AAA released a statement today calling for federal regulators to stop the sale of fuel that contains more than 10 percent ethanol. EPA-approved E15 -- a mix of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol -- is supposed to only be used in vehicles made after 2000, but AAA says that it might still cause damage that warranties won't cover, and that 95 percent of people don't even know what E15 is.
Meanwhile, nearly 1,200 cyclists biked to the state capitol in a really, really sad kind of Critical Mass, with one cargo bike toting a large banner that read: "No More Deaths." The event was sponsored by the group Please Be Kind to Cyclists, which is about as passive as you can get when it comes to life-or-death street safety issues.
How sustainable are California oysters? Trick question: not sustainable enough, apparently.
A years-long battle over an oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco ended this week in the farm's definite closure. The 70-plus-year-old Drakes Bay Oyster Company will be forced to vacate the area before year's end, turning it over in full to a colony of seals, who are adorable but kind of indifferent to all the people losing their jobs before the holidays.
The seashore area was added to the national parks system in 1962. Ten years later, a 40-year lease was granted to the oyster farm, with the understanding that it would then be returned from “potential wilderness” to the actual kind. The farm had been seeking a 10-year extension of its lease, but the feds decided to stick to the original plan.
"This is going to be devastating to our families, our community and our county," [oyster farm owner Kevin] Lunny said. "This is wrong beyond words in our opinion." ...
The oyster farm has outspoken supporters, Sen. Dianne Feinstein among them.
"I am extremely disappointed that Secretary Salazar chose not to renew the operating permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.," Feinstein said. ...
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune lauded the decision.
"We're thrilled that after three decades this amazing piece of Point Reyes National Seashore will finally receive the protections it deserves," he said. "Once the oyster factory operations are removed, as originally promised ... this estuary will quickly regain its wilderness characteristics and become a safe haven for marine mammals, birds and other sea life."
Have you been sleeping on the couch to avoid your toxic mattress? Well, stop that. Because your couch is probably poisoning you right now. Unless you're at work, in which case right when you get home.
That's the takeaway from a new study in which scientists found flame-retardant chemicals linked to cancer in 85 percent of the couches they tested. New couches were actually worse, with 93 percent testing toxic. Almost a quarter of sofas tested positive for a chemical banned from kids' clothes in the 1970s, but still allowed in mattresses and car seats. Mother Jones reports:
Dogs' chewing action stresses the chemical bonds in the plastics that comprise their toys, allowing for the leaching of hormone-mimicking bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. From Environmental Health News:
“A lot of plastic products are used for dogs, so to understand the potential for some of the chemicals to leach out from toys is a new and important area of research,” said veterinarian Safdar Khan, senior director of toxicology research at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Poison Control Center in Illinois. Dr. Khan was not involved in the current study.
Philip Smith, a toxicologist at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech, became interested in chemical exposures from bumpers after using them to train his own Labrador retrievers.
“Some of the dogs are exposed to plastic bumpers from the time they are born until the day they die."
After fracking began at 32 sites within a couple miles of her ranch, Schilke's cattle started dropping dead and Schilke herself started suffering from poor health. Ambient air testing found high levels of a bunch of nasty chemical compounds associated with fracking, and with cancer and birth defects.
State health and agriculture officials acknowledged Schilke’s air and water tests but told her she had nothing to worry about. Her doctors, however, diagnosed her with neurotoxic damage and constricted airways. “I realized that this place is killing me and my cattle,” Schilke says. She began using inhalers and a nebulizer, switched to bottled water, and quit eating her own beef and the vegetables from her garden. (Schilke sells her cattle only to buyers who will finish raising them outside the shale area, where she presumes that any chemical contamination will clear after a few months.) “My health improved,” Schilke says, “but I thought, ‘Oh my God, what are we doing to this land?’”
Would you like to fry up pink slime all day, and still be on food stamps? Well, you're not alone. (Shocking, right?)
New York City food service workers at some of the nation's biggest, baddest chains walked off the job this morning for a super-rare one-day strike against low wages.
Workers are organizing around the Fast Food Forward campaign at dozens of McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Domino's, and Papa John's locations city-wide, in an industry that has traditionally been devoid of if not outright hostile to union power. As Josh Eidelson at Salon reports, one 79-year-old McDonald's worker has already been suspended this week for signing up coworkers to the campaign's petition. From Salon:
New York Communities for Change organizing director Jonathan Westin told Salon the current effort is “the biggest organizing campaign that’s happened in the fast food industry.” A team of 40 NYCC organizers have been meeting with workers for months, spearheading efforts to form a new union, the Fast Food Workers Committee. NYCC organizers and fast food workers have been signing up employees on petitions demanding both the chance to organize a union without retaliation and a hefty raise, from near-minimum wages to $15 an hour.
Striking workers detailed strict working conditions and verbal abuse while on the job. Their current wages -- $8.90/hour median in New York City, where the $7.25/hour federal minimum reigns supreme -- don't reflect the economic realities of the booming U.S. fast-food industry. Apparently recession America has a taste for Happy Meals.
As you prepare piles of food for family and friends this week, keep in mind how much you're actually going to eat. Each Thanksgiving, Americans waste more than a third of the turkey meat they purchase and prepare.
Over the past two weeks, a group of concerned New Yorkers has been expropriating thousands of dollars worth of tools and materials from luxury residential developments across Manhattan and delivering them to neighborhoods devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
The confiscated materials, some of them never even used, include: shovels, wheelbarrows, hand trucks, pry bars, tarps, buckets, hard bristle brooms, industrial rope, contractor trash bags, particulate masks, work lights, work gloves, flashlights, heat lamps, and gasoline.
Liberated from their role in building multimillion-dollar pieds-à-terre for wealthy CEOs and Hollywood celebrities, these tools are now in the collective hands of some of the hardest-hit communities in the city where they are now being allocated and shared among the people who need them most. These expropriations will continue as long as the demand for them exists.
If you're reading this on your phone from a line outside an electronics store, congratulations -- you're a real American! And you're probably way more excited about the 50th anniversary of big-box retail in this country than the rest of us are.
In 1962, when gas cost about 28 cents a gallon and the suburbs were growing faster than you can say "sports utility vehicle," Walmart, Target, and Kmart were all born.
One of the prerequisites for the big-box was the car. Everybody had to have a car because the big-box was sitting out in a parking lot somewhere. The big-box made shopping into a family experience. Mom and dad and the kids all piled into the car, they went out to this big store, and they could spend several hours there because there was, by the standards of the day, an enormous amount of merchandise.
Today's stores are about four times the size, but hey, so are our cars!