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As of the morning, the federal government shutdown has entered into its 24th day, making it the longest shutdown in US history. While 800,000 federal workers are caught in the crosshairs of the shutdown (and most of them missed a paycheck last Friday), countless amounts of scientists and other workers have had their research work frozen as well.
Scientific American recently reported that U.S. forests are among the most vulnerable in the world to predators and disease, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report also explained that biotechnology has the potential to be a part of the solution in protecting forest trees against destructive pest and disease outbreaks,
A big snowstorm will barrel across the middle of the country over the weekend — following a 1500 mile pathway from Denver to Baltimore. The storm will begin on Friday and last through late Sunday before it blows out to sea. According to the National Weather Service, 20 million people are in the storm’s path, […]
Unlike the other branches, there is one military service whose members are about to miss a paycheck. The U.S. Coast Guard is the only military service that is “deployed” all over the nation every day 24/7. And the brave Coasties who are working without pay are risking their lives to protect us. According to a Coast Guard spokeswoman, they are continuing to provide essential operations “for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns,” such as search-and-rescue, securing the nation’s ports and coastlines, other law enforcement duties and environmental response. And for that, you are our heroes — this week and every week.
On Tuesday, the City of San Diego became the latest U.S. city to ban the use of styrofoam within city limits. The ban covers the use and distribution some very common products like egg cartons, food containers, coolers, ice chests, pool or beach toys, mooring buoys and navigation markers made fully or partially of polystyrene foam, commonly known as styrofoam. Other major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. also now have styrofoam bans in effect.
Why This Matters: Styrofoam needs to go. The new replacements are better for the planet and completely recyclable. For example, TemperPack’s “ClimaCell” packaging produces 97% less carbon emissions in the manufacturing process than styrofoam and will replace tens of millions of pounds of plastic foam that would otherwise be dumped in landfills and never biodegrade. Good for the economy and good for mother earth. Good for these cities for taking this bold action.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spent the better part of the last two days trying to reassure the public that food safety is not at risk during the shutdown. Yesterday and into today, through a series of tweets, Dr. Gottlieb explained (1) that routine food safety inspections are not taking place now; (2) that he is trying to get them re-started by next week – though he is not sure how to do it because FDA guidance requires routine inspections to cease when there is no funding; and that (3) high-risk food safety inspections are continuing. The key fact that most people don’t know is that there are very few food safety inspections in the U.S, which Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich pointed out in a story and in a devastating series of tweets.
Why This Matters: The good news is that your food is almost as safe now as it ever was. The bad news is that our safety inspection system is woefully underfunded and inadequate. But we should have already deduced that fact given the two deadly e-coli outbreaks in the last year. The law on food inspections is relatively strong, but not being fully implemented. And lax agricultural practices and health and safety regulations regarding pesticides and use of certain fertilizers create further loopholes that create more risk than most people realize.
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