Category Archives: Food

Puerto Rico Receives 300m recovery Contract 

By: Ken Klippenstein of The Daily Beast

Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found.

Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents.

Much larger utilities are more commonly used following natural disasters on the scale of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last month.

The private-equity firm that finances Whitefish, HBC Investments, was founded by Joe Colonnetta, who serves as its general partner.

Federal Elections Commission data compiled by The Daily Beast shows Colonnetta contributed $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election, $2,700 to Trump’s primary election campaign (then the maximum amount permitted), $2,700 to Trump’s general election campaign (also the maximum), and a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016 alone.

Colonnetta’s wife, Kimberly, is no stranger to Republican politics either; shortly after Trump’s victory, she gave $33,400 to the Republican National Committee, the maximum contribution permitted for party committees in 2016.

Joe Colonnetta is not the only Republican connection to the controversial Whitefish contract. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Whitefish Chief Executive Officer Andy Techmanski is friends with Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Moreover, Whitefish is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Monatana.

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Could Global Warming be solved by Regreening the planet ?

By: Reuters

Planting forests and other activities that harness the power of nature could play a major role in limiting global warming under the 2015 Paris agreement, an international study showed on Monday.

Natural climate solutions, also including protection of carbon-storing peatlands and better management of soils and grasslands, could account for 37% of all actions needed by 2030 under the 195-nation Paris plan, it said.

Combined, the suggested “regreening of the planet” would be equivalent to halting all burning of oil worldwide, it said. 
“Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought,” the international team of scientists said of findings published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

The estimates for nature’s potential, led by planting forests, were up to 30% higher than those envisaged by a UN panel of climate scientists in a 2014 report, it said.

Trees soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. That makes forests, from the Amazon to Siberia, vast natural stores of greenhouse gases.

Overall, better management of nature could avert 11.3bn tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2030, the study said, equivalent to China’s current carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.

The Paris climate agreement, weakened by US president Donald Trump’s decision in June to pull out, seeks to limit a rise in global temperature to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial times.

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How Nestlé Makes its Billions

By: Caroline Winter of Bloomberg 

Inside, workers wear hairnets, hard hats, goggles, gloves, and earplugs. Ten production lines snake through the space, funneling local spring water into 8-ounce to 2.5-gallon containers; most of the lines run 24/7, each pumping out 500 to 1,200 bottles per minute. About 60 percent of the supply comes from Mecosta’s springs and arrives at the factory via a 12-mile pipeline. The rest is trucked in from neighboring Osceola County, about 40 miles north. “Daily, we’re looking at 3.5 million bottles potentially,” says Dave Sommer, the plant’s 41-year-old manager, shouting above the din.

Silos holding 125 tons of plastic resin pellets provide the raw material for the bottles. They’re molded into shape at temperatures reaching 400F before being filled, capped, inspected, labeled, and laser-printed with the location, day, and minute they were produced—a process that takes less than 25 seconds. Next, the bottles are bundled, shrink-wrapped onto pallets, and picked up by a fleet of 25 forklifts that ferry them to the plant’s warehouse or loading docks. As many as 175 trucks arrive every day to transport the water to retail locations in the Midwest. “We want more people to drink water, keep hydrated,” Sommer says. “It would be nice if it were my water, but we just want them to drink water.”

Nestlé SA started bottling in 1843 when company founder Henri Nestlé purchased a business on Switzerland’s Monneresse Canal. “Ever the curious scientist, [he] analyzed and experimented with the enrichment of water with a variety of minerals, always with a singular goal: to provide healthy, accessible, and delicious refreshment,” reads Nestlé’s website. Today there are thousands of bottled water companies worldwide—there’s even Trump Ice—but Nestlé is the biggest globally in terms of sales, followed by Coca-Cola, Danone, and PepsiCo, according to Euromonitor International. Nestlé Waters, the Paris-based subsidiary, owns almost 50 brands, including Perrier, S.Pellegrino, and Poland Spring.

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In this Turkish Town No One Goes Hungry

By: Zeyneb Varol of The Middle East Eye 

Under the glaring sun of a Saturday afternoon in August, a restaurant in a small eastern Turkish town welcomes its “most valuable customers”.

It is only one of the many establishments across the town where those in need are invited to eat free of charge. This well-preserved tradition has been carried down from generation to generation for decades.

Karakocan, a 70-minute drive north of the centre of Elazıg province, has attracted attention in recent years for its tradition of offering free food to those in need. For locals, the custom is a way of fulfilling their responsibility to assist the less fortunate.

Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner and manager of one of Karakocan’s busiest restaurants, Merkez, for nearly 35 years, says he always keeps at least three tables reserved for those in need, even during rush hour when his eatery is cramped. According to Ozturk, “the poor never fail to come”. 

On any given day, Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people, according to official statistics.

Galip is one of the familiar faces at the restaurant who has eaten there every day for the last 10 years. “He was here for breakfast and he will probably come for dinner as well,” a young waiter says.

Suffering from mental illness, Galip doesn’t share much.

“The Merkez is my favourite place in town, because the food is great,” he says.

The restaurants offer Galip and others their pick from a variety of choices listed on their menus including kebabs, chicken, soup, rice and salads.

Ozturk says: “The tradition has always been here, even 70 years ago. For us it was a natural thing to do, something we learned from our elders.”

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Boy Stops Suffering From Seizures After Prescribed Cannabis Oil 

By: Rachel Revesz The Independent 

An 11-year-old boy who was dying from severe epilepsy has not had any seizures for 300 days since being prescribed a medical marijuana product.

Billy Caldwell, whose intractable epilepsy means he cannot get help through medication or diet, began treatment with cannabis oil in the US, where medical marijuana is legal, in 2016. 

His prescription was transferred to his local GP, Brendan O’Hare, in Northern Ireland, and Billy became the first person to receive a prescription for medical marijuana in the UK.

The medicine, which contains a compound found in cannabis plants called CBD, does not contain any synthetics or chemicals. The company, Billy’s Bud, was named after Billy in July.

His mother, Charlotte Caldwell, said Billy used to suffer up to 100 seizures per day, has now not had a single seizure for 300 days. Ms Caldwell said the cannabis oil has also improved his autism, for example, better eye contact and engagement with books and toys.
“To me, that’s incredible, because one seizure can kill him,” she told ITV News after 90 days of no seizures.

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The Science Of Being Nice 

By:  Kun Zhao and Luke Smillie of The Conversation 

Originally a term for “foolish”, its meaning over the centuries has morphed from “wanton” to “reserved” to “fastidious”. These days, it has become a somewhat bland and opaque description of personality: “she’s really nice.”

But its common usage hints at the characteristics that matter deeply to us.

Personality psychology can help unsnarl some of these fuzzy concepts. Recent research suggests that our tendency to be “nice” can be separated into two related but distinct personality traits: politeness and compassion.

We see these differences play out in social decision making, where politeness is linked to being fair and compassion to helping others.

A tale of two traits

Decades of research have shown that personality traits describing how well we treat others are often observed together. These are summarised by the term agreeableness, one of five broad dimensions capturing the majority of human personality.

Some of our most valued qualities — kindness, integrity, empathy, modesty, patience, and trustworthiness — are nestled within this dimension. They are instilled in us at an early age and reflect important standards through which we judge others and ourselves.

But are there exceptions to this cluster of “nice” personality traits? What about your big-hearted but foul-mouthed friend, or a well-mannered but distant acquaintance?

It turns out that agreeableness can be meaningfully divided into two narrower traits. Politeness refers to our tendency to be respectful of others versus being aggressive. It’s about good manners and adhering to societal rules and norms — what we’d see in upstanding, decent folks, or “good citizens”, if you will. In contrast, compassion refers to our tendency to be emotionally concerned about others versus being cold-hearted — what we’d see in the proverbial “good Samaritan”.

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New Zealand Authority Pushes To Ban Alcohol In Supermarkets 

By: Eleanor Ainge Roy of The Guardian

The New Zealand Medical Association has called for a ban on selling alcohol in supermarkets, saying that having it next to groceries and food normalises a dangerous drug.

Wine and beer have been widely available in most supermarkets around the country since 1990, although spirits can be bought only in bars and off-licences.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said having alcohol in supermarkets normalised the drug, and made buying it cheap and easy – meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley alongside their bread, milk and toilet paper without a second thought.

According to the association well over half a million New Zealanders consume alcohol in a hazardous way, with many emergency rooms filled on Friday and Saturday nights with alcohol-related admissions.

The NZMA believes it is the government that is best placed to crack down on heavy consumption – a position supported by many health and social policy academics and Alcohol Healthwatch. 

Dr Kate Baddock, the chair of the association, said evidence suggested alcohol was worse than methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin, because it was a cheap, addictive, psychotropic drug.

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Musk’s Tweet Puts A Spin On Over Polulation 

By: David Gernon of CNBC

Elon Musk usually tweets about mundane topics, from LA traffic to Tesla projects. On Thursday he was more dire.

“The world’s population is accelerating towards collapse, but few seem to notice or care,” Tesla’s CEO tweeted to his nearly 10 million followers. He pointed to a November article in New Scientist magazine titled, “The world in 2076: The population bomb has imploded.”

The piece, written by Fred Pearce points to Japan as a case study for what could go wrong in the relatively near future.

Rather than a meltdown where the Earth’s population outstrips the planet’s ability to feed everyone, we could be headed toward a more subtle but equally disastrous outcome where our population simply does not replace itself fast enough.

“The world has hit peak child,” the late Hans Rosling, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said in the article.

Indeed, Japan’s fertility rate is 1.4 children per woman, well below what is required to sustain population growth.

While Japan is perhaps the most well-known example of a country’s population aging, the article in the London-based magazine also points to Germany and Italy, both of which “could see their populations halve within the next 60 years.”

The article spells out some of the problems an older population might bring, including less innovation, cultural shifts and worse and more recession-prone economies.

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Separate Experts Conclude Ocean Temperatures Continue Rising 

By: John Abraham of The Guardian

As humans put ever more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, the Earth heats up. These are the basics of global warming. But where does the heat go? How much extra heat is there? And how accurate are our measurements? These are questions that climate scientists ask. If we can answer these questions, it will better help us prepare for a future with a very different climate. It will also better help us predict what that future climate will be.
The most important measurement of global warming is in the oceans. In fact, “global warming” is really “ocean warming.” If you are going to measure the changing climate of the oceans, you need to have many sensors spread out across the globe that take measurements from the ocean surface to the very depths of the waters. Importantly, you need to have measurements that span decades so a long-term trend can be established. 
These difficulties are tackled by oceanographers, and a significant advancement was presented in a paper just published in the journal Climate Dynamics. That paper, which I was fortunate to be involved with, looked at three different ocean temperature measurements made by three different groups. We found that regardless of whose data was used or where the data was gathered, the oceans are warming.

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Stephen Hawkings: Space Colonization Will Unite and Elevate Humanity 

By: Pallab Gosh 

They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years’ time and send people to Mars by 2025.

Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.

He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway.

“Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity,” he said.

“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all.

“A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology”.

He addressed the concerns of those arguing that it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet along with a pointed criticism of US President Donald Trump.

“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen,” he said.

Prof Hawking explained that human space travel is essential for the future of humanity precisely because the Earth was under threat from climate change as well as diminishing natural resources.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth,” the Cambridge University theoretical physicist explained.

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