This installment of an ongoing short new items feature includes stories about cruelty-free products and the disappearance of Chesapeake Bay fish.
The following news items were drawn from multiple sources.
Beauty Without Cruelty, an organization concerned with the inhumane use of animals for product testing, now has a list of over 40 brands of cosmetics and household cleansers that are considered "cruelty free." The presidents, vice-presidents, managers, or directors of safety for these brands have signed statements that they neither test their products on animals nor send them out for such tests.
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Sportfishing Association are declaring the Chesapeake Bay in trouble. An EPA report describes widespread accumulations of potentially suffocating (to aquatic life) phosphorus and nitrogen, and extensive buildups of toxic metals and other hazardous substances as well, while the fisherfolk cite the development of foreign markets by U.S. seafood dealers, and the pressures of highly developed commercial ocean harvest techniques, as factors behind the rapidly depleting fish population in the bay.
A few issues back, we reported that trees are able to vary the chemical composition of their leaves to defend themselves against insect attacks. Well, further studies on that same subject have revealed that some tree species can "communicate" with each other. Scientists found that trees within 60 meters of infested specimens also changed their leaves, even if they hadn't yet been attacked. It's believed that a chemical acts as a messenger of danger by traveling through the air from one tree to another.
A hospital that serves Cherokee Indians living in the mountains of western North Carolina is combining advanced technology with native tradition. Hospital administrator Dr. J.T. Garrett is also an apprentice medicine man. And along with the latest in diagnostic equipment, the facility has a "Traditional Medicine Man Room" where groups meet to discuss such things as herbs used in the community and the implementation of traditional practices in the hospital routine.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, over one million people are allergic to substances commonly added to beer, wine, and liquor. Because the law does not require that ingredients be printed on alcoholic-beverage labels, most consumers don't know, for example, which wines contain such additives as sulfur dioxide and which liqueurs contain coffee whiteners. However, CSPI has a new book, Chemical Additives in Booze, which lists the ingredients in many brand-name beverages.
According to the chairman of the Committee on Public Doublespeak (a group of teachers and professors of English), last year the Environmental Protection Agency required its employees to refrain from using the term "acid rain" and gave orders to replace that "unpleasant" term with the less-inflammatory phrase "poorly buffered precipitation."
Twenty A-10 attack aircraft, which the Air Force did not want produced, were reinstated in the defense budget by the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Joseph P. Addabbo, last fall. And just why did the Air Force not want the fliers? Well, the planes are slow-moving jokes, according to the pilots (who say that the most serious danger of operating the aircraft is being hit in the back of the head by fast-moving birds). So why did the Representative reinstate them? It seems that the $357.3 million worth of A-10's are to be produced in Farmingdale, New York, Mr. Addabbo's home district.
It is estimated that little more than 15% of the original tree cover is left on the Himalayas, and that this disappearance of wood has led to loss of topsoil, to floods, to droughts, and to landslides. But there is hope that the situation may start to turn around. A tiny crusade, which began in the early 1970's when village women hugged trees to keep forestry workers from cutting them, has now become a broad-based movement in northern India that is fostering increased awareness of the problems of deforestation.
Children seem to be one resource that never suffers an energy crisis. In fact, many a parent has wished for the ability to harness some of his or her child's rambunctiousness. Well, now a company in Zimbabwe has done just that. The firm has been issued a patent for a device that uses children on swings to provide the power to pump water from a well to a 30-foot-high storage tank. While the mechanism doesn't affect the children's fun, it certainly makes their play pay.