It took two months to halt shipments of prepackaged salad mix that brought 576 cases of cyclospora to 19 states, at last count by the federal Centers for Disease Control through Thursday, notes Grumpy Editor.
The outbreak started in Iowa and Nebraska before spreading to 17 other states: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York (including New York City), Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Medical writers, essential staffers at one time before newsroom cuts became routine, probably could have cracked source and distributor in a matter of days.
First cases of cyclospora --- a single-celled parasite often associated with contaminated fresh produce --- turned up in early June. Shipments of Mexican-grown Taylor Farms salad mix were halted Aug. 9.
Reports circulated that some restaurant chains served the contaminated salad mix.
Cyclospora symptoms can take several days or weeks to appear and include diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, nausea and stomach cramps.
J-school grads take 6-8 months to land jobs
It’s been a tough time for journalism graduates to line up jobs pronto.
A University of Georgia’s Grady College survey found about 66 percent of 2012 journalism graduates took six to eight months after graduation to line up full-time positions. That was up from 62 percent in the prior year.
The J-school graduates were going into a market where thousands of newsroom jobs have been slashed at both large and small publications.
“Employers might be shedding senior-level jobs, but there’s always pressure to hire entry-level jobs,” said Lee Becker, University of Georgia journalism professor and co-author of the report. He noted there was an increase in start-up online publications.
The median salary for new hires hasn’t been earth-shaking: $32,000 in 2012, edging up from $31,000 a year earlier.
In case you missed these…
Celebrity scandals or Egypt riots? A new Rasmussen Reports national survey found 81 percent of Americans think fellow Americans pay too much attention to celebrity news and not enough attention to other developments that have real impact on their lives. In allied action, Rasmussen tallied 58 percent of those surveyed, when given the choice, preferred to read printed versions of newspapers rather than online material, while 29 percent gave the nod to online versions of papers --- and 12 percent were undecided.
Rick Folbaum, from Fox News Channel, joined Miami’s WFOR-TV (known as CBS4) as co-anchor of the station’s weeknight 5 and 11 newscasts. He goes on air next Monday…Also in Miami, demolition is under way at the former Miami Herald headquarters by the Genting Group which paid nearly $240 million for the site on Biscayne Bay. Genting plans a condominium and hotel project on the property and is seeking approval to incorporate a casino…Sports makes way for classical music beamed from California’s Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz radio station KYZZ
Chris Roush at Talking Biz News uncovered a busy business editor at the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald. He pointed out Jan Moore, along with editing business items for the daily, also is a psychologist for the local school system and is running for mayor of Statesboro.
The city, with a population of about 28,000 is in Bulloch County, southeast Georgia.
Team climate change with a likely increase in future violence and news editors at major print/broadcast media go bananas, finds Grumpy Editor.
Grabbing chunks of newspaper space and radio/TV airtime Friday and into the weekend were mentions that shifts in climate --- even relatively minor departures from normal temperatures --- could significantly increase human conflicts around the world by 2050, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University.
Solomon Hsiang, the study’s lead author, is described as a postdoctoral fellow in science, technology and environmental policy at Princeton during the research project and now is an assistant professor of public policy at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
Most print/broadcast news outlets did not identify Hsiang other than “lead author,” although Associated Press labeled him as an economist.
What media overlooked was that Hsiang, also as lead author in a study publicized two years ago, covered much of the same ground with “often war is associated with global climate change.” See him in an Aug. 29, 2011 podcast here.
If future extreme heat is likely to trigger violence, then violent crime should be rampant now in places such as Palm Springs, Phoenix and Las Vegas, where temperatures last month soared to (what is considered normal for the period) 112-118 degrees --- and 100-plus readings continue this week.
And Death Valley, where the thermometer reached a world record --- a scorching 134 degrees --- a century ago (July 10, 1913, to be exact), should be the shootout capital of the world. However, readings at the California tourist site “cooled down” in recent days from 128 degrees on July 3 and 129 degrees on June 30. The temperature reached only 112 degrees there on Friday. No recent crime sprees were reported.
Most July job growth comes via part-time work
While most media trumpeted the July government employment report released Friday as adding 162,000 positions (and not mentioning the number was below economist expectations of 184,000), Kevin G. Hall, at McClatchy’s Washington bureau, went a step further to point out:
A closer look at the Labor Department figures “suggests that part-time work accounted for almost all the job growth that’s been reported over the past six months.”
He also worked in quotes from Keith Hall, a senior researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and former head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Over the last six months, of the net job creation, 97 percent of that is part-time work. That is really remarkable.”
The researcher added, “That is a really high number for a six-month period. I’m not sure that has ever happened over six months before.”
Plain Dealer dumps 50 newsroom staffers
In what one news person said was a “graceless” layoff method, Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial staffers were told to stand by their telephones on Wednesday, between 8 and 10 a.m., to learn if they got the ax. Fifty did.
Others got the green light to go back to the office.
Those getting pink slips were then asked to collect severance materials the following day --- at the paper’s production center about 10 miles away from the editorial room.
Ohio’s largest newspaper, owned b y Advance Publications, in April announced a scale-back in home deliveries to three days a week.
Meanwhile, getting pink slips in other cities were 29 workers at Gannett Co.’s Arizona Republic, Phoenix, and Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial writer Drew Johnson who wrote a headline: 'Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough.” It appeared over an editorial on Tuesday, the day President Barack Obama visited the city.
In case you missed these:
With cries for more U.S. jobs, the Pentagon plans to buy additional Russian-made helicopters for Afghanistan. The Pentagon has spent $1.1 billion on the Mi-17 choppers since 2010 and will pay $350 million for 15 more of the aircraft, reported the Wall Street Journal…Speaking of where U.S. taxpayers’ money goes, Bloomberg News reported President Barack Obama proposes giving about $323 million in aid next year --- to Columbia, to combat drug trafficking and violence in that South American nation.
Amelia Rose Earhart, weather and traffic co-anchor at TV station KUSA, Denver, an NBC affiliate owned by Gannett Co., is finalizing plans to re-create her namesake and distant relative Amelia Earhart’s legendary flight which ended on July 2, 1937, when her airplane vanished on approach to Howland Island in the western Pacific. With co-pilot Patrick Carter, a Fayetteville, Ark., businessman, KUSA’s Earhart, 30, plans the flight for next summer…Less on-base magazine purchasing for Army and Air Force personnel as Army and Air Force exchanges worldwide dropped 891 periodicals ranging from Playboy to Saturday Evening Post --- yes, even SpongeBob Comics…ESPN will hire bloggers to cover NFL teams this season.
Lack of investigative reporters? While a wide outbreak of cyclospora, a lengthy intestinal illness, sickened more than 400 salad eaters in the U.S., media failed to dig in and seek the source of the tainted pre-packaged veggies, as health officials stayed unusually mum on the source and label involved.
Those seeking to give wine as gifts during the holiday season often are influenced in their selections by comments on the subject from writers whose taste buds seem to be in a world of their own, judging from some of their descriptions of fermented grape juices that pass through their palates, finds Grumpy Editor.
Most of the descriptions by wine writers sound like they should appear in recipes found in newspaper or magazine food sections. Other reviews, with references to minerals, seem like they should get the attention of chemists.
Note one writer’s portrayal of a merlot from the Tuscan Coast of northern Italy:
“The wine seems a bit restrained at first, but then opens up with a barrage of crushed red cherries, black pepper, marinara sauce, loganberry juice, ripe elderberry fruit, spice box, chewing tobacco and rustic earth-driven minerals.”
Black pepper teamed with marinara sauce, chewing tobacco and earth-driven minerals?
That combination triggers thoughts of a quick visit to the emergency room.
But there is more.
“It is a nice mouthful of a wine on the palate with juicy black spicy fruit, peppercorns, tobacco, cherry juice, huckleberry sauce, ripe black plums, toast points and loads of chewy minerals.”
Chewy minerals give visions of a fast trip to the dentist.
A simple description of merlot can be summed up in one line:
A fruitful red wine, blended with other grapes, for a flavor with hints of plums and cherries.
With all the fast-moving worldwide events and pressures going on these days, how about a soothing break in routine with a FREE cup of coffee --- favorite beverage (at least during work hours) of editors --- today, tomorrow or Saturday at a number of locations around the nation, poses Grumpy Editor.
It’s all part of Saturday’s National Coffee Day 2012.
Take your choice of with or without caffeine.
Getting a jump on the official day are participating McDonald’s Restaurants that will be passing out free small cups of coffee today and the rest of this week.
Joining in one day ahead of the official National Coffee Day are participating 7-Elevens tomorrow. The outlets will serve free 20-ounce cups of coffee from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Then on Saturday, others join in marking National Coffee Day, including:
Participating Krispy Kreme outlets with free 12-ounce cups of the classic American beverage. Of course, the 75-year-old retailer will try to lure visitors to munch on one of its sweet treats.
Don’t drink coffee and still want to celebrate?
Well, Saturday also is Confucius Day, observing the philosopher born in China in 551 B.C.
So drop by a Chinese restaurant and pick up a fortune cookie.
See what your future holds.
Maybe with a little tea.
A 30-second television commercial featuring “happy cows” --- so happy, they talk --- is not making People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) happy, notes Grumpy Editor.
What’s more, a California judge tossed out a PETA lawsuit, filed last year, seeking to shelve the California Milk Advisory Board/California Department of Food and Agriculture TV spot promoting happy, healthy and well-cared-for cows.
In the action, the animal rights group demanded that California dairy farmers prove that California cows are “happy,” as claimed in the commercials.
PETA complained that “most California dairy cows are subjected to physical and psychological pain and stress caused by intense and uncomfortable dairying practices, have a high risk of suffering from a number of diseases and die prematurely.”
(One wondered if PETA had happy cows mixed up with some chronically unhappy taxpayers struggling around tax-filing time.)
Actually, PETA has complained about happy cows since 2002.
The judge ruled the California Milk Advisory Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture provided sufficient evidence to support their claim that dairy cows in the Golden State are comfortable, safe and happy.
Few daily newspapers reported the judge's decision.
However, the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star covered the ruling under the headline: Judge: California dairy cows are happy.
In the TV spot promoting California cheese, two happy cows chat in a barn as a rooster crows nearby.
A voiceover mentions: “Great cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California. Real California cheese.”
See the TV spot here.
In the why-corporate-PR-folks-don’t-return-some-phone-calls-to-reporters department: Grumpy Editor noted that comment was sought from Mars Inc. by a national newspaper staffer because a suspect was nabbed trying to smuggle methamphetamine “disguised as Snickers bars.”
McLean, Va.-based Mars, with annual net sales of more than $30 billion and producer of the candy, had nothing to do with the case.
Yet, some quotes were sought from the company with 70,000 worldwide employees and six business segments including chocolate, pet care and Wrigley.
A Los Angeles International Airport inspection of a “sealed cardboard box with a design printed on the outside suggesting that it contained Snickers candy bars” turned up several pounds of meth disguised as a tasty confection.
Officials noted 45 individually-wrapped “candy bars” in luggage contained a white substance.
A 34-year-old was taken into custody as he prepared to board a Tokyo-bound aircraft.
The writer worked in the line: “A spokesman for Mars Inc., the maker of Snickers, couldn’t be reached for comment.”
Maybe the luggage maker should have been contacted.
Some editorial page writers in California should be busy over the next few days, prior to the banning of foie gras in state restaurants starting July 1, pointing out how police departments face another decision: whether to haul in chefs who keep the delicacy on menus, notes Grumpy Editor.
Starting Sunday in the Golden State, producing or selling the engorged livers of forced-fed ducks and geese will be prohibited by law. The law was passed in 2004 with a grace period that ends this week.
Restaurants that defy the ban will be subject to stiff $1,000 citations.
Pushing for the legislation were animal rights advocates who cited cruelty in fattening fowl by overfeeding them to produce fatty liver.
Talk among chefs, in skirting the ban, is to bring in the foie gras from outside California, such as Nevada, and serving it as a free side dish --- but charging for toast that goes with it.
But that could lead to some major action.
“We’re going to come down like a hammer on any chef or restaurant that wants to continue serving this very cruel product,” Bryan Pease, co-founder of the Animal Protection and Rescue League in San Diego, said in an interview with Bloomberg writer Alison Vekshin.
“If we find somebody still serving that product, the gloves are going to come off and we’ll use every legal means available to shut that place down, including lawsuits, protests and boycotts,” Pease added. “There’s just no reason to allow restaurants to do business in California that flout the law and torture animals for a table treat.”
However, major police departments in California --- already busy enforcing assorted crimes --- appeared reluctant to issue citations or handcuff law-breaking chefs.
Will New York media ask mayor Michael Bloomberg --- who frowns on sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces served in restaurants, theaters, delis and vending carts --- what he thinks of today’s Burger King unveiling of a 510-calorie bacon sundae, wonders Grumpy Editor.
The dessert is composed of vanilla soft serve with a mix of fudge, caramel, bacon crumbles, topped with a vertical slice of bacon.
Along with its high calorie count, the dessert also contains 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of (attention: Mayor Bloomberg) sugar.
Burger King today also is debuting several pork, beef and chicken sandwiches.
Meanwhile, investors who remember Burger King on the New York Stock Exchange until it was taken private in October, 2010 by global investment firm 3G Capital, with offices in New York City and Rio de Janeiro, will have an opportunity again to buy into the world’s second largest hamburger chain later this month.
That’s when 3G Capital expects to take Burger King public on the NYSE --- where traders, in celebrating the event, might be downing bacon sundaes against the mayor’s wishes.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large-size sodas gave newspaper editorial cartoonists and talk show hosts a field day on Friday and over the weekend, observes Grumpy Editor.
Bloomberg’s idea ran into a hornets nest.
Look for it to get another round of heavy print/broadcast coverage when his proposal is introduced at a June 12 New York City Board of Health meeting.
Apparently the mayor --- an independent for five years, after switching from Republican for six years after being a Democrat --- feels Gotham has no problems with crime, potholes, traffic, Wall Street or New Yorkers departing the tax-heavy area.
His “Big Gulp” proposal bans sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces in most restaurants, theaters, delis and vending carts. It could take effect as early as March.
But milk shakes are okay with Bloomberg.
Editorial cartoonists, seeing it as something fresh to tackle, immediately jumped on the mayor.
Among the first editorial cartoonists to spotlight the Big Gulp situation: Jimmy Margulies who draws for the Record in Hackensack, N.J.
His syndicated cartoon shows a King Kong-like character atop a skyscraper much like the Empire State building.
The giant ape is holding a super-size beverage container with a long straw as a fleet of aircraft approach. From one plane is the message, “You can stay. It’s the soda we’re after…”
With broadcast media, Sean Hannity, for example, on his Friday night program on Fox News channel sipped from and waved his large beverage container at TV cameras while discussing events of the day.
Chatter on Bloomberg’s soda ban spilled over to Sunday talk shows.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola smacked the mayor’s proposal in a statement, “New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this.”