Truckloads of Four Loko and other alcohol-laced energy drinks are being recycled into ethanol and other products after federal authorities told manufacturers the beverages were dangerous and caused users to become "wide-awake drunk."
Wholesalers from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and other East Coast states started sending cases of the high-alcohol, caffeinated malt beverages to MXI Environmental Services in Virginia after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a crackdown on the sale of such beverages in November.
Brian Potter, vice president of operations at MXI's facility in Abingdon, Va., said about a couple of hundred truckloads of the drinks would be coming to the plant. Each truck holds 2,000 cases of the 23.5-ounce cans.
MXI Enterprises is one of three facilities in the U.S. that recycle ethanol, according to the American Coalition for Ethanol, an industry group. Potter said Thursday that his competitors also are taking shipments of the drinks.
"We're equipped to process four truckloads a day, and we're at full capacity," he said. "There are about 30 different products involved, and we've only seen a couple of them at this point. It could go on for several months."
The FDA issued warning letters to four companies on Nov. 17 saying the beverages' combination of caffeine and alcohol can lead to a "wide-awake drunk." The agency called the caffeine an "unsafe food additive." Warning letters were sent to Phusion Projects, Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co. and United Brands Company Inc.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said at the time that consuming the drinks has led to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and assaults.
Health experts have raised concerns that the caffeine can mask a person's perception of intoxication, leading them to drink more than they typically would before passing out. Many of those who consume the drinks are college-age and underage drinkers.
The four companies decided to pull their beverages from stores or reformulate them to remove caffeine or other stimulants after the FDA's ruling. Under pressure from states' attorneys general, Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors removed their Bud Extra, Tilt and Sparks drinks from the market two years ago.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Isn't this how every horror movie from the '50s started? From BBC:
With only about 50m left to drill, time is running out for the Russian scientists hoping to drill into Vostok - the world's most enigmatic lake.
Vostok is a sub-glacial lake in Antarctica, hidden some 4,000m (13,000ft) beneath the ice sheet.
With the Antarctic summer almost over, temperatures will soon begin to plummet; they can go as low as -80C.
Scientists will leave the remote base on 6 February, when conditions are still mild enough for a plane to land.
The team has been drilling non-stop for weeks.
"It's like working on an alien planet where no one has been before," Valery Lukin, the deputy head of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St Petersburg, which oversees the project, told BBC News.
"We don't know what awaits us down there," he said, adding that personnel at the station have been working shifts, drilling 24 hours a day.
But some experts remain concerned that probing the lake's water - thought by some to be isolated from everything else on Earth - could contaminate the pristine ecosystem and cause irreversible damage.
The sub-glacial lake is located underneath the remote Vostok station in Antarctica.
Overlaid by nearly 4km of ice, it has been isolated from the rest of the world for millions of years. Some scientists think the ice cap above and at the edges has created a hydrostatic seal with the surface, preventing lake water from escaping or anything else from getting inside.
And if the Russian team gets through to the pristine waters, they hope to encounter life forms that have never been seen.
Let's cut straight to the facts: A medium-sized bag of popcorn with butter could get you up to 97 grams of fat, depending on how liberally the topping is applied.
That's more than what most men should consume in a day, and is between 130 and 200 per cent of the average woman's daily allotment.
Cineplex Odeon disputes the 97-gram tally. Nutrition sites estimate a medium bag of popcorn without butter rings in at 60 grams of fat. Adding butter (especially without tracking the amount) sends the snack into the stratosphere.
For some people, 97 grams is almost two days worth of fat — in a snack.
“I almost fell off my chair,” says registered dietitian Shannon Crocker, who provided comparisons to underscore just how much fat movie goers could consume while munching handfuls of popcorn.
“That amount of fat is the same as what's found in 12 hamburgers from McDonalds. Or in 10 slices of sausage mushroom melt pizza from Pizza Pizza. Or in five large hot fudge sundaes from Dairy Queen.”
Cineplex Entertainment, which runs the Queensway Cinemas from which we purchased this bag of popcorn, is the largest movie theatre chain in the country with 132 theatres and 1,366 screens that entertain more than 70 million people a year. In 2010, Cineplex sold 7 million pounds (kernel weight) of popcorn.
From The Food Section:
To generate some buzz for its makeover under new Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport, Bon Appétit is launching "Bite Me," an "irreverent and unexpected ad campaign" starting January 31.
According to a PR email from the magazine, the campaign will run for four to six weeks in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The campaign will also include an interactive website with URLs customized to each of the markets (BiteMeNY.com, BiteMeSanFran.com, BiteMeLOSANGELES.com, BiteMeCHI.com).
"With this campaign, we are having fun with a play on words, inviting the advertiser and consumer to take a bite out of Bon Appétit,” says William Wackermann, Executive Vice President, Publishing Director of Glamour, W, Details, Bon Appétit and the Gourmet brand. “If they haven’t tasted it lately, they will be in for a wonderful surprise, thus conveying a new energy and enthusiasm at Bon Appétit under the new Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport."
Thursday, January 27, 2011
It's still legal to use weaponized nerve agents? From the NY Daily News:
The Army gave the all-clear Thursday after loosing track overnight of a vial of lethal VX nerve agent at a Utah base.
An emergency lockdown went into effect around 6 p.m. Wednesday at the sprawling Dugway Proving Grounds when the vial turned up missing during a routine inventory check.
More than 1,000 employees were held at the base southwest of Salt Lake City as military officials launched a frantic search.
The missing vial was found on the base around 3 a.m.
A military spokesman said "all personnel are uninjured and safe. The public is safe as well."
The vial contained less than 1 milliliter, or roughly a quarter-teaspoon, of the VX, considered the deadliest agent in the military's arsenal.
Earlier in the day, military officials mysteriously said the shutdown went into effect amid a "serious concern."
Armed sentries blocked the entrances while Army officials refused to say what prompted the lockdown.
"No one is in immediate danger but these steps are required," Col. William King IV, the base commander, said at the time.
Dugway is used by the Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard for training, and the base also serves as a bombing range.
The Army Test and Evaluation Command center also conducts training and tests of defenses against biological and chemical weapons attacks.
Just don't touch my Samoas. From the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
As the Girl Scout cookies selling season gets under way, chapters in several states are phasing out some varieties in a bid to cut costs and boost revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A dozen Girl Scouts councils will eliminate new flavors of cookies that have failed to gain traction with consumers, such as Dulce de Leche and Thank U Berry Munch, as part of a “Super Six” test to focus sales on the most iconic brands, including Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, and Samoas.
Cookie sales bring in $714-million a year for the Girl Scouts and account for up to two-thirds of many local councils’ annual budgets. In recent years the organization has taken other steps to increase profits, such as reducing package sizes and raising prices of some cookies.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
We're all DOOOOOMED! From Yahoo! News:
Malaysia released about 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever, officials said Wednesday.
The field test is meant to pave the way for the use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce no offspring or ones with shorter lives, thus curtailing the mosquito population. Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever, which killed 134 people in Malaysia last year.
A similar trial in the Cayman Islands last year — the first time genetically modified mosquitoes have been set loose in the wild after years of laboratory experiments and hypothetical calculations — resulted in a dramatic drop in the mosquito population in a small area studied by researchers.
The plan has sparked criticism by some Malaysian environmentalists, who fear it might have unforeseen consequences, such as the inadvertent creation of uncontrollable mutated mosquitoes. Critics also say such plans could leave a vacuum in the ecosystem that is then filled by another insect species, potentially introducing new diseases.
Government authorities have tried to allay the concerns by saying they are conducting small-scale research and will not rush into any widespread release of mosquitoes.
The Malaysian government-run Institute for Medical Research said it released about 6,000 sterile male lab mosquitoes in an uninhabited forest area in eastern Malaysia on Dec. 21. Another 6,000 wild male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were also placed in the area for scientific comparison, it said in a statement.
For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reasons are complicated and the accounting uncertain — for instance, should returning soldiers who take their own lives after being mustered out be included?
But the suicide rate is a further indication of the stress that military personnel live under after nearly a decade of war.
Figures released by the armed services last week showed an alarming increase in suicides in 2010, but those figures leave out some categories.
Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.
Last week’s figures, though, understate the problem of military suicides because the services do not report the statistics uniformly. Several do so only reluctantly.
Figures reported by each of the services last week, for instance, include suicides by members of the Guard and Reserve who were on active duty at the time. The Army and the Navy also add up statistics for certain reservists who kill themselves when they are not on active duty.
But the Air Force and Marine Corps do not include any non-mobilized reservists in their posted numbers. What’s more, none of the services count suicides that occur among a class of reservists known as the Individual Ready Reserve, the more than 123,000 people who are not assigned to particular units.
Suicides by veterans who have left the service entirely after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan also are not counted by the Defense Department. The Department of Veterans Affairs keeps track of such suicides only if the person was enrolled in the VA health care system — which three-quarters of veterans are not.
But even if such veterans and members of the Individual Ready Reserve are excluded from the suicide statistics, just taking into account the deaths of reservists who were not included in last week’s figures pushes the number of suicides last year to at least 468.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
From The Toronto Star:
The arrival of 48 monkeys on a flight from China this weekend has brought Air Canada under fire for shipping primates destined for research laboratories, but the airline says it is obliged by federal law to accept monkeys as cargo.
A Pearson International Airport employee tipped off the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection that a shipment of monkeys destined for Montreal was being held at the Toronto airport after arriving from China on Saturday.
Sarah Kite, director of communications and special projects for the BUAV, said monkeys destined for research facilities are usually transported in cramped wooden crates in the plane’s cargo hold, where they can be subject to fluctuations in temperature, stopovers and in some cases long delays.
“I think most people would be alarmed to know that monkeys could be travelling alongside their luggage in a cargo hold,” Kite said. She said these monkeys, typically macaques, are often factory farmed for research purposes in countries such as Laos and Mauritius.
Air Canada is one of a small number of airlines that continues to transport these primates, Kite said. Under pressure from animal rights groups and the public, many airlines have banned the practice. British Airways, for example, has a policy of “not carrying live animals that are for use in any laboratory, or for experimentation or exploitation,” according to media liaison manager Sophie Greenyer.
But Air Canada has its hands tied because of an old squabble with a customer. In 1994, the airline refused to carry a shipment of monkeys from Barbados because they were destined for a lab.
The Primate Research Center and Wildlife Reserve of Barbados filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency, which ruled in 1998 that Air Canada could not refuse to carry the monkeys because they were not a nuisance to passengers in flight. According to the ruling, the “opinion” that the monkey shipment was offensive on “humane or moral grounds” wasn’t good enough.
“We cannot by law refuse the carriage of animals for the sole reason that they could ultimately be destined to a laboratory or for research,” said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in an email.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Holy guacamole! Item!
New York City police say a man was killed after falling into a commercial-size machine used for mixing tortillas.
Police say they received a 911 call at 2:30 a.m. Monday of an unconscious man at the commercial site in Brooklyn. When they arrived they discovered that the 22-year-old victim had fallen inside the waist-high machine. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say no criminality is suspected.