XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Navy Bombs Guam With Dead Frozen Mice - scientists drop mice packed with acetaminophen to kill invasive brown tree snakes

Navy Bombs Guam With Dead Frozen Mice - scientists drop mice packed with acetaminophen to kill invasive brown tree snakes - 






In a ploy to rid Guam of its population of invasive brown tree snakes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is bombing the island with drugged frozen mice, military news outlet Stars and Stripes reported.
Using Naval Base Guam as a starting point, scientists drop mice packed with acetaminophen from helicopters into the jungle canopy.
The drug -- commonly found in Tylenol -- provided a regulatory advantage because it had already undergone extensive testing, Dan Vice, assistant state director of USDA Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Islands, told Stars and Stripes.
Guam’s snake problem began in the 1980s, when the creatures arrived on the island accidentally in military cargo. The mildly venomous snakes can grow up to 10 feet long and, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for the State of Hawaii, are the leading cause of endangerment for some of Guam’s native animals.
“The discovery that snakes will die when they eat acetaminophen was a huge step forward,” Anne Brooke, conservation resources program manager for Naval Facilities Command Marianas told Stars and Stripes. “The problem was how you get the snakes to eat it.”





The solution was to drop the mice into the snakes’ natural habitat, the branches of trees in the jungles of Guam. By outfitting the mice with cardboard wings and green party streams, the bait could float down to the jungle and catch on the branches. The result is a hanging, deadly snack for the snakes.
Researchers began testing the system at the beginning of September, dropping 200 mice into 20 acres around the base, Stars and Stripes reported.
The effectiveness of the drop will offer insights into how well it might work elsewhere on the island -- and whether it might be a key to solving a longtime ecological problem, Vice said.

One in 28 US kids has a parent in prison - Prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980, from 500,000 to 2.3M -

One in 28 US kids has a parent in prison -  Prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980, from 500,000 to 2.3M - 






The US's exceptionally high rate of incarceration is causing economic damage not only to the people behind bars but to their children and taxpayers as a whole, a new study finds.
The study (PDF) from the Pew Research Center's Economic Mobility Project, released Tuesday, reports that the US prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980, from 500,000 to 2.3 million, making the US's incarceration rate the highest in the world, beating former champions like Russia and South Africa.
This means more than one in 100 Americans is in prison, and the cost of prisons to states now exceeds $50 billion per year, or one in every 15 state dollars spent -- a figure the study describes as "staggering."
According to the authors, one in every 28 children in the US has a parent behind bars -- up from one in 125 just 25 years ago. This is significant, the study argues, because children of incarcerated parents are much likelier to struggle in life.
A family with an incarcerated parent on average earns 22 percent less the year after the incarceration than it did the year before, the study finds. And children with parents in prison are significantly likelier to be expelled from school than others; 23 percent of students with jailed parents are expelled, compared to 4 percent for the general population.

Sun Chips is pulling most of its biodegradable packaging - following an outcry of complaints the new bags were too noisy -

Sun Chips is pulling most of its biodegradable packaging - following an outcry of complaints the new bags were too noisy - 






Frito-Lay, the snack giant owned by PepsiCo Inc., says it is pulling most of the biodegradable packaging it uses for its Sun Chips snacks, following an outcry from consumers who complained the new bags were too noisy.
Touted by Frito-Lay as 100% compostable, the packaging, made from biodegradable plant material, began hitting store shelves in January. Sales of the multigrain snack have since tumbled.


Frito-Lay is returning to its old, nondegradable packaging, for five of the six Sun Chips flavors. It will continue to use the noisy packaging for its Sun Chips Original brand. It has been working on trying to find a quieter version of the packaging since it first introduced the new bags. A process that is continuing.
"We chose to respond to the consumer feedback but still want to show that we are committed" to compostable packaging, says Chris Kuechenmeister, a spokesman for Frito-Lay.
Consumers have posted videos on the Web poking fun at the new bags and lodged fierce complaints on social-networking sites. Since January, year-on-year sales of Sun Chips have decreased each month, according to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago market-research firm that tracks sales at retailers. SymphonyIRI data exclude Wal-Mart Stores Inc. PepsiCo doesn't break out sales figures for Sun Chips.
The uproar about the new packaging was the subject of a Page One story in The Wall Street Journal in August.
This isn't the first time PepsiCo has had an issue with its packaging. Last year, the company dumped new packaging for its Tropicana orange juice after consumers complained they didn't like the new look.
Frito-Lay declined to disclose how much it spent to create the biodegradable packaging but it has been working on finding and testing degradable material for several years.

$69M in Calif. welfare money spent out of state - destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaiian beaches and Florida cruise ships -

$69M in Calif. welfare money spent out of state - destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaiian beaches and Florida cruise ships -




Thousands of documents show tens of millions of welfare dollars have been spent out of state, some at vacation resorts. The discovery is leading to new legislation to prevent welfare abuse.

One lawmaker is calling for an end to taxpayer-funded vacations, as he calls it, for welfare recipients, but welfare supporters say that is just a political ploy. California already has one of the lowest fraud rates in the country.
Welfare offices in California have been jam-packed during this recession with applicants needing cash assistance for basic needs like food and shelter. 


However, under new legislation about to be introduced by Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, welfare recipients may have to start spending their benefits only within the state.
A Los Angeles Times analysis found $69 million was spent outside state lines during a three and a half year period beginning in January 2007 at tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaiian beaches and cruise ships in Florida. Critics call that "taxpayer-funded vacations" at a time when taxpayers can't afford one themselves.
"These are for folks that are hurting, that are out of job, and you see that money is spent on a cruise, then obviously, it's fraudulent," says Gaines.
Benefits are deposited electronically onto welfare cards that are used like a debit card in stores or to withdraw cash at certain ATMs.
The Times analysis found nearly $12 million was spent in Las Vegas, $1.5 million in Florida, $387,908 in Hawaii, and $16,010 withdrawn from ATMs on cruise ships.
But welfare supporters point out $69 million is less than 1 percent of the $11 billion the state gave out during that period.
"When people go on assistance, they're going to have the same kind of life situations come up as anyone else. You're going to visit your sick relative. You're going to go to funerals out-of-state. That's what's going on here," says Mike Herald from the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
The state says accounts aren't normally flagged until out-of-state transactions continue for more than 30 days because recipients aren't supposed to be gone that long.
"The vast majority of our families who are receiving benefits do so in a legal, lawful manner," says John Wagner, Director of the California Department of Social Services. "If someone is withdrawing benefits to feed their kid while they're taking care of an aging grandparent, that's allowed."
Taxpayer groups say it's time to move to a voucher system.
"Giving welfare recipients cash is always risk-inherent," says Jon Coupal from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Another problem is when welfare recipients don't use certain ATMs, taxpayers pick up those extra fees. Last year, the state paid more than $11 million in ATM surcharges, and


Read more - http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/state&id=7704795

Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee -

Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee - 





Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee.

Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat. 
"They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.
"We wasn't on their list," he said the operators told him.
Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, admits he "forgot" to pay the annual $75 fee. The county does not have a county-wide firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for a fee.
Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out.
His offer wasn't accepted, he said.
The fire fee policy dates back 20 or so years.
"Anybody that's not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it's a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don't," said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.
The fire department's decision to let the home burn was "incredibly irresponsible," said the president of an association representing firefighters.
"Professional, career firefighters shouldn’t be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up," Harold Schatisberger, International Association of Fire Fighters president, said in a statement. "They get in their trucks and go."
Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.
"They put water out on the fence line out here. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out here and watched it burn," Cranick said.
South Fulton's mayor said that the fire department can't let homeowners pay the fee on the spot, because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire.
Cranick, who is now living in a trailer on his property, says his insurance policy will help cover some of his lost home.
"Insurance is going to pay for what money I had on the policy, looks like. But like everything else, I didn't have enough."
After the blaze, South Fulton police arrested one of Cranick's sons, Timothy Allen Cranick, on an aggravated assault charge, according to WPSD-TV, an NBC station in Paducah, Ky.
Police told WPSD that the younger Cranick attacked Fire Chief David Wilds at the firehouse because he was upset his father's house was allowed to burn.
WPSD-TV reported that Wilds was treated and released.

911 Callers Are a Joke in Broward County - suffers from an influx of foolish calls - one called to ask what day it was -

911 Callers Are a Joke in Broward County - suffers from an influx of foolish calls - one called to ask what day it was - 






It appears residents in Broward County have their definitions for "nonsense" and "emergency" mixed up.
According to the Broward Sheriff's Office call center, nearly half the 911 calls they receive are for things not quite a life or death situation - unless you consider a fast food order an emergency.
To paraphrase the immortal words of Flavor Flav, 911 callers are a joke in this town.
"My toilet's overflowing, what do I do? That's my personal favorite," BSO Sheriff Al Lamberti said.
While it's a stretch, a busted toilet at least could, conceivably, be considered an emergency. But there is no rationale for the number calls that sound something like this:
"I ordered chicken nuggets and they don't have chicken nuggets," one woman called 911 to report.
The fast food offenses are usually the most common and often the most annoying because people think it's really an emergency worthy of 911, one operator said.
"Screaming in my ear, 'I wanted the sausage, and he gave me the burrito!'" April McGill recalls from one call. "She's trying to force me to eat something off the menu that I don't want!"
The penal code hasn't quite addressed customer service in the fast food industry, but that hasn't stopped Broward residents from picking up the phone and calling the police. People have asked for police escorts, rides to the liquor store and instructions on how to make meatballs.
One woman even called to ask what day it was.
Meanwhile, real emergencies can suffer from an influx of foolish calls. Occasionally, the police do show up to help. Well, help that person into a pair of handcuffs and a jail cell.
Lamberti said there is a pretty easy rule to follow if you aren't sure if 911 is the right call for you.
"If it involves your toilet or your turkey that's a no-no," he said.
Or as one operator put it, "911 is if you're dying. Do you understand that?"