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World Water Day 2015

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March 22  |  climate change, News, Newsletters, Opinion, Research, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

World Water Day 2015

World Water Day logo

This year’s theme is Water and Sustainable Development

Visit http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/ for more details.

What does WATER mean to you?  Search #wateris and #WorldWaterDay

 

We spill it, drink it, bathe in it, cook with it, flush it, run it down the drain and the gutter, drench the lawn and wash the car with it.

While we waste perfectly good water and don’t give a second thought, the following statistics should be a sober wake-up call to all of us to be more respectful and conserving of this valuable resource.  Water is truly the lifeblood of our precious earth.

  • An astounding 1,400 children die every day from diseases linked to unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation.
  • Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production.
  • There are 658 million people living without access to water in Africa.
  • By 2035, the global energy demand is projected to grow by more than one-third.
  • Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, which is 2,300 people per day.
  • 750 million people lack access to clean water, which is over double the population of the United States.
  • 82% of those who lack access to improved water live in rural areas.

The water crisis is the number one global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation) and the eighth global risk based on likelihood (likelihood of occurring within ten years), according to the World Economic Forum.

The UN says the planet is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless the world dramatically improves the management of this precious resource.

This is the conclusion reached in the 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report, “Water for a Sustainable World” launched in New Delhi ahead of World Water Day on 22 March.

The theme of 2015 it’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider to create the future we want.

water in hands

Join the 2015 campaign to raise awareness of water and sanitation. You can also contribute on social media though the hashtags #WaterIs and #WorldWaterDay.

World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day. 22 years later, World Water Day is celebrated around the world every year, shining the spotlight on a different issue.

We invite you to do your own research and see how you can make a difference.  Following is a link to  a short video by the UN to get you started …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1Zwd4B_Zqw

 

 

 

 

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Providing Safe Water in a Disaster

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November 9  |  climate change, Editorial, Emergency Preparedness, News, Opinion, safe drinking water  |   Webmaster

by Mark Owen – founder CEO of Puralytics
 
Every year, our planet experiences an average of 500 natural disasters (Gutierrez, 2008). While some have minimal impact, others may disrupt our standard of living for days, weeks, or even months- restricting our access to food, medical care, and potable water sources. In a recent report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, more than 32.4 million people were displaced worldwide by natural disasters in 2012 (Activity Report 2012, 2013). In an assessment of all global risks, water crises was the 3rdlargest risk, and the one identified as having the largest impact and the most likely to occur (Jennifer Blanke, 2014).
 

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Figure 1: Aid workers in Tacloban City, Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan bring SolarBags for their own use.

Disaster & Water

In a disaster, electricity is lost and water infrastructure is damaged. Fresh water sources might be polluted with all of the chemical toxins in the region as well as sewage and physical debris. First responders refer to the “Rule of Threes” – 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food/shelter and people will die. In recent disasters, like the Typhoon in the Philippines, the Tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, and the earthquakes in Haiti, for instance, by Day 3 of the crisis, water became extremely valuable – the most expensive water on the planet – flown in by helicopters by emergency medical personnel and first responders, or supplied by desalination systems on battleships in the harbor. In many of these disasters, the water need continued for 3-18 months after the initial disaster had passed, and became the greatest risk of survival.

In the first days of such a crisis, bottled water is often flown in and distributed, both for the protection of the aid workers and emergency responders, and for those immediately displaced by the disaster. Stored or supplied bottled water runs out in a few days. Within the first week or so, it becomes impractical to supply water this way, and aid agencies switch to interim disinfection strategies like boiling water, chlorine or iodine tablets. These are able to partially disinfect the water and filters can remove some particulates, but they are not able to remove the chemical toxins that are also in the available water sources. While is it is widely recognized that water must be both disinfected and detoxified to be a safe water source, disinfection only solutions are acceptable for short periods as outbreaks are the largest short term risk.

These minimalist disinfection-only solutions were satisfactory for short term solutions with clear water sources, but as the disaster expands to weeks and months, the shortcomings of these methods become significant. Chemical toxins left in the water from the disaster, like petrochemicals, pesticides, cleaning supplies, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, etc. become a significant threat to health that could impact those affected for years to come. Unfortunately, most people who prepare for a disaster, and most government and aid organization that provide support after a disaster do not have equipment to detoxify the water from these chemical toxins. Water quality quickly becomes the biggest risk after the first days of the crisis, and may continue to be for weeks, months, or even years ahead.

The Puralytics SolarBag is unique in an emergency, because it can both disinfect and detoxify the water, providing safe water that meets US EPA and World Health Organization’s “highly protective” safe water guidelines as shown in Figure 2. Sunlight, even on a cloudy day, activates the nanotechnology coated mesh insert, activating 5 photochemical processes that purify water and reduce or destroy contaminants found in virtually all water sources.

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Figure 2: Comparing different water treatment technologies, only one is able to both disinfect and detoxify the water.

The SolarBag can treat up to 9 liters of water per day and can be reused over 500 times.
It can be stored for 7 years or more, and can be used by anyone, even children, to purify virtually any water source to make safe water. It is also very light to transport – while 1 gallon of water weighs about 8 lbs, 1 SolarBag which can make 500 gallons weighs only 4 ounces. Imagine if the aid organizations passed out SolarBags instead of bottled water or chlorine tablets in the early days of a disaster how many more people would be helped in a time of need.

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Figure 3: Planning for an emergency longer than 3 days requires being able to treat water to both disinfect and detoxify the water.

While this patented technology is relatively new and only mentioned in the most recent survival handbooks, it is widely available in stores and online sources. It has also been shipped to over 50 countries, including the recent disaster in the Philippines, being handed out through organizations like Medical Teams International, Relief International, Forward Edge International, and by the Red Cross. Recently Puralytics won the International Water Association’s Global Honour Award for long term use of the SolarBag in rural villages in Africa. For more information on the SolarBag, see the company’s website – www.puralytics.com

 

References

(2013). Activity Report 2012. Geneva: The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Gutierrez, D. (2008). Natural Disasters Up More Than 400 Percent in Two Decades. Natural News.

Jennifer Blanke, e. a. (2014). Global Risk 2014, Ninth Edition. World Economic Forum.

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A Letter from the Editor

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October 27  |  climate change, Editorial, Emergency Preparedness  |   Webmaster

The summer of 2013 will certainly go into the record books as one of the wettest and most costly summers in decades. This freakish weather was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the summer of 2012; remember the devastating droughts only a year ago?

As Mother Nature rampaged across North America with heavy rains, which combined with the snow-pack run-off, the flash floods resulted in billions of dollars of damage and thousands and thousands of people left homeless or without power. In fact, the amount that insurers pay out in damage claims due to severe weather has DOUBLED every 5 to 10 years since 1980.

As we head into fall and winter, there is nothing more certain than the uncertainty of the weather and what may lie in store for us. With businesses, farms, municipalities, and families increasing reliant on dependable power, even a short term outage can mean a significant loss in productivity, availability of safe, clean drinking water, and safe, effective waste-water treatment.

As survival expert, Pat Cascio, says, “In a disaster, most people die from dehydration or water-borne illnesses”. It is becoming increasingly apparent that preparation for any weather extremes or emergency situations has to become second-nature to us. Could you and your family survive for a week without electricity, fresh water, food, or the ability to get out of your home?

One of our products, the SolarBag, is ideal for this kind of situation and should be an important component of any emergency kit. Other important items include flashlights, canned food, propane cooker, candles, and of course charged cell phones.

Let’s all learn from our experiences and life’s repeated lessons. Let’s make 2013 the year that we took emergency preparedness seriously, for us, our families, our neighbors, and our communities.

 

 

 

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BC Water Act

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October 19  |  climate change, Editorial, global warming, Latest News, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

B.C. Water Act To Regulate Groundwater, Force Nestle To Pay

The provincial government of British Columbia has just passed their new Water Act, after four years of research and consultations with industry, communities, and First Nations to replace outdated legislation from 1909.

The legislation is focused mainly on the allocation of water and large scale users, like Nestle, who have been able to use unlimited supplies of fresh groundwater, without cost, will now be charged a nominal fee.

While this is expected to regulate groundwater consumption, while adding to the provincial government’s coffers, many critics argue that the act does not go far enough. In fact, environment minister Mary Polak, even admits that the act will not cover off every single aspect of water protection and water use.

Nestle Bottled Water

For a copy of the news articles by Canadian Press and the Globe & Mail, click here.

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Global Warming

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September 29  |  climate change, Editorial, global warming, Latest News, Opinion, Research  |   Webmaster

The Global Warming debated has heated up again, following the recent release of a report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On one side, the climate change deniers emphasize the fact that global warming has remained relatively stable for the past 17 years. They maintain that this supports the “Hockey Stick” conclusion that global warming has actually leveled off and therefore not expected to increase in the foreseeable future.

On the other side, the IPCC continues to insist that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and continues despite regional differences, over a time line of 1400 years. Furthermore, it maintains that we will see far more dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts in the decades ahead, if we do not choose to reduce global carbon emissions. There has never been a greater urgency to act than there is now.

Which side is right? Well, maybe they both are, in their own way. As with most heated / controversial topics, everyone has their own strong opinion and many will strive mightily to affirm their agenda. As their almost religious fervor develops, there will undoubtedly be misdirection, cherry-picking, half-truths, outright falsehoods, and even personal verbal attacks. At the heart of this controversy is the credibility of the IPCC position and agenda, as well as their format for accepted, qualified peer reviews.

Nevertheless, no one can dispute the facts that polar ice caps are melting and that the world’s oceans are getting warmer, thus setting up even more change for climate patterns around the world.

We urge you all to do your own independent research and make your own informed conclusions. We have listed some recent links below, to get you started.

http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/press_information.shtml#.Ukh8F3_NmNg

www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf

http://scienceblogs.com/significantfigures/index.php/2013/09/27/what-does-the-2013-ipcc-summary-say-about-water/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/28/ipcc-climate-change-deniers

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/27/un-climate-change-report-dismisses-slowdown-in-global-warming/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420783/computers-got-effects-greenhouse-gases-wrong.html

http://www.colby.edu/sts/controversy/pages/ipcc_controversy.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-27/global-warming-s-slower-pace-hardens-views-on-need-to-act.html

 

 

 

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TAPPED – The Truth about the Bottled Water Industry

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August 19  |  Case Studies, Editorial, Latest News, Nutrition, safe drinking water  |   Webmaster

Tapped – The Truth about the Bottled Water Industry

 

Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce?

I am sure that you have heard or read about the ills of the bottled water industry. From the BPA in the bottles to the mass amounts of plastic waste covering our earth and entering our water ways.

It is time we get all the facts and you will be amazed at how deep this problem really is.

“Tapped” is a Documentary film about the Bottled Water Industry.

In the film “Tapped” you will be educated on bottle water and all of it’s faults. It examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil.

“Tapped” is an amazing documentary that presents an overwhelming amount of evidence which will change the way anyone thinks about bottled and municipal water.

tapped

 

From the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car? and I.O.U.S.A., Tapped takes a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of the bottled water industry — an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water.

From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table. A powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, this revelatory film features those caught at the intersection of big business and the public’s right to water.

“Tapped” immediately breaks down the false notions surrounding the so called “benefits” of bottled water. It points out that 40% of bottled water is merely filtered municipal water – looking at you, Dasani and Aquafina. They also point out numerous times that it’s no safer than municipal water because the bottled water industry is largely unregulated whereas municipalities are held to strict testing under the EPA. But that’s just the tip of the bottled water-berg. Nearly the first half of the film documents the plight of a Maine town in which Nestle has moved in and taken over use of the city’s groundwater. This water source is governed differently than ponds, springs, rivers, etc. Essentially, whoever has the abilities to pump the most water, gets the most water. Nestle accesses the water for free, then bottles it and sells it for a profit. This leaves townsfolk unhappy as their own municipal water supply dwindles and must be transferred to another water well, resulting in service interruption which doesn’t seem to affect Nestle’s operation in the slightest. Water companies operate like this all over the country – moving into rural areas to perform “water mining,” wherein they extract water that is free and then sell it for billions of dollars.

I am from Maine and know this to be true. Nestle purchased Poland Spring Water. Poland Spring water was once actually drawn from a spring in Poland Maine, not any more. Many rural towns in Maine are being affected by the “water mining” referred to in the film.

If you have not seen “Tapped” it is time that you do.

Watch “Tapped” now!

http://vimeo.com/user7206487/tappedthemovie

 If this does not make you re-think your use of bottled water, nothing will!

Remember, before bottled water we found ways to get our thirst quenched. Watch an old Western movie or war movie and see your hero’s get a refreshing drink of water from a Canteen.

If your tap water gives you concerns, get yourself some type of water filtration system. Then find a re-useable water container that works best for you.

Just say “NO” to bottled water.

Hydrate responsibly!

GGATVnewlogo2Until next time…

follow me @thegogreenguy  @and be sure to like our facebook page

 

references for this post:

http://cinekatz.com/tapped-healthy-beverage-or-environmental-scourge/

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/tapped/

http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/tap.html

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Antibiotic Farm Use

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June 30  |  antibiotics, Case Studies, Editorial, Farm, food safety, Immune System, Livestock, News, Nutrition, safe drinking water  |   Webmaster

The use and/or overuse of antibiotics on farms continues to generate controversy.  While opposite sides continue to argue their respective positions, we feel that it’s important to maintain a level-headed position and research and examine all of the facts. 

Without a doubt, antibiotics have improved the quality of life for all of us, including our livestock and food sources.   Can you imagine a world without anitbiotics?  Scary indeed!

We strongly agree with the agricultural community that a responsible antibiotic regimen is essential to maintaining a safe, healthy and efficient operation.  However, it’s also common knowledge that antibiotic use has surged during the past decade, which has many experts worried that we are creating a dangerous level of resistance to bacteria and viruses.

The prestigious journal Nature this week called for reining in the use of antibiotics in agriculture, adding to the growing chorus of scientists and public health advocates seeking reforms.  The editorial noted that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock raising is a global issue, in part because pathogens do not respect international borders — “As long as any one country pumps its pigs and poultry full of drugs, everyone is at risk.”

Following are links to the report and comments.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/06/journal-nature-farmers-should-rein-in-antibiotic-use-worldwide/

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v486/n7404/full/486440a.html

While the debate rages on, and various special interest groups lobby all levels of government, please don’t blame the farmers! They are all working hard to ensure that we all have safe, healthy food to feed our families, and also incurring a lot of extra expense in doing so. 

We would like to remind you that one of the many benefits of using our Oxy Blast products is the reduced dependency on antibiotics.  Why?  Because they help antibiotics work more effectively and efficiently!  This has proven to be an economical option for many of our clients.

We invite you to watch our short movie presentation at www.oxyblast.org/movie, introducing our products and services.

 

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Scrapie Disease

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April 30  |  Editorial, Farm, food safety, Latest News, Livestock, Reports, Tests  |   Webmaster

It seems to be a week of news, on both sides of the border, for transmissable livestock diseases.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats.  It is among a number of diseases classified as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) and very similar to BSE (mad  cow disease) found in cattle.

A fatal disease that affects sheep and goats has been confirmed at a quarantined sheep farm in eastern Ontario.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says scrapie (SKRAY’-pee) was confirmed in a sheep that recently died on the farm.

The agency says there is no human health risk associated with scrapie.

However, the CFIA aims to eradicate it from Canada as the disease has serious impacts on sheep.

It said in a weekend release that the farm was placed under quarantine because a sheep that originated from there had previously tested positive for scrapie.

Ontario Provincial Police are investigating the removal earlier this month of 31 sheep from the same farm in violation of the quarantine order.

See: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/

 

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Social Media Responsibility

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April 23  |  Editorial  |   Webmaster

The vast knowledge available on the internet, combined with  the ability to interact instantaneously with social media is an incredible, powerful technology.  But as with any advancement in science and technology, this comes with certain risks and responsibilities; it is definitely, the proverbial double-edged sword.  Nowadays, anyone with access to a computer can broadcast their opinions or agenda and find like-minded individuals to champion their cause or to jump on the bandwagon.  Unfortunately, since this is an open access technology, there is no way to validate or verify much of the information or misinformation posted, especially on personal blog sites.

Following is a well-balanced article, which sums up the pros and cons, of the technology that we all take for granted today.

Social media make rumor mill faster, not smarter

And it makes a difference in politics as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube open the door to disinformation.

By RICK MONTGOMERY  The Kansas City Star

Admit it. Sometimes you’re part of the social-media problem, spreading news and views you find online without knowing if the information is good.

Rumors and misinformation, granted, are ancient parts of discourse. But this is an election year, and social media platforms have turned the rumor mill into a supercharged rumor turbine, something that can be electronically manipulated and monitored. And that changes the political game.

Researchers will be closely watching how it plays out, especially through Twitter.

That’s because they can. The open platform is enabling scientists to build computer models that help them see how misinformation travels.

“What makes social media different is that we have much easier ways of tracking how rumors spread,” said Jonah Berger at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies “social epidemics.”

What worries many experts — even some ardent defenders of free speech — is that bad information that moves fast enough and far enough, through the power of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, has the potential of warping the democratic process.

A well-crafted lie that goes viral the week before an election could affect outcomes.

That’s the dark side of social media — “there’s more libel, more defamation, more urban myths and harmful information getting out,” said David L. Hudson Jr., of the First Amendment Center, a think tank that advocates the tenets of our first freedoms. “I don’t like to sound like a censor, I’m for free speech. But I am concerned about this open spreading of rumors … and the rushing to judgment.

“We’re approaching a sobering realization that this new, revolutionary media does come with some dangers.”

Political campaigns this year will pour record sums — perhaps 10 percent of their resources — into establishing a presence in social media, which strategists view as both an opportunity and a potential curse. Some experts envision races hinging on the campaign errors, misstatements and smear tactics that rivals engineer to go viral.

When Twitter or YouTube push the propaganda, “it all becomes public … which I think is a good thing,” said Jeff Roe of the political consulting group Axiom Strategies, headquartered in Kansas City.

Using social media is free, making it a no-brainer communication tool — not only for groups that seek to propagate their version of a story, but to the tens of millions of Americans on the receiving end. But Roe doesn’t see it as a great bargain:

“Statements made in error that go viral can be very expensive to a campaign” when it needs to fight back.

The technologies of new media turn everyone who uses them into news sources, blasting out information, with attached links, in one click.

“There’s a certain ego that goes with being the first to hear something and share it, whether it’s true or not,” said Eric Melin of Spiral16, an Overland Park consulting firm using 3-D imagery to chart the circuitous paths of attack tweets, damaging rumors and viral tales that spring from social media.

It may be a truth, a half-truth or the early stage of a hoax — the finger found in Wendy’s chili went viral in Facebook’s early days before police exposed it as a scam.

This urge, this snap reflex to share a rumor in an instant, has a name: FOMO — fear of missing out, or being the last in your network to know.

Berger of the Wharton School has found that news on the Internet is most apt to go viral when it touches extreme emotions — like laughter or anger. Both are kryptonite to businesses and organizations, including political campaigns, that are trying to project honest, everyday values.

In politics, “grass roots” is everything. But social media platforms have given rise to a new strategy to watch out for: the “Astroturf campaign.”

It’s designed to look like the online conversations of regular people when it’s really spawned by insiders shooting automated messages they hope will catch fire.

Among those watching for this will be Indiana University computer scientist Filippo Menczer, whose research team first tracked Astroturf campaigns in the 2010 elections.

“Everyone’s doing it — fake tweets and fake accounts” in an effort to attract real-life Twitter followers into the discussion, he said.

And the wide-open nature of social media makes manipulation all the more tempting. Interactive service providers such as YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are effectively immune from lawsuits, thanks to a 1996 federal law.

“This is the wild west,” Menczer said, “where there’s no control whatsoever of social-media content.”

Friend to friend

It’s hard to knock what social media have achieved so far.

They’ve been credited with empowering the previously powerless, liberating peoples from oppressive regimes, exposing bad behavior among public officials.

(Some of that behavior was related to social media, such as the sharing of sexually explicit photos that drove U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, out of office.)

The instantaneous, friend-to-friend-to-friend magic of the platforms, however, also fueled swine-flu scares in 2009, when Kansas City-area schools had to respond to false rumors of outbreaks.

Even if the technology allows information — and misinformation — to spread in a flash, it allows countless users to fact-check and verify just as quickly, said Kevin Bankston of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit that promotes free, unfettered expression on the Web.

“It’s always been that a lie will make itself halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on,” Bankston said. “Today, the social media turbocharges that process…

“Still, this access we all have to knowledge and instantaneous sources of information is a good thing for humanity.”

The old-fashioned forms of media put out bad information, too. It was The New York Times, after all, that erroneously declared U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords dead from a shooting in Arizona — an embarrassment the newspaper attributed to a reporter bypassing editorial checkpoints to rush copy to the Web.

But only the Wild West of social media could deliver the following fake report on the @foxnewspolitics Twitter page.

@BarackObama has just passed. The President is dead. A sad 4th of July, indeed.

A hacker had infiltrated the Fox News account, which had 36,000 followers, and began posting several reports of Obama having been assassinated in Iowa.

The fraudulent posts first appeared in the hours after midnight last Independence Day, and though FoxNews.com quickly spotted the hoax, the news network had to wait hours for Twitter to respond to Fox’s request to reclaim the account.

Delays at Twitter kept the bogus news displayed past dawn.

Earlier this month, the FBI and New York Police Department opened an investigation into a potential terror threat after several digitally enhanced images of the New York skyline appeared on an Islamic terrorist group’s online forum. The graphic carried a caption, “Al Qaeda coming soon again in New York.”

Terrorist organizations commonly weave empty threats into social media. The “coming soon” graphic is likely another one, said Steve Stalinsky of the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors the Web activity of terrorist groups. But could a flurry of idle threats lead to a “cry wolf” complacency that puts America at greater risk of a real attack?

“The Taliban has several Twitter accounts and they’re very social-media savvy,” Stalinsky said. “YouTube is totally infested with Jihadi propaganda … Why is this allowed to happen?”

Most social-media platforms will flag or remove hate speech and deceptive spam when such material is brought to the service provider’s attention. Twitter early his year announced it will restrict offensive content “in countries that have different ideas about the contours of economic freedom.”

The company cited the examples of France and Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.

Gone viral

Recent cases of social-media causes gone viral underscore the benefits of the public platforms as well as the drawbacks.

Last month, the hottest video in the history of YouTube turned out to be artful spin, the story of an east African conflict almost two decades older than YouTube itself.

The “Kony 2012” mini-documentary nonetheless seemed fresh, credible and urgent to Twitter and Facebook users, who shot out links to the half-hour video, from friend to friend, until it drew more than 25 million views.

The clip elicited public horror and a supportive U.S. Senate resolution for the “invisible children” of Uganda, youngsters abducted and enslaved as soldiers by rebel leader Joseph Kony.

Foreign-policy experts eventually pointed out that Kony hadn’t been stirring much trouble and hadn’t even been seen in Uganda for several years. Donating money to help the country capture him, as the viral video implored, might not be such a wise thing, traditional news sources reported.

An online petition campaign launched by a Texas mother set off alarms over a ground-beef additive dubbed “pink slime.” The cheap, finely textured filler has been served up on school lunch trays, diner counters and kitchen tables for decades, and it’s treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria.

The federal government and some food-safety groups say pink slime is safe. But the public outcry was virulent enough to shut down some meat factories and drive grocers to clear their shelves of ammonia-treated beef.

Many school districts, bowing to online petitions, pledged from here on to serve only the more expensive, slime-less beef.

As with “Kony 2012,” the pink slime controversy raised awareness and triggered citizen action in ways once unimaginable. But food without the additive will require more cattle, and industry groups say the public will pay more to stock school cafeterias.

David B. Schmidt, president of the International Food Information Council, issued an online statement:

“Something is seriously out of kilter in our communications environment when safe food products and proven technologies can be torpedoed by sensationalist, misleading, yet entertaining social media campaigns. We should all take several steps back and remember the critical thinking skills we were taught in school.”  (We totally agree!  -ed.)

Defenders of unregulated social media, and there are plenty, counter: We were also taught democracy in schools. If not for throngs of Facebook friends and everyday tweeters, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, may never have introduced a labeling bill to at least let consumers know when they’re buying pink slime.

Choice.org — the petition site that gave rise to the pink-slime crusade (and also sharpened national attention on the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin) — removes discriminatory causes and postings that call for violence. Website spokeswoman Megan Lubin said those cases were rare: “Most everyone is responsible when using” the open platform.

“It was the first time in history that more than 1 million comments were generated on a food petition at the FDA,” said Sue McGovern, spokeswoman for the Just Label It Campaign. “The exact number was 1,149,967 … It’s those mammoth, historical numbers that Washington, D.C., is taking a look at” in the viral age.

Tracking tweets

Some contend the best way to thwart the dangers of social media is to fight fire with fire — better technology.

The U.S. government is pushing to detect online persuasion campaigns and to develop “counter-messaging” software against “adversaries (who) may exploit social media and related technologies for disinformation,” according to a Pentagon statement to The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s an arms race,” said disinformation sleuth Menczer of Indiana’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, recipient of a $2 million Defense Department grant. “We may develop better detection tools only to see political and commercial interests invest in beating these tools.”

The center he directs has a website, Truthy.indiana.edu, that monitors the Twittersphere to detect how political groups take advantage of it.

The Truthy project spotted suspicious patterns in the 2010 elections. Several Twitter accounts created simultaneously — along with Web links launched the same day — gave the illusion of real people having conversations. In fact, they were dummy accounts automatically tweeting and re-tweeting each other.

Followers of those accounts would get the sham tweets and be directed to Web sites resembling news organizations, Menczer said. Some of the reports would accuse a campaign’s opponent of backing legislation such as health reform and cap-and-trade proposals for personal gain.

Once the strategy goes viral and a topic, or “meme,” is followed — with Menczer’s computers tracing common hash tags, URLs and repeated phrases — digital images of the activity do resemble a biological virus.

But tracking this tangle of tweets, links and retweets back to the original source can be difficult, giving political campaigns deniability if confronted about the schemes.

In the 2008 Massachusetts race for U.S. Senate, Wellesley College scientists P. Takis Metaxas and Eni Mustafaraj detected a pattern of “Twitter-bombs” against Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate.

During the week leading up to the vote, the researchers noted a spike in Web searches that directed users to a disproportionate flurry of tweets smearing Coakley. The social-media traffic built enough for Google to tag the race a “trending topic,” and Republican Scott Brown scored a surprise victory.

The race in Massachusetts “was the first election in which social media absolutely changed the conversation,” said Mustafaraj, who noted the anti-Coakley tweets carried morsels of truth.

“In order for these things to spread, it can’t be a complete falsehood,” Mustafaraj said. “You hope that other media will pick up on the story.”

In time, other research shows, a social-media falsehood finds ways to die. Tracking the tweets from the zone of an earthquake that devastated Chile in 2010, computer analyst Barbara Poblete discovered that accurate reports from victims traveled faster and farther than did the false rumors.

Melin, of Overland Park’s Spiral16, notices the same: Bad information has ways of correcting itself, a phenomenon that social media defenders attribute to the collective wisdom of crowds.

“It does seem to actually work in the end,” he said. “Believe it or not.”

To reach Rick Montgomery, call 816-234-4410 or send email to rmontgomery@kcstar.com.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/04/21/3569194/social-media-make-rumor-mill-faster.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

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April 21  |  Beef, Editorial, food safety, Latest News, Nutrition, Opinion, Research  |   Webmaster

Lean Finely Textured Beef vs. Pink Slime

 

So, what’s all the fuss about “Pink Slime”?  Lean Finely Textured Beef has been used as an additive to ground beef for years, without so much as a whimper or whisper from the politicians, watchdogs, or general public.   Unfortunately, an opinionated poorly-researched blog went viral and the media got hold of it, combined with even more misinformation, escalated this non-story into a major headline that lasted for days.  In the old days, exaggerated, persistent gossip and innuendo (“nudge, nudge, wink, wink”) could eventually lead a person or company to ruin and disrepute.  Nowadays, we have the power of the internet and social media to spread gossip and opinionated misinformation as if they were on super steroids. 

Here is a well-balanced article from a beef industry advocate.  We hope that you enjoy this and the additional links at the bottom of the page.  Your comments are always welcome and we encourage all of you to do your own research and investigation before jumping on the “Doomsday Bandwagon”.   – ed.

 

Make Room For A Bigger, Badder Foe

by Troy Marshall in My View From The Country

Apr. 20, 2012 9:25am

Anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups are quickly becoming the largest threat to animal production.

Boxed-beef prices rallied substantially early this week, bringing some stability back to the beef markets as the peak grilling season gets underway. Analysts say the rally was confirmation that the media-fueled frenzy over lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is waning.  

I haven’t seen any official estimates of what this PR disaster cost the industry, but we do know that hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars were sucked out of the system in the last few weeks. This wasn’t an accident, either; it was a well conceived and orchestrated campaign that utilized an unwitting media to whip the firestorm.   In fact, the campaign’s success probably greatly exceeded the wildest expectations of a faction that’s quickly becoming one of the most threatening alliances against agriculture. This faction encompasses a passel of anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups masterful at creating buzzwords and narratives that obscure their true agenda while rallying well-intentioned consumers and voters to their side.  

The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) used to be the master of this strategy; that is, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars from people who actually believe their contributions support animal shelters and help abused animals. Instead, they fund a war chest to battle livestock production.   The animal welfare movement also is masterful at using groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to paint an extreme view. That way, a more mainstream group like HSUS can appear more center-based when it pushes for radical policy.  

The anti-market, anti-modern folks do it a little differently, however. They believe in government control of the marketplace, and replacing the market and industry institutions they view as supportive of the industry. To do this, they understand they must affect policy, which entails shaping public opinion. They do this by using the media and populist rhetoric to create “moral” perceptions in order to shape policy that is continually evolving in their direction.   Stepping back, one has to admire their success. They’ve used words like “pink slime” and “factory farming” masterfully.  

• The fact is that most people aren’t opposed to a product like LFTB, which reduces costs to consumers, raises prices for producers, and improves the safety and healthfulness of beef; but everyone can hate the concept of “pink slime.”  

• In addition, nearly everyone can line up to oppose factory farming and multinational large-scale food production entities. Most of these same people, however, don’t understand that these groups define a “factory farm” as any entity large enough to be economically viable, or that uses modern technology to produce a higher-quality product more efficiently.  

These groups champion the little guy, and even get some producers to stand with them. They also castigate the government and government involvement on issues they believe will increase the competitiveness of the industry while, at the same time, pleading for government intervention, rather than letting the marketplace function.   It’s the same concept that the Occupy Wall Street movement employs, which is to create an enemy that is perceived to be a dramatic minority or that is part of the “establishment.”  

In fact, these anti-meat groups are successful enough that their message is almost becoming mainstream in the minds of consumers in regard to animal production. Packers are held up to be inherently evil; confined animal feeding units are immoral; and large-scale production is wrong, as is the implementation of modern technologies in food production.   These groups will ally themselves with any group that opposes animal production; yet, they’re not perceived as affiliated with those groups, which increases their credibility. They’ve even been successful in attracting to their cause some producers who don’t understand that they are working for their own demise.

It’s for these reasons that these anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups are quickly becoming the largest threat to animal production.

As a fulltime rancher, Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how various consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

Click here for the original article  http://beefmagazine.com/blog/make-room-bigger-badder-foe

Following are links from various sources covering differing viewpoints …

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/28/chris-selley-pink-slime-is-benign/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/pink-slime-outrage-goes-viral

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Pink+Slime+controversy

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/

http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/Science-must-guide-ag-policy

 

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