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How America could go dark

The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.  Most substations are unmanned and often protected chiefly by chain-link fences. Many have no electronic security, leaving attacks unnoticed until after the damage is done. Even if there are security cameras, they often prove worthless.

Pace of U.S. Health Spending Increased in 2015, With Further Rise Expected

Growth in U.S. health-care spending quickened slightly in 2015 and will continue to rise at a moderate pace over the next decade, but not at the fast clip seen in the 20-year period before the recession, federal actuaries said. Spending on all health care is estimated to have grown 5.5% in 2015 compared with 5.3% growth the previous year. Growth is expected to dip to a slightly lower rate of 4.8% in 2016, according to actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Rural Mainstreet Economy Remains Weak for June: Bankers Tighten Farm Loans

Survey Results at a Glance: • For a tenth straight month, the Rural Mainstreet Index fell below growth neutral. • Farmland prices remained below growth neutral for the 31st straight month. • Due to the weak agriculture economy, 73.5 percent of bankers increased collateral requirements, half boosted interest rates, and 35.3 percent rejected a higher percentage of farm loans. • Rural Mainstreet businesses boosted hiring for the month. While remaining very fragile, the Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) has increased four of the last five months.

Danone buying WhiteWave in $12.5 B deal

France-based Danone has agreed to buy WhiteWave Foods and its health-based brands like Silk and Horizon Organic in a deal valued at about $12.5 billion.   The two companies said Danone will pay $56.25 a share, a 24 percent premium over WhiteWave's 30-day average closing price of $45.43. That would value WhiteWave at $10.1 billion based on 180.2 million shares outstanding at the end of last year.

Retail Partnerships, New Technologies Will Help to Ensure U.S. Energy Independence

According to the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 34 percent in comparison to gasoline. Moreover, advanced biofuels have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 100 percent. July 10th is U.S. Energy Independence Day, a time to celebrate Earth-friendly American ethanol.

House to vote on gmo labeling bill

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday or Friday on a bill passed last week by the Senate that would nullify Vermont's geneticall modified organisms labeling law, which went into effect July 1, and prevent any state from enacting its own labeling law.

US Senate passes national GMO labeling bill

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 63-30 to approve a bill that would require a mandatory labeling system of genetically modified organisms (GMO) for all 50 states.  The measure would require the USDA to determine which food products and ingredients should be labeled as GMO. Those products would be labeled by text, symbols or a bar code that can be scanned with smartphones. The USDA would have two years to develop the rules and regulations for the nationwide labeling program.  The measure now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Wild hogs can now be shot from helicopters in North Carolina

Now wild hogs can be culled by aircraft in North Carolina — provided they are shot by federal or state wildlife control officers.  The 2016 North Carolina Farm Act, which lawmakers passed July 1, contains two sentences making the change.

Illnesses from meat and poultry – up or down?

The proportion of all illnesses from E. coli O157:H7 attributable to meat likely have been reduced as demonstrated by a correlation between reductions in those organisms in FSIS product testing and illnesses reported by FoodNet.  L. monocytogenes and Campylobacter are more difficult to characterize.  The most recent data show no improvement for L.


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