Thursday, October 21, 2010

Celery kills 4.

From CNN:
Authorities have shut down a Texas food processing plant, saying it was contaminated by bacteria linked to the deaths of four people, state health officials said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Wednesday ordered Sangar Produce and Processing to immediately stop processing food and recall all products shipped from its San Antonio plant since January. This comes after state laboratory results showed Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that can cause severe illness, in chopped celery at the plant.

Four people died after contracting listeriosis after consuming celery that had been processed at the Sangar plant, said Carrie Williams, a department spokeswoman. State health authorities came to this determination while investigating 10 cases in which people with serious underlying health problems contracted listeriosis over an 8-month period.

Six of those cases -- in Bexar, Travis and Hidalgo counties -- were linked to chopped celery processed at the SanGar plant, the state health services department said. Four of those people died, as did one other person who authorities believe got listeriosis from another source not connected with Sangar products.

20-year-old woman becomes police chief in ultra-violent Mexican city.

I don't believe in God, but God be with her all the same. From CNN:
Some headlines are hailing her as the bravest woman in Mexico. Marisol Valles Garcia, all of 20 years old, says she's just tired of everyone being afraid.

Valles Garcia, a criminology student, became the police chief this week of Praxedis G. Guerrero, one of the most violent municipalities in the border state of Chihuahua. She was the only person who accepted the top job in a police force whose officers have been abducted and even killed.

"Yes, there is fear," Valles Garcia said Wednesday in an interview with CNN en Español. "It's like all human beings. There will always be fear, but what we want to achieve in our municipality is tranquility and security."

There's good reason for the fear. Just this past weekend, a 59-year-old local mayor, Rito Grado Serrano, and his 37-year-old son, Rogoberto Grado Villa, were killed in a house in which they they were hiding in nearby Ciudad Juarez. Another area mayor was killed in June.

Juarez is the bloodiest city in Mexico, with a reported 2,500 people killed in drug violence this year. Praxedis G. Guerrero is located about 35 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez. Both are in the state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas.

Nationwide, the federal government says, more than 28,000 people have lost their lives since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels after taking office in December 2006.

Valles Garcia sees a non-violent role for her 13-member force, which will be mostly female and unarmed.

"The weapons we have are principles and values, which are the best weapons for prevention," she told CNN en Español. "Our work will be pure prevention. We are not going to be doing anything else other than prevention."

Valles Garcia said she aims to establish programs in neighborhoods and schools, to win back security in public spaces and to foster greater cooperation among neighbors so they can form watch committees.

She has recruited three other women to join the force in the small municipality of 8,500 people, the government-run Notimex news agency said this week.

Valles Garcia said Wednesday she gladly accepted when Mayor Jose Luis Guerrero offered her the job. The first couple of days have gone smoothly, she said.

Extreme drought ahead for US.

From LiveScience:
Extreme drought is likely in store in the coming decades for parts of the United States and the broader Western Hemisphere, scientists said today (Oct. 19), cautioning that we should expect dry conditions unlike anything seen in modern times.

The likely culprit: warming temperatures linked to climate change.

"We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognized by both the public and the climate change research community," said National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist and study team member Aiguo Dai. "If the projections in this study come even close to being realized, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous."

Droughts can be associated with significantly reduced precipitation, dry soils that fail to sustain crops, and reduced levels in reservoirs and other bodies of water that can imperil drinking supplies.

However, Dai cautioned that the findings are based on the best current projections of greenhouse gas emissions. What actually happens in coming decades will depend on many factors, including actual future emissions of greenhouse gases as well as natural climate cycles such as El Niño.


Awesome: Panda Pambassador is best job in the world.

Science: How the leopard got its spots.

D'oh: Campaign ad even gets opponent wrong.

Creepy: UK to record and store every email, phone call, and website visit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Man awarded Bronze Star 66 years after daring rescue.

From the NY Daily News:
A New Yorker who orchestrated the largest air rescue of American soldiers behind enemy lines in history was honored 66 years after the heroic operation.

George Vujnovich, 95, a retired salesman from Queens, was bestowed the Bronze Star on Sunday for bringing home 512 downed airmen in 1944 from what was then Yugoslavia.

"I feel deeply satisfied," said Vujnovich, who was studying in Belgrade when the war broke out and was later tapped by the OSS, a predecessor of the CIA. "Not for myself, but for men who gave their lives to save these airmen."

Born in the U.S. to Serbian parents, he knew his way around the Nazi-occupied Balkans and was called on to help the U.S. rescue the airmen downed while bombing Hitler's oil fields in Romania.

A secret air strip was built inside a corn field to allow cargo planes to land and rescue the Americans, who were hidden by the local resistance.

"It was a genius plan," said Tony Orsini, 87, a B-24 navigator who was one of the rescued men. "It all took place without any casualties."

Orsini, of Iselin, N.J., who hid under a bed to avoid the Nazis, recalled "the gracious attitude of the Serbian people." And he joked about "all the rakija I drank," referring to the alcoholic beverage of choice in the area.

Yesterday he was at Vujnovich's side during the ceremony at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Manhattan.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Oluic, who prepared the medal submission, called what was dubbed the Halyard Mission "an incredible feat that will echo in the annals of American military."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Anthony Bourdain to pen graphic novel.

From the Food Section:
It's been reported that author and "No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain is working on a graphic novel about food, but now Eater notes that Vertigo, the publisher of the upcoming book, has just publicly confirmed that a book is in the works.

Bourdain will write the graphic novel in collaboration with novelist Joel Rose, along with illustrations by artist Langdon Foss. Vertigo provides these additional details:

"GET JIRO! is a futuristic action thriller that takes America’s newfound obsession with exotic cuisine to a manic, violent extreme. It takes place in a world where food and the secrets of how to prepare it are the source of all power leading master chefs to fight over Jiro, a mysterious top-notch sushi chef with ideas of his own."

By the way, contrary to those earlier reports, the title is not Get Gyro! so if you were expecting lamb, tahini, and pita to figure into the plot, you might be sorely disappointed.

Cali mayor charged with purse snatching.

From CBS News:
SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (CBS/AP) A prominent resident of San Gabriel, Calif. in suburban Los Angeles was early arrested Friday after he allegedly snatched a woman's purse and took her for a wild ride, clinging to his sport utility vehicle.

That prominent resident is the mayor.

San Gabriel police say Mayor Albert Y.M. Huang was booked in jail for investigation of felony assault, felony robbery and misdemeanor battery.

Police say the 35-year-old Huang was in a parking lot arguing with the woman about money, when he grabbed her purse and got into his SUV. Investigators say the woman was standing on the running board and reaching through the passenger window when Mayor Huang sped away, reaching speeds of 45 mph for more than a quarter-mile.

The woman's name and her relationship to the mayor weren't released.

Zombie Watch: Decomposing corpse wakes up.

An elderly woman police found "dead" on the bathroom floor of her Maryland home woke up several hours later as an employee from the State Anatomy Board went to collect her remains.

The woman, 89-year-old Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson, lay on the floor for three hours while officers notified her family, doctor and the medical examiner of her death, The Capital in Annapolis reported.

According to the police report, they noticed an odor "similar to a decomposition smell" in the house on October 1 after being called by a neighbour who had not seen the woman for a few days.

When they found Ms Johnson she was reportedly blue and not breathing. The officers did not check for a pulse because they believed she had been dead for a number of days.

Police learned from her son that Ms Johnson had made arrangements with the State Anatomy Board to donate her body for science - and it was when the board's employee came to collect her that she woke up.

Ms Johnson was taken to the Baltimore Washington Medical Center for medical treatment and was discharged on Wednesday.

Kung fu sisters challenge suitors to fighting tournament.

From Orange:
A pair of kung fu sisters have given traditional dating the chop - to hold a challenge tournament where only the survivors will get the chance to date them.

Marital arts experts Xiao Lin, 22, and little sister Yin, 21, are to stage a three day fighting festival in Foushan, south east China, where only the toughest suitors stand a chance of getting through.

First contestants must show off their archery skills, then they must carry a heavy weight over sharpened bamboo spears, and finally they have to defeat one of the sisters in full contact combat.

Only then will contestants earn the right to remove the girls' masks and propose to them.

"They can chose open hand or any weapon they wish but we won't be holding back. If they can't beat us they aren't worthy," explained Lin.

"We tried dating agencies but the men we met were all too weak. We could beat them easily," said Yin.

"So we went back to ancient ways called Bi Wu Zhao Qin - which was the way warrior princesses would find their men."

But so far, only a trickle of brave contestants has come forward.

"I'm a very good martial artist - but I think I'd want to see them with the masks off before I decided whether I wanted to fight for them," said one doubtful suitor.

Whooping cough still epidemic in California.

Parents, get your kids vaccinated for christ's sake. From ABC News:
The pertussis epidemic continues in California, which has seen 5,658 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases as of this week.

That is the most cases seen in the state since 1950, when there were 6,613, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The rate of illness -- 14.5 per 100,000 population -- is the highest since 1959 (16.1 per 100,000).

Of the cases with hospitalization information, 10 percent required admission. Three-quarters of hospitalizations occurred in infants younger than 6 months, and of those, three-quarters were Hispanic.

Nine babies have died, including eight younger than 2 months -- the age at which pertussis vaccination starts -- and one 2-month-old who had been born prematurely and who had received just one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine (Tdap). Eight of the infants were Hispanic, which fits a trend of a disproportionate number of deaths among that ethnic group reaching back to 1998.

The first indication of an increase in pertussis cases in California was detected in April, and an epidemic was declared by CDPH director Dr. Mark Horton in June.

Since then, CDPH has been actively encouraging the public to get vaccinated. The agency expanded its recommendations for a booster dose -- typically administered around age 11 -- to comprise everyone 7 years and older who is not fully immunized, including adults of all ages. It specifically noted the importance of vaccination in women of reproductive age before, during, or immediately after pregnancy and in other people who have close contact with pregnant women or infants.

Mountain goat kills hiker.

It has begun. From ABC News:
A 63-year-old man has died in a Port Angeles hospital after an attack from what state rangers believe was an angry mountain goat in Olympic National Park.

Park services officials said that Robert H. Boardman, of Port Angeles, Washington, was gored on Saturday while hiking close to the park's Klahhane Ridge. He was transported by U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to the hospital, where he later died.

"I am deeply saddened by this tragedy," said Karen Gustin, Olympic National Park superintendent. "My thoughts are with his family and friends."

It is unclear what sort of injuries Boardman suffered from the attack, but early investigations indicate that it was his encounter with a mountain goat that led to his injuries. Rangers have now tracked down and killed the animal, which will be analyzed by a veterinary pathologist, according to ABC News affiliate KOMO.

Officials said this is the only known fatal attack by a mountain goat in the park's history, and that there are roughly 3000 mountain goats in the park.

Family and friends told KOMO that Boardman was an experienced hiker, a diabetes nurse and a musician who loved the Olympic Mountains.