Hidden Dangers of Energy Drinks

February 15, 2011

Energy drinks spark concern for kids: MyFoxTAMPABAY.com

Those energy drinks that so many young people turn to today for that extra pop could actually being harming them.  A new study says these pseudo-healthy, aggressively marketed beverages are loaded with high doses of caffeine and other unnatural additives. Click here for more information and to watch this story above by FOX 13 in Tampa. Read more

Higher Gas Prices are Coming

February 10, 2011

By Judy Schropp Hoyer:

So far, rising gas prices have failed to change the habits of most American drivers, but the climb is not over yet.  Consider the following:

  • OIL PRICE HEADING TO $100 A BARREL. The price has risen to $91.38, a 34 percent increase since May. – Associated Press, January 1, 2011.
  • Gas prices on New Year’s Day were about $3 a gallon. A month earlier gas prices were about $2.80. A year ago they were about $2.60. In July 2008 they were about $4. In 2011 they’ll go up again as oil goes from about $85 per barrel to about $100.

Why? It’s not a simple supply-and-demand issue. There are actually three major factors, as I see it.

1. OPEC controls the production of a lot of oil and thereby sets the price – to some extent. Meaning, if they haul less out of the ground the price will go up, and OPEC can arbitrarily decide to haul less out of the ground.
2. The cost to oil producers to get the stuff out of the ground. As oil companies use up the stuff that’s closer to the earth’s surface, they’ll have to dig deeper and that costs more. The deeper stuff is harder to refine, too, so that’s two costs of production that will go up.
3. China and India want more. The United States is the biggest consumer (20%) of oil in the world and our consumption is expected to rise by 1% this year. But China’s consumption will go up by 5% this year and India’s will go up by slightly less than that. We have 311,909,000 people; China has 1,341,820,000 and India has 1,192,910,000. That’s a lot.

Unrest in the Middle East could, by itself, raise the price of oil as production is disrupted and oil companies take advantage of “market conditions.”

A Good Year for Profits

Now, is it necessary that prices go up? EXXON MOBIL CORP, CHEVRON CORP and CONOCO PHILLIPS posted $105 billion in profits last year. (BP – even after paying about $40 billion in costs relating to the Gulf Oil spill – posted profits of about $20.2 billion). Could the oil companies make do with a little less profit? Obviously. But why should they? And why would they?

Perhaps we should make do with a little less oil.

A Quick Non-Scientific Explanation of Oil

Petroleum is made out of fossilized organic materials. Stuff that was once alive died, rotted and was smushed into the ground and held under layers of rock where it was very hot. It turned into oil and gas. Oil is usually black or dark brown and thick. Since the Industrial Revolution began, most of the petroleum that humans have dug up out of the ground has been burned for energy. Today, we burn 84% of it. The other 16% is used to make plastic and pesticides, solvents, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals.

Of course, we’ll eventually run out of oil, even the hard-to-get stuff deeper in the ground. So, maybe we should use less.

Editor’s note:  Judy Hoyer is an attorney, mother and organic farmer. She joins CWN with an occasional essay on the state of the world.

Top 10 Pet Poisons

February 8, 2011

Human medications topped the list of pet toxins for the third year in a row, according to a new list released by the ASPCA. In 2010, the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison control hotline fielded more than 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to common household toxins and other potentially poisonous substances.

Here are the 10 most common poisons that affected our furry friends last year. A few highlights of their findings include:

  • Accidental ingestion of human medications accounted for 25 percent of all calls to the ASPCA in 2010. The most common culprits included antidepressants and over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
  • Approximately 20 percent of all calls concerned insecticides commonly used for flea control. Our feline friends are especially vulnerable to the misapplication of spot-on flea and tick products.
  • Baits used to kill mice and rats can be deadly if ingested by pets. Many rodenticides are grain-based, which attracts not only rodents, but dogs and cats, too, and can cause seizures, internal bleeding or kidney failure.
  • Some of the most delicious people food, including grapes, raisins and garlic, can be poisonous to pets. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs, while onions and garlic can cause anemia if ingested in sufficient amounts.
  • Household plants may keep your house green and your air clean, but some can cause serious gastrointestinal problems for companion animals. Please visit our list of pet-safe plants before your next trip to the nursery.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, you’re advised to call your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison control hotline at (888) 426-4435. To read the complete list of the top 10 pet toxins of 2010, visit APCC online.

Valentine’s Day Flowers Comparison

February 8, 2011

By Angie Moreschi:

If you’re sending flowers this Valentine’s Day, it’s time to find out what kind of quality you get for your cash. We put several different vendors to the test, from a local florist, to online services that ship from a warehouse, to well known services that use member florists like FTD and teleflora. Click on the video to watch Angie Moreschi’s report on how they compared and read the story to learn more.

Read more

Mandatory Health Insurance and the Founding Fathers

February 2, 2011

From Forbes:

The ink was barely dry on the PPACA when the first of many lawsuits to block the mandated health insurance provisions of the law was filed in a Florida District Court.

The pleadings, in part, read – “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage.” State of Florida, et al. vs. HHS

It turns out, the Founding Fathers would beg to disagree. Read more at Forbes.com

Push to end Foreclosure Help Program

February 2, 2011

For a program that was supposed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, the federal government’s Making Home Affordable Program hasn’t exactly been a success.  In fact, the program has a pretty bad record of actually helping homeowners.  Republican lawmakers are jumping on the program’s lack of results and trying to put an end to the program that President Obama said would help millions of Americans. 

Last week, House Republicans introduced a bill to endthe foreclosure prevention effort, calling the White House program a “colossal failure.”  Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) introduced the bill to terminate the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Modification Program immediately.  He was joined by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.).

The move by Republicans highlights a mounting political problem for the Obama administration’s’ troubled efforts to attack the foreclosure crisis. The administration has been criticized from both sides of the political spectrum.  Click here to read more from the Wall Street Journal.

Million Dollar Homes in Foreclosure

February 2, 2011

With so many Americans dealing with true financial hardship driving them into foreclosure, it can make your blood boil to see wealthy homeowners choosing to go into “strategic default.”  In other words, they can afford to pay their mortgage, but choose not to, as a “business” decision.  It must be nice to be so rich you don’t have to worry about losing your home or ruining your credit, but it also raises some real ethical questions about what this country has become.

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