UPI) — U.S. scientists said they’ve determined developing nations will produce at least twice as much electronic waste as developed countries by 2016.

A study by Assistant Professor Eric Williams and colleagues at Arizona State University also foresees that by 2030 developing countries will be discarding up to 700 million obsolete personal computers per year compared to 300 million by developed countries.

Williams said not only is there a continuing increase in ownership of PCs and other electronic devices worldwide, but at the same time technological advances are shrinking the lifetime of consumer electronics so people discard the products sooner than ever before.

“Our central assertion is that the new structure of global e-waste generation … combined with economic and social considerations, call for a serious reconsideration of e-waste policy,” the researchers said.

The findings are detailed in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electronic Waste, Other0 Comments

Deal Reached on Ground Zero Development

NEW YORK, March 25 (UPI) — Officials and developers Thursday announced tentative agreement on a plan to construct two skyscrapers at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York.

The Port Authority, government officials and developer Larry Silverstein said the deal involves as much as $1.6 billion in public financing and subsidies, The New York Times reported. The Port Authority would provide about $1 billion in financing for a 64-story tower to be constructed by Silverstein, to be completed in 2013, the newspaper said.

If Silverstein can raise $300 million in cash and arrange a sufficient number of corporate leases for a larger second tower, the city, state and Port Authority would then provide as much as $600 million in aid for that structure. If he cannot, plans call for Silverstein to construct a five-story building, also by 2013 — leaving open the option to add the tower to the structure.

The deal calls for Silverstein to share the profits from the first tower and forgo development fees on the second structure until public funds are repaid, the Times said.

Silverstein was leasing the trade center from the Port Authority at the time the twin towers were destroyed in the 2001 attack.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Homes & Buildings, Other0 Comments

Doctors Call for Ban on Second-hand Smoke

LONDON, March 24 (UPI) — Britain’s Royal College of Physicians says smoking should be outlawed in all vehicles and in parks and other public places frequented by children.

Such a ban is necessary to reduce children’s exposure to second-hand smoke, said a report from the college released Wednesday.

Second-hand smoke is a “major cause of death and disease in children (that can) be avoided entirely,” 20 leading doctors wrote The Times of London in support of a ban.

An estimated two million children are exposed to cigarette smoke at home, with children twice as likely to become smokers if a close family member smokes, the doctors said.

Illness from second-hand smoke costs British taxpayers about $34.5 million per year in treatment for respiratory infections, middle-ear disease and bacterial meningitis, said John Britton, the report’s lead author.

“This report isn’t just about protecting children from passive smoking, it’s about taking smoking completely out of children’s lives,” Britton said. “Adults need to think about who’s seeing them smoke.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Children’s Health & Parenting, Other, Smoking0 Comments

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