Hospital Infections, Prison Farm Training, and Other News Items

This installment of a continuing short news items feature includes stories on deaths from hospital infections and the job skills training that prisoners in Suffolk County, NY have received on a prison farm.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
November/December 1978
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A report on the incidence and mortality associated with hospital infections called for better sanitation to combat the problem.
ILLUSTRATION: TRIBALIUM81/FOTOLIA


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The following news items were drawn from multiple sources.


Hospital Infections

15,000 Americans a Year Die From Hospital-Related Infections says the Association for Professionals in Infection Control. In fact, the group pointed out to a meeting in Boston that two million people annually enter U.S. hospitals with one disease and wind up with another. The organization feels that tighter control over sanitation procedures could eliminate a lot of suffering and save over $1 billion a year in health care costs.

Prison Farm Training

Paid Workers on Prison Farms might seem to defeat the purpose of these institutions, but Long Island's Suffolk County Jail has found that its new "hired hands" increase both the production and the training value of the prison's fields. These experienced farm workers teach the inmates worthwhile skills—such as small engine repair and building construction—which can lead to employment on the "outside." In the past, most penal farms used their captive work forces for unskilled "stoop labor" (tomato picking, etc.) and gave little thought to the development of marketable abilities. 

Herbal Dog Food

A New Leash on Life? According to home businesswoman Gertrude "Sissy" McGill, her "Solid Gold" herbal dog food promotes canine health and longevity. The dry, biscuit like chow-which actually incorporates meat, fish, bone meal, cheese, and ten natural herbs-is now being sold in all 50 states.

Consumer Addiction Help Line

"Break the Buying Habit," urges a new San Francisco-based ecology group called MINT. The organization operates a telephone crisis line which attempts to talk callers out of the purchase of unnecessary goods and services. Consumption "addicts" are urged to borrow, share, rent, or forget the desired item completely.

Overpopulation Report

Overpopulation and Energy Problems Go Hand in Hand, and the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment emphasized this fact in its recent 250-page report to the President and Congress. The study makes it clear that perpetual population growth cannot be accompanied by an adequate supply of any of our finite resources.

USSR Life Expectancy

Soviet "Standard of Living" is Up. Their Life Expectancy is Down. A rise in the U.S.S.R.'s general mortality rate may be partly due to "improvements" in that country's standard of living. A report released by Christopher Davis (a doctoral student) and Murray Feshbach (of the Census Bureau's demographics division) states that complex industrial work and mechanized agriculture (plus a steadily growing rate of alcohol consumption) have resulted in a rise in fatal accidents great enough to lower the overall Soviet life expectancy.

Bug Control

Birth Control for Bugs has almost doubled the value of stock in the Albany International Corporation. The paper-goods firm recently branched out to market synthetic pheromones, which duplicate the mating scent of female insects. The products spread so much of the odor that the male bugs don't know which way to turn, and the result of that confusion is a decrease in the number of crop-destroying larvae produced.

Rubberized Asphalt

Ground Up Automobile Tires can be added to asphalt to create an improved roadbed thanks to a new method of combining these materials that has been developed by the University of Toronto. The long-lasting, non-skid street surfaces provide a fit resting place for the 30,000 worn-out tires that are discarded in Toronto every month.

Guinea-Bissau Drought

A Killer Drought may turn the rain forests of Guinea-Bissau—an emerging African nation—into deserts, ecological experts warn. The former Portuguese colony has undergone drastic weather changes in the past ten years, with rainfall now between one-half and one-quarter of its former level. Long range water conservation methods seem to be the only hope for the tiny (600,000 population) country.

Nicotine and Memory

Smoking may be Hazardous to Your Memory . Recent research performed at the University of California (Los Angeles) shows that subjects who smoked nicotine-free cigarettes scored "substantially higher" in a word recall test than did those who smoked brands containing 1.5 milligrams of the drug.

In Brief

The Beer Industry is Dragging its Heels, but ongoing evaluations of Vermont's "bottle bill" indicate that soft-drink manufacturers have greatly reduced the number of throwaways sold. The brew makers are coming along too, although more slowly .... an Anti-Herbicide Forestry Group, the Citizens' National Forestry Coalition, promotes labor-intensive (nonchemical) forest management. Contact the organization to receive regular newsletters and bulletins on group activities .... A Possible Black Hole has been located-65 million light years from Earth-by astronomer Wallace Sargent of the California Institute of Technology .... The Olin Chemical Company has been charged with dumping 38 Tons of Mercury into the Niagara River. Olin claims it "only" dumped four or five illegal tons .... The Federal Trade Commission has proposed that Advertising be Banned From TV Programs Aimed at Children Under Eight , which is certainly one baby step.for sanity .... White Bread Sales Are Declining , as more and more Americans are conscious of nutritional values, but the spongy stuff still makes up 70% of total U.S. bread production.


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