Friday, February 6

CAN YOU SAY "1918"?

Two more people have died in Vietnam of bird flu, taking Asia's death toll to 18, as new tests show that the virus may have spread to pigs," reports the Telegraph. "The finding is alarming because pigs can become a 'mixing vessel' for the flu virus. The immune system of pigs is similar to that of humans and the animals suffer from a wide variety of diseases that also infect people." Hmmmmm... bird flu infecting pigs, who pass it on to humans... why does that sound so familiar?

Thursday, February 5


This one may not last long, but check out Yahoo's Mad Cow page for these two consecutive headlines:

  • Bush Admin Sees Little Risk of More Mad Cow Cases - Reuters via Yahoo! News (Feb 5, 2004)
  • More U.S. Cattle Likely To Have Mad Cow Disease - at Washington Post (Feb 5, 2004)

    Whole story in a nutshell...

  • Wednesday, February 4


    A panel of international experts appointed by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said this morning that there's a "high probability'' of more cases of mad cow disease in American cattle. Urlich Kihm, the panel's chairman, told USDA officials that in the future, the United States "could have a case a month'' of mad cow disease. This would not be anywhere near the level of outbreak in Britain, but now everybody who eats a burger in America should rightly wonder, "Is this month... my month?"


    A new study found that adding grapefruit to meals resulted in weight loss: Those who added a half grapefruit to each meal or drank a cup of grapefruit juice before each meal shed about seven times as much weight as those who didn't. Great news!... oh, unless you're on the Atkins diet, where even if you ate nothing but the grapefruit, you'd far exceed the 20 allowable grams of carbs for one day in the weight-loss stage. Awww.

    Tuesday, February 3


    Dave Louthan's story, that the Mad Cow was not a 'downer' until he shot it, has been picked up by the New York Times, which provides this interesting additional tidbit: "The 'smoking gun,' he said, is that it is the only one on the page marked 'unable to get temp' while other cows' temperatures were recorded. It is easy, he said, to get a rectal temperature from a downed cow but hard from a jumpy one." The USDA's story is that "the animal was lying so close to the trailer wall that a thermometer could not be used," so they're not gonna be able to finesse this one. Somebody's outright lying - let's see if the press corps cares enough to find out.
    UPDATE 2/4: Louthan isn't going away - the story of his Washington state testimony is now in most papers. No new bombshells, but I loved this detail: "[USDA spokesman Steven] Cohen was unsure whether Louthan indeed killed the cow in question. No one answered the telephone at Vern's Moses Lake Meat Co. on Tuesday and Louthan's claims could not be confirmed." Gee, fellas, maybe if you'd been reading Meat Facts, you'd know that Louthan's story has already been confirmed by the plant manager and the USDA itself.
    PLUS: In this version, Louthan provides "a glimpse of the gory details that he said otherwise are being missed, [such as] cows being dragged and dumped by tractors, suffering numerous abrasions and at times having their limbs torn off before they are killed. 'If you did that to a horse or a dog, they would throw you in jail,' said Louthan." Hey, good point.


    Yes, I'm using the phrase ironically, because this really is a modest propsal - modest in this case being a synonym for "mealy-mouthed" or "lily-livered." Newsday lays out the facts, still unkown to most Americans, that poisons accumulate heavily in animal fat (in addition to the presence of high-profile diseases), then wonders what can be done. The strongest advice is to "Have an occasional meal from lower on the food chain." Then, as an alternative to "farmed salmon, which is rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids," no plant foods that are rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids are mentioned. Hmmm. Guess they don't exist. So the long and the short of it: Don't eat so much unnecessary poison, but be sure to still eat a lot.

    Monday, February 2


    "Human-to-human transmission of avian influenza is 'one possible explanation' for how a family attending a wedding in Vietnam last month was struck by the viral respiratory disease. If additional studies confirm the latest explanation, it would be the first known case of human-to-human transmission of the virus during the current outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, that has affected 10 Asian countries," according to The Straits Times.