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Canada: We’re the fattest nation of them all

Tom Spears, CanWest News Service
Canadian adults, both men and women, are the most obese in a survey of 63 nations that raises new health warnings for our country.

A whopping 36 per cent of Canadian men and women seen in family doctors’ offices are obese, compared to just seven per cent in eastern Asia, the massive study says. And a further 40 per cent of the Canadian men who saw their doctor, and about 30 per cent of the women, were overweight, though not obese.

As well, Canadian men in the survey had the largest waistlines in the 63 nations, a major indicator of health problems to come. Canadian women were above average, but not the biggest.

However, it’s not a global survey, as a few countries with known weight problems, in particular the U.S., were not included.
(23 October 2007)
Phew! Until I read the fourth graf, I thought that America’s title was in doubt.

Related: Schools blasted for obesity epidemic.

The climes they are a-changing

Kelly Nestruck, The Guardian
Does Bob Dylan’s new ad for the gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade make him the biggest sellout the world has ever seen?

How many roads must a man drive down before you can call him The Man? The answer my friends, is one road, if that road is driven down in a gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade.

Bob Dylan the “countercultural icon” – note the extremely sarcastic quotation marks – has sold out so many times that you’d think nothing would be shocking anymore. He’s gone electric, he’s gone Christian, he released a live album exclusively at Starbucks. He’s even written a song for a movie starring Katie Holmes.

But none of that bothers me. It’s the year 2007. Who cares? He’s a maverick! He’s Dylan!

His latest act of judas-ery, however, is too much for even a cynical, consumerist nihilist like me. Why on earth would someone who possesses the intelligence of Dylan shill for the Cadillac Escalade? Has he not heard that the climes, they are a-changing? I understand the ads are a tie-in with his XM radio show, but SUVs – especially luxury SUVs – are repugnant vehicles.
(23 October 2007)

Higher metal prices make theft attractive

David Clouston, Salina Journal
When thieves this month boldly hitched their pickup to a trailer stacked with more than $26,300 worth of shiny new copper pipe and drove it away from Salina Supply, they might have tried their luck at selling it later for scrap next door at Salina Iron & Metal Co.

The thieves sawed the 20-foot-long pipes into shorter pieces to make them appear to be leftover junk. Even so, Salina Iron & Metal Co. president and owner Bob Butts, 312 N. Fifth, says his employees would not have been fooled.

“People who steal something of significance here in town, they’re not going to bring it to us, because they’re going to get caught,” Butts said.

Scrap metal prices have come down from their all-time highs this summer, but they’re still high enough worldwide to drive illicit treasure seekers into criminal and unsafe acts.

Earlier this month, a thief in Germany was charred beyond recognition by a 10,000 volt electric shock when he tried to steal a live copper cable. Police in Duisburg, Germany, found the 32-year-old man’s blackened remains laying by a set of cable cutters and a pile of nonlive cables he had already stolen.
(21 October 2007)

Tests reveal high chemical levels in kids’ bodies

Jordana Miller, CNN
Michelle Hammond and Jeremiah Holland were intrigued when a friend at the Oakland Tribune asked them and their two young children to take part in a cutting-edge study to measure the industrial chemicals in their bodies.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t worried at all; I was fascinated,” Hammond, 37, recalled.

But that fascination soon changed to fear, as tests revealed that their children — Rowan, then 18 months, and Mikaela, then 5 — had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents.

“[Rowan’s] been on this planet for 18 months, and he’s loaded with a chemical I’ve never heard of,” Holland, 37, said. “He had two to three times the level of flame retardants in his body that’s been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats.”

The technology to test for these flame retardants — known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — and other industrial chemicals is less than 10 years old. Environmentalists call it “body burden” testing, an allusion to the chemical “burden,” or legacy of toxins, running through our bloodstream. Scientists refer to this testing as “biomonitoring.”

Most Americans haven’t heard of body burden testing, but it’s a hot topic among environmentalists and public health experts who warn that the industrial chemicals we come into contact with every day are accumulating in our bodies and endangering our health in ways we have yet to understand.
(22 October 2007)

Continent-size toxic stew of plastic trash fouling swath of Pacific Ocean

Justin Berton, San Francisco Chronicle
At the start of the Academy Award-winning movie “American Beauty,” a character videotapes a plastic grocery bag as it drifts into the air, an event he casts as a symbol of life’s unpredictable currents, and declares the romantic moment as a “most beautiful thing.”

To the eyes of an oceanographer, the image is pure catastrophe.

In reality, the rogue bag would float into a sewer, follow the storm drain to the ocean, then make its way to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a heap of debris floating in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas, according to marine biologists.

The enormous stew of trash – which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers – floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man’s land between San Francisco and Hawaii.
(19 October 2007)